Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Yes, but are we safer?

While Andrew's 9/11 tribute was lovely, there is a larger point that isn't addressed by the vast majority of the many, many such tributes I've read today. Don't get me wrong; five years is a milestone, and I've done my own share of remembering and introspection about those people who we in so very much the wrong place at the wrong time. Such tributes are fitting and altogether proper.

But my own remembering and introspecting has also considered life five years ago, and life now. Certainly, many things have changed for me personally. My wife and I are no longer newlyweds. We have a son now, whose future occupies much of our thoughts, and another child coming soon who we are eager to know and love. It is largely on their behalf that my own 9/11 thoughts have turned inexorably to the question "Yes, but are we safer?"

9/11 showed that there are significant chinks in the American national defense. Five years is a considerable amount of time in which to address many of them. So, I must ask, are we safer?

Arguably, no.

Some post 9/11 changes to our immigration and customs procedures will make it harder for terrorists to enter the country. Impossible? Hardly. It's still far too easy for a terrorist to enter the U.S. by land--on foot, if necessary--from Mexico or Canada. Or by private ship to any of dozens and dozens of seaports. But not impossible, and, I would argue, the "cure" involved in making such entries impossible would be far worse than the disease.

Airline security has made planes harder to hijack, but is it impossible to bring down another large building? Hardly. Truck bombs. Aerosol fuels injected into a building's air system. Take five minutes and think of ten more ways that would be entirely feasible to a foolish fundamentalist fanatic (to borrow Zbigniew Brzezinski's entirely apt appelation) willing to sacrifice their own life to their cause.

For five years, port security has lapsed. Airline security has become only marginally better, at the expense of tremendous inconvenience to Americans of all stripes. Meanwhile, the Iraq occupation has done nothing but recruit new terrorists hand over foot. As time has passed they have more reasons (increasingly legitimate reasons, I might add. Really. Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself if you wouldn't be mad as hell at America) to hate our country.

Then we have the Patriot Act, illegal NSA wiretapping, secret CIA prisons, our own Guantanamo Gulag, and FBI crackdowns on constitutionally protected political speech (look what happens to protesters who aren't happy with Bush).

We have increased danger from without. We have new dangers from within.

Are we safer? Hell no.

And I know exactly at whose collective feet the blame lies. It's the same fellow who has turned lies into the lingua franca of politics, and who has worked so tirelessly today, visiting all three attack sites, to make political hay out of the five year anniversary of some 3000 deaths.

Oh, and hey Steve, who commented on a post from last Friday: I toldja so.

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