A government’s first duty is to protect the lives and property of its citizens. Therefore, political leaders tend to take extraordinary measures during times of crisis in the name of providing security. But after devastating terrorist strikes, democratic governments must resist the temptation to go too far—otherwise, they play into the hands of the very same terrorists they set out to defeat. Terrorists want to change the behavior of the societies they attack. When they strike democracies, they want to scare their targets into weakening or abandoning their most esteemed values: their respect for civil liberties and for human rights. This was precisely what bin Laden wanted to accomplish with the attacks of 9/11, and he believed in fact that he succeeded. In an interview with Al Jazeera, bin Laden said,
The values of this Western civilization under the leadership of America have been destroyed. Those awesome symbolic towers that speak of liberty, human rights, and humanity have been destroyed. They have gone up in smoke.
The proof came, when the U.S. government pressured the media not to run our statements that are not longer than a few minutes. They felt that the truth started to reach the American people, the truth that we are not terrorists as they understand it but because we are being attacked in Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan, Somalia, Kashmir, the Philippines, and everywhere else. 1