back to article Obama releases Dubya's secret anti-terror memos

The Obama administration has released nine secret legal opinions penned by Bush Administration lawyers, revealing the scope of executive power the White House sought in fighting domestic terrorism. The opinions reflect an extraordinary interpretation of presidential power used by the Bush White House to justify executive …


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  2. Eddy Ito
    Black Helicopters

    Forgetting one thing

    Attacking your own citizenry on the pretext of preemptive self defense is little different from a terrorist attack itself. It does however carry a different name, it is called tyranny and I should note that the citizenry also possess a right to self defense albeit, weakly codified and mostly ignored, in the second, ninth and tenth amendments.

    Got to run, someone's knocking.

  3. Mike Hebel

    *sprays Bushite Be-Gone*

    As one of the possibly saner Americans, but no less fat ;-) , I can wholeheartedly say that I'm glad those yutz' are out of office.

    We make our country look bad enough as it is without loons like those in office!

  4. Kevin

    This is not news

    This is not news. The Patriot Act in its original form included these things as well. Congress passed it overwhelmingly, and the Supreme Court ruled that these things were not Constitutional and struck them down. That was the end of it, and anybody who believes otherwise needs to head to Roswell on a fact-finding mission. The fact that this is being released is just Obama trying to distract from the ridiculous spending that is happening, with Hoover-esque tax hikes to follow in 2010, and an increase in spending by $1.5T by 2012. He doesn't know how to lead, so he continues to campaign in hopes of making himself look better by bashing others.

  5. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    So, will these so-called lawyers get hung by their balls?

    As expected and as seen time and again in history, a diarrhea of meaningless legalese is being used to justify whatever power upwardly mobile sociopaths deem just and proper to arrogate themselves. I'm sadly afraid one cannot hope for some Dubya-style Texan Terminal Justice for these "legal experts", but a cushy post at the American Enterprise Institute or a professorship at UC Berkeley cannot be considered just punishment.

  6. stizzleswick
    IT Angle

    20 years late...

    "transparency and openness."

    So the US finally embrace Glasnost after all... about bloody time, too.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The question is

    whether Obama will release secret documents produced by his own presidency, or whether they will have to wait for someone else to get into power.

  8. Stuart Van Onselen

    It's not illegal...

    ...if the President does it!

    Anyway, as we all know, "everything changed after 9/11":

    Firstly, terrorists, bombs and even airplanes didn't even exist till 9/11.

    Secondly, after 9/11 a new zeroeth Amendment magically came into being:

    "The President shall do whatever the fcuk he wants, if he can somehow relate it to terrorism. This Amendment supercedes all other Amendments within the Bill of Rights".

  9. jonathan keith Silver badge
    Paris Hilton


    For a revealing insight into Cheney, Yoo et al's view on executive power, and the undermining of US democracy by Bush's use of "signing statements", read "Takeover" by Charlie Savage. Very, very scary.

    Paris, because she (allegedly) got fucked twice in eight years, like the rest of us.

  10. Joe K


    Sounds like the beginning of a full-on dictatorship.

    Scares the hell out of me to think how far things would go if they got a 3rd term, or get in power again.

    Can the rest of the world vote on the next one please? If the Republicans get in again it fucks up the rest of us too.

  11. James Pickett

    Gander sauce

    "transparency and openness."

    Your move, Jack Straw.

  12. Alistair

    how 'bout them cowboys

    So when the new president gets sworn in and promises to uphold and defend the constitution of the united states (sorry if my English wording is inaccurately recalled and correctly spelled) does that mean he intends to ride over it rough shod all a whoopin' and a hollerin' like some hot-shot rodeo redneck? I thought not.

  13. John Smith Gold badge

    At last

    A vision for Gordo, her Wackinness and the Hoon loon to follow.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Good stuff

    For a fleeting moment there, reading about this almost made me want to be an American.

  15. Hud Dunlap
    Black Helicopters

    Public safety

    Actually the Supreme court has been watering down the Fourth amendment for many years. Roadblocks near bars are legal for "public safety" (DWI), the police no longer need probable cause to search your vehicle it is now" reasonable suspicion". If the police think you might have a weapon you can be searched to protect their safety ( the ruling discusses knives not gun like you would think, not that knives existed 200 years ago)

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Extrodinary Rendition and Specific Intention.

    A March 2002 opinion claims that terror detainees can be transferred to countries known to commit human rights violations, so long as US officials didn't specifically intend for them to be tortured.

    I would be interested to know what the 'Specific Intention' of extrodinary rendition was? if they weren't specifically being sent for torture why where they sent?

    sent for detention other than in the US makes no sense! there must have been a specific reason so what was it?

  17. DutchOven
    Black Helicopters

    Who is representing the average US citizen?

    "First Amendment speech and press rights may also be subordinated to the overriding need to wage war successfully."

    or "We don't really give a shit about the rights of our citizens as long as we can throw our weight around a bit and our military suppliers are getting plenty of dosh".

    Isn't it ironic that disorganised terrorists who are trying to restrict the freedom of US citizens are up against, errr, organised terrorists who actually have the power to restrict the freedom of US citizens and who frequently do it?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    I wonder if it'd be possible to have people seeking office take psychological examinations to determine fitness for such a high-stress position of power? No, I don't suppose any politicians would be able to take office if that was the case...

    Hopefully history records Bush (and his administration) as the fool he was and is. Someone who truly can't see the forest for the trees. I wouldn't hire Bush to run a Burger King, much less the country. (apologies to any BK management out there)

  19. David Hicks

    I thought there were very strong protections

    Specifically enumerated in the US constitution and its amendments, that the US armed forces are NOT to be used on home soil?

    Either way, that's really slippery. Given the way that the definition of "terrorist" seems to get wider every day and legislation aimed at "terrorists" is abused, the thought of allowing use of the army to tackle them is scary.

    Glad they're gone, I hope the US can successfully remount its moral, freedom-loving high-ground over the next few years. God knows we need at least one government that's interested in it. I'm not holding my breath though.

  20. The Gritter


    I wonder if you were as vociferous about Bush during his heroic attempts to trash the deficit?

    How does one fund such a deficit? You can't borrow forever without paying anything back. Yet, you're against raising taxes. So how do you propose to pay it back? Cut government spending?

    Bush left government having overseen the biggest federal budget expansion since Franklin Delano Roosevelt seven decades ago. Yet, with low taxes!

    Tell me, was it right to run up a deficit funding war? But not on economic recovery?

  21. Steve Taylor


    Don't the armed forces agencies already use deadly force within the bounds of the US?

    Or is NCIS just fiction?

  22. Mike

    Americans have always done what they wanted

    If Obama has full disclosure great! but it remains to be seen (but he gets my vote for the time being).

    Americans have a shameful history of abuse against their own people (do you want a list? 120,000 japanese americans in WW2 sent to internment camps etc.) there have always been "laws" which seem to oppose the consitution (do you want a list?), but the sheeple of america want to believe they live in the "land of the free" so they don't let it worry them (ignorance is bliss) so you may find there's an undefinable backlash against his actions.

  23. Dan JOhnson
    Paris Hilton

    Meanwhile, over in the Colonies....

    The Republican Pary has already started blaming the consequences of Lord Bush's failures on President Obama. And their jelly roll mouthpiece, the blithering Rush "A week in rehab works wonders for your career" Limbaugh is hoping that Obama's efforts to pull the counry's (and ultimately the world's) economy out of a nose dive will fail. Maybe the movers and shakers behind the curtains of the GOP are about to roll out a new chain of posh bread lines. They can call it "Let Them Eat Cake!"

  24. Anonymous Coward

    That's all very well, but...

    Why does the logo look like the Eagle is having a waz on the US shield?

  25. Malachy

    @Kevin - Not quite mate

    Kevin instead of sticking up for a looney who systematicaly tried to remove every single part of the constitution, you know the document that America was founded on? The one that goes on about "freedoms"?


    Patriot act signed into law October 26, 2001

    only two of the 9 nine leaked memos were dated before this, and arguably the scarier ones like allowing US Army to operate on american soil were well after the act was made law.

    Alos the supreme court never intervened in any parts of the act. And as the were SECRET memos yes this is news.

  26. Snert Lee

    What It Proves...

    If you hire enough lawyers, one of them will say anything you want to hear.

  27. kain preacher


    He doesn't know how to lead, so he continues to campaign in hopes of making himself look better by bashing others

    So how is releasing documents that the public wanted is bashing ???

    Why is alot of people here are against Obama a bit touched in the head . I mean first week in office there were like see see he screwed up.

  28. Homard
    Black Helicopters

    @kevin & re US armed forces

    kevin you blame Obama for bush's failings. bush was an incompetent at every level. The guy had a single figure iq, and that includes the decimal point. I have high hopes (and expectations) for President Obama.

    I thought there were special provisions that allowed the use of armed forces in situations of extremis : eg. national guard after katrina ? How those provisions permit for example deadly force, etc I don't know, but surely the general populace in such circumstances welcomes the assistance WRT the natural disaster ?

    WRT bush memos - keep on releasing, so the world at large can learn just how big an idiot has just left the white (was brown trousers on account of idiot and red button) house. It is scary to think how close to tyranny both the UK and the US have been getting in the fight against terror.

    I forget where I heard this, but it makes sense to me :-

    Democracy can only succeed while the general populace accepts the measures (whatever they may be) instigated by the incumbent (elected) government to achieve the protection of said populace against threats both internal and external to the nation.

    Since it seems a good many of us do not agree with measures of our 'protection' the real question is whether democracy is failing, are we considered threats, or is there something else at large - eg. abuse of power ? I suspect the latter.

  29. Greg Trocchia

    @David Hicks (and Mike)

    While the Constitution does address the topic in the Third Amendment (which prohibits forcible quartering of troops among the public), the bit that I think you are thinking of is Federal Legislation, rather than being written into the Constitution: The Posse Comitatus Act. In 2006, at then-President Bush's urging, the Posse Comitatus Act was amended to allow for the use of the armed forces in cases of public emergency (is anyone here surprised?), but was restored to its original wording in 2007.


    I will agree that the history of the US is full of cases where the government over-reacted to an emergency to the detriment of the rights both of minorities within the US, and of the citizenry as a whole. I don't need you to give me a list, I can put one together myself: in addition to the internment you brought up, there is the Sedition Act, the Palmer raids, the Vietnam-era COINTELPRO and more that I don't have room to mention.

    What you fail to acknowledge is that the US *also* has a history of realizing that it has over-reacted and reversing the over-reaction. Fortunately for all of us, staying a free people does not require that a government never improperly abridge the rights of its citizens for the sake of expediency. Were that the case, I don't think there would be any free people anywhere. Rather, what keeps a people free is if, having strayed, the situation is subsequently corrected. For those of a mind to view the alteration of Posse Comitatus (see above) in this light, I would point to how little time it took to revisit the idea and revert to the original wording. I would also point out that rather than cover up our past failings, we teach them- all of the items in the list above I learned in Social Studies class in high school (except for COINTELPRO which was, alas for me, more like "current events" than "history" in my school days).

  30. Eddy Ito

    RE: NCIS

    It's an easy end around. NCIS, and similar, agents are all civilians, not military. It keeps the agents outside the rank structure for obvious reasons. See they're just cops, and above the law, like all the other law enforcement agencies.

  31. jake Silver badge

    Why is it that things like this ...

    WIITTLT always bring out the obviously illiterate on both sides?

    Don't bother answering ... I know the answer.


    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." --Ben Franklin

    "America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves." --Abe Lincoln


  32. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    RE: NCIS

    "Don't the armed forces agencies already use deadly force within the bounds of the US? Or is NCIS just fiction?" As explained to me, the US has a bit of a different legal setup to European countries like the UK when it comes to using military power at home. In the UK, suppose a group of armed terrorists are holed up, then the Government has a very simple means to call in troops such as the SAS to mount an assualt. The SAS always has a team ready to go 24x7x365 for just situations as us Europeans have learnt from bitter experience with people like the IRA, PFLP, PLO, ETA, Red Army Faction aka Baader-Meinhoff Group, Black September, etc, etc. In the UK, the Police maintain armed units for dealing with armed criminals, but the real anti-terror situations like hijackings and sieges such as the Iranian Embassy affair in 1980 get dealt with by military units like the SAS, and it is up to the Cabinet as to when they get called in.

    As I understand it, in the US the law does not allow such a simple process, instead there are limits on the delpoyment of troops such as special forces inside US terrirories, even the National Guard needs a declaration of an emergency, and they are not specialist troops. Usually it is crime-fighting agenceies like the ATF and FBI arguing with local and state Police over whom has jurisdiction and control of a situation, and they are primarily trained for dealing with armed criminals. Waco illustrated just what a mess this can result in, and that was against half-trained but determined fanatics. Imagine if they had been properly trained and well-armed fanatics like the kind that attacked Mumbai.

    Fortunately for Americans, domestic terror attacks in the US have been rare, something even the loudest Obamatron will have to admit is largely due to Dhubya. As I understand it, Bush was looking for a means to quickly deploy and use US special forces for Waco-like situations should AQ go to a similar hijackings and sieges commited by numerous Palestinian terror groups in Europe and the Middle East. At the moment, any such attack would be dealt with by the local police, state police and FBI, and it could be quite a while and q big body-count before a real anti-terrorist team gets to the scene. As the recent attack on Mumbai illustrated, even armed police can be overcome by well-trained, well-armed and determined fanatics, and holding back to discuss which government agency does what just gives them more time to kill innocents. In the UK we have a set of quick response guidelines which enable the use of troops such as the SAS very quickly if required - at the moment, in the US, Im told you don't, which means more people could die.

    I know the Obamatrons like to hold such examples up as "Bushitler fascist tyranny", but the reality is burying your head in the sand just makes you an even easier target. Just ask the people of Mumbai.

  33. kain preacher


    Actually it was the ATF screwed up waco not the FBI . Most home grown terror attacks are never reported . in the US. But some of the most well know before that were the OKC bombing and Olympic park bombing during the Olympics .

  34. skeptical i

    @AnonCow, waz on the shield

    I thought the eagle was using the shield to catch some waves ... hang ten, surfin' bird!

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