Memos released on Monday that were written during the former Bush Administration by their Justice Department reveal how close we came in this country to a dictatorship. Nine memos from the former administration claim in stunning detail that the president had the authority to suspend First Amendment rights of freedom of speech, control or close the Press, seize people and property on his word alone, and order military attacks on any U.S. city which he determined to be a threat.
In their continuing efforts by the Obama Administration to clean up the mess left by Bush/Cheney, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder released these memos in the public interest and to bring a greater sense of openness and transparency to government.
In commenting on the former administration’s memos giving the president extraordinary power, Holder said that the Bush Administration looked at the war on terror as overruling all else, including The Constitution, and in any dispute over rights that the former administration judged “the fight…as a zero-sum battle with our civil liberties,” according to the NY Times.
One of memos, dated October 23, 2001, authorizes the use of force, including deadly, by the U.S. Military on American soil against citizens and even entire U.S. cities, or anyone who the president suspects of being a terrorist, which clearly violates and overrides the Posse Comitatus Act against the use of military force on domestic soil.
The memo also authorized warrentless seizure of property, a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment. The memo reasons that the Fourth Amendment does not apply using “self defense” as its argument to eliminate the Constitutional right against search and seizure without cause, according to the NY Times.
This October, 2001, memo was written by then deputy assistant attorney general John Yoo and then special counsel Robert Delahunty, both at that time in the Office of Legal Counsel. In addition to search and seizure and the use of deadly force against Americans and American cities, the October 23rd memo also authorizes the president to abolish the news media and annul freedom of speech, guaranteed by the First Amendment, and “may require even broader exercises of federal power domestically,” also according the NY Times.
In fairness, it’s a credit to Bush that he did not ACT on the authority given to him by his Justice Department. But, the fact that these memos skirted all other branches of government, including the Congress, and handed totalitarian authority to one person — this needs to be looked at and perhaps have legislation passed so that this kind of thing can never happen again!
It is also a credit to Holder and to the Obama Adminstration to have released these documents!