Monday, September 11, 2006

September 11th, Five Years Ago Today

Above a video that reviews the events. A word of warning: the footage is graphic and the music sappy (we think it's better seen on mute). Below, two articles in Sundays New York Times give the LHG a sense of hope five years after 9-1. The first reports that:

In 2005, more people from Muslim countries became legal permanent United States residents — nearly 96,000 — than in any year in the previous two decades. More than 40,000 of them were admitted last year, the highest annual number since the terrorist attacks, according to data on 22 countries provided by the Department of Homeland Security.

Many have made the journey unbowed by tales of immigrant hardship, and despite their own opposition to American policy in the Middle East. They come seeking the same promise that has drawn foreigners to the United States for many decades, according to a range of experts and immigrants: economic opportunity and political freedom. Those lures, both powerful and familiar, have been enough to conquer fears that America is an inhospitable place for Muslims.

Why is this hopeful? It's hopeful because every year thousands of Muslims are choosing the United States as their home. These Muslims are showing that Islam can thrive in a pluralist society, in a society with a separation between church and state. They are showing in practice what Tariq Ramadan has said in his books - that there is no fundamental incompatability between Islam and the West. Indeed, the United States has one of the largest Muslim populations the world over. The central battle of the "war on terror" is the struggle for the hearts and minds of Muslims. Maybe there is still a chance that the United States can win that battle.

The second article reports that:

Abu Zubaydah, the first Osama bin Laden henchman captured by the United States after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, was bloodied and feverish when a C.I.A. security team delivered him to a secret safe house in Thailand for interrogation in the early spring of 2002. Bullet fragments had ripped through his abdomen and groin during a firefight in Pakistan several days earlier when he had been captured.

The events that unfolded at the safe house over the next few weeks proved to be fateful for the Bush administration. Within days, Mr. Zubaydah was being subjected to coercive interrogation techniques — he was stripped, held in an icy room and jarred by earsplittingly loud music — the genesis of practices later adopted by some within the military, and widely used by the Central Intelligence Agency in handling prominent terrorism suspects at secret overseas prisons.

President Bush pointedly cited the capture and interrogation of Mr. Zubaydah in his speech last Wednesday announcing the transfer of Mr. Zubaydah and 13 others to the American detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. And he used it to call for ratification of the tough techniques employed in the questioning.

But rather than the smooth process depicted by Mr. Bush, interviews with nearly a dozen current and former law enforcement and intelligence officials briefed on the process show, the interrogation of Mr. Zubaydah was fraught with sharp disputes, debates about the legality and utility of harsh interrogation methods, and a rupture between the FBI and the C.I.A. that has yet to heal.

Why is the hopeful? It's hopeful because at a time when the federal government has curtailed civil liberties and openly boasted of breaking the Geneva Convention members of the FBI not only protest the mistreatment of prisoners, but more importantly are allowed to do so. As long as there is dissent and debate, there is also hope that the United States can recover its moral compass. Despite the criticism of U.S. foreign policy that at times has appeared on this blog we at the LHG are, to paraphrase a close friend, glad that the United States won the cold war.


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