True Costs of War: Democracy

Wars always take a toll on a democratic society. In the process of making war our government regularly overrides elements of our Constitution and international treaties. The drive for wealth among individuals and corporations results in war profiteering. The need for 'security' results in racial profiling, unjust detention and invasion of privacy and torture.

In June 2011, the Eisenhower Study Group, a nonpartisan, nonprofit, scholarly initiative based at Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies, released an excellent detailed study of the effects of the Iraq war in these areas. The links below refer to their work.

Illegal Wars

In Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. continues its practice of carrying out wars in violation of the Constitution and various treaties and international law.


  • The International Red Cross estimated in 2004 that between 70% and 90% of detainees in Iraq were innocent
  • The human rights group Reprieve has also accused the U.S. of operating as many as 17 “floating prisons” on ships such as the USS Bataan and USS Peleliu[11]


  • US disregard for international law in Afghanistan has greatly undermined security and efforts to construct a rule of law system that is just and credible.

VFP Webinar Series- Perspectives & Consequences for the Torturer- (video) August 7, 2010

Racial Profiling

  • Shortly after 9/11, the Bush Administration detained more than 1,200 individuals outside of the criminal justice or immigration systems, denying many of them pre-hearing release or even communication with family members or lawyers.
  • Around 800 were deemed “special interest” detainees categorized as “hold until cleared,” another way of saying “guilty until proven innocent.


  • Section 213 of the Patriot Act has been primarily used to conduct “sneak and peek” searches in hundreds of cases completely unrelated to terrorism.
  • Federal and state agents have monitored anti-nuclear activists and Pennsylvania residents concerned about the threat unregulated oil shale drilling poses to their water supply.

Data Privacy

  • "National Security Letter" (NSL) powers can be used to obtain records of virtually everything purchased with debit or credit cards
  • Even if a person whose information is swept-in to the FBI’s database is “cleared” of suspicion, their data is retained for at least twenty years, and entered into a federal database accessible to tens of thousands of government employees