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The demon is dead; so are many of our rights

Article by Jonathan Turley.
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The death of Osama bin Laden has left the United States with a type of morning-after effect. For 10 years, an ever-expanding war on terror has been defined by one central dark figure: Osama bin Laden. It is perhaps not surprising that in a celebrity-driven society, even our wars seemed personality driven. For many, Iraq was about Saddam Hussein. Afghanistan was about Osama bin Laden. With both of these defining figures gone, however, it is time to take account of what has been lost, and what has been gained.

For civil libertarians, the legacy of bin Laden is most troubling because it shows how the greatest injuries from terror are often self-inflicted. Bin Laden’s twisted notion of success was not the bringing down of two buildings in New York or the partial destruction of the Pentagon. It was how the response to those attacks by the United States resulted in our abandonment of core principles and values in the “war on terror.” Many of the most lasting impacts of this ill-defined war were felt domestically, not internationally.
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Starting with George W. Bush, the 9/11 attacks were used to justify the creation of a massive counterterrorism system with growing personnel and budgets designed to find terrorists in the heartland. Laws were rewritten to prevent citizens from challenging searches and expanding surveillance of citizens. Leaders from both parties acquiesced as the Bush administration launched programs of warrantless surveillance, sweeping arrests of Muslim citizens and the creation of a torture program.

What has been most chilling is that the elimination of Saddam and now bin Laden has little impact on this system, which seems to continue like a perpetual motion machine of surveillance and searches. While President Dwight D. Eisenhower once warned Americans of the power of the military-industrial complex, we now have a counterterrorism system that employs tens of thousands, spends tens of billions of dollars each year and is increasingly unchecked in its operations.

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