Five years ago during my 8th grade U.S. History course, I vividly remember watching two American Airlines flights violently crash into the World Trade Center on TV, sending cascading smoke and debris into the air.My dad is an American Airlines pilot who was flying to an unbeknownst destination on Sept. 11. With no possible way to contact him, 9/11 was initially more than a national catastrophe to me – it was a personal disaster. To me, going to war was originally a practical and well-founded idea. At age 14, my reasoning guided me to make a decision based on vengeance – to repay the potential harms that could have been inflicted on my father that day.
Five years later, those feelings have since blossomed from the realization that Iraq is still part of our political agenda. I begin to ask myself, how far are we willing to go to end terrorism?
Our first response to 9/11 was to deploy troops to Iraq with the goal of overthrowing Saddam Hussein. According to the Sept. 12 issue of The New York Times, “Iraq had nothing to do with the war on terror until the Bush administration decided to invade it.”
In his address to New York and the citizens of the United States on Sept. 6, Bush said, “While Hussein wasn’t directly connected with the 9/11 attack, he and his government still posed a risk.”
Nonetheless, he has failed to offer the United States a substantive reason as to why we’re still in Iraq.
Would the decision to leave Iraq augment the determination of Shiite and Sunni militias, or is it a better decision to continue fueling backlash in the Muslim world, thus, making these militia groups even more radical in their intent to maintain their own individual sovereignties?
The problem also traces back closer to home, especially in regards to the airline industry.
In the last five years, airports have become increasingly stringent about their rules. For example, recently implemented regulations prohibit people from carrying liquids onto the cabin of the plane. These regulations, which were implemented in an attempt to avoid the transportation of dangerous chemicals, crosses a new, unexplored border.
To follow suit with previous “cause and effect” regulations, the next predictable action of the airline industry would be to ban any and all liquids from all areas of the aircraft. But just how many freedoms are we willing to sacrifice to end terrorism? By giving up more and more rights in response to terrorists’ threats and attempts, are we not giving terrorists exactly what they want?
Terrorism also creates negative reflections on our already tarnished international reputation. Bush’s recent concession that the CIA has been detaining 9/11 conspirators in secret prisons in Eastern Europe, including 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, stirs new debate.
If we are truly a democracy, and we the people rule this nation by our voice and by legitimate representation, then how can the government even attempt to argue practicing detainment in secrecy? Is it by the voice of the people if we do not know it’s happening? If this decision is in the government’s hands alone, how much democratic decision-making was actually involved?
The Bush administration also suggested passing an 83-page bill geared toward justifying the detainment of these terrorists, as well as the proposition of fiercer treatment of prisoners, according to the Sept. 8 issue of The New York Times.
So where do we draw the line in fighting terrorism? Dartmouth constitutional law professor Martin S. Lederman suggests that we change our mindset from Bush’s opinion that God is on our side to a more humble, less invasive grassroots declaration by Lincoln that says we should earnestly worry about whether we are on God’s side.
Matt Buongiorno is a freshman political science major from Arlington.