Digital News Report– The Obama administration has made nine legal memos made during the Bush administration public. The memos contained such things as wiretapping without a warrant, executive power, and detaining terrorist suspects. A 2002 memo gives Bush the right to transfer suspected terrorists to other governments without regard for whether they would be subject to torture.
Jameel Jaffer, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s national security project, said, “These memos were meant to provide the president with a blank check with respect to the rights of not only prisoners overseas but people in the United States as well.” The ACLU has been urging Obama to release the documents since January.
A memo written by then-principal deputy assistant attorney general Steven Bradbury said that certain opinions issued secretly by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel “should not be treated as authoritative for any purpose.” The memo, which was written just five days before the Obama administration took office, also said that certain memoes written by the Justice Department from 2001 to 2003 “do not reflect the current views of this office.”
Jennifer Daskal, senior counterterrorism counsel for Human Rights Watch, said the documents taken together “read like a how-to document on how to evade the rule of law.” He went on to say, “The idea that the legal counsel’s office would be essentially telling the president how to violate the law is completely contrary to the purpose and the role of what a legal adviser is supposed to do.”
“Americans deserve a government that operates with transparency and openness,” Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder, said in a statement. Holder and President Obama plan on releasing two more memos in the near future.