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The decade since 9/11 has eroded – and confirmed – American values

US actions over the past 10 years have called into question America’s commitment to justice, freedom, and respect for human rights. But the decade has also confirmed how resilient the country's democratic values really are.

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In May 2005, Amnesty International in London called the US prison camp at Guantánamo Bay “the gulag of our times.” That heated rhetoric set off a firestorm of criticism not only from top government officials – President Bush called it an “absurd allegation” – but from traditional allies of the human rights cause like The Boston Globe and The Washington Post. The Post found the analogy overblown and said it gave the Bush administration “another excuse to dismiss valid objections to its policies as ‘hysterical.’”

But gradually the furor died down, and the term gained currency as a mainstream reference. In the 10 years since 9/11, “the American gulag” hasn’t been the only once-unthinkable idea that became commonplace. In many ways, US action over the past decade have called into question America’s values and commitment to justice, freedom, and respect for human rights. Thankfully, it has also confirmed them.

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