Expert says Yoo memos instigate "Law by fiat", "Fuhrer's law", "constitutes treason"
Thursday, March 26, 2009
A top constitutional scholar has said that recently released Justice Department memos prove that nefarious elements within the Bush Administration were planning a massive military takeover of the country and that the documents should be used to bring charges of treason.
In an interview with author Naomi Wolf, legal expert Michael Ratner explains how the move toward total elimination of First, Fourth and Fifth amendment rights, as outlined in the memos, cannot be taken in isolated relation to terrorism related prosecutions and instead represents a smoking gun of a larger intention toward the general population.
"The memos revealed how massive the takeover of our democracy was to be -- that this wasn't just going to be a few individuals here or there who suffered the arrows of a police state." Ratner says.
"These memos lay the groundwork for a massive military takeover of the United States in cahoots with the president. And if that's not a coup d'etat then, nothing is."
The nine DOJ memos, released earlier this month, were mostly written by former assistant attorney general John Yoo. They reveal how the rights of all American citizens have been effectively stripped away under the auspices of the so called "war on terror".
They argue for a broad range of powers under the office of the president that cannot be restricted by any law or constitutional right or treaty.
They argue that the legal rights of anyone considered a terrorist suspect can be completely rescinded by the president, that the president may order the military to operate in the U.S. without constitutional restrictions, that the prohibition on unreasonable search and seizure takes a back seat to fighting terrorism domestically, and that the president can, in the name of wartime restrictions, limit free speech.
Read our previous summary of the memos here.
Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, describes the legal arguments made in the memos as "Law by fiat", underscoring the historical precedent of such attempts to subvert long established legal protections and processes.
"If you are familiar with the history of dictators, coups and fascism (as I know you are), they (the planners) prefer a veneer of legality." Ratner explains.
"Hitler killed 6 million Jews with a veneer of legality -- getting his dictatorial powers through the Reichstag and the courts. These memos gave the Bush administration's [lawless] practices the veneer of legality."
"Who has suspended the law this way in the past? It is like a Caesar's law in Rome; a Mussolini's law in Italy; a Fuhrer's law in Germany; a Stalin's law in the Soviet Union. It is right down the line. It is enforcing the will of the dictator through the military."
Ratner believes that the memos provide ground for charges of treason against Bush Administration officials such as Dick Cheney and the president himself.
"I do think that a plan to control the military, use it in the United States contrary to law and the Constitution and employ it to levy a war or takeover that eliminates the democratic institutions of the country constitutes treason, even if done under the president of the United States."
"The authority given by these memos that could be used to raid every congressional office, raid and search every home, detain tens of thousands, would certainly fit a definition of treason."
Perhaps most importantly, Ratner acknowledges the fact that the details outlined in the memos were, to a great extent, actively implemented.
"Here they crept right up and actually implemented part of the plan, with Padilla, with the warrantless wiretapping. Yet they are saying in the White House and in Congress that it is looking backward to investigate the authors of these memos and those who instructed Yoo and others to write them."
"But investigation and prosecutions are really looking forward -- to say we need the deterrence of prosecution so this does not happen again." Ratner states.
As we have previously outlined, we have not seen any deviation from the Bush-era war on terror policies by Obama.
There has been no repeal of Patriot Acts I and II by the Obama administration. Nor have we seen a reversal of Bush's signing statement that would effectively repeal the John Warner Defense Authorization Act, legislation that stemmed directly from the opinions and counsel offered in the previously secret Justice Department memos.