The blizzard of draconian legislation enacted in the wake of that fateful day – the PATRIOT Act and accompanying legislation – effectively destroyed the legal basis of the Fourth Amendment. Recognizing this, the Bush administration moved on a number of fronts to create the foundations of a comprehensive system of surveillance – not just of our enemies, but of all of us, here in the US. We didn’t know the details – although some, like the ill-fated "Total Information Awareness" project, leaked out – but no one in Congress at the time looked into the matter too strenuously. Better left unsaid what everyone in Washington assumed to be fact: that the US government is spying on its own people.
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The idea that this country is on a fast track to fascism was never taken very seriously by Americans, and for a very good reason: we have a Constitution that, whatever problems we’ve had living up to it, has generally been a bulwark against the imposition of anything resembling authoritarianism in these United States. Although at certain points in our history we’ve come awfully close to losing it, the constitutional order seemed to survive the many attempts to subvert and even overthrow it since the Founders put it in place as the centerpiece of our system. That is, until the dawn of September 11, 2001….
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