One reason the Bush administration has fared so poorly over the past several years is its obsessive fear of public accountability and separation of powers. From its secret prisons to its classified torture memos, from its closed deportation proceedings to its incommunicado detention of José Padilla, from its clandestine NSA spying to its persistent efforts to deny the Guantánamo Bay detainees access to the writ of habeas corpus, the Bush administration has entered one long plea of "trust us." President Bush is, after all, “The Decider.”
As the Framers of the Constitution well understood, however, such an approach to governance is a recipe for disaster. The Framers believed in both openness and checks-and-balances. They recognized the dangers of an overzealous executive, operating in secret, unchecked by the courts, the Congress, the press, and the public. The recently-released Justice Department audit of the FBI's use of PATRIOT Act authority is the latest example of the consequences of the Bush administration’s “trust us” theory of governance.