transparency is a substantive issue

The attempt to re-insert transparency back into the government has begun, and we can all be thankful for that. This article in Newsweek shows what the Bushies were really thinking during that crucial period right after ‘9/11‘ where they came up with strategies to fight the War on Terrorism.

The re-making of the U.S. into a torture state wasn’t the only brutal mistake they considered; the initial memo, outlining what the President’s capabilities in this new War were, stated that suspending or violating traditional, well-understood 1st Amendment rights was fine.

It’s shocking revelations like this one that make it possible to see what was the reality: a paranoid and perhaps-rogue administration, carelessly minimizing the Constitution, over and over.

Extraordinary Measures

A new memo shows just how far the Bush administration considered going in fighting the war on terror.

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the Justice Department secretly gave the green light for the U.S. military to attack apartment buildings and office complexes inside the United States, deploy high-tech surveillance against U.S. citizens and potentially suspend First Amendment freedom-of-the-press rights in order to combat the terror threat, according to a memo released Monday…

…the memo from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel—along with others made public for the first time Monday—illustrates with new details the extraordinary post-9/11 powers asserted by Bush administration lawyers. Those assertions ultimately led to such controversial policies as allowing the waterboarding of terror suspects and permitting warrantless wiretapping of U.S. citizens—steps that remain the subject of ongoing investigations by Congress and the Justice Department…

In perhaps the most surprising assertion, 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,” [John] Yoo wrote in the memo entitled “Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activity Within the United States.”

This claim was viewed as so extreme that it was essentially (and secretly) revoked—but not until October of last year, seven years after the memo was written and with barely three and a half months left in the Bush administration.

At that time, Steven Bradbury, who headed the Office of Legal Counsel throughout Bush’s second term, concluded that Yoo’s statements about overriding First Amendment freedoms were “unnecessary” and “overbroad and general and not sufficiently grounded in the particular circumstance of a concrete scenario,” according to a memo from Bradbury also made public Monday…

On Jan. 15, 2009—with only five days left before Bush left office—Bradbury also rescinded three other legal memos written during the president’s first term that claimed broad powers to unilaterally suspend treaties, bypass restrictions on domestic surveillance and take other actions to combat terrorism without the approval of Congress. Bradbury said in a separate legal memo that the claims made in these earlier memos were based on unsound legal reasoning and should not be viewed as “authoritative.” But he offered no explanation for why he waited until the waning days of Bush’s presidency to withdraw them…

But you can probably see why these views had to be overturned, right? The Obama administration would have to review all these vital interpretations of the (new) President’s powers as the DOJ currently sees them. They’d come across the standing view that Americans’ first amendment rights are, and have been, subservient to the president’s War powers.

Obama and his DOJ would immediately re-write that, call a press conference to say so, and then all hell would break loose.