The 9/11 Effect

This page is an attempt to pull together twenty years of our work battling injustice in the wake of 9/11. Scroll down and you will find links to our experts, selected opinion pieces and blog posts, stories of our clients, analyses and reports, press releases, videos, and more. Above right, you can scroll through the many, many cases we have brought with the people, communities, and movements that have been most hurt. You can also follow links to powerful upcoming events reckoning with this history. We will continue to add to this page, so please check back. 

Thousands of people died horribly in the attacks on September 11, 2001. Nearly a million have died in the wars since. The United States launched a campaign of human rights abuses that targeted immigrant, Muslim, and Black and Brown communities at home and abroad and sought to capitalize on this latest iteration of a global, existential, and constructed threat to wage foreign wars and establish domestic policies that reinforced existing systems of oppression.  

The Bush administration declared a global “war on terror” and, through the use of secret detention centers and torture, full-scale invasions, and drone strikes, this “war” caused profound and lasting harm to communities around the world. The U.S. also passed draconian legislation and implemented policies that further marginalized and criminalized those most vulnerable within the United States through immigration registrations, sweeps and deportations, racial and religious profiling, mass surveillance, and the militarization of local police departments.

The Center for Constitutional Rights has stood with those whose lives have been upended or destroyed as a result of the U.S. government’s suspension of human rights, particularly of Muslims. For the last twenty years, we have fought alongside our clients, communities, and movement partners to hold each administration—including the Biden administration—accountable for their role in creating and upholding these policies and practices. 

We responded to immigrants in New York and New Jersey when they were unlawfully rounded up by federal agents and local police in the weeks and months following 9/11; we represented the first men to challenge their incommunicado, indefinite detention at the Guantánamo Bay prison; we supported victims of torture and abuse by governments and military contractors in detention facilities across the world; and we supported those harmed as a result of the opportunistic, unlawful invasion of Iraq, including in a joint project between Iraqi human rights organizations and U.S. veterans, as well as seeking justice and accountability for Blackwater’s victims. Whether fighting for men like Maher Arar who were ensnared in the U.S. torture and rendition program or challenging drone killings and the surveillance of Black and Brown communities, we’ve remained committed to resisting the 9/11 Effect. 

Twenty years later much of this work continues, and many of our clients and their communities are no closer to justice, accountability, or healing. 

The enduring post-9/11 ideology built upon long standing narratives of xenophobia, maximal security measures, and military power and profit, has seeped and metastasized throughout all aspects of present-day law and politics.

We urgently need to address these injustices and dismantle the post-9/11 “national security” apparatus that has fundamentally altered the U.S. legal and political system and done lasting harm to the international human rights system relied upon by vulnerable communities globally.

  • We demand a full disclosure of the extent and impact of post-9/11 domestic and international actions, an accounting and reckoning of the harms in order to understand—and meet—our collective responsibility of repair, remedy, and non-repetition. 

  • We call on the Biden administration to bring a responsible end to endless war with a long-term committment to civilians at risk following the formal close of military operations, including by providing asylum and resettlement support, to close the Guantánamo Bay prison, provide victims of the U.S. torture program with accountability and redress, and dismantle the terrorism framework and the ideologies that underpin war, detention, and impunity. 

  • We must shift our national priorities and resources away from discriminatory systems, and into programs, solutions, and institutions that center and bolster marginalized communities, at home and abroad. We must reallocate military and police spending to invest in community safety and address economic inequality; universal access to housing, healthcare, and education; and climate change. Visit the Center for Constitutional Rights 2021-2022 Federal Policy Agenda.