Bruce Schneier combs over the details of the White House’s memos on the subject and analyzes the security problems with the illegal activities of the Bush administration, but I’ll quote him for the purpose of summarizing why this administration is a threat to, well, Americans and American democracy:
The result is that the president’s wartime powers, with its armies, battles, victories, and congressional declarations, now extend to the rhetorical “War on Terror”: a war with no fronts, no boundaries, no opposing army, and — most ominously — no knowable “victory.” Investigations, arrests and trials are not tools of war. But according to the Yoo memo, the president can define war however he chooses, and remain “at war” for as long as he chooses.
This is indefinite dictatorial power. And I don’t use that term lightly; the very definition of a dictatorship is a system that puts a ruler above the law. In the weeks after 9/11, while America and the world were grieving, Bush built a legal rationale for a dictatorship. Then he immediately started using it to avoid the law.
If you didn’t see things going in this direction, you probably weren’t paying attention, or were trying to convince yourself that they wouldn’t. This administration is literally laying the groundwork for a police state. Also, someone needs to sit them down and teach them why you don’t use the military to police your people.
I’ll close with an excerpt Schneier took from this memo drafted by DoJ counsel:
Foremost among the objectives committed by the Constitution to [the President’s] trust. As Hamilton explained in arguing for the Constitution’s adoption, ’because the circumstances which may affect the public safety’ are ’not reducible within certain limits, it must be admitted, as a necessary consequence, that there can be no limitation of that authority, which is to provide for the defense and safety of the community, in any manner essential to its efficacy.’ . . . [The Constitution’s] sweeping grant vests in the President an unenumerated Executive power . . . The Commander in Chief power and the President’s obligation to protect the Nation imply the ancillary powers necessary to their successful exercise.
Straight from the horse’s mouth.