MSNBC replayed its coverage of Sept. 11, 2001, on this year’s anniversary. One phrase cropped up over and over, used by journalists, experts and government officials to explain how flight security could be breached so egregiously that fateful morning: “America has an open society.”

The terrorists flew planes into buildings that morning, and into our American psyche. A fear-mongering administration and an over-reactive Congress have had as much if not more impact than those planes through the Patriot Act and all its still unknown ramifications.

The war in Afghanistan is unfinished, the war in Iraq unjustified.

Suspected terrorists, even American citizens, are imprisoned in secret and deprived of counsel.

Warrantless searches are happening even as this is written. Do you have e-mail buddies overseas? You’re probably being monitored, too.

Want to let our President know you don’t like where our government is headed? Don’t expect to do it at one of his public appearances; you will be herded away to a “special free speech zone.” (The administration must think an oxymoron is an airhead.)

Want a timeline for withdrawal of American troops from Iraq? Our government says you are aiding and abetting the enemy.

Public discourse is not chilled; it is frozen.

The terrorists didn’t collapse just those two buildings in lower Manhattan. They collapsed our open society, the bedrock of American democracy.

The only way to win this war is to fight for the Constitutional protections considered so important by the Founders that they are named “The Bill of Rights.”

Take heed, presidential candidates. My vote goes to the one among you who will return freedom to America.

(I wrote the above 12 Sept. 2007.)

This week, Chris Dodd threatened to filibuster retroactive immunity for telecom companies’ illegal collusion with this immoral administration. That won my vote in the Maryland primary election. He may not have the points, but he has the cujones to take on the dictator Shrub (Miss you, Molly Ivins!) and his flying monkey Cheney.