Here's one more DenBeste quote:
"All power will eventually be misused; it's only a matter of time. . . . Power ultimately vests in the people of the United States, and we grant to our government only such powers as we think it absolutely needs in order to do the job we want it to do. Everything beyond that we keep for ourselves."
This quote from USS Clueless ties into my assertion that we must declare this "Current Mess," this War on a Noun. We may not prevail in this war without giving power to the government, in the form of men, dollars, and God forgive me, legislation. But we must not grant that power without strings attached, without a definable end. We need milestones to indicate when the need and justification for the power end, because that's when the extraordinary powers must end. It will be the difference between a "War" and a "War On."
Granted, this strategy of attaching strings to extraordinary war powers, to recall them when no longer needed, has not always worked. We still have a tax on telephone services, levied to finance the Spanish-American War. The way we buy medical services was radically altered through a World War II wage freeze. Maybe we didn't tug on those strings when it was time to, maybe they were weak and broke, maybe some boxcutters were smuggled in so the strings could be cut. We still have those examples of wartime powers that stayed after the war was over (the telephone tax even left and came back).
To be fair, these war powers persist long after the wars that justified them because we let them. We didn't insist explicitly that the powers were to last only as long as the war. Complaining that the strings were tampered with is just that: complaining.
The USA Patriot Act didn't even include such a deadline, only an arbirtary time limit, and that only for a narrow set of the broad powers it granted to the Feds. USAPA needs to be challenged, and it needs to lose. But the pressure will still be there, and will still be justifiable, for some additional powers for our government to fight this war. They must be granted on condition of a declaration of war, and they must be revoked upon the conclusion of peace.