In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the Justice Department secretly gave the green light for the U.S. military to attack apartment buildings and office complexes inside the United States, deploy high-tech surveillance against U.S. citizens and potentially suspend First Amendment freedom-of-the-press rights in order to combat the terror threat, according to a memo released Monday.
Many of the actions discussed in the Oct. 23, 2001, memo to then White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s chief lawyer, William Haynes, were never actually taken.
In 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.”
This claim was viewed as so extreme that it was essentially (and secretly) revoked—but not until October of last year, seven years after the memo was written and with barely three and a half months left in the Bush administration.
Here’s the relevant section of Yoo’s memo (click to enlarge):
Yes, these recommendations were never implemented, but the fact that they were considered shows just how much of a loose cannon Yoo actually was and just how dangerous his legal theories really are.