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A constitutional, democratic republic is supposed to have a government which governs through the consent of the governed. Yet how can the public truly consent if they are kept in the dark, not only about what the government is doing in their name, but also about the laws, regulations, and policies which their government intends to enforce over them? Then again, maybe that's the point.
It's said that ignorance of the law is no excuse for violating the law, but that's always in a context where people are able to know the law if they make the effort to learn. When that information is deliberately kept from them, then public ignorance of the law itself becomes official government policy — and since you can't really follow a law or regulation you are ignorant of, then making violations of the law more likely is also government policy.
It would appear that this is the direction which the Bush regime is trying to take America. John R. Elwood, the Office of Legal Counsel's deputy assistant attorney general, recently testified at a Senate hearing on "Secret Law and the Threat to Democratic and Accountable Government" and he revealed that the Bush regime believes "that the president could ignore or modify existing executive orders that he and other presidents have issued without disclosing the new interpretation."
In the past, even if you disagreed with the president's executive orders or the administration's interpretation of the laws, at least you'd know what they were — and perhaps challenge them in court, if you thought you had a case. Now, though, you can be potentially be arrested and tossed in jail without charges, without being allowed to contact your family, and for an indefinite period of time... all for violating an order or legal interpretation which you are completely unaware of. You'll be subjected to treatment which might cause you to lose your sanity, but you'll never be told why.
If you were allowed to consult a lawyer (which you wouldn't be), and if you were permitted to challenge your detention in court (not a chance), then not only would the evidence against you be so secret that your non-existent lawyer wouldn't be allowed to see it, but even the charges against you would be too secret for your non-existent lawyer to look at. To be fair, I guess there's no real point in allowing people to know what laws or rules they have broken when there aren't going to be allowed to defend themselves in a court of law. Wouldn't that just serve to make them even more insane?
Sen. Russ Feingold, chair of the aforementioned Senate committee, thinks that in a democracy, people have a right to know what the laws are. Imagine that! I rather doubt that George Bush agrees, and if Feingold doesn't watch out he'll be the next one Bush declares an "enemy combattant" to be shipped off to a Navy brig for a couple of years of psychological and physical torture. Once he comes out, he'll certainly stop ranting and raving about how the government needs to be accountable to the people because he'll become so insensible that he'll agree to whatever the government tells him to believe. Kind of like Colin Powell.
What, you didn't think he was always that way, did you?