April 14, 2021, New York – In response to President Biden’s announcement that all U.S. troops will leave Afghanistan by September 11, 2021, the Center for Constitutional Rights released the following statement:
After nearly two decades of unrelenting violence, the conflict in Afghanistan has been an unmitigated disaster. The United States rushed to war in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, by choice, and abandoned the rule of law and respect for international human rights in favor of torture, detention without charge, “targeted” killing, and endless war. The United States’ longest war has achieved little but hundreds of thousands of lives lost or destroyed, most of them civilians.
As the Biden administration announces the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the 20th anniversary of September 11 this fall, we must acknowledge what has long been clear: the war is lost but not yet ended. The conflict will not end as long as it continues to be fought by the CIA, special forces, or military contractors based outside the country. The war will not be over until the prison at Guantánamo Bay is permanently closed. There will be no peace until there is justice and accountability for all of the victims. Any “peace talks” or “next steps” must be grounded in the principles of equality and dignity, prioritizing the safety and agency of Afghan civilians and civil society, and ensure that an environment that puts the most vulnerable at further risk is not the outcome. Amnesties must be off the table, and interference with investigations and possible prosecutions of U.S. actors, the Taliban or Afghan national forces at the International Criminal Court must cease.
As we approach the 20th anniversary of September 11, it is important to reckon with – and hold those responsible accountable – for the grave errors of the Afghanistan conflict. This is one necessary step toward ending the so-called “War on Terror,” turning the page on the post-9/11 era that has stolen so much from so many and so deeply impacted all of us.
The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.