All this eavesdropping business reminded me of C. William Michael's 2002 book ''No Greater Threat: America After September 11 and the Rise of the National Security State.''
Besides providing a detailed analysis of the USA Patriot Act, he lays out the 12 most common characteristics of a national security state.
1. Visible increase in uniformed security. Got that;
2. Lack of accountability in law enforcement. George Tenet got a medal for his fine WMD work and ''Brownie'' was praised for doing a heckuva job in the Katrina aftermath;
3. Reduced judiciary and executive treatment of suspects. Can you say ''detainee''?;
4. Secrecy of ruling authority and momentum of threat. It's an open secret that this administration has taken official secrecy to a whole new level;
5. Media in the service of the state. The Times held the eavesdropping story for a year, to say nothing of the WMD reporting of the major media in the run-up to the war;
6. National resources devoted to security threat. The most recent budget passed in Congress speaks for itself;
7. Patriotism moving to nationalism. Since 9-11, America was divided in two - between those who don't know the difference between patriotism and nationalism and those who are terrorist-sympathizing, blame-America-first traitors;
8. Lack of critical response by religions. Name one prominent national church leader critical of the way U.S. power has been wielded. At this point, I'll settle for a religious leader who isn't telling their parishioners to vote Republican to stop abortion and gay rights or who isn't calling for the assassination of foreign leaders;
9. Wartime mentality and permanent war economy. See any Bush speech;
10. Targeted individuals and groups. Scott Ritter, Richard Clarke, Joseph Wilson, Cindy Sheehan and MoveOn.org come to mind;
11. Direct attack on dissent. See previous comment; and
12. Increased surveillance of citizenry. Or as it's being called now, a ''special collection program.''
Remember this list was written in 2002. A lot has gone down since then. As we learned just yesterday, now they're spying on Quakers, Catholic Workers and PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.) I'm a PETA member with a monthly pledge automatically charged to my credit card. I guess the goons have a file on me.