Bush’s own set of laws

Secret memos from the former administration reveal the breadth of the Bush team's claims of executive branch power.

Topics: George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Eric Holder,

On March 2, 2009, the Department of Justice revealed nine secret Bush administration memos that contain legal opinions claiming expansive powers for the executive branch. The release of the memos is part of an attempt by the Obama administration to promote greater transparency of the practices used by the Bush administration to combat terrorism in the wake of 9/11.

What follows are excerpts from six of those memos. In memos issued during 2001 and 2002, lawyers in the Bush administration, including John Yoo and Robert J. Delahunty, assert that the president had the authority to fight terrorism within the United States with the use of the nation’s military, conduct domestic eavesdropping and surveillance without warrants, unilaterally nullify or ignore treaties and disregard congressional input in the handling of suspected terrorist detainees.

On the constitutionality of amending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)

The entire Sept. 25, 2001, memo is available for download here.

On the use of military force to combat terrorist activities within the United States

The entire Oct. 23, 2001, memo is available for download here.

On the president’s power to transfer suspected terrorist detainees to foreign nations

The entire March 13, 2002, memo is available for download here.

On the president’s ability to suspend provisions of the ABM Treaty

The entire Nov. 15, 2001, memo is available for download here.

On the military detention of United States citizens



The entire June 27, 2002, memo is available for download here.

Bradbury cautions against following earlier Bush administration legal opinions

The entire Oct. 6, 2008, memo is available for download here.

Vincent Rossmeier is an editorial assistant at Salon.

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