I recall that morning the way you might remember a fitful nightmare - staccato images more than streaming video. I was at my newsroom desk, reading what turned out to be yesterday's news, when a colleague yelled out that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. It was inconceivable. Within minutes, the confusing jumble of "what's happening?" became clear: terrorism. Americans were being indiscriminately targeted for murder and mayhem.
I knew life would change after that day. Despite the estimated $30-billion we poured annually into the intelligence services budgets, something big had been missed. There would be the inevitable chest-beating calls for more security and monitoring. But what concerned me most was that the likes of George Bush and John Ashcroft were at the helm. Would they respect the values that define this nation and uphold the rule of law, separation of powers and individual rights? Or would they use this time of heightened anxiety as an opportunity to bulldoze any limits on their power?
Not surprising, they chose the latter route. We wake up two years later in a far diminished republic. The Bush administration has gone about this "war on terrorism" as though it were a war on the Bill of Rights.
If you want proof, I commend a new book by that title from columnist Nat Hentoff, which vividly describes the chilling compendium of abuses commited by our government since 9/11. The War on the Bill of Rights - and the Gathering Resistance (www.sevenstories.com) should be required reading in every high school government class. Drawing parallels to McCarthyism and COINTELPRO, the FBI's attempt to undermine the civil rights movement, Hentoff chronicles a great wrong inflicted by government - one we are still living, and one we will, like the others, come to regret.
There's more to the review, which can also be found at The Smirking Chimp. I think this book is going on my reading list.