I know I am late on this, but every American should take note of the incredible ne0-Orwellian, near-totalitarian powers that President Bush’s Justice Department granted the White House in the days after September 11, according to new memos that were released Monday. They are certainly not based on a “conservative” limited government reading of the constitution. They are, by almost every account, of doubtful constitutional merit. And if we wish to continue to teach our children that freedom and liberty are the bedrock of the American form of government, we should as citizens take care to make sure they do not become a precedent for future Presidents to use in responding to attacks on the homeland. This summary comes for the New York Times account of the recently released documents:
The use of the military envisioned in the [John C.] Yoo-[Robert J.] Delahunty [memorandum] appears to transcend by far the stationing of troops to keep watch at streets and airports, a familiar sight in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. The memorandum discussed the use of military forces to carry out “raids on terrorist cells” and even seize property.
“The law has recognized that force (including deadly force) may be legitimately used in self-defense,” Mr. Yoo and Mr. Delahunty wrote to Mr. [Alberto] 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.”
Mr. Yoo and Mr. Delahunty said that in addition, the Posse Comitatus Act, which generally bars the military from domestic law enforcement operations, would pose no obstacle to the use of troops in a domestic fight against terrorism suspects. They reasoned that the troops would be acting in a national security function, not as law enforcers. In another of the opinions, Mr. Yoo argued in a memorandum dated Sept. 25, 2001, that judicial precedents approving deadly force in self-defense could be extended to allow for eavesdropping without warrants.
Still another memo, issued in March 2002, suggested that Congress lacked any power to limit a president’s authority to transfer detainees to other countries, a practice known as rendition that was widely used by Mr. Bush. Other memorandums said Congress had no right to intervene in the president’s determination of the treatment of detainees, a proposition that has since been invalidated by the Supreme Court.