CHICAGO, August 16, 2011 (AFP) – Sweeping new policing powers, the tacit acceptance of torture and a backlash against Muslims that has grown fiercer 10 years after the September 11 attacks have made the United States a less free and open society. The erosion of fundamental American values along with massive — and what some see as disproportionate — expenditures on homeland security and two wars have allowed Al-Qaeda to accomplish at least some of its goals.
Most Americans don’t seem to mind.
A majority of them consistently tell pollsters they are willing to give up some civil liberties in order to make the country safer and only about a quarter say torturing terror suspects is never justified.
“The reason that I think a number of people haven’t responded as aggressively to things like warrantless wiretapping is because they think it won’t happen to them,” said Andrea Prasow, senior counsel for Human Rights Watch’s US program.
“History shows that’s not true. Once government has a power they won’t give it back.” Congress is currently considering legislation that would allow indefinite detention without trial — something that used to be as unimaginable as a US president saying “damn right” to waterboarding and other forms of “e