There are still secrets
I have been waiting to see how the Obama administration would tackle laying their hands on official memos that would reveal what we all know – that Bush was advised (and believed he could) disregard the US Constitution and authorise illegal wiretapping against US citizens.
I have blogged at length about Bush’s blatant ripping to shreds of the Constitution – I can barely believe that document is still standing. If you missed my posts, go here for a refresher course.
Meanwhile, I’m pleased to see Obama’s Attorney-General, Eric Holder, go after the Office of Legal Counsel’s (OLC) unseen, secret squirrel memos. The OLC advises the President on the law. There are 61 known OLC memos, which relate to torture, domestic spying and extraordinary rendition.
Holder recently uncovered nine of these memos – and shock, horror – they reveal that Bush was advised, and operated under the theory, that the US Constitution would not prevent the Prez from using the military against its own citizens. Apparently, Bush was keen to learn whether he could use the US military within US borders. (Clearly, Bush missed my posts on Posse Comitatus – otherwise, he’d know that The Posse Comitatus Act was passed after the American Civil War and expressly prohibits the deployment of the US military within US borders).
And here is what Bush was advised by OLC lawyers who clearly bent the law until it almost snapped in two:
“We do not think a military commander carrying out a raid on a terrorist cell would be required to demonstrate probable cause or to obtain a warrant. We think that the better view is that the Fourth Amendment does not apply to domestic military operations designed to deter and prevent future terrorist attacks.”
You can read the memo – you will be shocked no doubt to realise that the implications of this are that the military (and its Commander-in-Chief) could kill US citizens, snoop and pry in the name of the “war against terror”. And all would be legally justified by OLC lawyers who were advising Bush – shame on them.
The ACLU is running a lawsuit against the Department of Justice and from documents disclosed so far, this is what we know also exists:
- memos advising that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (which requires authorities to obtain a court order for wiretapping suspects within US borders) does not apply when it involves national security;
- memos regarding the legality of communication intelligence activities;
- memos relating to the application of international law to the United States (no doubt Bush wanted to find out a way to dodge the Geneva Convention relative to the treatment of prisoners of war);
- memos relating to the interrogation of prisoners.
You can view the latest tally from the ACLU, which shows Bush-era memoranda on surveillance, rendition, detention and interrogation – the table shows what memos are still classified as secret.
And this is the dude I really think Obama’s administration ought to grill – John Yoo, former Deputy Assistant Attorney General, now teaching at UC Berkeley Law School. He was the lawyer who wrote the memo that gave Bush the go-ahead for torture by the US military at Guantanamo and at Abu Ghraib in Iraq. And here is the “torture memo” he wrote.
If you read the memo, you will see in Footnote 10, Yoo says “”our Office recently concluded that the Fourth Amendment had no application to domestic military operations.” In other words, stuff the Fourth Amendment and God Bless King Bush. I don’t know what version of the US Constitution Yoo was interpreting – his version only seemed to have a few words in it that he alone apparently could read. Words like “torture” and “Bush as King”. The rest of the text of the US Constitution seems to have vanished from his version. Note to potential US law students – you might wish to think twice about having this dude as your lecturer in law.
Really, what on earth happened to the US during those eight years of horror aka the Bush Administration?
Let’s hope Holder can lay his hands on all secret memos and expose the Bush Administration and its advisers for what they were – and I had best not say what they were as I’d be up for defamation.