Thoughts on 9/11

By Randall B. Kester

Those who, like us, were a continent away from the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, can hardly appreciate the horror and emotional trauma experienced by those who were more immediately affected. And it is impossible to express in words our feelings for those who lost their lives or their loved ones, either in the attack or in the subsequent rescue efforts. But we can be alert to the possible consequences if our government, either for vengeance or concern for security, takes measures that jeopardize the very freedoms of its citizens that we claim to be protecting.

Such actions as surveillance without probable cause, arrest on mere suspicion, detention incommunicado and without charge, denial of counsel and trial by executive fiat, bring to mind the words of a federal judge in setting aside the judgment in one of the World War II Japanese exclusion cases: “As historical precedent it stands as a constant caution that in times of war or declared military necessity our institutions must be vigilant in protecting constitutional guarantees. It stands as a caution that in times of distress the shield of military necessity and national security must not be used to protect governmental actions from close scrutiny and accountability. It stands as a caution that in times of international hostility and antagonisms our institutions, legislative, executive and judicial, must be prepared to exercise their authority to protect all citizens from the petty fears and prejudices that are so easily aroused.” 

Korematsu v. United States of America, 584 F. Supp. 1406@1420 (N.D. Cal., 1984).