First of all, I agree that the likelihood of America slipping into some sort of fascist govt is pretty remote. The beauty of the American system is that it tends to be self-correcting over time and it is designed to be extremely difficult to do anything so no one individual or party can completely take over. Given that, however, I do think there are disturbing trends in what GWBush has been doing over the past seven years….
2. Create a secret prison system that exact torture outside the rule of law.<- in use since the before the cold war, yet hasn't been used against US citizens
5. Arbitrarily detain and release citizens. <- no citizens have been detained without due course that I've heard of
Untrue. Jose Padilla was an American citizen, arrested in Chicago in 2002, declared an “enemy combatant” by the govt and was sent to a brig in South Carolina with no notice given to any attorney or family member and without any criminal charges made against him. He also claims he was subjected to torture during this incarceration. After much legal wrangling, he was transferred to a civilian court, and in 2007 was charged and found guilty. But for 5 years, this American citizen was secretly detained with no formal charges and perhaps tortured. Five years without due process.
In addition, I think the case of Yaser Hamdi is alarming in so many ways, and points to potential abuses by our govt. Here's a former American citizen who is now a citizen of Saudia Arabia, captured in Afghanistan fighting for the Taliban. Clearly a possible terrorist that we needed to detain, absolutely. So what does our govt do? First, they won't tell anyone (not Congress, not the courts, NO one) who they have captured. No names, no charges, no nothing, and the courts eventually overturned that. Hamdi was given access to a lawyer (over 2 years after he was first captured) and defended the right for Hamdi to know what charges he's being detained under. In 2004, the Supreme Court ruled that the govt must give Hamdi this right to know the charges (habeus corpus). When the govt lost that case, they released him in Saudia Arabia. So here's this terrible terrorist, secretly detained with no charges, and once the govt is forced to say why they're holding this person, they let him go. Say what?
These two folks are not buddies and chums and we do need to arrest and detain dangerous terrorists. But I do find it disturbing that our govt has continually fought for the right to detain citizens secretly, to detain citizens without charges, and to define torture in a way so that anything short of death isn't considered torture.
And whether or not someone is a legal citizen or not is irrelevant to me. If China detained an American citizen without charges for years, in a secret prison where no one knew where he was, and tortured this person, we in this country would be outraged. To do all these things to non-citizens in our own country is no less outrageous.
4. Create a surveillance apparatus. <- all efforts in this area are almost always shot down by privacy advocates as soon as they are proposed/discovered.
And the fact that our govt hid this for years and years doesn't bother anyone? And that they are continuing to fight for this ability?
10. Subvert the rule of law, or simply declare martial law. <- attempts have been made and failed. Martial Law has not been used in a long time.
I'm not worried about marial law, but I do think GWBush is subverting the rule of law through his signing statements. For those who don't know, Bush often signs laws with signing statements that allow him to go outside the confines of the law and undermine Congressional intent. So far he's done this over 750 times.
Again, I think in the long run Bush will go down in history as a president who tried to go outside the Constitution and subvert the law whenever he saw fit. And I hope that his abuses will be brought to light and ultimately limited. That's the self-correction of our system that I do love. But the fact that this could be done at all, and that most people either don't know or aren't bothered by these abuses worries me. No, we won't be a fascist society, but we may become a country that allows for detaining people without charges, torturing people as we see fit, and that's ok with most folks as long as it's against non-citizens or extremists.