(CN) – The U.S. Department of Justice released secret legal opinions issued by Bush administration lawyers after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The memos advance a broad interpretation of presidential power, including views that the president can order warrantless raids, conduct domestic eavesdropping programs and suspend foreign treaties in times of war.
The DOJ publicly disclosed nine memos on Monday in a move the Obama administration calls a step toward government transparency.
Five days before Bush left office, the former head of the Office of Legal Counsel, Steven G. Bradsbury, issued a statement distancing the office from the memos, saying they “do not reflect the current views of the Office.” Bradsbury said the opinions had been issued “in the wake of the atrocities of 9/11, when policy makers, fearing that additional catastrophic terrorist attacks were imminent, strived to employ all lawful means to protect the Nation.”
The memos include opinions that:
– the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act does not violate the Fourth Amendment
– the president can “deploy the military against international or foreign terrorists operating within the United States,” and that the use of such force “need not follow the exact procedures that govern law enforcement operations.”
– the president can partially suspend foreign treaties without Congress’s advice or consent
– the commander-in-chief has the authority to transfer al Qaida and Taliban prisoners captured overseas to other countries
– legislation authorizing the president to convene military commissions for suspected terrorists is “constitutionally unnecessary”
– the president can authorize the detention of enemy combatants without the consent of Congress