2001 Bush legal memo allowed ‘First Amendment speech and press rights’ to be ‘subordinated.’

Yesterday, Attorney General Eric Holder released several Bush administration Office of Legal Counsel memos, which show the astonishing extent to which the administration expanded its wartime powers. An October 2001 memo from John Yoo, for example, states that the “Fourth Amendment would not apply” for domestic military operations. The memo also restricted basic First Amendment rights:

yoo.jpgIn perhaps the most surprising assertion, the Oct. 23, 2001, memo suggested the president could even suspend press freedoms if he concluded it was necessary to wage the war on terror. “First Amendment speech and press rights may also be subordinated to the overriding need to wage war successfully,” Yoo wrote in the memo entitled “Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activity Within the United States.”

Freedom of speech is integral to a free society,” President Bush said in May 2008. After reading the memos, Harpers’ Scott Horton wrote, “We may not have realized it at the time, but in the period from late 2001-January 19, 2009, this country was a dictatorship.”