Lessons on Unchecked Power

Glenn Greenwald:

A new report to be released this week by the IG, as confirmed yesterday by FBI Director Robert Mueller, details that these abuses continued unabated throughout 2006 as well. It seems there are a few brand new lessons that we can perhaps draw from these revelations:

(1) If unchecked power is vested in government officials, they’re going to abuse that power;

(2) If government officials exercise power without real oversight from other branches, they’re going to break the law and then lie about it, falsely denying that they’re done so, insisting instead that they’re only using their powers to Protect Us;

(3) Allowing government officials to engage in surveillance on American citizens with no warrant requirement ensures that surveillance will be used for improper ends, against innocent Americans.

Who could have guessed? How come nobody warned us about the dangers of “unchecked government power” and the need for checks and balances?

Indeed.

The story I posted earlier today about the FBI having a direct line into all information about telephone customers is another example of what happens when executive power goes unchecked. What is truly sickening is that the people elected to Congress, filling roles that are structurally and constitutionally design to check executive power, have repeatedly chosen to do nothing or, worse, facilitate an expansion of executive powers.

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