In 2011, Wyden sought an amendment to the USA Patriot Act titled requiring the US government "to end practice of secretly interpreting law." Wyden warns that there is now a system of law beneath or behind the law that we can see and debate:
"It is impossible for Congress to hold an informed public debate on the Patriot Act when there is a significant gap between what most Americans believe the law says and what the government is using the law to do. In fact, I believe many members of Congress who have voted on this issue would be stunned to know how the Patriot Act is being interpreted and applied.
"Even secret operations need to be conducted within the bounds of established, publicly understood law. Any time there is a gap between what the public thinks the law says and what the government secretly thinks the law says, I believe you have a serious problem."
I have often wondered, since I first wrote about America's slide toward fascism, what was driving it. I saw the symptoms but not the cause. Scahill's and Rowley's brave, transformational film reveals the prime movers at work. The US executive now has a network of secret laws, secret budgets, secret kill lists, and a well-funded, globally deployed army of secret teams of assassins. That is precisely the driving force working behind what we can see. Is fascism really too strong a word to describe it?
*This article originally referred to Scahill and Rowley's documentary as Secret Wars; this was amended to Dirty Wars at 5.20pm ET on 3 February. The phrase "US kill list" in the subhead was also amended to "kill list" in order to remove possible ambiguity