After the September 11th terrorist attacks in 2001, the Bush administration seized on a moment that comes only a few times in history. It is a moment when the zeitgeist aligns itself uniformly and monolithically out of fear and anger and stands in reverent attention to the loudest voice on the globe. Pearl Harbor was the last such time in United States history.
On September 12th, 2001, whereas many of the world’s nations expressed compassion to New Yorkers and their fellow Americans, the White House and its various shadow players looked at its citizens and identified a particular confusion, perhaps even a weakness and a willingness born of the former, in the public will.
One thing stood in the way: the Constitution of the United States. No one should be surprised that a piece of paper is no match for a country’s fear and anger.
The Bush administration’s first hurdle was the Constitution’s protection against “unreasonable search and seizure”. It was internally decided that such protections didn't apply to its efforts to protect the people against terrorist acts. It wouldn’t end there; torture and rendition would also be secretly considered, tacitly approved in later documents.
What? Nobody told you? That’s because it was spelled out in a secret Justice Department legal memo on October 23, 2001...
The October 23, 2001 memo is what I am calling the “dark heart” of this new twilight in American democracy, it is an as yet unseen writ that radiates justifications for abuses of power, its arteries snaking outward to all critical aspects of government and public policy in the 21st century. Welcome to the new American Republic, where disregard for the bill of rights is the new patriotism, and your civil liberties are a danger or at least an inconvenience to national security.The “dark heart” memo was written at the request of the White House by Professor John C. Yoo. Professor Yoo is that gentleman who used the term “Executive Powers” so often in public appearances, he seemed to be advocating a switch to monarchy in times of war. The man was so enamored of the expansion of powers that he gave his ideas a name, eschewing that whole tacky “Monarchy” connotation. Professor Yoo called it his “Unitary Executive Theory”. No I’m not kidding... He later contributed passages to what would eventually be called the Patriot Act and wrote memos in which he advocated the legality of torture and insisted that enemy combatants could be denied the protections granted under the Geneva Conventions. Yes, those Geneva conventions. Those Geneva conventions which we, as a nation, also signed and swore to uphold, -and not just when we felt like it.
And just to show you he meant business and wasn’t some starry eyed high-schooler who was obsessed with “the Royals”, and pining for our own King of the United States and Lady Di, Professor John C. Yoo made the following statements in a 2005 debate with Notre Dame Law School Professor Doug Cassel in Chicago with everyone listening… or apparently not:
Professor Cassel: If the President deems that he’s got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person’s child, there is no law that can stop him?
Professor Yoo: No treaty.
Professor Cassel: Also no law by Congress. That is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo.
Professor Yoo: I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that.
Hide your kid’s balls from the president, we are at war people.
Professor Yoo has repeatedly criticized the Separation of Powers doctrine, a cornerstone of our Republic, as “problematic” for the “War on Terror”. I know, I know, democracy is such a damn nuisance when you’re trying to declare everyone who opposes the president an enemy combatant.
The 37-page secret Justice Department legal memo is an officially classified document. Its existence was discovered Tuesday (Happy April Fool’s you dicks, you don’t live in a democracy!) in the footnote of a different special secret memo from March 14, 2003, that was finally released by the Pentagon. The only reason we know about this later memo in the first place is due entirely to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by those dependable troublemakers at the American Civil Liberties Union.
"Our office recently concluded that the Fourth Amendment had no application to domestic military operations" the 2003 footnote states. The footnote indicates the earlier October 2001 memo by Professor Yoo called "Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activities Within the United States."
While it may seem that I’m simultaneously citing instances of the Bush administration’s initiatives to leapfrog over constitutional privacy protections and international law, it’s important to note the synchronicity at work in this administration’s efforts to undermine basic democratic principles.
It is the overreaching surveillance, and the persistent illusion of privacy that makes the erosion of basic human rights principles possible… and perhaps inevitable.
Exactly what specific domestic military actions are indicated by the “dark heart” memo are as yet unknown. We know that it is perhaps the first salvo by the NeoCons, so eager to seize the September 11th attacks as an opportunity to disarm the Constitution... that they forgot their own communications can also be seized for the sake of national security.
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Why, you of course.