The United States Constitution stresses the importance of preserving individual freedom and preventing governmental tyranny. After decades of government secrecy and concealment, the American people, often unknowingly, are facing a different government, "one beyond the reach of Congress, the courts and the people."
Today, we see a growing "system of federal preeminence and an executive preoccupation that possesses selfauthored powers to govern in the hereafter."
These are the themes of a new book "American Coup: How a Terrified Government is Destroying the Constitution" by William R. Arkin, a former military intelligence officer and reporter.
As the U.S. government continues engaging in major and minor military conflicts across the globe, major questions arise about the Constitutionality of many of those conflicts.
The late Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., eloquently challenged the increasing hubris of American foreign policy, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Domestic unrest and natural disasters have also resulted in an increasing use of federal military and police forces inside our country, from events like urban riots during the 1960s to hurricanes like Katrina and Sandy in recent years.
Caspar Weinberger, Secretary of Defense under President Ronald Reagan, vigorously opposed involving federal forces in the "Drug War."
But today, federal authorities under White House control have also become more involved in the ongoing "drug wars."
The increasing complexity, and obliqueness of many government agencies, committees and secret groups make events even harder to understand.
Arkin's knowledge and experience enables him to lay out, in detail, the identities and complexities of those dozens of government groups - complexities that sometimes make his writing hard to grasp.
"Codified through decades of deliberate concealment," Arkin writes, the growing power of secret federal groups embodies the "very essence of executive tyranny our forefathers feared."
Increasing Centralization of Power
In "American Coup," Arkin argues we are witnessing an ever-increasing centralization of power - a trend sometimes resisted by our people, but usually not vigorously enough.
Arkin worked as an Army intelligence officer in Berlin during the Cold War, then served as a military adviser for many nongovernmental organizations.
He was a reporter and columnist for "The Washington Post" and "The Los Angeles Times."
In September 2006, Congress passed an amendment to the new national defense appropriations bill granting the president even more powers to use federal troops to restore order domestically.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., was a leading opponent of making it easier for a president to declare martial law.
"Using the military for law enforcement," Leahy said, "goes against one of the founding tenets of our democracy."
Leahy criticized supporters of that amendment for adding it to a major piece of legislation, giving little chance for any public comments or hearings.