"To an increasing degree, we're counting on having angels in office and making ourselves vulnerable to devils. Bush and Obama have built infrastructure any devil would lust after. Behold the items on an aspiring tyrant's checklist that they've provided their successors:
* A precedent that allows the president to kill citizens in secret without prior judicial or legislative review
* The power to detain prisoners indefinitely without charges or trial
* Ongoing warrantless surveillance on millions of Americans accused of no wrongdoing, converted into a permanent database so that data of innocents spied upon in 2007 can be accessed in 2027
*Using ethnic profiling to choose the targets of secret spying, as the NYPD did with John Brennan's blessing
* Normalizing situations in which the law itself is secret -- and whatever mischief is hiding in those secret interpretations
* The permissibility of droning to death people whose identities are not even known to those doing the killing
* The ability to collect DNA swabs of people who have been arrested even if they haven't been convicted of anything
* A torture program that could be restarted with an executive order
Even if you think Bush and Obama exercised those extraordinary powers responsibly, what makes you think every president would? How can anyone fail to see the huge potential for abuses?
I am not saying no one would resist a tyrant. Perhaps Congress would assert itself. Perhaps the people would rise up. Then again, perhaps it would be too late by the time the abuses were evident. (America has had horrific abuses of power in the past under weaker executives who were less empowered by technology; and numerous other countries haven't recognized tyrants until it was too late.) Part of the problem is how much the Bush-Obama paradigm permits the executive to do in secret. Take that paradigm, add another successful 9/11-style attack, even after many years of very little terrorism, and who knows what would happen?
No one does."