Friday, September 11, 2015

The permanent emergency

Well said, Will Bunch:

At the White House today, with little fanfare beyond an executive order posted on a website, President Obama performed another annual ritual -- extending the so-called "national emergency" that was caused by the 9/11 attack for one more year:
The terrorist threat that led to the declaration on September 14, 2001, of a national emergency continues. For this reason, I have determined that it is necessary to continue in effect after September 14, 2015, the national emergency with respect to the terrorist threat.
As memorable and as meaningful as the 9/11 attacks were, they were also 14 years ago. That puppy that I sat under a tree with, Rosie, grew up, grew old and died last year -- we have a new red golden puppy, Daisy, now. And my little, impressionable kids? graduated college in June and the other is a junior. More to the point, virtually all the al-Qaeda leadership who planned the 9/11 attacks are dead or in custody, and while the long convoluted plotline of post 9/11 war and conflict has created an ongoing mess in the Middle East, any lingering threat to what was billed "the homeland" -- and the vigilance needed to stop it -- is in a much, much better place than it was in 2001.
So what good comes of declaring a "national emergency," year after year? The practical impact is -- hopefully -- limited, but the psychological impact, that America is still a nation governed by fear, is demoralizing. We should also, at the stage, end the authorization of military force that was enacted after 9/11, and has been used to justify all sorts of military conflicts, drone strikes, etc., that have nothing to do with al-Qaeda and the 2001 attack.
But stopping these one-year "emergency" declarations should be a no-brainer. Saying that we're still living in an emergency -- after nearly a generation -- is an annual moral victory for the terrorists. Sept. 11, 2016, will be President Obama's last 9/11 anniversary in office. He can respect the memory of the dead, and our national spirit, by keeping his pen in his desk drawer that day.

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