Communion Of Dreams

De facto dictatorship?
March 3, 2009, 10:29 am
Filed under: 2nd Amendment, Civil Rights, Constitution, Emergency, Government, Politics, Terrorism

Offered, without need for additional comment:

George W. Bush’s Disposable Constitution

Yesterday the Obama Administration released a series of nine previously secret legal opinions crafted by the Office of Legal Counsel to enhance the presidential powers of George W. Bush. Perhaps the most astonishing of these memos was one crafted by University of California at Berkeley law professor John Yoo. He concluded that in wartime, the President was freed from the constraints of the Bill of Rights with respect to anything he chose to label as a counterterrorism operations inside the United States.

Here’s Neil Lewis’s summary in the New York Times:

“The law has recognized that force (including deadly force) may be legitimately used in self-defense,” Mr. Yoo and Mr. Delahunty wrote to Mr. Gonzales. Therefore any objections based on the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches are swept away, they said, since any possible privacy offense resulting from such a search is a lesser matter than any injury from deadly force. The Oct. 23 memorandum also said that “First Amendment speech and press rights may also be subordinated to the overriding need to wage war successfully.” It added that “the current campaign against terrorism may require even broader exercises of federal power domestically.”

John Yoo’s Constitution is unlike any other I have ever seen. It seems to consist of one clause: appointing the President as commander-in-chief. The rest of the Constitution was apparently printed in disappearing ink.

More from the NYT piece:

WASHINGTON — The secret legal opinions issued by Bush administration lawyers after the Sept. 11 attacks included assertions that the president could use the nation’s military within the United States to combat terrorism suspects and to conduct raids without obtaining search warrants.

* * *

The opinions reflected a broad interpretation of presidential authority, asserting as well that the president could unilaterally abrogate foreign treaties, ignore any guidance from Congress in dealing with detainees suspected of terrorism, and conduct a program of domestic eavesdropping without warrants.

And from Newsweek:

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the Justice Department secretly gave the green light for the U.S. military to attack apartment buildings and office complexes inside the United States, deploy high-tech surveillance against U.S. citizens and potentially suspend First Amendment freedom-of-the-press rights in order to combat the terror threat, according to a memo released Monday.

* * *

In perhaps the most surprising assertion, the Oct. 23, 2001, memo suggested the president could even suspend press freedoms if he concluded it was necessary to wage the war on terror. “First Amendment speech and press rights may also be subordinated to the overriding need to wage war successfully,” Yoo wrote in the memo entitled “Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activity Within the United States.”

Draw your own conclusions.

Jim Downey

(Cross posted to UTI.)

4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I do not think any of that was a good idea at all.

Yet … hindsight is 20/20. The day after 9/11 – we didn’t really know what was going to happen next. And the government had just let some terrs step out of the fourth dimension to slash our throats.

Not a good thing – but a plausible reaction from a government that has just been surprised and wants to keep it from happening again.

Comment by Brian Dunbar

Well, yes, that’s true Brian. And honestly, had it been just a reaction to the uncertainty of the immediate situation following 9/11, I wouldn’t consider it worthy of much notice. But they didn’t get around to disavowing the Yoo position until last October. What possible excuse could there be for waiting until it was clear that Obama was going to win the Nov election? That sort of undercuts the entire rationale, doesn’t it?

Jim D.

Comment by James Downey

[…] FISA.  Warrantless wiretapping by the NSA.  Legal opinions which effectively gave the president dictatorial powers, and which allowed for torture of terrorism […]

Pingback by That well is poisoned - don’t drink from it. « Communion Of Dreams

[…] Government, Guns, Politics, Predictions, Preparedness, Terrorism, Violence Following up to the March revelation that the Bush Administration had concluded that it had the legal authority to effectively suspend […]

Pingback by De facto dictatorship, part II. « Communion Of Dreams

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