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FBI Lawlessness: "If You Build It, They Will Come"

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Message Bernard Weiner


Why all the shocked surprise that the FBI was found to have grossly violated Americans' civil liberties ( under the revised so-called "Patriot" Act, and lied to Congress about how often its agents broke the law in doing so?


History has shown us that if you grant more police and surveillance powers to those in charge of law and order -- and if there is no effective oversight mechanism in place -- those powers will be abused. This is as true under the Bush Administration as it was in ancient Rome and in Hitler's Germany.


In other words, if you build an authoritarian structure, they will come.


If ignorant and/or insecure bullies are appointed as administrators, or as prison guards, or as surveillance experts, you should not be shocked when they exceed their authority and run roughshod over the rights, civil liberties and privacy of citizens under their control.


That's what authoritarian types do -- and, as key experiments have shown, even non-authoritarian types on occasion when they are put into similar positions of untrammeled power. ("Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." -- Lord Acton.)




The fact that CheneyBush have nearly a full two years to go until the next president is inaugurated (unless they're impeached and removed before that) is creating political frustration and tension in the body politic: If truth be known, a great majority of Americans, Democrat and Republican, would be happy if Bush and Cheney and Rove just resigned now, disappeared, left, vamoosed into the night.


But that is not likely to happen. In the period until they are gone, they can carry out further depradations on the Constitution and launch more military wars abroad, and seem determined to do both. And, in their back pocket is their statuatory authorization to declare martial law ( click here ) whenever they see fit. Shame on those who voted to give the Administration such police-state powers!

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Bernard Weiner, Ph.D. in government & international relations, has taught at universities in California and Washington, worked for two decades as a writer-editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, and currently serves as co-editor of The Crisis Papers (more...)
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