The news just goes from bad to worse about the Bush administration's claims of utterly unconstitional, dangerous, and tyrannical authority. Now a new batch of John Yoo-penned memos have been released.

"The secret legal opinions issued by Bush administration lawyers after the Sept. 11 attacks included assertions that the president could use the nation’s military within the United States to combat terrorism suspects and to conduct raids without obtaining search warrants....
...
In a memorandum dated this Jan. 15, five days before President George W. Bush left office, a top Justice Department official wrote that those opinions had not been relied on since 2003. But the official, Steven G. Bradbury, who headed the Office of Legal Counsel, said it was important to acknowledge in writing “the doubtful nature of these propositions,” and he used the memo to repudiate them formally.

Mr. Bradbury said in his memo that the earlier ones had been a product of lawyers’ confronting “novel and complex questions in a time of great danger and under extraordinary time pressure.” "


Any thought to the idea that the Bushies suddenly realized that Obama, or anybody else, might be able to make use of the police state authority they claimed?

"The opinion authorizing the military to operate domestically was dated Oct. 23, 2001, and written by John C. Yoo, at the time a deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel, and Robert J. Delahunty, a special counsel in the office. It was directed to Alberto R. Gonzales, then the White House counsel, who had asked whether Mr. Bush could use the military to combat terrorist activities inside the United States.

The use of the military envisioned in the Yoo-Delahunty reply appears to transcend by far the stationing of troops to keep watch at streets and airports, a familiar sight in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. The memorandum discussed the use of military forces to carry out “raids on terrorist cells” and even seize property.

“The law has recognized that force (including deadly force) may be legitimately used in self-defense,” Mr. Yoo and Mr. Delahunty wrote to Mr. Gonzales. Therefore any objections based on the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches are swept away, they said, since any possible privacy offense resulting from such a search is a lesser matter than any injury from deadly force.

The Oct. 23 memorandum also said that “First Amendment speech and press rights may also be subordinated to the overriding need to wage war successfully.” It added that “the current campaign against terrorism may require even broader exercises of federal power domestically.”

Mr. Yoo and Mr. Delahunty said that in addition, the Posse Comitatus Act, which generally bars the military from domestic law enforcement operations, would pose no obstacle to the use of troops in a domestic fight against terrorism suspects. They reasoned that the troops would be acting in a national security function, not as law enforcers.

In another of the opinions, Mr. Yoo argued in a memorandum dated Sept. 25, 2001, that judicial precedents approving deadly force in self-defense could be extended to allow for eavesdropping without warrants.

Still another memo, issued in March 2002, suggested that Congress lacked any power to limit a president’s authority to transfer detainees to other countries, a practice known as rendition that was widely used by Mr. Bush."


How could any self-respecting Southerner support the Republican party when Bush was claiming that the Posse Comitatus act was irrelevant? This is an issue that has deep resonance in the supposedly proudly independent South (and no, I am not bothering to ask about people from other regions, as they repudiated Bush in the 2008 election and already made it clear that this is a country of laws rather than would-be kings).

These are terrifying claims. I am sure the Obama administration is releasing them to give people a sense just how lawless and dangerous the Bush regime was, and that is a good thing.

In a related, albeit more expansive way, this consideration at Balkinization of the uses of an atmosphere of crisis by both Bush and Obama is worth a reading.

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