In the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, many began to grow increasingly skeptical of the state’s response. Even many of those who were not in the anti-war movement ended up questioning the Bush administration’s reaction. While the official story placed the blame at the hands of al Qaeda who were currently hiding in Afghanistan, our military was sent on a side mission to Iraq based on unprovable claims concerning weapons of mass destruction and lies about their ties to the 9/11 attacks.
It wasn’t just the needless warfare that upset the population, but also the increasing encroachment on our basic civil rights, namely the right to privacy. Between wiretapping scandals, the PATRIOT Act, and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, people started to grow increasingly distrustful of their government.
However 17 years later and the anti-war movement has barely gone anywhere. Sure we can thank Edward Snowden for the National Security Administration leaks. In response there were everything from Restore the Fourth rallies to efforts like Reset the Net. Despite pushback against the PATRIOT Act it mostly survives intact, extended via legislation with equally Orwellian names such as the USA FREEDOM Act.
The Iraq War may have officially ended in 2011 but private mercenary work still continues on Iraqi soil under the authorization of the american government, the War in Afghanistan still rages on, and we have expanded to War on Terror across the Middle East, influencing the creation of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Two years after 9/11 launched the creation of the Department of Homeland Security which took the recently formed Transportation Security Administration under its banner. But while the TSA garnered huge amounts of public attention and scrutiny, one of its other branches which was created in 2003, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, went largely unnoticed by all except those directly affected by its existence. But recently the tides have turned.
Occupy ICE is still going strong, even after many of the physical occupations have been evicted. Many groups, including various chapters of the Industrial Workers of the World’s Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, the Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons, and Occupy Prisons have thrown their weight behind the Dream Defenders’ GEO Cages divestment campaign which targets GEO Group, one of the largest profiteers behind ICE.
Abolishing ICE is becoming an increasingly mainstream battlecry. But let’s expand that battlecry and call for the abolition of the entire DHS, the repeal of the PATRIOT Act in all its updated forms, and a complete end to the War on Terror.