How can the US can help France?
I'm sure you've heard many suggestions. Humanitarian aid
. Yes, by all means. Military aid
. Yes, if properly targeted. There are many variations on these two themes.
Here's a suggestion I haven't heard yet. Americans can help the French by articulating the mistakes we made in responding to 9/11.
We don't have to assume that Americans agree on what the mistakes were. In fact, we can assume that we don't agree. But at least we're now free to discuss the question, and -- to start my own list right here -- we were not free to discuss that question in 2001 or for several years afterwards.
We don't have to assume that French people aren't acutely aware of some of these mistakes. But we can assume that ordinary French citizens would welcome the support of ordinary US citizens in documenting these mistakes and arguing against their repetition.
I hope others will join in building the list or expanding the conversation. Here are two contributions of my own.Reflections on 9/11, One Year Later, September 11, 2002.https://dash.harvard.edu/handle/1/4732069
Excerpt: "Our country is less free. The government is removing information from the internet and federal repository libraries under the theory that keeping citizens uninformed is a price worth paying for keeping terrorists uninformed. In the USA Patriot Act, Congress gave the executive branch enormous new powers of surveillance, detainment, and secrecy, and many members of Congress admit that they did not have time to read the bill before voting. The Justice Department refuses to disclose how it is using its new powers under the Patriot Act, even to the House Judiciary Committee which oversees the Justice Department. The FBI has lied more than 75 times to the secret intelligence court whose approval is needed for Patriot Act wiretaps and other intercepts. One of our leaders has said that questioning our leaders only gives support to terrorism....I regret the loss of this freedom, but I want to make a different point. I regret above all the widespread acceptance of this loss over the past year. One recent poll shows that nearly half of the American public believes that the First Amendment goes too far in protecting freedom of speech, and another shows that two-thirds support government censorship of the internet even when it doesn't help fight terrorism....If the discussion were allowed to proceed freely, and with adequate information, then it's likely that we'd agree that some of the new limitations on our freedom are temporary necessities to detect threats to the country. But I believe that we'd also agree that some of the new limitations on our freedom have no connection to national security and were cynically enacted using 9/11 as a pretext, and that some were good-faith overreactions that can now be corrected...."Access to Dangerous Knowledge: Reflections on 9/11 Ten Years Later, November 2, 2012.https://dash.harvard.edu/handle/1/8592167
Excerpt: "The US hasn't suffered a major terrorist attack in ten years. So why bring this up now? The main reason is that we're one attack away from facing these questions all over again. The next time we face these questions, we'll improvise a new set of answers. We won't be calm, and we won't be in a mood to extract lessons from history. If our experience ten years ago is any guide, our leaders will feel immense pressure to find a set of adequate-looking answers and to appear to be united about them. The national mood will quickly limit our freedom to debate the answers. (Dick Cheney: To question our leaders is to help terrorism.) Those who want to restrict the conversation will do so in the name of the freedom they want to restrict....The US has erred needlessly far on the side of safety. We have studied our response ten years ago and should take note of the conclusions. 'Thomas H. Kean, the chairman of the 9/11 commission, said that three-quarters of the classified material he reviewed for the commission should not have been classified in the first place....' A 2004 study by the Rand Corporation concluded that the U.S. federal government deleted too much previously-OA information from government web sites in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks...A 2007 study by the National Research Council concluded that legitimate security concerns 'do not justify the use of extreme measures that could serve to significantly disrupt the openness that has characterized the U.S. scientific and technology enterprises....' We can be sensitive to danger and [still] think that the United States overreacted badly after 9/11 in restricting access to knowledge. But will we remember this when we need to?"#911lessons #FranceAttacks