Yoo and The Subversion of Liberty Narrowly Averted

If history gets this recent era right, future textbooks will have
to show that the US narrowly averted a carefully planned but thorough
and unmistakable conspiracy to subvert the rule of law and the process
of democracy from 2001-2008. For three years, since writing End of America,
I have been arguing that the Bush team sought irretrievably to subvert
our liberty. Fortunately, this appalling and conceivably irrevocable
subversion of the tenets of freedom was narrowly averted by citizens at
every level -- from the grassroots to the courts -- resisting in time.
But the release this week by the Justice Department of the "secret memos"
sought valiantly by the ACLU confirms that Bush's legal architects were
building up the framework for something even scarier than our most
anguished projections.

You can see the documents themselves online
-- but, as usual, there is a gap between the cautious journalistic
interpretation of the event and the dense legalese in which they are
written, and no one yet has really explained to citizens who are not
attorneys what these memos claimed to give Bush the right to do. This
is my initial reading of these documents:

Most dramatically, one memo asserts that Bush can deploy the
military within the United States -- all of the military if he so
wishes -- overriding Posse Comitatus, which has kept us safe from
military policing for over a century. As many heard me warn in October
and November of last year, when the first troops were sent to US
streets, history shows that once the military is deployed domestically
to "keep order" in a civil society, it is over. This memo is especially
galling, since last fall's red alert from us was met with alarm by
citizens but by ridicule by mainstream media outlets. Turns out we were
right. This `deployment' memo proves that Bush indeed, as we feared,
wanted the power to deploy military for domestic policing purposes, a
mission that Northcom spokesmen denied -- apparently falsely -- when a
few critics from non-mainstream platforms raised the alarm last
November about the deployment of the First Brigade from Iraq to the US.
This memo shows that Bush sought the power to deploy any number of U.S. military into the U.S. itself for any reason he
chose; direct them to rip through your home without a warrant, even if
you have not been charged with anything; seize material and documents;
and even gave Bush the power to use deadly force against you -- yes,
you, innocent US citizen -- "in self-defense." In your homes and
streets -- not on a faraway battlefield. Major David Antoon confirmed
that this power -- to send US military to control, arrest and even
shoot US civilians in self-defense -- was in Bush's hands last fall
when I asked Antoon about it. Turns out this memo shows Bush indeed
wanted to have that power.

Another memo would give the power to Bush -- at his discretion --
to close down or censor newspapers, radio and the Internet - override
the First Amendment in the interest of "national security." So if he
had deployed, say, ten brigades -- 37,000 warriors -- in key cities (he
deployed three before the election and 20,000 are due to be deployed
domestically by 2012 unless we stop it), you would not be able to hear
about it through the news media if he invoked this power to suspend
free speech. And if you protested -- if you dared -- well, his actions
would have been -- thanks to John Yoo and others, who will go down in
history along with the criminal Nuremberg lawyers as one of Satan's
willing attorneys -- perfectly legal.

Yet another memo gives Bush not only the right to call any US
citizen an "enemy combatant" and hold him or her indefinitely - a
danger we knew about, and one that we have tried hard to alert citizens
to, a warning that has seemingly penetrated collective consciousness.
The newly released memo demonstrates that was the very surface of the
powers over US citizens Bush claimed. For three years when I have
cautioned citizens about this power Bush invoked to seize US citizens
as "enemy combatants" I reassured them that he did not yet have the
power to torture US citizens, "only" drive them mad through prolonged
isolation in a navy brig. Well, this memo asserts Bush's right to do whatever he wants
to innocent US citizens in this kind of custody, and rejects the notion
that Congress would have any role in how US citizens are held or
treated -- say, by the hypothetically deployed military - on US soil.
It seems also to claim the right to hold innocent US citizens in
domestic military custody while Bush has the right to do anything he
wants to them. Anything he wants. Remember this is an administration in
which Bush, Rice, Rumsfeld and Cheney have now been proven by Jameel
Jaffer's revelations in Administration of Torture to have known about and okay'd
not just waterboarding as a policy but ok'd the discretion for
interrogators to use tactics such as electrodes attached to genitals,
sexual assault, threats against family members, suffocation, the
beating of prisoners' legs to "pulp," and in some cases the covering up
of their murders. This memo gives Bush the authority to do those things
if he wants to innocent US citizens.

Still another memo gives Bush the right to ignore any international
treaties -- to take over any country, say, or render and citizen
anywhere, and do whatever he wants to the citizens of any country
against any law, without consent of Congress.

The Washington Post called these memos "legal errors."
We need to stare them in the face and understand them: they are
evidence that the groundwork was laid out that gave the president the
legal power effectively subvert the Republic. We need to understand the
full darkness of what we narrowly escaped -- for now, our work is
hardly begun. We need to build these lessons into our history and to
use the terror they represent to dismantle the last of Bush's evil
legacy -- a legacy that could have been activated by any US president
in the future, including Obama or McCain -- and see these memos for
what they are: the revealed architecture of an intended edifice of what
amounts to treason again our republic and against all of us, regardless
of belief, station of life, or political party.

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