Just like the frog in a pot of water that doesn't realize it's being
boiled to death because the temperature is raised so gradually, so too
can a populace fail to appreciate the erosion of its freedom.
Polls show, distressingly, that most Americans would willingly give
away civil liberties in pursuit of security. But while Americans believe
giving up freedom means added inconvenience at the airport, the Bush
administration has used this moment to obliterate the checks and
balances that keep the executive branch operating within legal
Over the past year, the administration's transgressions have piled
up: from refusing to disclose information to Congress on the Sept. 11
detainees, to dismissing the Geneva Conventions as inapplicable to the
hundreds of Guantanamo Bay prisoners, to telling the federal courts to
butt out of a decision to hold Americans as enemy combatants, without
charge or access to lawyers.
Our arrogant, cowboy executive and his minions see themselves as not
answerable to any countervailing power, be it Congress, the courts or
international law. Their credo is: We know what we're doing and we don't
have to explain it to you. (Even the vote on whether to approve a
pre-emptive attack on Iraq came grudgingly and with repeated claims that
Congress wasn't needed to act.)
We are in this mess partly due to a pliant Congress. After Sept. 11,
it was browbeaten into passing the USA Patriot Act, which granted
significant new surveillance and detention authority to federal law
enforcement. This Saturday marks its one-year anniversary.....
Bush administration has used every opportunity to exploit this national
crisis as a way to arrogate power to itself. Whatever it couldn't get
past Congress, it took through rulemaking. I expect we will find
ourselves at the end of this "war" with our constitutional traditions of
checks and balances and individual rights in tatters.