Saturday, March 7, 2009

John Yoo Memos: Blueprint for a police state.

I have compiled this post from a few comments I've left on other's blogs, so if you see something repeated, bear with me.

The Yoo memos:

George W Bush and his administration were just a few steps away from a total police state, where the administration could spy on its citizens and suspend certain amendments.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."Also in the memo was the question of if there were any restrictions on the use of the U.S. military inside the country in targeting terror suspects. The Yoo memo concluded there were nonem, that the country was in a "state of armed conflict" and "legal and constitutional rules" governing law enforcement—such as the Fourth Amendment prohibition on "unreasonable" searches and seizures—did not apply, and that the U.S. military could be used for "targeting and destroying" a hijacked airline or "attacking civilian targets, such as apartment buildings, offices or ships where suspected terrorists were thought to be." At another point, the memo advices: "Military action might encompass making arrests, seizing documents or other property, searching persons or places or keeping them under surveillance, intercepting electronic or wireless communications, setting up roadblocks, interviewing witnesses or searching for suspects."

Many of them involve what the Executive Branch can do on American Soil. Remember Jose Padilla? We tried him. He was convicted. But the Bush Administration tried to hold him without charge. They did for three years, designating him an illegal enemy combatant and transferred him to a military prison, arguing that he was thereby not entitled to trial in civilian courts. He was a US Citizen arrested in arrested in Chicago on May 8, 2002 and held as a witness in a criminal case, but then was just taken and held without charge by Bush. He was only released because the Supreme Court was getting suspicious and was going to rule that Bush had no authority to detain him, which would have permantly removed the President's power to do so in the future. Once in the criminal system, he was found guilty of conspiracy to commit terrorism and convicted.

Here's a "suspected terrorist" on the US Mainland held without charge: Again, what happended to habeas corpus? Even if you are for this in Guantanamo, how can any Patriot stand for anyone to be arrested and held without charge on the US Mainland?

Timothy McVeigh was executed for terrorism. Our system works. Lets put these terrorists from Guantanamo into a court martial and see the evidence against them. Then convict them.

Here are some of those memos, and many of them concern the Bill of Rights on the US Mainland and US Citizens: attempted Martial Law.

September 25, 2001 Memorandum for David S. Kris, Associate Deputy Attorney General, "Re: Constitutionality of Amending Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to Change 'Purpose' Standard for Searches" (signed by John C. Yoo). Claims the US's "right to self defense" authorized warrantless searches under the Fourth Amendment.

October 23, 2001 Memorandum for Alberto Gonzales and William J. Haynes, "Re: Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activities Within the United States" (signed by John C. Yoo and Robert J. Delahunty). Claims the military can ignore the Fourth Amendment, the Takings Clause, and can also override the First Amendment.

December 28, 2001 Memorandum for William J. Haynes, "Re: Possible Habeas Jurisdiction Over Aliens Held in Guantanamo Bay" (signed by John Yoo and Patrick Philbin). Sixth Amendment.June 8, 2002 Memorandum for the Attorney General, "Determination of Enemy Belligerency and Military Detention" (signed by Jay S. Bybee). Concludes that the military has the legal authority to detain US citizen Jose Padilla as a prisoner captured during an international armed conflict. Fifth and Sixth Amendment.

June 27, 2002 Memorandum for Daniel J. Bryant, "Re: Applicability of 18 U.S.C. 4001(a) to Military Detention of United States Citizen" (signed by John C. Yoo). Claims that statute flatly saying "No citizen shall be imprisoned or otherwise detained by the United States except pursuant to an Act of Congress" does not, and constitutionally could not, interfere with Bush's authority to detain Jose Padilla as Commander in Chief. Repudiated. Fifth and Sixth Amendment.

August 1, 2002 Memorandum for Alberto R. Gonzales, "Re: Standards of Conduct for Interrogation Under 18 U.S.C. 2340-2340A" (signed by Jay S. Bybee) (the Bybee memo). Eighth Amendment.

And here’s another gem. Not Constitutional violation, just treaty violations (Geneva) and violation of Congress’ Anti-Torture Laws:

March 13, 2002 Memorandum for William J. Haynes, "Re: The President’s Power as Commander in Chief to transfer captured terrorists to the control and custody of foreign nations" (signed by Jay S. Bybee). "We conclude that as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive, the President has the plenary constitutional power to detain and transfer prisoners captured in war. We also conclude that neither the GPW (Third Geneva Convention) nor the Torture Convention restrict the President's legal authority to transfer prisoners captured in the Afghanistan conflict to third countries. Although the GPW places conditions on the transfer of POWs, neither al-Qaeda nor Taliban prisoners are legally entitled to POW status, and hence there are no GPW conditions placed on their transfer. While the Torture Convention arguably might govern transfer of these prisoners, it does not apply extraterritorially."

Those of you on the conservative side arguing for less government: This was the exact opposite. This was the government authorizing itself to peek in your windows, go into your house, and wisk you away to torture you and hold you without charge FOREVER if they decide you might be a terrorist. Doesn't matter if you are a US citizen or not.

Those of you on the liberal side, you already know that this is wrong.

We can all agree that these memos were examples of a President seeking too much power. Let's do something about. Let's prosecute those responsible in the last administration. If we can show to our government that we will not stand for the checks and balances system being sidestepped, than the next president that tries will sure think twice. Obama and whoever comes after will know that the American people WILL NOT STAND for this kind of trash.


Dave Miller said...

Nice post James.

I linked to it on my post related to the same subject.

I am amazed at how few people even bothered to post on this, one way or the other.

James Wolfer said...

Yeah. The only one I saw was at Pasadena Closet Conservative. And all they wrote was condemning Obama for releasing "military secrets". They didn't even read the memos.

roy said...

and to the degree that the Bush admin threw away our freedoms, the terrorists won.

James Wolfer said...

exactly. Its so frustrating that no one seems to care enough, and that people are STILL defending the Bush Administration.