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On September 11th I was in Washington for a panel in Crystal City, where I was supposed to speak that afternoon about the censorship threat of the proposed Hague treaty. Before I set out, another participant phoned me, saying the meeting had been cancelled due to an attack on the Pentagon nearby. The government had told its workers to go home, and shut down the subway so they couldn't.
I walked to the EPIC office, and there the real danger dawned on me. Our freedom was the next target! Bush and the FBI would seize this excuse to advance their patient plans for surveillance and arbitrary rule. Marc Rotenbeg and I began writing an op-ed piece, warning Americans to resist the tendency to attack their own freedom as a substitute for perpetrators that were out of reach. But no newspaper would publish it.
Events justified our fears. When our unelected president imprisoned people without trial, he abolished the most basic of legal rights. A few judges had the courage to reject this tyranny, but appeals courts reversed them. Osama bin Laden might wish to destroy America, but America is too big for him; he cannot do it. Bush may really do it. Americans, if you love your country, don't be distracted from the enemy within!
Copyright 2002 Richard Stallman
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