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04 March, 2009

Declassified Memos Provide Look Into Bush Policies

The following story is APPALLING but not surprising to those of us who are aware that American Democracy is a SHAM, FRAUD, FAÇADE, IMITATION, JOKE, DECEPTON, COUNTERFEIT, FICTION for ENTERTAINMENT purposes only.

The Obama administration declassified nine Justice Department legal memos on Monday that asserted a sweeping view of presidential power, including authorizing the military to search Americans' homes without a warrant and sending detainees to other countries regardless of congressional statutes that might dictate otherwise.

Now civil liberties groups are pushing for the release of dozens of similar memos that remain classified.

About a month ago, the American Civil Liberties Union sent the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel a letter and a chart. The chart listed 55 classified Bush administration legal memos on national security issues. The letter basically said, "release these memos."

Some of the memos that the Justice Department declassified Monday were not even on the ACLU's list.

"So there are dozens of memos that are still secret," said Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU's national security project. They include "memos that provided the basis for the national security agency's warrantless wiretapping program and memos that provided the basis for the CIA's torture program."

"Those are critical memos, and they're all still secret," he said. Jaffer knows they exist because the government has summarized or listed them in court documents.

Some secret memos have been mentioned with no description of their contents. And presumably some memoranda have never been mentioned at all. So, to paraphrase former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, there are known unknowns and unknown unknowns.

Surprises in the Memos

One reason there's a lot of interest in these documents is that they could contain some surprises. For example, one memo declassified Monday is dated Oct. 23, 2001. It asserts that the military can ignore Americans' Fourth Amendment privacy rights and conduct searches against suspected terrorists without a warrant. It's a controversial claim, but the public learned about the assertion years ago in a footnote to another Justice Department document. The public did not know about a line in the same memo that said: "First Amendment speech and press rights may also be subordinated to the overriding need to wage war successfully."

The Justice Department withdrew all nine of the newly released memos in January. The acting head of the office of legal counsel, Steven Bradbury, formally repudiated them five days before President Bush left office.

Duke Law Professor Chris Schroeder was acting head of the Office of Legal Counsel during the Clinton administration, and he was on the Obama administration's Justice Department transition team. He called the wholesale overturning of legal opinions such as these, "Absolutely unprecedented. I know of no comparable experience that comes remotely close."

Liberal activists say the Bush administration's last-minute about-face is evidence of how far off the rails the Justice Department went in the last eight years. Conservatives say it's a sign that things are going off the rails right now.

David Rivkin worked at the Justice Department under President Reagan and the first President Bush. He says he never would have written these legal memos, and he might have even withdrawn them, but not like this.

"In a normal environment," Rivkin says, "you gently pull it back. In an abnormal environment, you engage in recrimination, vilification, demonization and public repudiation - almost show-trial like. That's a very, very bad way to proceed."

I can think of another way to proceed, Mr. Rivkin.


You may read all of the declassified memos and presumably more after they are declassified at the US Department of Justice website:

So far on the list are the following:

Memorandum Regarding Status of Certain OLC Opinions Issued in the Aftermath of the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001 (01-15-2009)
Memorandum Regarding Constitutionality of Amending Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to Change the "Purpose" Standard for Searches (09-25-2001)
Memorandum Regarding Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activities within the United States (10-23-2001)
Memorandum Regarding Authority of the President to Suspend Certain Provisions of the ABM Treaty (11-15-2001)
Memorandum Regarding the President's Power as Commander in Chief to Transfer Captured Terrorists to the Control and Custody of Foreign Nations (03-13-2002)
Memorandum Regarding Swift Justice Authorization Act (04-08-2002)
Memorandum Regarding Determination of Enemy Belligerency and Military Detention (06-08-2002)
Memorandum Regarding Applicability of 18 U.S.C. § 4001(a) to Military Detention of United States Citizens (06-27-2002)
Memorandum Regarding October 23, 2001 OLC Opinion Addressing the Domestic Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activities (10-06-2008)

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