Saturday, July 25, 2009

Revelations about Bush government keep on coming

Yesterday's news from New York that Bush advisers discussed using U.S. soldiers to arrest a group of terror suspects in a suburb of Buffalo, on Lake Erie near the border with Canada, underscores the risk posed to the United States by its own self-righteous leaders. It's painfully obviously now that the Bush administration was so panicked by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington that it was willing to throw out more than 200 years of Constitutional experience and tradition as part of its poorly considered response. According to the New York Times, Vice President Dick Cheney and other high-ranking officials, including now-infamous Justice Department attorney John Woo, advised then-President George W. Bush in 2002 that he had the authority to use U.S. troops on U.S. soil without the express authorization of Congress. U.S. troops have not been used domestically in a law enforcement capacity since the Civil War, and their use in that capacity is generally considered barred under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, the Times said. Woo is the Justice Department lawyer whose memorandums were used to justify the use of brutal interrogation techniques on suspect al-Qaida operatives from 2002-2005. To their credit, opposition to the proposal came from within the administration by then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, National Security Council attorney John Bellinger, FBI Director Robert Mueller, Justice Department official Michael Chertoff and others. “Frankly, it was a bit of a turf war,” a former senior official told the Times. “For a number of people, crossing the line of having intelligence or military activities inside the United States was not worth the risk.” Bush eventually ordered the FBI to make the arrests of the Lackawanna Six, a group of Yemeni Americans who had been communicating with al-Qaida. The six pleaded guilty to terror-related charges in the first domestic terrorism case following the Sept. 11 attacks. Other unnamed former Bush administration officials opposed the use of troops, the Times said. “What would it look like to have the American military go into an American town and knock on people’s door?” another former official said during the internal debate. The Times said Bush was regularly briefed on the Lackawanna case by Muller and CIA Director George Tenet. If the new Obama government is sincere about wanting to avoid a full-blown investigation of the Bush years, some serious voluntary truth-telling is going to have to begin. Let's start with you, Mr. Cheney.

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