2. October 26, 2001: Patriot Act. Vastly expanded surveillance and seizure authority.
3. Academi—previously known as Xe Services LLC, Blackwater USA and Blackwater Worldwide, a private paramilitary corporation created in 1997 but underwent vast expansion post 9/11.
4. Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). Created in 1980, underwent expansion since 9/11. Another paramilitary organization that is outside the regular military and reports directly to the executive branch.
JSOC has an excellent relationship with the CIA's elite Special Activities Division (SAD) and the two forces often operate together. The SAD's Special Operations Group often selects their recruits from JSOC.
According to a recent report in The Nation, JSOC, in tandem with Blackwater/Xe, has an ongoing drone program, along with snatch/grab/assassination operations, based in Karachi and conducted both in and outside of Pakistan.5. Executive branch declared that congressional approval was not required for their military operations in Libya.
6. US federal budget not passed by congress since 2009. You can bet that the executive branch benefits.
7. FISA and NDAA function creep. Every year executive branch authority is slightly enhanced. For example, NDAA 2012 allows for apprehension of an American citizen on American soil and detained indefinitely for anyone:
"who was part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners", and anyone who commits a "belligerent act" against the U.S. or its coalition allies in aid of such enemy forces, under the law of war, "without trial, until the end of the hostilities authorized by the [AUMF]". --Source8. The executive branch (Obama's) war on whistleblowers.
9. The 800 pound gorilla is and always has been the CIA. This is really a must watch video:
Now if the executive branch keeps expanding its authority wouldn't that be a grave threat to the plutocrats who install those presidents unless the plutocrats can be absolutely sure that the presidents can be controlled. The two takeaways are obvious: (1) presidents are just spokesmen for the invisible deep government and (2) presidents are controlled. Rogue presidents are not tolerated and checks and balances are installed to prevent such an occurrence.
Update: I've warned of the dangers of secrecy before:
The single biggest threat to democracy in the United States is not the corporate and government propaganda. It's not the corrupt revolving door between government and industry. It's not the mockracy where the bipartisan government always has just enough votes to pass a bill in the house or senate. See this. It's not the corporate lobbyists. It's not our unjust legal system. See this. It's not the corrupt Supreme Court. It's not the shredding of the Constitution. It's not the loss of civil liberties and the impending police state. It's not the deregulation or overregulation. It's not the inequality of income, wealth and education including unprecedented extreme poverty in the richest country in the world. See this and this. It's not deficits, debt or taxation. It's not globalization or the environment. Have you guessed yet? It's government secrecy. The systematic shutting down of information from the government will be the undoing of the United States as a democracy while shadowy governmental, quasi-governmental and non-governmental organizations operate the government from behind the scenes. --Source
Exactly what I was trying to say: America's Most Anti-Democratic Institution: How the Imperial Presidency Threatens U.S. National Security