Archived: Erosion of Civil Liberties in Aftermath of 9/11

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As the nation reflects on the tragic lessons of 9/11/01, the Coalition for Humane Immigrants Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) calls on all Americans to consider the dangerous path our country has taken in the pursuit of protecting our civil liberties, our freedoms, and our faith in justice and humanity.

The loss of lives and the sheer violence of 9/11 should have strengthened our commitment to protect that which we value most as a country— our freedoms and our civil liberties.  In our haste to fulfill this commitment, however, the Bush Administration post 9/11 has eroded the very values we seek to protect.

The Administration’s war on terrorism has been used as a pretext to manipulate our country’s fears and mask the tough economic times we live through; in the process, we have tightened the noose around our necks without much protest.

The United States constitution guarantees everyone—citizen and non-citizen alike—basic freedoms and protections that no one can take away.  Since 9/11 we are willing to accept full undressing at the airport, detention for unlimited periods of time without a trial or charge, racial profiling of Muslim, Middle Eastern, Africans, among other persons, tapping of phone lines, data-mining, laws that exculpate the government from wrongdoing, and closed courts and hearings.  These are but a few in a long list of measures that have been allowed to pass in the interest of national security at the expense of our very own personal safety and freedom.

In immigrant communities nationwide, families have suffered separations due to the savage implementation of inhumane and unjust immigration laws in the form of raids.  Working men and women have been pulled off the streets just because they looked foreign; the right to speak to an attorney or a consular representative has been denied; court hearings have been bypassed under pressure from ICE officials; and psychotropic drugs have been injected against the will of immigrants about to be deported as well as medications denied that have led to detainees deaths.

The tremors of 9/11 will be felt by all of us for many years to come.  We still mourn the personal losses and denounce the violation to our country.  In our grief, anger, and need for protection, however, we must be cautious not to walk away from constitutional driven liberties and responsibilities and continue to protect our nation’s values of liberty and justice for all.

Some legislation promoted by the Bush Administration in the so-called war on terrorism includes:

—The United States Department of Homeland Security was established in November 2002.
—The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act (USA Patriot Act) was first approved in 2001.
—The Real ID Act was approved in 2005.
—The Detainee Treatment Act was passed in December 2005.
— In 2006, through the Military Commissions Act, the Bush Administration told the courts they no longer had jurisdiction over habeas corpus cases.

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