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US Justice Department memos: the specter of military dictatorship

March 5, 2009
WSWS.org
3/4/2009

A set of nine secret memos released by the US Justice Department Monday reveal that in the weeks and months after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks the US government began erecting the legal scaffolding for a full-blown military dictatorship.

Attorney General Eric Holder declared that the release of the documents, which were posted on the Justice Department’s web site, signaled a new era of “transparency and openness.” The actions of the Obama administration in recent weeks, however, including the invocation of national security and state secrets to quell lawsuits challenging the worst abuses of the Bush era, make it clear that the threat revealed in these memos is far from over.

The thrust of the memos, written by former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo, then-Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee and others in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, was that the president, as commander-in-chief in the “global war on terrorism,” had the right to suspend the Constitution and treat American citizens on US soil as if they were soldiers in an invading foreign army.

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