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Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush - by John W. Dean, Little, Brown and Co., 2004

Excerpt from Preface, pp. xii-xiii

In addition, there is another state of affairs with the Bush-Cheney presidency that is worse than any scandal and far worse than Watergate. In General Tommy Franks's first interview as a civilian shortly after he departed as four-star head of Central Command, when discussing what he thought Americans should be thinking about concerning terrorism, he asked rhetorically, "What is the worst thing that can happen?" His answer is chilling. Franks has no doubt whatsoever that upon obtaining a weapon of mass destruction, a terrorist organization will use it. If that should happen, Franks believes the Western world may lose "what it cherishes most, and that is freedom and liberty we've seen for a couple of hundred years in this grand experiment that we call democracy." He has reached that conclusion because he feels that there exists "the potential of a ... massive casualty-producing event somewhere in the western world—it may be in the United States of America—that causes our population to question our own Constitution and to begin to militarize our country in order to avoid a repeat of another mass, casualty-producing event. Which in fact, then begins to unravel the fabric of our Constituuon."

I agree with General Franks, but I suspect for very different reasons. Watching the responses of Bush and Cheney to 9/11, their obsessive secrecy, their endless political manipulation and exploitation of 9/11, their blatant suppression of rights and liberties of foreigners, their taking our nation to its first "preventive war" as aggressors in Iraq, their distortion of intelligence gathering, their Nixon-like rationalizations, I realized that—with the near certainty of a catastrophic terrorist attack against America one day—we have the wrong leaders. Not because they are not able or well motivated or "real Americans," as President Lyndon Johnson used to say—for they are all those things. But they are also zealots who are convinced of their own wisdom, oblivious to not only what Americans think but the opinions of the entire world. Former Supreme Court iustice Louis Brandeis once spoke of this problem: "The greatest danger to liberty lurks in the insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding." If the dreaded event that General Franks has raised occurs (and as I explain, this presidency may actually attract such an event), there is good reason to fear for the fabric of our Constitution.

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