America must move from the errant, retributive justice of 9/11 to a healing, restorative process of truth and reconciliation.
Before the Congress adjourns, I will bring forth a new proposal for the establishment of a National Commission on Truth and Reconciliation, which will have the power to compel testimony and gather official documents to reveal to the American people not only the underlying deception which has divided us, but in that process of truth seeking set our nation on a path of reconciliation.
We suffer in our remembrance of 9/11, because of the terrible loss of innocent lives on that grim day. We also suffer because 9/11 was seized as an opportunity to run a political agenda, which has set America on a course of the destruction of another nation and the destruction of our own Constitution. And we have become less secure as a result of the warped practice of pursing peace through the exercise of pre-emptive military strength.
It is not simply 9/11 that needs to be remembered. We also need to remember the politicization of 9/11 and the polarizing narrative which followed, locking us into endless conflict, a war on terror which has wrought further terror worldwide and which has severely damaged our standing worldwide as an honorable, compassionate nation. As we were all victims of 9/11, so we have become victims of the interpretation of 9/11.
Our government’s external response to 9/11 was to attack a nation which did not attack us. Indeed on the first anniversary of 9/11, the Bush Administration issued a well-publicized stern warning to Iraq, which was part of a campaign to induce people to believe Iraq had something to do with 9/11.
The deliberate, systematic connection of Iraq with 9/11 has led America into a philosophical and moral cul-de-sac as over one million Iraqis and over 4,155 US soldiers have died in a war that will cost over $3 trillion. Additionally, soldiers from twenty-three other countries have died in the Iraq war.
We attempt to unite Iraq by further dividing it. We talk about restoring Iraq while taking steps to place control of its vast oil wealth in the hands of US oil giants. And we intend to impose upon the Iraqi people the cost of rebuilding a country our government ruined, keeping a once-prosperous nation lashed to debt and poverty for a long, long time. Iraq has paid for 9/11. We all continue to pay for 9/11.
The heartbreaking loss of the lives and injuries to America troops further binds us to the Administration’s illogic of the Iraq War: We remember our troops’ sacrifice by demanding more sacrifice; we support our troops by continuing the war.
The dominant color of our new national security since 911 is neither red, white nor blue. Every day is orange. Every day, reminders of fear of 9/11 become banal. Yet we no longer hear the airport announcements nor see the orange-colored warnings because they have commonplace standards in our new national security state, as is the Patriot Act, wiretapping, and a host of invasions of privacy and diminution of civil liberties. The Constitution has been roundly attacked by the very people who took an oath to defend it.
There is a powerful desire across America for change, not necessarily from control by one political party to another, but a change from living with lies to living with truth.
Over two dozen nations, facing peril within and without, deeply divided by politics and war have travelled down a path of restoring civil society through a formal process of reconciliation. At some point within each of those countries it was understood that the way forward is shown through the light of truth. This process is not without pain because it requires a willingness to study evidence from which eyes had been averted and ears had been closed. But in the process of truth and reconciliation, nations found new strength, new resolve, and new commitment.
The South African Truth and Reconciliation enabled that nation to come to grips with its past through a public confessional, bringing forward those who committed crimes and having the power to grant amnesty for full disclosure of crimes against the people. Of course, our path may necessarily be different: High US government officials stand accused in impeachment petitions of violating national and international law. Our continued existence as a democracy may depend upon how thoroughly we seek the truth. I will call upon the America people to join me in supporting this effort.
The truth can move us forward, as a unified whole, so that we can one day become a re-United States. 9/11 is the day the world changed. It is the day America embraced a metaphor of war. If we are open to truth and reconciliation, we may one day be able, once again, to embrace peace.