This is why George W. Bush must be held accountable for his crimes.
Samuel Dash, chief counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee, sounds the alarm:
The Founders of our nation foresaw that a president could abuse power. They created a constitutional system of equal and separate powers in Congress, the courts and the executive - each with the power to check the others. It worked in Watergate and Congress and the courts checked a president who was asserting absolute power.
But, as in all human institutions, there is no guarantee that it will always work this way. Each of the branches must have the leadership and the courage to do its job. For, if the Congress and the courts are passive in the face of a president's assertion of excessive power, and the people are uninformed of the danger, the country can once again face the loss of precious constitutional freedoms.
This lesson of Watergate is particularly pertinent now. In responses to terrorists' attacks on our country that threaten our national security, President George W. Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft have sought and obtained from an acquiescent Congress unprecedented powers that are inconsistent with the Bill of Rights' protections. It is not that these powers are necessary to fight terrorism. Prior to 9/11, Congress and the Supreme Court had already given competent federal law enforcement agencies all the power and authority they need to successfully keep our country secure.
The government overreaches when it employs its war against terror to attack the liberties of American citizens. We now face sweeping federal wiretapping, secret searches and seizures, arrest and detention without trial or right to counsel, infiltration by FBI agents in our places of worship and in our social and political clubs and associations. Not even what we read, either from libraries or bookstores, is respected.
It is the time of the anonymous informer and the chilling threat, reminiscent of Watergate, that dissent is unpatriotic and giving aid to the enemy. The logic of the government appears to be that the only way we can preserve our freedom and liberty from the efforts of terrorists to destroy them is to temporarily destroy them ourselves. But true security comes from our being a free society blessed with constitutional democracy and a Bill of Rights - rights that if lost cannot be easily recovered.