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From the beginning the US government response to the bombing of the World Trade Center made it clear that the threat of terrorism would be used to bolster national patriotism, to increase government surveillance and to justify attacks on other countries. In his initial address to the nation, President Bush said, among other things:
"Good evening. Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts ...
"The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge structures collapsing, have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness, and a quiet, unyielding anger. These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed; our country is strong. A great people has been moved to defend a great nation. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shattered steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve. America was targeted for attack because we're the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining.
"Today, our nation saw evil, the very worst of human nature. And we responded with the best of America -- with the daring of our rescue workers, with the caring for strangers and neighbors who came to give blood and help in any way they could. Immediately following the first attack, I implemented our government's emergency response plans. Our military is powerful, and it's prepared ...
"The search is underway for those who are behind these evil acts. I've directed the full resources of our intelligence and law enforcement communities to find those responsible and to bring them to justice. We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them ...
"Thank you. Good night, and God bless America."
Within days Bush sent to the Congress a package of laws called the Patriot Act that included provisions to spy on American citizens considered to be opposed to government policies. These laws had been prepared well before the attack on the World Trade Center which was used as an excuse to get them passed. They were adopted into law without having been read in their entirety by the Congressmen who voted.
A few months later plans were made for the American invasion of Iraq - justified by its alleged link to the bombing of the World Trade Center. Although it has been shown repeatedly that Iraq had no connection to the events of September 11, 2001, President Bush has continued to imply this, as recently as his address to the American people on December 18, 2005: "From this office, nearly three years ago, I announced the start of military operations in Iraq. Our coalition confronted a regime that defied United Nations Security Council resolutions, violated a cease-fire agreement, sponsored terrorism and possessed, we believed, weapons of mass destruction" [emphasis added].
In his December 18, speech, Bush continued to make terrorism the central focus of his Presidency: "I see a global terrorist movement that exploits Islam in the service of radical political aims - a vision in which books are burned and women are oppressed and all dissent is crushed. Terrorist operatives conduct their campaign of murder with a set of declared and specific goals - to demoralize free nations, to drive us out of the Middle East, to spread an empire of fear across that region and to wage a perpetual war against America and our friends. These terrorists view the world as a giant battlefield and they seek to attack us wherever they can. This has attracted Al Qaeda to Iraq, where they are attempting to frighten and intimidate America into a policy of retreat. ... We will defeat the terrorists by capturing and killing them abroad, removing their safe havens, and strengthening new allies like Iraq and Afghanistan in the fight we share."
The official American definition of terrorism is problematic. For example, most of the events listed by the US government as terrorist acts in the Year 2000 were attacks on oil pipelines belonging to American companies. Furthermore, the official listing of terrorist organizations is highly politicized. It routinely ignores organizations located in states with which the country is allied and concentrates instead on organizations in other states.