Steve Watson
Tuesday, March 3, 2009

By releasing internal Justice Department memos showing how the Bush fronted Neocons systematically destroyed civil liberties in America after 9/11, the Obama administration has sought to distance itself from such practices. However, closer inspection of the actions of the new regime, reveal no deviation from such policies in the war on terror.

Nine memos/opinions, said by the Bush administration to give legal grounding to detention and torture of terror suspects, were released yesterday.

They reveal how the rights of all American citizens have been effectively stripped away under the auspices of the so called “war on terror”.

A 2002 opinion written by then-assistant attorney general John Yoo, stated that the rights of any suspect could be rescinded.

“The power to dispose of the liberty of individuals captured … remain in the hands of the president alone,” Yoo wrote.

Another 2003 opinion written for Alberto Gonzales, then counsel for Bush, stated:

“Congress can no longer regulate the president’s ability to detain and interrogate enemy combatants than it may regulate his ability to direct troop movements.”

Another memo intended for John Bellinger, who was then legal advisor to the National Security Council, suggested that the president’s “power to suspend treaties is wholly discretionary,” indicating that international laws could be ignored if necessary.

Perhaps the most despicable of the memos dated from October 23rd 2001, Just weeks after 9/11. As reported by AP, it effectively stated that constitutional free-speech protections and a prohibition on unreasonable search and seizure could take a back seat to military needs in fighting terrorism inside the country.

“The government’s compelling interests in wartime justify restrictions on the scope of individual liberty,” it said.

“The current campaign against terrorism may require even broader exercises of federal power domestically,” John Yoo and Justice Department official Robert Delahunty wrote.

“The president has the legal and constitutional authority to use military force within the United States to respond to and combat future acts of terrorism… the Posse Comitatus Act does not bar deployment.” it continues.

“We do not think that a military commander carrying out a raid on a terrorist cell would be required to demonstrate probable cause or to obtain a (search) warrant,” the memo reads, also stating that the Fourth Amendment laws “are unsuited to the demands of wartime.”

Effectively the Justice Department gave the green light for military forces within the U.S. to smash in people’s doors, search their homes without probable cause, drag them away without charge and detain and torture them for as long as they like at the behest of the president.

Furthermore, the memo states, “First Amendment speech and press rights may also be subordinated to the overriding need to wage war successfully,” envisioning the possibility of censorship restrictions on newspapers and the Internet.

A September 25 2001 memo previews what would become an extensive debate over the National Security Administration’s warrantless surveillance program, saying “the president must be able to use whatever means necessary to prevent attacks on the United States; this power, by implication, includes the authority to collect information necessary for its effective exercise.”

All nine memos can be read at The Department of Justice website.

In effect, the DoJ Ok’d a total suspension of the U.S. Constitution after 9/11.

Though, the Obama administration has tentatively stated that the memos are invalid, the new president’s actions do not reflect such an assertion.

As reported last month, one of Obama’s first actions in office was to sign an executive order securing the continued practice of secretly capturing, transporting and imprisoning so called “enemy combatants”.

Under executive orders issued by Obama just two days into his tenure, the CIA still has authority to carry out what are known as renditions, secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the United States, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“The Obama administration appears to have determined that the rendition program was one component of the Bush administration’s war on terrorism that it could not afford to discard.” Greg Miller noted.

A minor provision within one executive order states that instructions to close the CIA’s secret prisons “do not refer to facilities used only to hold people on a short-term, transitory basis”, meaning that some “black sites” can remain open.

Though former CIA officials have admitted that rendition is mostly unproductive, an administration official told the LA Times anonymously: “Obviously you need to preserve some tools — you still have to go after the bad guys. The legal advisors working on this looked at rendition. It is controversial in some circles and kicked up a big storm in Europe. But if done within certain parameters, it is an acceptable practice.”

As we further illuminated in our previous report, Obama’s much lauded declaration to “ban” torture and his “commitment” to close down detention facilities is full of loopholes and hidden clauses designed to allow such practices and premises to be continued, albeit with renewed secrecy.

If Obama were truly committed to ending the legacy of torture and secret detention, he would authorize the prosecution of those officials responsible, all the way up to the top. Instead, he , along with his CIA Director Leon Panetta, has said he will do no such thing.

Indeed, the latest sign of allowing such crimes to go unpunished comes in the form of federal prosecutor John Durham signaling that even though he has yet to complete his investigation, he is unlikely to indict any CIA employees for incinerating 92 secret interrogation tapes that purportedly show suspects being waterboarded.

Furthermore, we have not seen Obama repeal Patriot Acts I and II, nor have we seen a reversal of Bush’s signing statement that would effectively repeal the John Warner Defense Authorization Act.

We have not seen any evidence to suggest that the NSA will cease warrantless secret surveillance and phone-taps of American citizens.

We have not seen any deviation from the Bush-era war on terror policies.

We have not seen any CHANGE.