Constitution Center's Ratner Says New Bush Memos Amount to "Treason"
by Ralph Lopez
that calls for prosecution of Bush officials can never let up, the
director of the staid and respectable Center for Constitutional Rights,
who is a legal scholar, has said that the legal arguments made in the
infamous Yoo memos amount to treason against the nation's institutions,
similar to the "Fuhrer's law" of Nazi Germany.
Naomi Wolf, a non-lawyer, mused before her interview with Michael Ratner:
"The memos [revealed in early March] lay the legal groundwork for the
president to send the military to wage war against U.S. citizens; take
them from their homes to Navy brigs without trial and keep them
forever; close down the First Amendment; and invade whatever country he
chooses without regard to any treaty or objection by Congress...The
memos could not be clearer: This was the legal groundwork of an
attempted coup. I expected massive front page headlines from the
revelation that these memos exited. Almost nothing. I was shocked."
Wolf then sought out the Center for
Constitutional Rights' Michael Ratner to understand what she was
missing. The Yoo memos seemed to say that the president's authority as
commander in chief is not bound by any law, any treaty, or the
protections of free speech, due process and the right to be free from
unreasonable searches and seizures. "The First, Fourth and Fifth
amendments -- gone," she wrote.
Legal expert Michal Ratner agreed:
"What [the Yoo memos] actually mean is that the president can order
the military to operate in the U.S. and to operate without
constitutional restrictions. They -- the military -- can pick you or
me up in the U.S. for any reason and without any legal process. They
would not have any restrictions on entering your house to search it, or
to seize you. They can put you into a brig without any due process or
going to court. (That's the Fourth and Fifth amendments.) Who has suspended the law this way in the past? It is like a
Caesar's law in Rome; a Mussolini's law in Italy; a Fuhrer's law in
Germany; a Stalin's law in the Soviet Union. It is right down the line.
It is enforcing the will of the dictator through the military."
Ratner says the biggest hint we had that this was coming was when the military picked up Jose Padilla, going to a civilian prison and "snatching" him off to a brig under the orders of the president.
During his 3 1/2 year military detention, Padilla's lawyers said he
was subject to hooding, stress positions, assaults, and threats of
Warren Richey of the Christian Science Monitor reported:
"Padilla���s cell measured nine feet by seven feet. The windows were
covered over. There was a toilet and sink. The steel bunk was missing
its mattress. He had no pillow. No sheet. No clock. No calendar. No
radio. No television. No telephone calls. No visitors. Even Padilla���s
lawyer was prevented from seeing him for nearly two years....[Padilla's
captors] punctured the extreme sensory deprivation with sensory
overload, blasting him with harsh lights and pounding sounds."
Padilla also stated that he was "injected with a ���truth
serum,��� a substance his lawyers believe was LSD or PCP. Deprived of
any view of the outside world, with the lights always kept on, Padilla
had no way of knowing what time of day it was or what day of the week.
Padilla's attorney Andrew Patel said, "I was told by members
of the brig staff that Mr. Padilla's temperament was so docile and
inactive that his behavior was like that of ���a piece of furniture.' "
Patel described how it was difficult to work with Padilla in his
defense, because "Mr. Padilla remains unsure if I and the other
attorneys working on his case are actually his attorneys or another
component of the government's interrogation scheme."
Padilla was found guilty based on the testimony of a terrorist
suspect whose interrogation tapes were among those ordered destroyed by
CIA chief General Michael Hayden. Paul Craig Roberts,
former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Ronald Reagan and an
editor of the Wall Street Journal, criticized the jury's verdict in the
Padilla case as having "overthrown" the Constitution and doing far more
damage to the US' liberty than any terrorist could.
Ratner states "We need the deterrence of prosecution so this does not happen again."
He said in the interview with Wolf:
Treason need not involve another state. Aaron Burr was tried for
treason. The authority given by these memos that could be used to raid
every congressional office, raid and search every home, detain tens of
thousands, would certainly fit a definition of treason.
This would be the president making war against the institutions of the United States.
Email for Senator Pat Leahy, the "Truth Commission": [address removed]
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