The Watch

The Watch is concerned about the increasing pressure towards feudalism in the United States from corporations, social regressives, warmongers, and the media. We also are concerned with future history concerning our current times, as non-truths which are “widely reported” become the basis for completely false narratives.

Saturday, May 13, 2006


Thank God for Qwest!

Of the four largest telecommunications companies, only Qwest had the courage and conviction to stand up to the NSA and demand a court order for production of telephone data of all their customers. According to the USAToday, AT&T, Verizon, and BellSouth all rolled over and played nice with the NSA, providing massive amounts of data regarding who called whom when and for how long over the past four and a half years. The stated goal of this NSA project is to “compile a database of all calls in the United States”.

Q: Why is the Qwest refusal so important? A: Because it gives us a glimpse into the NSA’s illegal program. Here’s what we can infer from Qwest’s refusal:

1. By its own actions, even the NSA doesn’t believe that their data gathering is legal. After all, if the NSA thought that the program was legal and would be approved by the FISA court (or any other federal court), all they would have to do was ask for a court order or warrant and, if the program was legal, they would have gotten approval. It’s that simple. The FISA court grants almost every request for warrants -- they almost never deny a request. So, it’s clear that the NSA does not believe that their program is legal. When asked for legal back-up, the NSA backed down and left Qwest alone.

2. Even the NSA doesn’t believe that this program is very valuable from a terrorist-catching standpoint. After all, if the goal was to create a national database of ALL calls made in the US, allowing the fourth largest telecommunications company with 14 million customers to opt out of the program would clearly prevent accomplishment of the goal. Also, if the goal is to catch terrorists, what if the terrorists have Qwest as their telephone service provider? The NSA could miss apprehending the terrorists simply because of dumb luck. Not a very impressive way to run the world’s most secretive intelligence agency! The best explanation for NSA’s failure to pursue Qwest is that NSA is not solely interested in the data just to catch terrorists.

A number of conservative leaders and commentators have jumped to the defense of the program -- most of whom don’t know anything about the program other than what was reported in USAToday. I watched with disbelief and extreme disdain the Judiciary Committee debate regarding the recently revealed spying program… Republican Senator after Republican Senator expounded on the belief that the program is legal, that the NSA was “only” given telephone numbers and data, and that the NSA was not spying on average Americans… All of which were refuted in the USAToday article.

1. The program is illegal. It violates the 1934 Telecommunications Act, which made it illegal for phone companies to give out any information about their customers, including who they call, who calls them, how often they call, and how the calls are routed. It also violates a series of laws enacted in the late 1970s that were designed to strengthen privacy laws regarding telecommunications. So, the program is clearly illegal.

2. The fact that the telecommunications companies (except Qwest) gave “only” telephone numbers and data to the NSA means nothing. The government already has databases linking telephone numbers with names, addresses, and social security numbers. Remember your tax return from just a month or so ago? If you wrote the government a check to help cover the cost of the Iraq war, your check probably had your phone number on it, didn’t it? Even if the government didn’t get your phone number from your check, there are easy ways to find out the name of the person associated with a phone number… You can go to and find out the name associated with a given phone company for free. For free. If anywho can do this for free for fun, you can bet your @ss that the US government can do that and much much more. So, your phone numbers ARE personal identification numbers that directly link your name with your calling habits -- all very private information that historically has required a court order.

3. One Republican Senator had the cajones to claim that the NSA was clearly only collecting phone data for a few people linked to Al Qaida. Let’s see… If more than 200 million Americans are members of Al Qaida, then I think we have lost the war. Apparently, the Senator failed to fully read the USAToday article before leaping to the defense of the program.

I am going to say this very clearly: Any Senator who defends this program or any other other illegal NSA warrantless spying programs is abdicating his or her sworn duty to uphold the Constitution as part of a system of checks and balances. The legislative branch’s duty is to be part of a system of checks and balances that prevents either the judicial or the executive branches from gaining too much power. Remember your social studies classes in middle school? Remember the SYSTEM OF CHECKS AND BALANCES???

President Bush is not my king and if he acts like a king, he needs to be impeached and removed from power. No person is above the law, yet Mr. Bush is clearly ignoring legal and Constitutional limits to his power. I don’t care if Bush is a Republican or a Democrat, my liberty is precious to me. Bush needs to be impeached. And any Senator who defends Bush’s illegal programs is a traitor.

As for the bastard phone companies, I, for one, look forward to joining in the class action lawsuit against them for violating my privacy and betraying my trust.

My prediction: in a few weeks or months, we will learn that the NSA has also coopted the four companies with the most concentrated and sensitive information imaginable -- Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover. By linking telephone numbers with names with calling patterns, with credit card purchases, with Internet usage, with phone conversations, the US government will have developed a massive blackmailing capability beyond the wildest wet dreams of even J. Edgar Hoover, Richard Nixon, or Senator Joseph McCarthy. And all in the name of stopping "Terror".

Long Live the Republic!

-John Locke

PS. Dear NSA, CIA, FBI, KGB, and Bush:
I am not a terrorist. I love the US. Please don't spy on me.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The NSA - Illegally Spying on Americans

I don’t know if anyone reads these posts, but in the hopes that someone out there is listening…

Today, we found out that the Bush Administration’s claims that the National Security Agency (NSA) does not mine personal data from phone calls and does not spy on Americans are simply not true. According to USAToday, the NSA has developed a massive database that documents what numbers you call, what phone calls you receive, when the phone calls occur, and how long you talk. According to one source, the goal of this spying program is “to create a database of every call ever made.” AT&T, Verizon, and BellSouth are all apparently guilty of colluding with the US Government to provide this data. Combined, these three telephone giants serve over 200 million US citizens. The only major telecommunications company that refused to cooperate was Qwest. Good for you, Qwest!

Although USAToday’s sources state that the names of people associated with each phone number are not being turned over by these phone companies, the sources point out that the government already has databases that link names with phone numbers, so the NSA has the ability to determine exactly who you called and who called you.

The USA article can be found here:

Remember that leading up to the 2004 election, Bush publicly stated that, “Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so.”

As it turns out, that was SIMPLY NOT TRUE. A good summary of all the untruths by the Bush Administration relating to illegal wiretaps can be found at this site:

Then, when the story broke last December that the NSA was conducting wiretaps on Americans without court orders, and without the required judicial or legislative oversight, the President insisted that at least one person on the line had to be an Al Qaeda operative or be suspected of being a terrorist operative.

In April of 2006, Mark Klein, an AT&T technician, reported to the New York Times that AT&T was routing Internet data into NSA computers. Mr. Klein stated that AT&T was tapping into the Worldnet (AT&T’s Internet circuits), “Despite what we are hearing, and considering the public track record of this administration, I simply do not believe their claims that the NSA's spying program is really limited to foreign communications or is otherwise consistent with the NSA's charter or with FISA. And unlike the controversy over targeted wiretaps of individuals' phone calls, this potential spying appears to be applied wholesale to all sorts of internet communications of countless citizens.”

An account of what Mr. Klein witnessed can be found here:,70619-0.html

On May 2, 2006, AT&T petitioned a San Francisco court for an injunction so that they won’t have to testify about what they have been doing because they claimed the information was a protected state secret. This seemed extremely suspicious -- almost certainly corroborating Mr. Klein’s report.

Now, we find out that the NSA has been collecting information about nearly every phone call made in the US -- information that typically requires a court order to be obtained.

Bush has neither confirmed nor denied the veracity of this new discovery, but since it would have been very easy to deny such a program in today's news conference if it didn’t exist, Occam’s Razor (the simplest explanation is usually the correct explanation) dictates that the program clearly does exist. Frankly, who knows, it could even be more sinister than USAToday reports…






-John Locke

Monday, May 08, 2006

Hayden Watch

Hayden Watch

President Bush has nominated Mike Hayden to be the next head of the CIA. "Mike Hayden is supremely qualified for this position," Bush proclaimed in his press conference.

Much as I hate to do it, I have to agree with President Bush on this one; I agree that Hayden is supremely qualified to violate the Constitutional rights of all US citizens...

Interestingly, here's what Mr. Hayden said in a speech in 2000: (I got this helpful transcript from the NSA website itself!)

"Those of us who have been around awhile recall hearing about the Church and Pike investigations of the mid-1970s. After lengthy investigations, the House and Senate committees concluded that NSA had not given appropriate weight to privacy considerations in conducting its signals intelligence mission."As a result, Congress passed a law called the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act regulating electronic surveillance in the United States. Both houses of Congress established permanent intelligence oversight committees to ensure compliance. Moreover, President Ford issued an Executive Order which both authorized and set limits on the conduct of intelligence activities. As a result, the legal and policy context for intelligence activities was forever and dramatically changed.

"Now, if you've seen "Enemy of the State" you might believe that the intelligence gathering mission offers the greatest threat to the privacy of network users. Like many people, you may not be aware of the laws and regulations under which the NSA operates, and the rigorous oversight applied to those operations to ensure our compliance."So how do we reconcile the government's need for foreign intelligence information with the need to protect individual privacy rights? We do this through a series of procedures outlined in the Executive Order, approved by the Attorney General and the Secretary of Defense, and vetted with the Congressional intelligence oversight committees.

"The procedures recognize two important facts: first, there are times when a government needs to collect information about its citizens. The circumstances under which this is allowed to occur either inside or outside the U.S. are extremely limited and well-regulated. Basically, there must be probable cause that a person is an agent of a foreign power and a court must issue a warrant authorizing the surveillance inside the U.S."

It's actually quite a good speech. You can read the entire speech at the following address:

Similarly, in April 2000, Mr. Hayden testified to the House Select Committee on Intelligence:

"The Seventies were a watershed for the Intelligence Community. Congressional investigating committees, led by Senator Frank Church and Congressman Otis Pike, found that Government agencies, including NSA, conducted a number of improper intelligence activities directed against U.S. citizens. The revelations of these committees resulted in new rules for U.S. intelligence agencies, rules meant to inhibit abuses while preserving our intelligence capabilities. In other words, a concerted effort was made to balance the country's need for foreign intelligence information with the need to protect core individual privacy rights.

"A wide-ranging, new intelligence oversight structure was built into U.S. law. A series of laws and Executive Orders established oversight procedures and substantive limitations on intelligence activities. In the aftermath of the Church and Pike committees' revelations, Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) which created a procedural structure with a special court for considering and approving certain surveillances that occur in the U.S. and thus have the potential to affect rights guaranteed by the Constitution. The House and Senate each established intelligence oversight committees. President Ford issued an Executive Order that established for the first time a formal system of intelligence oversight in the Executive Branch. Oversight mechanisms were established within the Department of Justice and within each intelligence agency. The President also established an independent Intelligence Oversight Board.

"The result today at NSA is an intelligence gathering system that operates within detailed, constitutionally-based, substantive, and procedural limits under the watchful eyes of Congress, numerous institutions within the Executive Branch, and --through the FISA --the judiciary. The privacy framework is technology neutral and does not require amendment to accommodate new communications technologies."

Wow. Also a good speech. You can read the whole thing at:

WAIT A MINUTE! Hayden's speeches in 2000 appear to conflict directly with his most recent speech on January 23, 2006, where he defended the warrantless spying program of the Bush Administration:

QUESTION: "Sam Husseini from IPA Media. You just now spoke of, quote, "two paths," but of course the FISA statute itself says that it will be the exclusive means by which electronic surveillance may be pursued. Are you not, therefore, violating the law?"

GEN. HAYDEN: "That's probably a question I should deflect to the Department of Justice, but as I said in my comments, I have an order whose lawfulness has been attested to by the attorney general, an order whose lawfulness has been attested to by NSA lawyers who do this for a living. No, we're not violating the law."

QUESTION: "The legal standard is probable cause, General. You used the terms just a few minutes ago, "We reasonably believe." And a FISA court, my understanding is, would not give you a warrant if you went before them and say "we reasonably believe"; you have to go to the FISA court, or the attorney general has to go to the FISA court and say, "we have probable cause." And so what many people believe -- and I'd like you to respond to this -- is that what you've actually done is crafted a detour around the FISA court by creating a new standard of "reasonably believe" in place in probable cause because the FISA court will not give you a warrant based on reasonable belief, you have to show probable cause. Could you respond to that, please?"

GEN. HAYDEN: "Sure. I didn't craft the authorization. I am responding to a lawful order. All right? The attorney general has averred to the lawfulness of the order. Just to be very clear -- and believe me, if there's any amendment to the Constitution that employees of the National Security Agency are familiar with, it's the Fourth. And it is a reasonableness standard in the Fourth Amendment. And so what you've raised to me -- and I'm not a lawyer, and don't want to become one -- what you've raised to me is, in terms of quoting the Fourth Amendment, is an issue of the Constitution. The constitutional standard is "reasonable." And we believe -- I am convinced that we are lawful because what it is we're doing is reasonable."


Turns out that the NSA people have "lernt" everything wrong regarding the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution, which reads:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

So, actually, while Mr. Hayden was spewing propaganda at his January 23, 2006 press conference, he actually revealed that as head of the NSA, he completely and utterly failed his Constitutional test, stating that searches and seizures must be reasonable and do not require "probable cause". This re-writing of the Constitution by Mr. Hayden is extremely dangerous, and is why I oppose his nomination to head of the CIA. This man is dangerous to our liberty and freedom. As head of the NSA, he has been spying on Americans without warrants and in clear and knowing violation of FISA. SHAME!!!

In 2000, Hayden repeatedly admitted that the NSA had participated in a number of improper intelligence activities against Americans in the 1970s and that Congress had responded by limiting NSA's activities via FISA. In 2000, Hayden admitted that FISA prevents the NSA from spying on Americans without a warrant and that a series of checks and balances from all three branches of government "forever" (his word) precluded NSA from warrantless spying.

In 2006, without any changes whatsoever to the FISA law, Hayden insists that he and the NSA can now "end-around" FISA because of an executive order, and that the NSA can thumb its nose at the judicial and legislative branches of government, creating a new lower standard of "reasonableness" that is not part of any check-and-balance system in the government. Without Congressional or judicial oversight, Mr. Hayden and the NSA can spy on whomever they want -- including political opponents of the corrupt Bush Administration. SHAME ON YOU, MR. HAYDEN!!! You are not an American. You are a despot. I despise you!

Long Live the Republic!

-John Locke

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Hypocrite Watch

Hypocrite Watch I

Last week, President Bush (the Second) had the strength and conviction to stand up to all the Hispanic immigrants in the US and declare that he finds the idea of singing the National Anthem in Spanish inappropriate.

“I think the national anthem ought to be sung in English…” Bush declared.

Wow. That was a coherent, well put-together thought! Too bad it’s not true. Turns out that at a number of fund raising and campaign events leading up to the 2000 election, Bush -- pretending to be a “compassionate conservative” (whatever that is) and trying to scare up a few Hispanic votes -- appeared at a number of Hispanic events where the National Anthem was sung in Spanish. He never seemed to take issue with it -- particularly when he was trying to win votes and collect money.

So Bush wins the Hypocrite Award for the week. Way to go!

Bush also wins the Intolerant, Uncompassionate, Unconservative Award for the week as well. Why?

Because heaven forbid that an illegal immigrant who risked his or her life to cross the border be allowed to sing the National Anthem in their native tongue! Have you ever tried to learn a foreign language? It’s freakin’ hard, even when you are in high school. When you are an adult, it’s almost impossible. So I hardly think Bush’s comments were appropriate, given that Bush himself can’t speak a foreign language. Furthermore, the fact that any immigrant wants to sing the National Anthem is incredible at this point. After the furor caused by the Republicans over the immigration bill, no immigrant could watch that hateful fracas and not be upset about the uncompassionate unconservatives who are currently running all three branches of government into the ground!

Remember that Republicans like immigrants because immigrants will do any menial or hard labor task for pennies on the dollar compared to what us Caucasians would charge. (It also helps if there are a lot of illegal immigrants, because they have no legal protections, so US citizens can take advantage of them.) On the other hand, Republicans dislike immigrants because immigrants are different; they speak a language other than English; and they tend to vote Democratic. Probably the last dislike is the most important, though I bet there are a number of Republicans who really dislike immigrants just because of their skin color. So it really is a huge political issue. Realistically, we just can’t deport the ~12 million people who are in this country illegally. From a merely logistical standpoint, how could you imprison and then deport that many people? The US already incarcerates 2 million people -- more than any other country IN THE WORLD. How could you take that prison population and double or triple it as we deport all these people??

From a humanistic standpoint, how could you uproot all those people -- who have sweated and slaved (in some cases almost literally) for extremely low wages, providing us with low-cost food and amenities -- and just dump them in another country where they have no job and nowhere to live??? I know the Republicans don’t like humanistic questions, but how could you do that?

Anyway, so Bush wins both the Hypocrite Award and the Intolerant, Uncompassionate, Unconservative Award for the week. Way to go!

Hypocrite Watch II

Runner-up and a close second for the Hypocrite Award this week was Mary Cheney, the daughter of Beelzebub himself -- Vice President and Chief Dictator Dick Cheney. You see, Mary is a lesbian. And yet she campaigned for President Bush, who vocally supports making same-sex marriage illegal in all 50 states -- so much so that Bush is willing to indelibly inscribe this hateful message into the most sacred document in US history -- the US Constitution…

Ms. Cheney reported that she was so upset about Bush’s position on same-sex marriage that she did not attend the 2004 State of The Union address because of Bush’s views. Wow. Very very upset. Yet not so upset that she didn’t stop campaigning for Bush. Yet not so upset that she would speak out against Bush (or even Bush’s position) until long after the disastrous election. Yet not so upset that she would vote against this dishonest and immoral puppet. Yet not so upset that she would publicly denounce the president for what he truly is -- a petty, hateful person with a penchant for torture in the name of his God. And yet not so upset that she would write a book about her life and make money…

Sigh. So close, but yet so far. Ms. Cheney came close, but Bush edged her out for the Award -- primarily because I don’t know Ms. Cheney and I don’t have any way to judge what kind of person she really is. It must have taken quite a bit of courage to come out to someone as intolerant as Dick Cheney, yet Ms. Cheney did that, so maybe she isn’t all bad… Hopefully, evil isn’t genetically inherited. Anyway, Ms. Cheney is runner-up for the Hypocrite Award. Way to almost go!

-John Locke

Monday, May 01, 2006


The White House Correspondants dinner has long been an enigma to me. Journalists and politicians get together for an evening of drinks and comedy, theoretically at their own expense, but in reality they all have a big laugh together about what insiders they all are. What's weird about it is to see people who are essentially mortal enemies laughing it up with each other. Case in point: at this year's event, there was Joe Wilson and Valerie Wilson, in the same room with Bush and the First Lady, and lots of people who think it is perfectly all right that all of Wilson's former intelligence contacts in Iran have been exposed (and probably killed) because of what Cheney and Rove did.

The President usually has a skit including self-effacing humor (like the year he hliariously showed pictures of himself huntin' up those WMDs), and this year was no exception. And then there is a keynote address by some comedian whose job it is to poke gentle fun of the President and the press, with the sense that hey, we're all just powerful people in this together and isn't it nice to just pretend like everything's OK? For example, Jon Stewart, in a lion's den like that, would make quips about the absurdity of everything, and at the end of the evening everyone would love him.

This year that did not happen. Someone named Mark Smith booked Stephen Colbert to do a 30 minute presentation, and Colbert took him up on it. And Colbert hit for the bleachers, apparently not worried that he woudln't be asked back. He presented in his TV persona, that which mirrors Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity, and while sarcasticly professing to agree with everything Bush was about, proceeded to lay out everything Bush was about in accurate, excruciating detail.

Colbert bombed. His audience was tense and mostly silent during his long presentation (you can hear how subdued they are when they finally laugh more or less out loud at one of his less controversial jokes about global warming), and it was clear that neither the power media people nor the power politicians appreciated having their evil presented to them on the platter of Colbert's elfin, confident delivery. What's amazing is his absolute courage in ramming the truth of this press's complicity and the evil of the administration home. He proceeds slowly, letting the barbs settle and sink in. As you watch the audience, they are sitting stony faced, or with their hands over their mouths, or pop-eyed that anyone would dare say these things while only 10 feet from Dim Son himself. He addresses the President several times, directly, disarmingly, claiming a rapport between them.

A transcript of his presentation is available. You may also watch part of it (including a video showing a hilarious press conference which turns into an homage to Helen Thomas) at Crooks&Liars, but for the best effect (including reaction shots from an obviously pissed off Bush) see the three videos at YouTube (they are also posted together at ThisMuchLeft). But see it, see as much of it as possible, and you will understand the courage and the brilliance of this man.

Here are some of my favorite parts:

I believe the government that governs best is the government that governs least. And by those standards, we have set up a fabulous government in Iraq.

Now, I know there are some polls out there saying this man has a 32% approval rating. But guys like us; we don't pay attention to the polls. We know that polls are just a collection of statistics that reflect what people are thinking in "reality." And reality has a well-known liberal bias.

Sir, pay no attention to the people who say the glass is half empty, because 32% means its 2/3 empty.

I stand by this man because he stands for things. Not only for things, has he stood on things. Things like aircraft carriers and rubble and recently flooded city squares. And that sends a strong message, that no matter what happens to America, she will always rebound with the most powerfully staged photo ops in the world.

The greatest thing about this man is he's steady. You know where he stands. He believes the same thing Wednesday, that he believed on Monday, no matter what happened Tuesday. Events can change, this man’s beliefs never will.

But the rest of you, what are you thinking, reporting on N.S.A. Wiretapping or secret prisons in Eastern Europe? Those things are secret for a very important reason, they’re super depressing.

The president makes decisions, he’s the decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Put them through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know: fiction.

General Mosley, Air Force Chief of Staff. General Peter Pace. They still support Rumsfeld. You guys aren't retired yet, right? Right, they still support Rumsfeld. Look, by the way, I've got a theory about how to handle these retired generals causing all this trouble, don't let them retire. C'mon, we've got a stop loss program; let's use it on these guys. If you're strong enough to go on one of those pundit shows, you can stand on a bank of computers and order men into battle.

John McCain is here. John McCain - John McCain. What a maverick. Somebody find out what fork he used on his salad, because I guarantee you it wasn't a salad fork. He could have used a spoon. There's no predicting him. So wonderful to see you coming back into the republican fold. I have a summer house in South Carolina; look me up when you go to speak at bob Jones University. So glad you've seen the light.


No Law

This is an interesting development. It turns out that the executive branch has declared itself above the law. The executive branch decides what it thinks is constitutional, and decides which laws and which parts of laws of Congress it will follow. (No need to get that pesky "line item veto" amendment passed - just act like it has passed, and presto) Even when Congress specifically prohibits the executive from doing something, this administration has over the last five years, just ignored those restrictions when it was inconvenient, or "unconstitutional".

I don't know why the right wing worries so much about who gets to sit on the Supreme Court, seeing as how they've pretty much rendered it useless by establishing a dictatorship anyway.

From the article, entitled "Bush Challenges Hundreds of Laws" in the Boston Globe (free registration required):

Far more than any predecessor, Bush has been aggressive about declaring his right to ignore vast swaths of laws -- many of which he says infringe on power he believes the Constitution assigns to him alone as the head of the executive branch or the commander in chief of the military.

Many legal scholars say they believe that Bush's theory about his own powers goes too far and that he is seizing for himself some of the law-making role of Congress and the Constitution-interpreting role of the courts.


Bush has also said he can bypass laws requiring him to tell Congress before diverting money from an authorized program in order to start a secret operation, such as the ''black sites" where suspected terrorists are secretly imprisoned.


But the current President Bush has abandoned the veto entirely, as well as any semblance of the political caution that Alito counseled back in 1986. In just five years, Bush has challenged more than 750 new laws, by far a record for any president, while becoming the first president since Thomas Jefferson to stay so long in office without issuing a veto.
Said Golove, the New York University law professor: ''Bush has essentially said that 'We're the executive branch and we're going to carry this law out as we please, and if Congress wants to impeach us, go ahead and try it.' "
''This is an attempt by the president to have the final word on his own constitutional powers, which eliminates the checks and balances that keep the country a democracy," Fein said. ''There is no way for an independent judiciary to check his assertions of power, and Congress isn't doing it, either. So this is moving us toward an unlimited executive power."

For more excerpts and commentary, see Digby and Glenn Greenwald. This country has passed from a democracy to a dictatorship, we just don't realize it yet.

Edit to add: here is a key paragraph from Glenn:

It is not uncommon for a President to refrain from executing a law which he believes, and states, is unconstitutional. Other Presidents have invoked that doctrine, although Bush has done so far more aggressively and frequently. But what is uncommon - what is entirely unprecedented - is that the administration's theories of its own power arrogate unto itself not just the right to refrain from enforcing such laws, but to act in violation of those laws, to engage in the very conduct which those laws criminalize, and they do so secretly and deceitfully, after signing the law and pretending that they are engaged in the democratic process. That is why the President has never bothered to veto a law -- why bother to veto laws when you have the power to violate them at will?