The Justice Department released nine legal opinions showing that, following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Bush administration determined that certain constitutional rights would not apply during the coming fight. Within two weeks, government lawyers were already discussing ways to wiretap U.S. conversations without warrants.
The legal memos written by the Bush administration's Office of Legal Counsel show a government grappling with how to wage war on terrorism in a fast-changing world. The conclusion, reiterated in page after page of documents, was that the president had broad authority to set aside constitutional rights. HOw did we come to this?
Fourth Amendment protections against unwarranted search and seizure, for instance, did not apply in the United States as long as the president was combatting terrorism, the Justice Department said in an Oct. 23, 2001, memo. What is the point of the constitution if you don't have to follow it?
Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo wrote, "The current campaign against terrorism may require even broader exercises of federal power domestically."
The memos reflected a belief within the Bush administration that the president had broad powers that could not be checked by Congress or the courts. That stance, in one form or another, became the foundation for many policies: holding detainees at Guantanamo Bay, eavesdropping on U.S. citizens without warrants, using tough new CIA interrogation tactics and locking U.S. citizens in military brigs without charges.
It's madness... we were locking up us citizens in military prisons without a lawyer or a trial. This is a violation of his oath to uphold the constitution! Bush was a fascist dictator. And American don't care. Are we so afraid of terrorists we'll give up our most rights, freedoms and constitution?