Bush Wiretap Memos Reveal Shocking Revelations

Dennis Faas's picture

Recently we looked at some of the problems with mass surveillance and the myth associated with justifications of its use. If you think you're being watched, as noted by Wired.com, you're probably right. But, how did we end up a mass surveillance society? (Source: wired.com)

We may not have realized it at the time, as noted by Scott Horton from Harper's Magazine, but in the period from late 2001 to January 19, 2009, many argue that the U.S. was a dictatorship. (Source: harpers.org)

Bush Memorandums Made Available

A set of memorandums written by U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) lawyers were recently disclosed to the public by the Obama administration. The memorandums note how the Bush administration gave the authority to wiretap the Internet and telephone calls with no limitations, suppress journalists, restrict freedom of speech, and allegedly allowed the President to domestically use the U.S. military against suspected terrorists. (Source: cnet.com)

The Bush administration memos came after the September 11, 2001 attacks. The memos provide glimpses into the arguments used to justify those claims and the depths of those beliefs. (Source: consortiumnews.com)

Memos Laid Framework For Police State

The Bush memos appear to do nothing more than subvert the U.S. Constitution while justifying the actions of an administration.

A September 2001 memo (PDF) attempted to justify the warrantless surveillance program alleging that "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." (Source (PDF): usdoj.gov)

An October 2001 memo (PDF) says that "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, and that the Posse Comitatus Act does not bar deployment." It also tried to justify censorship restrictions on newspapers and the Internet, trying to subvert the First Amendment. (Source (PDF): usdoj.gov)

A 2002 memo (PDF) alleged that a suspect could be tortured "so long as the United States does not intend for a detainee to be tortured post-transfer, however, no criminal liability will attach to a transfer, even if the foreign country receiving the detainee does torture him." (Source (PDF): usdoj.gov)

Alleged 'Executive Powers' Struck Down By Courts

Some of the unchecked executive branch powers have been deemed illegal by federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court. Other lawsuits are pending over the abuse of self-serving powers created by the Bush administration.

After running the U.S. as, arguably, a dictatorship for 7 years, a January 15, 2009 memo (PDF) found that the Bush-era wiretap memos were no longer valid. (Source (PDF): usdoj.gov)

Attorney General Eric Holder said that Americans deserve a government that operates with transparency and openness when he announced that the Bush memos were being released. It remains to be seen whether or not President Obama will continue Bush's style or not and whether transparency and openness will apply to pending lawsuits involving Bush's alleged wiretapping.

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