Top Leaderboard, Site wide
Truthdig: Drilling Beneath the Headlines
April 27, 2017 Disclaimer: Please read.
x

Statements and opinions expressed in articles are those of the authors, not Truthdig. Truthdig takes no responsibility for such statements or opinions.







Truthdig Bazaar
The Coldest Winter

The Coldest Winter

By David Halberstam
$35.00

more items

 
Report
Email this item Print this item

Nine Secret Bush-Era Documents Released

Posted on Mar 4, 2009
Redacted memo
aclu.org

The damning torture memos were made available to the public after mounting public pressure.

From an ACLU press release: The Justice Department has released nine secret memos and opinions written by the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) that authorized some of the Bush administration’s unlawful national security policies, including a memo written by OLC lawyer John Yoo that argued the Fourth Amendment does not apply to military activities inside the United States.

The memos, which are available at the United States Department of Justice web site, were released after heavy public pressure surrounding a lawsuit brought by the ACLU. Notice: The files are in .PDF form.

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)

Advertisement

Square, Site wide
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)

Also, for a good analysis on what these memos mean and their importance in the profound restructuring of government that occurred under the Bush Administration, read the below piece by Marjorie Cohn:

Memos Provide Blueprint for Police State

By Marjorie Cohn

Seven newly released memos from the Bush Justice Department reveal a concerted strategy to cloak the President with power to override the Constitution. The memos provide “legal” rationales for the President to suspend freedom of speech and press; order warrantless searches and seizures, including wiretaps of U.S. citizens; lock up U.S. citizens indefinitely in the United States without criminal charges; send suspected terrorists to other countries where they will likely be tortured; and unilaterally abrogate treaties. According to the reasoning in the memos, Congress has no role to check and balance the executive. That is the definition of a police state.

Who wrote these memos? All but one were crafted in whole or in part by the infamous John Yoo and Jay Bybee, authors of the so-called “torture memos” that redefined torture much more narrowly than the U.S. definition of torture, and counseled the President how to torture and get away with it. In one memo, Yoo said the Justice Department would not enforce U.S. laws against torture, assault, maiming and stalking, in the detention and interrogation of enemy combatants.

What does the federal maiming statute prohibit?  It makes it a crime for someone “with the intent to torture, maim, or disfigure” to “cut, bite, or slit the nose, ear or lip, or cut out or disable the tongue, or put out or destroy an eye, or cut off or disable a limb or any member of another person.” It further prohibits individuals from “throwing or pouring upon another person any scalding water, corrosive acid, or caustic substance” with like intent.

The two torture memos were later withdrawn after they became public because their legal reasoning was clearly defective. But they remained in effect long enough to authorize the torture and abuse of many prisoners in U.S. custody.

The seven memos just made public were also eventually disavowed, several years after they were written. Steven Bradbury, the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General in Bush’s Department of Justice, issued two disclaimer memos – on October 6, 2008 and January 15, 2009 – that said the assertions in those seven memos did “not reflect the current views of this Office.” Why Bradbury waited until Bush was almost out of office to issue the disclaimers remains a mystery. Some speculate that Bradbury, knowing the new administration would likely release the memos, was trying to cover his backside.

Indeed, Yoo, Bybee and Bradbury are the three former Justice Department lawyers that the Office of Professional Responsibility singled out for criticism in its still unreleased report. The OPR could refer these lawyers for state bar discipline or even recommend criminal charges against them.

In his memos, Yoo justified giving unchecked authority to the President because the United States was in a “state of armed conflict.” Yoo wrote, “First Amendment speech and press rights may also be subordinated to the overriding need to wage war successfully.” Yoo made the preposterous argument that since deadly force could legitimately be used in self-defense in criminal cases, the President could suspend the Fourth Amendment because privacy rights are less serious than protection from the use of deadly force.

Bybee wrote in one of the memos that nothing can stop the President from sending al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners captured overseas to third countries, as long as he doesn’t intend for them to be tortured. But the Convention Against Torture, to which the United States is a party, says that no country can expel, return or extradite a person to another country “where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.” Bybee claimed the Torture Convention didn’t apply extraterritorially, a proposition roundly debunked by reputable scholars. The Bush administration reportedly engaged in this practice of extraordinary rendition 100 to 150 times as of March 2005.

The same day that Attorney General Eric Holder released the memos, the government revealed that the CIA had destroyed 92 videotapes of harsh interrogations of Abu Zubaida and Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, both of whom were subjected to waterboarding. The memo that authorized the CIA to waterboard, written the same day as one of Yoo/Bybee’s torture memos, has not yet been released.

Bush insisted that Zubaida was a dangerous terrorist, in spite of the contention of one of the FBI’s leading al Qaeda experts that Zubaida was schizophrenic, a bit player in the organization. Under torture, Zubaida admitted to everything under the sun – his information was virtually worthless.

There are more memos yet to be released. They will invariably implicate Bush officials and lawyers in the commission of torture, illegal surveillance, extraordinary rendition, and other violations of the law.

Meanwhile, John Yoo remains on the faculty of Berkeley Law School and Jay Bybee is a federal judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. These men, who advised Bush on how to create a police state, should be investigated, prosecuted, and disbarred. Yoo should be fired and Bybee impeached.

Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and president of the National Lawyers Guild. She is the author of “Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law” and co-author of “Rules of Disengagement: The Politics and Honor of Military Dissent,” which will be published this spring. Her articles are archived at www.marjoriecohn.com.



Lockerdome Below Article
Get a book from one of our contributors in the Truthdig Bazaar.

Related Entries

Get truth delivered to
your inbox every day.



New and Improved Comments

If you have trouble leaving a comment, review this help page. Still having problems? Let us know. If you find yourself moderated, take a moment to review our comment policy.

Join the conversation

Load Comments

By mlb, March 9, 2009 at 9:51 am Link to this comment

Don’t hold your breath waiting for Holder to actually do something: Obama administration backs immunity for author of Bush torture memos.

The Obama administration has apparently embraced Bush’s wartime dictator vision of the presidency and his “just a god damned piece of paper” view of the Constitution.

Say one thing and do another.  It’s a longstanding tradition in American politics and Obama is making it a hallmark of his presidency.

Report this

By cyrena, March 8, 2009 at 3:45 am Link to this comment

By Lawrence Oswald, March 6 at 5:01
•  “The big deal here is the Constitution. Protecting the Constitution is more important than putting anyone in prison.” …….“In some cases there will be indictments and in other cases there will be immunity. In a few cases there will be convictions. There will be lots of whining. So be it. But critical is the information of what happened, how it happened and who did what. A few court precedents and a new law or two may help us avoid unbalanced future administrations.”
Thanks Lawrence. This really is the big deal here. The Constitution. The one that became as seemingly insignificant as toilet paper, as least to the ones who take toilet paper for granted. The near destruction of it under the former regime, (that came within a gnats eyelash of being an autocracy – some would say that they were) must be restored. I would add that finding out the truth is the only way that can happen.

It’s NOT that our Constitution didn’t provide the blueprint for avoiding this. It’s just that at some point along the way, it was allowed to happen anyway. So yep, we’ve gotta just get the truth of it out, and acknowledged.

My personal opinion is that the new Administration intends to do exactly that, simply because it is their job.


Thanks again.

Report this

By VillageElder, March 7, 2009 at 6:28 pm Link to this comment

Should luck and rationality prevail we may see Bush & Co. indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes.

Bashir is fighting for his political life as the International Criminal Court prepares to issue an arrest warrant against him.  There is discussion that this action may serve as a template for action against Bush & Co.

Report this
Purple Girl's avatar

By Purple Girl, March 7, 2009 at 3:35 pm Link to this comment

Finally irrefutable evidence in black & white- what more do they need to prosecute these criminals for High Crimes against the State & the People of the United States?
It is not as though these crimes where not recognized by many prior to the release of these memos, to continue to deny Justice for the people of this coutnry is to be complicit.If the AG and congress does nothing then they too may some day stand trial as co conspirators.

Report this

By libertarian, March 7, 2009 at 2:13 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Secret memos. What about the non-secret activities which slide by the board with little notice. An example is 1983 Reagan America(tell me if year incorrect with this). Reagan and pals, after driving unemployment up to 10% and launching Reagan deficit spending, encourage the British loon, Margaret Thatcher, to brutalize Argentina, unnecessarily sinking a troop-ship carrying over 1100 young men to the bottom. Misdirection is the task; since October ‘08 it’s the couple trillion dollar handout to crooked bank moguls.

Report this

By Lawrence Oswald, March 6, 2009 at 1:01 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The big deal here is the Constitution. Protecting the Constitution is more important than putting anyone in prison. And torture is bad but autocracy is worse. So I do want investigation, exposure, names and dates, top down. At a minimum this will expose the perps. They will be humiliated in figurative stocks in the virtual public square. Humiliation and condemnation is important. In some cases there will be indictments and in other cases there will be immunity. In a few cases there will be convictions. There will be lots of whining. So be it. But critical is the information of what happened, how it happened and who did what. A few court precedents and a new law or two may help us avoid unbalanced future administrations.

Report this

By Eso, March 6, 2009 at 9:30 am Link to this comment

John Yoo (of UC Berkeley Law School faculty) and Jay Bybee (a federal judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals)—have these guys been fired or are they still at their jobs?

Report this

By wildflower, March 5, 2009 at 6:34 pm Link to this comment

John Dean has written a lot about the dangers/consequences that are likely to develop when authoritarians like Bush and Cheney are in power:

“. . . Republicans rule, rather than govern, when they are in power by imposing their authoritarian conservative philosophy on everyone, as their answer for everything. This works for them because their interest is in power, and in what it can do for those who think as they do.

Ruling, of course, must be distinguished from governing, which is a more nuanced process that entails give-and-take and the kind of compromises that are often necessary to find a consensus and solutions that will best serve the interests of all Americans.

Republicans’ authoritarian rule can also be characterized by its striking incivility and intolerance toward those who do not view the world as Republicans do. Their insufferable attitude is not dangerous in itself, but it is employed to accomplish what they want, which is to take care of themselves and those who work to keep them in power.

Authoritarian conservatives are primarily anti-government, except where they believe the government can be useful to impose moral or social order (for example, with respect to matters like abortion, prayer in schools, or prohibiting sexually-explicit information from public view).

Similarly, Republicans’ limited-government attitude does not apply regarding national security, where they feel there can never be too much government activity - nor are the rights and liberties of individuals respected when national security is involved. . .”

http://writ.news.findlaw.com/dean/20081031.html

Report this

By VillageElder, March 5, 2009 at 7:16 am Link to this comment

cyrena—“At least this is a damn good start.”

Well said!!!  These memo’s embody the dreams of the extreme right wing dating back to their flirtation with fascist.  Actually that flirtation was consummated under Bush et al.  Their doctrine of the unitary executive (dictatorship) and having the law apply only to the non-rulers (shades of Animal Farm) were and are a far distance for the Constitution as written and interpreted.

These memoranda are only a preview of coming attractions.  With the crack in the stonewall I expect we will see a flood of incriminating material coming to light.  There appears to be a growing desire both among the citizenry and lawmakers for criminal prosecution.  The repugs have been stating that if a crime is suspected than there should be investigations and prosecution.  Let’s hope they get their wish.

Rove and Miers will appear before the congressional committee in closed session, unfortunately not under oath or in public, but must testify under the threat of prosecution for perjury.

Not a bad start . . .

Report this

By AT, March 5, 2009 at 4:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Congratulations professor Yoo. Finally the rats are identified in broad daylight. You are identified as one of the two along with Judge Bybee.How does the Constitution look to you now?. Is it better than the dictatorship that you have proposed to Walker Bush / Oh, I forgot. Your reward is to teach Constitutional Law. How did Bush gang ever need you to provided legal cover up for their crimes? According to our laws, you and Judge Bybee wrote them so you must be the responsible party, or is it Bush-Cheney? We’ll hear from you again, Confessor.

Report this

By Bobar, March 5, 2009 at 4:06 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

No doubt in my mind Bush/Cheney belong in prison.  Where is the justice when someome can go to jail for a little pot and the White House thugs can lie (treason) and cause the death(murder), devastation(vandalism) for thousands.  Let’s not forget grand theft, stealing from the people to give to a few of the wealthy on Wall Street.

TIME TO STIR THE KARMA POT!

Report this

By cyrena, March 4, 2009 at 8:05 pm Link to this comment

•  “The same day that Attorney General Eric Holder released the memos, the government revealed that the CIA had destroyed 92 videotapes of harsh interrogations of Abu Zubaida and Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, both of whom were subjected to waterboarding. The memo that authorized the CIA to waterboard, written the same day as one of Yoo/Bybee’s torture memos, has not yet been released.”

Indeed, this one has yet to be released, but no doubt others are coming. (Which I was certain would happen under the new admin. – we knew that the second Obama made a first day priority of restoring the Freedom of Information Act. ) In fact, this has been exactly the plan all along (I suspect)…let all of this stuff come out through the apparatus as it should, and through the efforts of organizations like the ACLU, and the rest of ‘we the people’.  If we (or the Obama Admin) is about restoring the rule of law, (and I believe that they are) then this is one of the MANY things they’ve done to kick it off.
So, the(new) government has REVEALED and/or caused to be REVEALED a whole bunch of stuff these past 6 or so weeks. Eric Holder definitely has his work cut out for him, but I’m convinced that he’s up to the task. At least this is a damn good start.

As for the memo indicating who authorized the CIA to waterboard, I don’t know that it’s gonna tell us anymore than Dick Cheney already has. HE said HE authorized it, and we knew that before he announced it on at least national TV, just some weeks ago. He ADMITTED that he ordered it, and yeah…the admission was probably in advance of what they knew was gonna come out. But, they’ve been playing CYA all along on this.
So on this:

•  “There are more memos yet to be released. They will invariably implicate Bush officials and lawyers in the commission of torture, illegal surveillance, extraordinary rendition, and other violations of the law.”

I’m sure there WILL be others implicated, (I heard Rove had finally ‘agreed’ to testify) and I hope it includes all of them, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Rice, and all of these other war criminals.

I can’t wait.

Report this

By cyrena, March 4, 2009 at 7:16 pm Link to this comment

Dear Truthdig Staff:

This publication makes me really proud of ya’ll.

It is truly appreciated that you have made all of these documents available, along with the piece from and the link to Marjorie Cohen.

Much of this information actually has been available, (specifically the stuff that Yoo came up with, along with other stuff from the OLC) but large portions were previously redacted, and it was difficult (for me at least) to collect them all.

(Now from the same source, ACLU - we’ve also just learned of even more CIA torture interrogation tapes gone missing or erased.)

Anyway, this is an excellent presentation that conveniently puts all of this information at our fingertips, so that finally, maybe, we can begin to recover from what has been inflicted upon us by the former regime.

Good work!! And thanks again.

Report this
Right Top, Site wide - Care2
 
Right Skyscraper, Site Wide
Right Internal Skyscraper, Site wide

Like Truthdig on Facebook