When small actors, whether they be governments, religious sects, or independent warlords; go up against larger actors, they must use asymmetric warfare. They fight with snipers, roadside bombs, and suicide bombers. When they use these tactics against military or government targets, they are not terrorists. When they use them on civilians, they are.
This matters because when we brand a group as terrorists, the Patriot Act becomes available. That means our government can whisk away anyone who is suspected of being involved without due process. If that "anyone" happens to be a U.S. citizen -- bye bye freedom!
Meanwhile, we continue to ratchet up military spending. There are no major wars going on for the U.S. right now, so what are they doing with all the money? Well, a chunk of it seems to be going to new ground vehicles and personal armor. Guess what they're doing with the old stuff? Fact #3: They're shipping it to domestic law enforcement agencies! You may have seen some of it in the streets lately. Police are looking more and more like the military.
Between the Patriot Act, the expanded definition of a terrorist, and police militarization, we have the makings of the perfect storm for a complete take-over. Couple this with a White House that is siding with the police to drive a wedge between them and the rest of the citizens and it's not hard to imagine a tipping point that ends badly for democracy.
We think these things can't happen in America -- land of the free. Look more closely. Freedom can be defined any way you like. Even the most autocratic regimes will generally leave people alone if they play along. Freedom is about the right NOT to play along. A quick look at what's going on in the streets these days should be a warning.