The World Order Ten Years after 9/11

14 September 2011 by Geert Jan Knoops

Just moments after the September 11 attacks President George W. Bush firmly held the view, as we can read in his memoirs Decision Points, that these attacks were to be seen as “a declaration of war” against the United States. The former president also described his own opinion, which was shared by many citizens of the US, namely: “We were going to find out who did this, and kick their ass.” 

War and revenge were thus the cornerstones of the political, military and legal policy of the US in the post-9/11 era. Cornerstones which constituted the advent of a new world order and the invention of a new phenomenon in international law: the Global War on Terror (GWOT). Consequently, several fundamental principles of international (criminal) law were changed dramatically in the wake of 9/11.

First and foremost, the USA PATRIOT Act, signed into law on 26 October 2001, considerably restricted civil liberty rights in the US. The Patriot Act introduced extensive powers for US law enforcement officials, in particular the ability to investigate communications and financial records, in relation to both international and domestic terrorism.

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