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On March 3, 2009, the Department of Justice released nine opinions and memoranda of the Office of Legal Counsel. In response to long-standing lawsuits seeking disclosure of these memoranda, they were released, laying bare the illegalities and drive for power aided and abetted by the Bush administration's lawyers.
Former Assistant Attorney General John Yoo authored one memo, attempting to create a legal justification for deploying the military inside the United States, unconstrained by Constitutional protections, including the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments, claiming presidential power to suspend the Bill of Rights.
These legal memoranda provided the justification for warrantless wiretapping of Americans by the National Security Agency and declared that presidential power was nearly unchecked. The attorneys directing the Office of Legal Counsel, including Yoo, Jay Bybee and William Haynes, authored memoranda that created false and misleading legal justifications for blatant violations of the law by Bush administration officials.
In October 2008 and January 2009, in the ending days of the Bush administration, these memoranda were rejected in additional OLC memoranda by Steven Bradbury, then Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, and legally debunked. These memoranda were also released.
The release of these memos is an important step by the Obama administration toward restoring openness and exposing the crimes of the Bush administration. However, full accountability - including criminal prosecution of those responsible, including attorneys who knowingly rendered false and unjustifiable legal opinions in order to justify torture and the abuse of unlawful executive power - is necessary, as is full exposure of the entirety of such memoranda set forth by the OLC during the eight years of the Bush administration.
Please write to Attorney General Eric Holder and thank him for releasing these memos, call upon him to fully release the memoranda of the Office of Legal Counsel pertaining to Constitutional rights, torture, detention and executive power, and to fully investigate and refer for criminal prosecution all of those - including attorneys - responsible for violations of the law.