If you haven't read George Orwell's 1984, I recommend that you do. It is the story of a totalitarian government that spies on its citizens and arrests anyone it considers a threat to its existence.
How did this government come into existence? Orwell doesn't say, but one of the things we learn is that this government is in a perpetual state of war with other governments.
And that's the secret to its success. Since it is at war, it is justified in spying on its citizens, in case any of them are traitors, and justified in arresting anyone who would threaten its existence. For when you are at war, it is of the utmost importance that you defeat your enemies at all costs.
It's 2011, now. Is there anyone out there who doesn't think our government is spying on us as much as it wishes to do so, without the need of a search warrant?
And now Congress is about to give the military the right to arrest anyone it deems a terrorist, without the requirement to produce evidence, and with the right to hold that person as long as they like.
How is it that this state of affairs came about? Because we are at war. At war against terrorism. And since terrorism may strike any place, any time, by anyone, our government has the right to spy on all of us and arrest whoever it says is a terrorist. For when you are at war, it is of the utmost importance that you defeat your enemies at all costs.
1984, just 27 years later than Orwell expected.