9 Liberties Lost Since 9/11

September 11, 2015   |   Carey Wedler

Carey Wedler
September 11, 2015

(ANTIMEDIAToday and every year, “NEVER FORGET” echoes through the neighborhoods, cities, and Facebook statuses of America. 14 years after 9/11, Americans still bear the cross of a nation victimized and scorned after the brutal attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001. While Americans — and politicians who are still intent on capitalizing on the tragedy — vow never to forget the fateful day, far too many citizens forget the liberties they have relinquished as a result. Lest today’s valiantly waving flags, government ceremonies, and TV news specials replaying the plane crashes coax you into forgetting, these nine essential freedoms have been usurped since 9/11:

1. The liberty to not be spied upon: Essential to a free society — at least as the founders of the United States saw it — was the freedom to be left alone. In the not too distant past, government agencies suspicious of citizens had to obtain warrants to investigate private citizens. They had to prove to a judge why they deserved to violate a person’s sacrosanct privacy from the State. Though surveillance programs were in place long before 9/11, the tragedy enabled much more far-reaching impositions. Multiple federal agencies — most notably the NSA — are enabled to surveil citizens, all the time — all around the world. The government’s paranoid desire for total surveillance has only grown since 9/11. The FBI, which built the NSA’s foundation for dragnet spying, continuously throws temper tantrums over its inability to spy on encrypted communications. The Department of “Justice” argued just this week that it should have access to all Americans’ emails. A separate court recently ruled that a case challenging NSA bulk data collection could not move forward because the plaintiff could not prove — due to government secrecy — that he was being surveilled.

2. The liberty to not be harassed by law enforcement: The federal government’s total surveillance state is a direct consequence of 9/11 — or rather, the political exploitation of it. However, at the local level, police departments not only conduct their own invasive spying with secret technology provided by the federal government — they pose a far greater danger. Where police officers were once trusted to protect life, they now threaten it. Currently, the risk of being killed by a police officer is anywhere from eight to 55 times greater than being killed by a terrorist. In 2015, police are on track to kill 1,100 Americans — and since 9/11, have killed more than died that day. This year, it was revealed that Chicago’s Homan Square operated as a black site without due process but replete with torture. Other violations by police, constitutionally speaking, include a basic protection against unwarranted searches and seizures. This makes unauthorized cavity searches on the side of the road and civil asset forfeiture — a policy by which police have stolen millions of dollars from unaccused citizens — an egregious seizure of the freedoms Americans still drunkenly celebrate on national holidays. Checkpoints, anyone?

3. The freedom of movement and travel without being treated like a criminal: Considering how traumatized the collective American populace continues to be by incessant, repeated clips of two planes flying into the World Trade Center, it is unsurprising that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), formed after 9/11, is accepted as a vital element of modern society. Millions of Americans routinely huddle in cramped airport security lines, removing their shoes and flashing their private parts to security agents via X-ray machines so as to avoid more invasive gropings. Recently, two agents were caught tag-teaming to grope attractive women. Theft of passenger belongings runs rampant among officers. Racial profiling is allowed by the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the TSA. Unsurprisingly, these practices fail to find terrorists 95% of the time. Meanwhile, children in wheelchairs, the elderly, and otherwise innocent Americans are forced to endure what would amount to sexual harassment in any other environment. But rest assured, if travelers pay a special fee, they can bypass security lines. For your safety.

4. Freedom of Speech: While no one (that the government admits to) has been black-bagged for criticizing the government yet, the State has spent years incrementally criminalizing this fundamental right. In addition to designating anti-government activists, hippie communes, and Americans with seed libraries as potential terrorists, the federal government has made a habit of punishing individuals who attempt to shed light on the government’s crimes. From Bradley (Chelsea) Manning to Edward Snowden and countless others, those who attempt to inform the American people of the atrocities their government commits are promptly silenced. Though the story received little mainstream attention, the military’s new operating procedures condone killing journalists. Further, the people’s right to free speech has been widely suppressed. During the Bush years, protesters were cordoned off into “free speech zones” to air their grievances. Today, protests are heavily patrolled by police, who do not shy away from pestering — if not abusing — people peacefully exercising their most essential constitutional right.

5. The liberty to simply know what the government does: When President Obama campaigned for the presidency in 2008, he decried George W. Bush’s cloak of secrecy shrouding government actions. Obama vowed to be more transparent, to make the government truly work for the people by allowing them to know what it does. His presidency is almost over, but any echo of that sentiment has been silenced. His administration, self-designated the “most transparent in history,” is one of the least transparent and denies more Freedom of Information Act requests than ever. Lawmakers refuse to reveal details of foreign policy, surveillance, and more, citing “national security” as a blanket excuse. This justification is how they perpetuated continued warrantless spying even after the Patriot Act expired. It is how they have instigated perpetual war with little explanation beyond “grave threats” to the American people. To say more would be to endanger the people further, of course. Whenever politicians feel threatened by real questions, they need only parrot the need for “public safety” and drum up memories of 9/11 to shirk accountability.

6. The liberty to not be harassed by the military in your own home: Many people view the third amendment as archaic. The Revolutionary War is long over and soldiers are no longer “quartered.” However, one specific program — mutated after 9/11 — allows this violation on a daily basis. Following last year’s protests in Ferguson against police brutality, the Pentagon’s 1033 program has faced intense scrutiny for arming local police with high-powered military gear, from armored vehicles to battle regalia. This program has emboldened SWAT teams and other local police — paramilitary wings of law enforcement armed to the teeth — to increasingly raid the homes of private citizens. “But they’re criminals!” loyalists might cry. But what about when they aren’t? Often, SWAT teams raid the wrong addresses, but even when they are in the right place, they inflict everything from beatings and murder on non-violent, often innocent citizens to shooting family pets. The 1033 program, intended to help fight the Drug War, increased in power after 9/11 — when its stated goal shifted toward preventing terrorism.

7. The right to a fair trial: When the near-mythical “founding fathers” crafted the Constitution, one of their greatest revolutions was ensuring fair trials to the accused. This banned cruel and unusual punishment while ensuring a speedy trial where the defendant was considered innocent until proven guilty — not the other way around, as had been practiced by despotic regimes throughout human history. However, this right to a fair trial has been increasingly eroded by autocratic elements within the so-called justice system, especially since 9/11. An Irish judge recently refused to extradite a terror suspect to the United States, citing fears he would endure cruel and unusual punishment. “Death by firing squad!” many patriots mourning 9/11 might chant. He is a terrorist, after all, and  “innocent until proven guilty” is a moniker of the weak and those hell-bent on seeing Americans murdered.

But what about the American citizens presumed guilty before an actual verdict is reached? Prosecutors have been criticized for exercising racism in jury selection, biasing courts in favor of conviction. One mentally ill black man died languishing away in prison for months — awaiting a (non-speedy) trial for allegedly stealing less than five dollars worth of snacks from a convenience store. In more high-profile cases, the government and media go out of their way to ensure defendants are presumed guilty long before their trials start. Such was the case with Ross Ulbricht (where FBI agents were found to have committed criminal acts during investigations and key evidence was suppressed). Chelsea Manning and others have faced similar fates. The government also actively campaigns against activists attempting to educate jurors about their rights. None of these violations of due process compete with the indefinite detention provision of the 2012-present National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Language found in Section 1021(b)(2) of the NDAA allows the president to order the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens without charge or trial, merely for being suspected of being a threat to national security.

8. The liberty of owning your body: Though not codified in the Constitution, a basic premise of liberty is self-ownership — that free individuals may choose what they want to do with and put in their bodies. Though the Drug War has been in full swing for decades, the events of 9/11 allowed the government to regulate people’s body chemistry more heavily. While the Patriot Act is widely associated with unwarranted surveillance — as it should be — it was used overwhelmingly to prosecute non-violent drug “crimes” and has helped to create the world’s largest prison population, because…freedom?

9. Economic liberty: While the state places many restrictions on economic freedom, it has done so for centuries through taxation, fees, fines, and regulations that favor corporations (such as the recent Trans-Pacific Partnership). Still, these policies have not been contingent on the 9/11 terror attacks. What 9/11 has allowed, however, are increased piles of tax dollars to fund military adventures throughout the world. Though the military chronically eats up trillions of dollars, every year it demands more money — and nearly every year it gets it. Without the jarring images of 9/11 branded into Americans’ brains, the military would have a much more difficult time securing funding. Those who disagree with such expenditures (whether out of fiscal responsibility or outrage at endless violence) must square off with the IRS — an entity more terrifying to most Americans than the government’s more murderous agencies.

While the events that transpired on 9/11 should never be forgotten — and should be commemorated — often, the nationalistic grandstanding that comes along with mourning the dead removes any possibility to mourn the freedoms lost — or the very literal lost and tortured lives of individuals around the world subjected to the aggressive foreign policy enabled by 9/11. While the government is categorically to blame for these violations, it is an unfortunate fact that Americans are guilty of creating an environment where crimes against humanity go unchecked and nearly every element of American life is regulated and surveilled. By allowing themselves to be manipulated by constant fear-mongering, Americans have allowed — if not applauded — this confiscation of their freedoms.


This article (9 Liberties Lost Since 9/11) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Carey Wedler and theAntiMedia.org. Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, email edits@theantimedia.org.

Author: Carey Wedler

Carey Wedler joined Anti-Media as an independent journalist in September of 2014. Her topics of interest include the police and warfare states, the Drug War, the relevance of history to current problems and solutions, and positive developments that drive humanity forward. She currently resides in Los Angeles, California, where she was born and raised.

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32 Comments

  1. I think this article is actually under playing the problems we have with our justice system, yet it touches upon many of the key elements.
    What I can add is that corruption is not factored into this nor into the violence that comes from poor hires. The issues of police immunity and accountability are huge and so is the militarization and uniting of police resources from town to town and state to state creates an internal army. The failure to separate the prosecutors, police and judges into stern also a major problem, as well. Politicians are in the mix as well, they appoint the judges and prosecutors and hire 5 he police.
    So there is much more to be discussed and realized , but some of this is easy to fix , with the right agenda of priorities.

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  7. Liberties are not lost like losing your car keys, liberties are taken by your government. There is a big difference!

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  8. The freedom of movement and travel without being treated like a criminal. Every time I enter american soil I am treated like that, no person should treat a fellow human being on the manner he or she abhors, period.

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  11. Easily 90% of our lost freedoms are the direct result of George W. Bush's "Patriot Act", which opened the floodgates for spying on Americans, without the untidy hassle of obtaining a court order. They just trot out that old boogey-man, "terrorist" or, more broadly, "terror", and all the sheep just bleat their approval.9/11 was a "False Flag" operation designed to do exactly what it did; make Americans think we were attacked from outside by "terrorists". so that we would roll over and play dead as we gave away our freedom. Have you ever wondered how Bush and Cheney already had their plan to invade Iraq set in motion, in detail, two years before the election? How could they be so certain they were going to win? Why Iraq, when our "Intel", paced all the blame directly at the doorstep of Saudi Arabia, our "allies"? Why was the only commercial airline allowed permission to fly from America, within less than two hours of the bombing, containg only members of the Bin Laden family? Why did the Bush administration repeatedly ignore warnings from the C.I.A., as long as two years before the attack, that Saudi Arabians were at a flight training school in Florida wanting to learn how to take off and fly a Jumbo Jet airliner, but had no interest in learning how to "land" it? This last situation caused a high-level C.I.A.executive to quit in disgust over what he logically saw as a treasonous act on the part of the Bush administration. He was a man with over 20 years of impeccable service to the agency, but was immediately villilified by the Bush administration, in in what seems, by now, to be a patented and/or copyrighted page from the Reoublican playbook. His name is Richard Clarke and the Bush administration went so far as to out his wife as being a C.I.A. agent. Clarke suggested that there was enough evidence to convict Bush and Cheney of war crimes, which had enough validity that Bush had to cancel a trip to Maysia for fear of being arrested and forced to stand trial for said crimes. Ed Snowden leaked the fact that our Gov't. was forcing Verizon, AT&T, Microsoft, Google and every other social media outlet to turn over their records of every ohone conversation, tweet, twitter, Facebook posting, and e-mails of every American citizen and HE gets called a traitor, when he leaked nothing that would harm this country's security, except for exposing them for what they were- one step away from being a totalitarian state to rival Germany during it's Hitler days which, by the way, Prescott Bush (the patriarch of the Bush family) was a well-known sympathizer of. All of this is public record and can easily be proven with just very little time on your computer. Amazon has more than enough books to prove the case beyond a shadow of doubt. Look it up!

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  14. It's very scary to me as well, the militarization of the police in this country. Think about it: You have your State Troopers, your County Sherrif's Dept. and your local police department, all armed to the teeth with military grade vehicles and weaponry. Even if everyone owned a gun, which a lot of people don't for any number of reasons, but even if we were all armed we still would have little fighting chance against what is truly a military force.

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  15. It's very scary to me as well, the militarization of the police in this country. Think about it: You have your State Troopers, your County Sherrif's Dept. and your local police department, all armed to the teeth with military grade vehicles and weaponry. Even if everyone owned a gun, which a lot of people don't for any number of reasons, but even if we were all armed we still would have little fighting chance against what is truly a military force.

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  16. We've given them up by not screaming and shouting the moment the damned Patriot Act, Homeland Security, and the expansion of the NSA were enacted and expanded. If you want to blame "government", look in the mirror at your own scared face.

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  17. We keep electing the same law and order candidates thinking that safety is our most important need, because we are not brave enough to possess our rights and freedoms.

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  18. John Hanson When I look in the mirror, I know exactly what I see. I see someone who fights feverishly to bring awareness to this issue. I speak loudly and often in print and in person raising the alarms. I see someone that has two popular websites that have had well in excess of 10 million views and thousands of daily followers. I certainly do not see a scared face as you have suggested. When I look at my fellow Americans I do not see fear, I see apathy. I see a photograph of society that fades just a little every day and before long the image will be unrecognizable.

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  21. Richard Gray then I feel bad for you and I hope you are not jaded beyond repair. As for your accomplishments, they are most wonderful. When I look in the mirror I see a 57 year-old who has not done enough other than sing on street corners, write articles, stick up for people I think have been wronged. My worst nightmare has already come true. We no longer look at each other when we speak. Good Luck and Forgive my presumptions.

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  23. John Hanson I remember after 9/11 reading the new Patriot Act on the internet. It was so very long and convoluted. I thought to myself, how in the hell did this massive act get written over night. No, it did not. It was well planned out well in advance. I really hope President Putin brings all this to light. I trust him more than I do our own government. Time will tell.

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  24. Let's face it. George W Bush & Company pushed our country over a cliff. 9/11 provided this cabal of traitors the means necessary to use fear & manipulation under the guise of security & patriotism to do it. And Obama, for all of his campaign rhetoric and promises for "transparency" and government accountability, turned out to be just as bad.. Shame on them, and shame on us all for allowing it to happen…

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  25. Let's face it. George W Bush & Company pushed our country over a cliff. 9/11 provided this cabal of traitors the means necessary to use fear & manipulation under the guise of security & patriotism to do it. And Obama, for all of his campaign rhetoric and promises for "transparency" and government accountability, turned out to be just as bad.. Shame on them, and shame on us all for allowing it to happen…

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  26. Although Americans understand most of the issues facing the country, they don't have a clear understanding of associated costs. That is, in terms of money out of their pockets and how it affects choices that they make on a daily basis. Obviously the candidates don't do a good job of explaining the costs and don't dare talk about Americans losing their freedom of choices. This concern prompted me to write a book on the subject. It is called "Choices." It describes the issues, talks about the monetary costs and how they affect choices that Americans make on a daily basis. It also describes how many of those choices are either becoming limited or are being taken away. Being number two in the world in ignorance is a shameful commentary. Hopefully, my new book will alleviate some of it.
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