September end as millions of people are being killed,

September 11th 2001 is a day that will forever be ingrained in every American’s mind.
The attack on the twin towers caused many Americans to fear for their lives and their safety in
this country. The American people looked to their government and Commander in Chief for
some sort of direction to combat terrorism. President George W. Bush on September 20, 2001
declared the War on Terror against al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. This would
officially send America to its very costly, indefinite, and difficult war spanning multiple
countries in the Middle East. Fighting this war is different than traditional warfare because it is
more about fighting an idea than a single country’s soldiers or regime. Because of this obscure
threat, it complicates the war in many different ways. Some of the key points with the War on
Terror include al-Qaeda, extraordinary rendition, torture, Guantanamo Bay, and the Patriot Act.
The purpose of the War on Terror was to try to stop the threat of terrorism in America but
also other Western powers. The main countries with radical Islamic terrorist groups were Iran,
Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, and Syria. Within each country, there were individual agendas that
needed to be fulfilled. The War in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran are the main ones that had the
most troops and money involved. It is estimated that over the course of these wars, over 6,845
Americans have been killed and over 900,000 have been injured. (Goodman) The main
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campaigns with the most casualties were Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, Operation
Freedom’s Sentinel in Afghanistan, Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq, Operation New Dawn in
Afghanistan, and Operation Inherent Resolve on the Syrian-Iraqi border. (Smith) Hundreds of
millions of the taxpayers’ money has been spent on this ongoing war, and thousands of soldiers
have died protecting their countries for what they believe to be righteous causes. An endgame
does not seem to be close. The War on Terrorism needs to be brought to an end as millions of
people are being killed, civil liberties and human rights are being violated, and the costs of the
war will continue to rise as there is no endgame in sight.
As in any war, the lives lost are a reminder of how many lives were dedicated to the
cause worth fighting for. In this one however more civilian lives were lost than military,
although marginally. By the numbers up until 2011, at least 227,000 people have died since 9/11
and 116,657 have been civilians, but different reports show different numbers. According to the
U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Armed Forces have suffered 4,487 deaths and 32,223 were
wounded in action as of May 2012. As seen by these studies the people suffering are more so the
families of the innocent civilians than those who fought in the conflicts, and a lot of them were
not killed by soldiers. As shown by sites like WikiLeaks many civilian deaths are caused by
mines or drones. These numbers show the amount of devastation caused by the War on terror
and more than ten years later these numbers are still rising. Ultimately there are still over 50,000
troops in Afghanistan and there are still plans to remain there for a while.
al-Qaeda is a household terrorist organization name that almost everyone knows. Their
most recognize for conducting the attacks of September 11, 2001. The attack killed nearly 3,000
people and injured thousands more. They have already completed numerous attacks both foreign
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and domestic against United States personnel. The Origins of al-Qaeda can be traced to when the
Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in the 1980’s. This was crucial to defeat the Soviet Union.
One vital person came about through this, and his name as Osama Bin Laden. The “Osama”
spelling is deprecated, because there is no letter “O” in Arabic. (“Taxi to the Dark Side”) He is
the proclaim founder of the group al-Qaeda. Osama believing that the war with the Soviet Union
was a holy battle between Islam and the infidel. “Osama Bin Laden’s experiences as a logistical
coordinator and financier for the Afghan and Arab resistance to the Soviet invasion of
Afghanistan during the 1980s are thought to have provided the backdrop for his belief that
Muslims could take effective military action inspired by select Islamic principles”(Blanchard).
While Bin Laden was in Saudi Arabia, he was exposure to teachings of conservative
Islamist scholars. With his experience in Afghanistan, and knowing of Salafist. He convey a new
concept known as “defensive jihad”. Using this philosophy, Bin Laden encourages each Muslim
to take it upon themselves to fight what it perceives as attacks on Muslims across the world.
(START.umd) After the Gulf War, he express his resentment for having US and other
non-Muslim troops in Saudi Arabia. This enforced his belief of jihad, and promoted violence
against the Saudi government and the United States. This violence would lead to one of the most
dangerous terrorist groups in history. This danger needed to be stopped by America by any
means necessary. Often times, these means were extremely violent and cruel, such as
extraordinary rendition.
According to ACLU, extraordinary rendition can be defined as “an intelligence-gathering
program involving the transfer of foreign nationals suspected of involvement in terrorism to
detention and interrogation in countries where — in the CIA’s view — federal and international
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legal safeguards do not apply.”(ACLU) These suspects are then detained and heavily
interrogated using methods that were not federally regulated. Often times the interrogation
techniques included torture and psychiatrically breaking down the suspect in order to get
information. This all started in the early 1990s under the Clinton administration, but would then
transform and expand dramatically under the Bush administration after 9/11. The detainees were
held in black sites in different countries where they were held without trial in countries such as
Morocco, Poland, and the UK. It is estimated that the United States has used this process to
abduct over 3,000 people to gather information about terrorism. “If you want a serious
interrogation, you send a prisoner to Jordan. If you want them to be tortured, you send them to
Syria. If you want someone to disappear—never to see them again—you send them to Egypt.”
-Bob Baer, CIA Officer. This commonly used practice would give America a bad reputation
when it comes to gathering information. Extraordinary rendition goes hand in hand with another
key factor to the War on Terror: torture.
Torture is a controversial topic in today’s society. Torture can be defined as, “…the act of
inflicting excruciating pain, as punishment or revenge, as a means of getting a confession or
information, or for sheer cruelty.”(Dershowitz) Torture has been deemed as a hate crime but still
continues in the United States as well as in other Western countries. However, the question of
torture has resurfaced in the context of post 9/11 strategies of gathering information. Many
citizens are torn in regards to how they feel about torture and how its effectiveness protects them
on a day to day basis. It all comes down to morality. Within the society of social order, many
people would say that torture is a shameful action for those who support it and or participate in
agony. Many people are hesitant of torture; however, state that torture is only acceptable under
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certain scenarios. Some hold that torture is morally permissible under certain distinct situations.
Torture is one of the main ways that Americans gathered information about different terrorist
organizations.
Putting ethical value of the issue away; on one side, it would “please” the citizens who
feel intimidated by possible terrorist attacks and it might provide faster technique to prevent
those attacks from happening. On the other side, it would probably have to be obtained as
similarly as a warrant – it might not be permitted fast enough which could again lead to the loss
of lives. In such case, from fear of not being prompt enough, the interrogators might disobey the
law and use the torture anyway without the permission – which does not seem as an
advantageous solution and it essentially brings the issue back to the begging. Furthermore, if the
torture would be defined by criminal law, there is the presumption of innocence though, where
defendant is considered to be innocent until proven otherwise – which cannot be applied to the
enhanced interrogation techniques utilization.
Besides torture, there are different ways to gather information about terrorist
organizations. Even with Osama Bin Laden, he was located throw his brother by offering him a
Lamborghini. There are more peaceful and effective ways to get details other than violence.
Tony Camerino, former senior military interrogator and author of a book “How to Break a
Terrorist”, has very clear vision on how proper interrogation should look like. He believes that
the most efficient method to get the captive to share the information is firstly to learn something
about the suspect’s background. (Camerino) Not all the detainees wanted to be sided with
terrorist, but some were forced to because of their situation – and interrogator can use all this
knowledge to make the prisoner cooperate. Also, knowing about the culture can be helpful.
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Camerino says that: “During the World War II, the people we recruited to be interrogator were
ethic-Americans. … People that knew the culture and the language of people they were going
to interrogate. … And Ivy League young men were recruited to supervise them, because we
saw it as an intellectual effort, not a brute force effort.”(Camerino)
This culture knowledge can help to understand some basic mentality of the detainee, but
what according to Camerino is also curtail is basic knowledge of psychology for recognizing
what motivates human minds, and to educate them about sales – to make them grasp the concept
of how to make the best deal with the prisoner. “They’re (the interrogators) are their own worst
enemies. … The person who is most likely to stop the detainee from cooperating is yourself –
your lack of knowledge or ignorance about his situation, his motivation, background and
culture.”(Camerino) Torture is something that will always be debated and most likely will not
end in our lifetime. The reason it keeps going on is that the location where they take place have
immunity, one of the biggest locations where this happens is Guantanamo Bay.
Guantanamo Bay detention center, the result of America’s War on Terror, has sparked
several international outcries over the years. Opened January 2002 by the Bush administration, it
is used to hold those suspected of being a terrorist or those with connections to al-Qaeda or the
Taliban (Fetini). It is located in Cuba on land that was leased to the U.S. for coaling and naval
stations in 1903 , and remains the only U.S. naval base in a communist country. (Fetini) Barack
Obama campaigned for and continued to push Congress for Guantanamo’s closure, but his
efforts were in vain. The Bush administration had many good reasons for opening Guantanamo,
but Obama recognized that it is an overall detriment to America.
Guantanamo Bay, though started with good intentions, only highlights America’s
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negative side. Marine Major General Michael Lehnert, who played a significant role in the
opening of Guantanamo, has drastically changed his opinion and said that it, “Validates every
negative perception of the U.S.” (Sutton). One example of this occurred in 2006, when President
Bush justified the use of “physical coercion” (torture) during interrogations. (Fetini) Some of
these torture methods include isolation, beatings, sleep deprivation, and general abuse. Other
tactics such as disrespect for Islamic symbols or sexual provocation are used to encourage stress
in detainees. (“Taxi to the Dark Side”) These immoral methods led to an international outcry. It
was later remarked that the Cuban territory upon which Guantanamo is located is being used as a
“concentration camp” of sorts. Guantanamo and its unethical values are being recognized by
nations around the world, displaying America in a bad light.
Another aspect of Guantanamo that received a strong reaction was the access that
interrogators, psychologists, and psychiatrists working at Guantanamo have to detainees’
medical files. This allows them to target detainees individually, and is against medical ethics
stated in the Geneva Conventions. Though this protocol has not been sanctioned by the U.S., it is
“customary international law,” leading to increased opposition. In response to the unethical
values at Guantanamo, Abdule Salam Zaeef stated, “A detainee in Guantanamo, however, is not
even a person anymore. He is stripped of his humanity as each day passes” (Zaeef 18). The
methods being used at Guantanamo, both pertaining to medical ethics and interrogations, are
unsuitable for any human being to have to go through.
Unethical methods, however, are not the only thing that Guantanamo detainees have to
deal with. They are also unprotected by prisoner of war statutes and are unqualified for the
normal legal process. (Zaeef) President Bush tried to explain this by claiming that the base is
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outside of U.S. territory, therefore exempting the prisoners from the U.S. Constitution. He also
stated that “unlawful enemy combatants,” his name for the detainees, were exempt from the
Geneva Conventions. Internationally-accepted laws are being sidestepped or excused, leading
nations around the world to feel as if the U.S. is just a bully, making exceptions solely for its
benefit.
The biggest piece of legislation that has passed during the post-9/11 era of America is the
Patriot Act. The Patriot Act was passed 45 days after the attack of the twin towers, the “Uniting
and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct
Terrorism” (“The USA Patriot”), USA PATRIOT act, was signed into law with 98 votes of
support in the Senate and 357 votes of support in the house, with 67 votes in descent total. Many
Congressmen who signed the bill “now say they did not even read it before voting in favor”
(“The USA Patriot”). A version of the bill had already gone through committee and was
approved by the ACLU, however, that was not the version of the bill presented to Congress. The
compromises made were removed when the author of the bill as told, “If you don’t pass the
original bill… the next terrorist attack will be on your shoulders”. This type of threatening has
allowed the USA Patriot Act to be far too powerful. (“The USA Patriot”)
When the law was passed, the purpose was stated as “to deter and punish terrorist acts in
the United States and around the world, to enhance law enforcement investigatory tools, and for
other purposes”. The other purposes section of that is incredibly vague, modifying laws
concerning money laundering, education, financing, credit reporting, computer fraud, electronic
communications, and others (“The USA Patriot”).
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This gave the NSA and other intelligence agencies a broad authority to collect data from
corporations. For the agents to collect information, except certain types of information, they had
to receive a warrant from a FISA, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, court judge. 11 judges
have this authority, and only Chief Justice Roberts of the Supreme Court can allow for new
judges to take this power. Though they are required to receive warrants from these judges, over
99% of requests for warrants are approved. In addition, the NSA has ignored its requirements by
collecting “as many as 56,000 emails” “from Americans with no connection to terrorism” (“USA
Patriot Act). This blanket collection would allow for information and potential blackmail to be
revealed to agents on virtually any person. The Patriot Act has caused many Americans to have
split decisions about it. Some do not want the invasion of privacy and violation of their rights.
Some do not mind giving up their right to privacy in order to guarantee safety. With the War on
Terror being a war of information, the NSA gaining this type of accessibility is very critical for
preventing future terrorist attacks.
The War on Terror has been going on for the last sixteen years. Thousands upon
thousands of troops are sent overseas each year to protect America from the threat of terrorism
and the collapse of democracy. There has been development of terrorist groups, extraordinary
rendition, torture, wrongfully imprisoned suspects, and serious sacrifice of privacy in this time
period alone. Americans often times are confused and frustrated by the war and why it still
continues. It seems as though this war is unwinnable and feels as though it will never end.
Families continue to be torn apart with each deployment and the average American’s taxes are
being used to fund it. The amount of time, energy, and money used to fuel this ongoing battle is
exponential and even ridiculous. The end is not in the foreseeable future with the current
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administration being power hungry and xenophobic so any foreign threat will be pursued. The
average citizen feels helpless in ending it and often times angry about the fact that we are still
involved with foreign affairs as the world police that America is. The best thing for citizens to do
is to get educated on the manner, get involved with activism to end it, and stay up to date with all
the terrorist happenings occurring all over the world.