Republican John W. Dean knows corruption. As Richard Nixon's White House counsel, it was Dean who came clean about Watergate—until Monica Lewinsky blew Bill Clinton, generally considered the greatest threat to American democracy since the Civil War. Dean spoke with Salon.com's David Talbot about his new book, Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush. Talbot asked Dean whether he feared the Bush administration might use a "major terror attack" to "drive the country to suspend the Constitution."
"A thread that runs through the book is that when you have a presidency that has no regard for human life, that develops and implements all (not just national security) policy in secrecy, and is driven by political motives and a radical philosophy, it is impossible not to conclude that they will overreact—and at the expense of our constitutional safeguards. Bush and Cheney enjoy using power to make and wield swords, not ploughs. They prefer to rule by fear. We've had three years to take the measure of these men. . . . Bush and Cheney have exploited terrorism ever since Sept. 11. Now they are exploiting it to get re-elected. Should there be an even more serious threat, they have found that when Americans are frightened, they can be governed like sheep, which suits Bush and Cheney perfectly. Rather than taking the terror out of terrorism by educating and informing Americans, they have sought to make terrorism as frightening as possible—using terrorism to launch a war of aggression that is breeding a new generation of terrorists and getting Congress to pass the most repressive laws imaginable and calling it an act of patriotism."