Sunday, September 11, 2011

The War on Terror: 10 Years Later

Lots of reflections and remembrances going on today, 9/11 a decade later. Two articles worth your attention:

After 9/11 A New Era in the Business of Detaining Immigrants:

Particularly in the latter half of the Bush administration's tenure, Congress appropriated ever-increasing amounts of federal money toward immigration detention efforts within the Department of Homeland Security -- a move that has led private prison executives on a massive buildout, adding beds to increase revenues. Between 2005 and 2010 alone, the amount of money appropriated for immigrant detention and removal more than doubled, from $1.2 billion to more than $2.5 billion.

"There has always been a fear of immigrants, and Sept. 11 really magnified that fear, and allowed fears that were always there to come to the surface," said Alina Das, a supervising attorney at the Immigrant Rights Clinic at New York University's School of Law. "It becomes the drive for numbers: Numbers to prove that the government is doing something about an issue that the public has come to believe is tied to national security and safety."

By 2009, nearly half of all immigrants detained by the federal government were in facilities managed by outsourced private contractors, according to a recent analysis of federal data by advocacy group Detention Watch Network. The growth of private industry tied exclusively to government policy has also led to an extensive federal lobbying campaign, and raised questions about the quality of services provided by businesses seeking returns for investors.

I don't put a lot of stock in articles appearing on the Huffington Post, but the statistics seem solid (if not lifted right out of my 3150 class notes), and the point cogent: 9/11 changed the way our "war on immigrants" was to be fought, leading to the mass privatized detention and deportment of today.

What the War on Terror Owes the War on Crime:

Long before the War on Terror, there was the War on Crime. And as much as 9/11 was a watershed event, many aspects of the nation’s response to the terrorist attacks find longstanding precedent in the American criminal justice system.

In his article “Exporting Harshness: How the War on Crime Helped Make the War on Terror Possible,” Georgetown Law professor and former public defender James Forman Jr. argues against the widely accepted notion that “the war on terror represents a sharp break from the past, with American values and ideals ‘betrayed,’ American law ‘remade.’” Forman continues: “While I share much of the criticism of how we have waged the war on terror, I suspect it is both too simple and ultimately too comforting to assert that the Bush administration alone remade our justice system and betrayed our values.” Instead, he believes, “our approach to the war on terror is an extension–sometimes a grotesque one–of what we do in the name of the war on crime."
Let me make it even more blog-simple: The War on Crime of the 1960's begat the War on Drugs of 1980's, which begat the War on Immigrants of the 1990's, which begat the War on Terror of the 2000's.

These are wars that aren't meant to be won. They serve one purpose and one purpose only: via fear, they are about generating votes.

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