In the classic history of Nazi Germany, They Thought They Were Free, Milton Mayer writes:
“What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could not understand it, it could not be released because of national security. And their sense of identification with Hitler, their trust in him, made it easier to widen this gap and reassured those who would otherwise have worried about it.
“This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as atemporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter.
Secretive, unaccountable agencies are making life and death decisions which effect our most basic rights. They provide “secret evidence” to courts which cannot be checked … and often withhold any such “evidence” even from the judges. For example:
“I find myself stuck in a paradoxical situation in which I cannot solve a problem because of contradictory constraints and rules — a veritable Catch-22,” the judge wrote. “I can find no way around the thicket of laws and precedents that effectively allow the Executive Branch of our Government to proclaim as perfectly lawful certain actions that seem on their face incompatible with our Constitution and laws, while keeping the reasons for their conclusion a secret.”
Like the iron fist of the Nazis … Americans must submit to “roving surveillance” and warrantless searches, without the requirement of a Judge’s authorization. Surveillance laws are part of a larger arsenal of weapons against political dissidents and whistle blowers.
Most Americans don’t know the Patriot Act authorizes secret charges relying on secret evidence and secret grand jury statements. Under the Patriot Act, Americans have no right to know who has accused them of what criminal activities, or the dates of the alleged offense.
They’re not even told what law was broken. The government has power to lock up Americans on military bases or other prisons without a hearing or trial. We can be detained indefinitely without any rights of due process at all.