The Memos: January 2009 Archives

John Yoo advocated the position that the terrorist attacks and the prospect of future attacks would require the military to be deployed inside the U.S., and that President Bush would "be justified in taking measures which in less troubled conditions could be seen as infringements of individual liberties."

On Tuesday, January 13th, 2009, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers released a 486-page report Tuesday that called for a wide-ranging probe into the Bush Administration's broad assertion of executive powers. In the report, Conyers referred to a previously unpublished Oct. 23, 2001 Justice Department memorandum authored by John Yoo and sent to then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales and Pentagon General Counsel William Haynes. The memo provided President George W. Bush with various scenarios that would allow him to sidestep Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Eleven days after 9/11, John Yoo, a former deputy in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, drafted a 20-page memorandum that offered up theories on how the Bush administration could sidestep Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures in the event the U.S. military used "deadly force in a manner that endangered the lives of United States citizens."

Yoo came up with a number of different scenarios. He suggested shooting down a jetliner hijacked by terrorists; setting up military checkpoints inside a U.S. city; implementing surveillance methods far more superior than those available to law enforcement; or using military forces "to raid or attack dwellings where terrorists were thought to be, despite risks that third parties could be killed or injured by exchanges of fire," says a copy of the little known Sept. 21, 2001 memo.

Yoo is the author of an August 2002 legal opinion, widely referred to as the "Torture Memo," that gave interrogators the legal authority to use brutal methods against suspected terrorists.

He drafted the Sept. 21, 2001 memo in response to a question posed by Timothy E. Flanigan, the former deputy White House counsel, who wanted to know "the legality of the use of military force to prevent or deter terrorist activity inside the United States,'' according to a copy of Flanigan's memo.

Yoo wrote that his ideas would likely be seen as violating the Fourth Amendment. But he said the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and the prospect that future attacks would require the military to be deployed inside the U.S. meant President Bush would "be justified in taking measures which in less troubled conditions could be seen as infringements of individual liberties."
"We think that the Fourth Amendment should be no more relevant than it would be in cases of invasion or insurrection," Yoo's memo stated. 

Continue reading here.
by Andy Worthington
January 12, 2009, The Huffington Post

Seven years ago, on January 11, 2002, when photos of the first orange-clad detainees to arrive at a hastily-erected prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba were made available to the world's press, defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld reacted to the widespread uproar that greeted the images of the kneeling, shackled men, wearing masks and blacked-out goggles and with earphones completing their sensory deprivation, by stating that it was "probably unfortunate" that the photos were released.

As so often with Rumsfeld's pronouncements, it was difficult to work out quite what he meant. He appeared to be conceding that newspapers like Britain's right-wing Daily Mail, which emblazoned its front page with the word "torture," had a valid point to make, but what he actually meant was that it was unfortunate that the photos had been released because they had led to criticism of the administration's anti-terror policies.

Rumsfeld proceeded to make it clear that he had no doubts about the significance of the prisoners transferred to Guantánamo, even though their treatment was unprecedented. They were, in essence, part of a novel experiment in detention and interrogation, which involved being held neither as prisoners of war nor as criminal suspects but as "enemy combatants" who could be imprisoned without charge or trial. In addition, they were deprived of the protections of the Geneva Conventions so that they could be coercively interrogated, and then, when they did not produce the intelligence that the administration thought they should have produced, they were -- as a highly critical Senate Armed Services Committee report concluded last month -- subjected to Chinese torture techniques, taught in U.S. military schools to train American personnel to resist interrogation if captured.

But none of this mattered to Donald Rumsfeld. "These people are committed terrorists," he declared on January 22, 2002, in the same press conference at which he spoke about the photos. "We are keeping them off the street and out of the airlines and out of nuclear power plants and out of ports across this country and across other countries." On a visit to Guantanamo five days later, he called the prisoners "among the most dangerous, best-trained, vicious killers on the face of the earth."

Seven years after Guantanamo opened, it should be abundantly clear that neither Rumsfeld nor Vice President Dick Cheney, President Bush or any of the other defenders of Guantanamo who indulged in similarly hysterical rhetoric, had any idea what they were talking about.

Continue reading Worthington's Seven Years of Guantanamo, Seven Years of Torture and Lies.

Bush says torture still necessary
David Edwards and Andrew McLemore

With days left in office and an abysmal approval rating, President Bush is still defending the use of torture.

In an interview on Fox News, Bush told Brit Hume that he approved enhanced interrogation tactics for suspected terrorists like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

"My view is the techniques were necessary and are necessary," Bush said.

The Bush administration has faced scathing criticism from those who say waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation tactics approved by Bush to be torture.

The president disagreed with notion that such tactics amount to torture.

"I firmly reject the word 'torture,'" Bush said.

The Bush administration helped create an unclear legal landscape (at best) as to whether waterboarding was outlawed.

President-elect Barack Obama rejects the Bush administration's equivocations about waterboarding, however.

"Vice President Cheney, I think, continues to defend what he calls extraordinary measures or procedures when it comes to interrogations and from my view waterboarding is torture," Obama said.

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The President's Executioner

Detention and torture in Guantanamo

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the The Memos category from January 2009.

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