As Ben Franklin said, "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
Whatever happened to the public's right to know? Public accountability has gone out of the window, and we have watched idly as this has been happening.
The prosecution and the establishment-friendly press paint Bradley Manning as "the man who may have put U.S. military secrets in the hands of Osama bin Laden". (Oh, really?!)
Why isn't Manning seen as the man the US army is torturing because he revealed the truth about US war crimes to the world?
So much for the freedom of speech and the public's right to information. Human rights get short shrift too, and in this our own xenophobia and latent racism play a major part. When 8 year old Martin William Richard died in the Boston bombing, we were outraged at the monsters who would stoop to killing such "an adorable boy". He certainly must have been an adorable child, and I am as outraged as the next person. But innocent children are killed each week in the tribal badlands of Afghanistan and Pakistan, collateral damage of the war on terror. But such killing simply doesn't cause us the same outrage! We expect the people there to understand, and to mourn their young quietly. If they protest too much, we conclude that they must be terrorist sympathisers, not anguished parents and relatives. After all, the ones who die are little Ahmed, Yusuf and Fatima, not little Jack, Michael and Nicole. When we treat "their kids" as somehow less precious than "our kids", we lose the right to talk about human rights. This is not just the fault of our governments. We are all complicit because our outrage at the deaths of innocent people is not race-blind or colour-blind.
In a way then, we had it coming. This monster is devouring its own children (citizens of Western democracies) just as it devours others'. Up until 9/11, fresh from the glow of the righteous First Gulf War, we (virtually every citizen in the world) placed our childlike trust in the responsible adult supervision of Western governments. It was clear to us then that they could always be trusted to do the right thing.
Western governments have made victims of us (citizens of Western democracies) as well as innocent people in other countries. We have lost our privacy, our right to know and our right to dissent. They have lost their right to life, liberty and dignity. And no one can protest lest the wrath of these powerful states turn on them.
This is not an appeal to go soft on Islamic terror. Jihadism must obviously be crushed, but there are more effective ways to do it.
We are told by the US to view Iran as the great Islamic evil, whereas anyone with a modicum of knowledge of the Middle East knows that Sunni Wahhabism is behind the global terrorist threat, not the Shi'ite Islam practised in Iran. Iran may meddle regionally through proxies like Hezbollah, but if there is an evil empire behind the kind of Islamism that threatens the citizens of democracies worldwide, it lies on the Riyadh-Islamabad axis.
To my mind, the way to bring the War on Terror to a swift and successful conclusion is to cripple Saudi Arabia (the financier) and Pakistan (the training ground). But these two countries are "allies" of the US and hence above reproach, let alone retribution. It makes one wonder what sort of game is being played, with ourselves as the biggest suckers.
We have to wake up and show we care, because our world will be a distinctly more unpleasant and scary place in a few short years if we don't.