Cheney Pressured Bush to Authorize Use of Military On U.S. Soil

dick-cheney-george-bush-photo-1Former Vice President Dick Cheney Cheney pressured George W. Bush and other top administration officials to deploy U.S. soldiers to a Buffalo NY suburb to arrest suspected terrorists, according to a report.

Using American soldiers for domestic law enforcement purposes would have been unprecedented. The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 generally prohibits the armed forces from acting in a law enforcement capacity.

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.”

“Some of the advisers to President George W. Bush, including Vice President Dick Cheney, argued that a president had the power to use the military on domestic soil to sweep up the terrorism suspects, who came to be known as the Lackawanna Six, and declare them enemy combatants,” says a report published Friday evening in the New York Times.

Bush ultimately opposed the idea.

But Cheney, according to the Times said a 37-page Oct. 23, 2001 legal opinion prepared by John Yoo, the former deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), authorized the president to use the military for domestic matters. Yoo’s legal opinion–“Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activities Within the United States”–was declassified and released along with other OLC memos in April.

Yoo, who is a visiting law professor at Chapman University in Orange, Calif., asserted that the President had unlimited powers to prosecute the “war on terror” on American soil and could ignore constitutional rights, including First Amendment freedoms of speech and the press and Fourth Amendment requirements for search warrants.

“The current campaign against terrorism may require even broader exercises of federal power domestically,” Yoo wrote. “First Amendment speech and press rights may also be subordinated to the overriding need to wage war successfully. The current campaign against terrorism may require even broader exercises of federal power domestically.”

The memo also said Bush had the legal authority to order searches and seizures without warrants against individuals that he judged to be terrorists.

“We do not think a military commander carrying out a raid on a terrorist cell would be required to demonstrate probable cause or to obtain a warrant,” said the memo, which was prepared by Yoo for then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales and Defense Department attorney William Haynes. Another OLC attorney, Robert Delahunty, was identified as a co-author of the memo.

“We think that the better view is that the Fourth Amendment does not apply to domestic military operations designed to deter and prevent future terrorist attacks.”

Just three months before Bush exited the White House, Stephen Bradbury, as acting chief of the OLC, renounced the Oct. 23, 2001, legal opinion in a “memorandum for the files” that called Yoo’s opinion about suspending First Amendment protections “overbroad and general and not sufficiently grounded in the particular circumstance of a concrete scenario.”

In an Oct. 6, 2008, memo, Bradbury wrote that Yoo’s legal opinion “states several specific propositions that are either incorrect or highly questionable.” But Bradbury attempted to justify or forgive Yoo’s controversial opinion by explaining that it was “the product of an extraordinary period in the history of the Nation: the immediate aftermath of the attacks of 9/11.”

The Oct. 23, 2001, “memorandum represents a departure, although perhaps for understandable reasons, from the preferred practice of OLC to render formal opinions only with respect to specific and concrete policy proposals and not to undertake a general survey of a broad area of the law or to address general or amorphous hypothetical scenarios that implicate difficult questions of law,” Bradbury wrote.

It’s still unclear what prompted Bradbury to draft the memo to the file, although his legal work along with Yoo’s and that of Yoo’s boss, Jay Bybee, a federal judge, was the subject of an internal Justice Department investigation by the Office of Professional Responsibility, which is expected to release its report sometime this summer.

Yoo was sharply criticized in an inspector general’s report released two weeks ago for using flawed legal theories and failing to cite legal precedent when he authorized Bush’s domestic surveillance program. The report said Yoo worked closely with Cheney’s attorney, David Addington, in drafting the legal memo that permitted domestic spying, which is the same memo Cheney cited when he told Bush he could deploy American soldiers to upstate New York to arrest suspected terrorists.

Some of Yoo’s thinking on domestic military operations was revealed in an even earlier memo than the one dated Oct. 23, 2001. There was another one, written 10 days after the 9/11 attacks, on Sept. 21, 2001. The memo was drafted in response to a question posed by Timothy E. Flanigan, the former deputy White House counsel, who wanted to know “the legality of the use of military force to prevent or deter terrorist activity inside the United States,” according to a copy of Flanigan’s memo.

Yoo suggested some scenarios, such as the need to shoot down a jetliner hijacked by terrorists; to set up military checkpoints inside a U.S. city; to implement surveillance methods far superior to those available to law enforcement; or to use military forces “to raid or attack dwellings where terrorists were thought to be, despite risks that third parties could be killed or injured by exchanges of fire,” according to Yoo’s memo.

Yoo argued that President Bush would “be justified in taking measures which in less troubled conditions could be seen as infringements of individual liberties. … We think that the Fourth Amendment should be no more relevant than it would be in cases of invasion or insurrection.”

Yoo wrote that his ideas would likely be seen as violating the Fourth Amendment. But he said the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and the prospect that future attacks would require the military to be deployed inside the U.S. meant President Bush would “be justified in taking measures which in less troubled conditions could be seen as infringements of individual liberties.”

In his 2006 book, War by Other Means: An Insider’s Account of the War on Terror, Yoo cites various arguments for local and federal law enforcement agencies, as well as a sitting U.S. President, to ignore the Fourth Amendment, especially regarding domestic surveillance.

“If al-Qaeda organizes missions within the United States, our surveillance simply cannot be limited to law enforcement,” Yoo wrote. “The Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement should not apply, because it is concerned with regulating searches, not with military attacks.”

The Times report said, “at least one high-level meeting was convened to debate the issue, at which several top Bush aides argued firmly against the proposal to use the military, advanced by Mr. Cheney, his legal adviser David S. Addington and some senior Defense Department officials.”

“Among those in opposition were Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser; John B. Bellinger III, the top lawyer at the National Security Council; Robert S. Mueller III, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Michael Chertoff, then the head of the Justice Department’s criminal division.”

However, senior military officials, including Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were never consulted about the proposal.

“Former officials said the 2002 debate arose partly from Justice Department concerns that there might not be enough evidence to arrest and successfully prosecute the suspects in Lackawanna” New York, the Times reported. “Mr. Cheney, the officials said, had argued that the administration would need a lower threshold of evidence to declare them enemy combatants and keep them in military custody.”

Bush eventually ordered the FBI to arrest five Yemeni Americans suspected of having ties to al-Qaeda in Lackawanna. A sixth person was arrested in Baharain immediately immediately thereafter. All six pleaded guilty to guilty to terrorism-related charges.

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15 Responses for “Cheney Pressured Bush to Authorize Use of Military On U.S. Soil”

  1. Yohn Joo says:


  2. // popular today…

    story has entered the popular today section on…

  3. Scipio says:

    Sigh. How easily some of our leaders were willing to give up American’s rights for the illusion of safety. Do we fold so easily as a people in the face of a terrorist threat? I realize that after 9/11 the nation was frightened, and perhaps this is all hindsight, but its no less troubling that we would so easily disregard the fundamentals of the U.S. Constitution during a trying time. Hopefully we’ve learned and grown as a people since then.

  4. John Davis says:

    Oh please, everyone knows Bush & Cheney are MORONS!


  5. Caden says:

    “The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”

    James Madison (1751-1836), Father of the Constitution and 4th US President

  6. NapoleonAG says:

    I whole Bush admin was crooked as hell. Bush might as well had a hand up his ass like Cheney was running him. Like a scene from the Wizard of Oz. And now I see Liz Cheney all over the news and that bitch is just as twisted as her dad. That SOB needs to be put down.


  7. Captain Obvious says:

    Yoo says it himself, “against military attack:”. Well OK, Mr. Law, how are people from no organized, established country representative considered military? It’s not! It’s just a domestic attack. So now the whole country is paranoid, our rights are lost and we’re treated like a 3rd world country. Mass surveillance!?

  8. Coleman says:

    When will people realize “people” like Cheney, Yoo, Bush, and others do not have the best interests of the American people at heart. They are not Americans, they are internationalists. They are pawns of an elite global influence, and are executing their tasks to bring about world government at the hands of the international bankers, the Vatican, etc. Use the power of the internet and do some research on things like the Council on Foreign Relations, the Bilderberg Group, Trilateral Commission, Federal Reserve etc. These people are all members of these groups who are controlled by international bankers and they want this country destroyed. They create problems like terrorism or economic trouble, so people will react with fear, and low and behold, they offer up the “solution,” which involves taking away more of our rights and inching their way towards tyranny. They want to take your rights away, there is no question about it. And this includes those who are running the show right now. Not to mention the media is owned and controlled by people who belong to these organizations as well, so you’ll never see any of it in a newspaper or on TV news. Don’t be fooled any longer…many are finally awakening to this, are you?

    “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”
    – Albert Einstein —

  9. mike says:

    Still I blame bush… he was weak enough to be influenced by the ignorant cheney.

  10. Insanity says:

    Constitutional rights weren’t created to protect us during good times; they weren’t put in place when the economy was doing great and the world was in peace. The Constitution itself was born of a bloody revolution … where sedition, loyalists to the British crown, and traitors walked side by side amongst patriots. Indeed the Bill of Rights and the Constitution are there to guide us during times of trial, war, and adversity.

    In times of conflict, tyrants find the best climate in which to flourish – these are the times, these tyrants are the men we were warned to be ever vigilant against to preserve our freedoms. And to allow these men to flourish, strip us of our rights in exchange for “safety,” indicates that we have fallen far from the tree of liberty, and exist as a nation of ignorant cowards. Make no mistake, Bush might be out of the White House, but his international paymasters are still there, coaxing Obama every step of the way.

    Rest in peace my beloved Republic.

  11. Given Rep. Conyers blocking on impeachment for years, he is unlikely to do anything on investigation or prosecution, even of the torturers,

    UNLESS WE Raise Holy Hell If They Don’t!!!!

    Give’em Hell!
    Phone, Fax, Email, Send Letters and

    both a Commission of Inquiry
    and a Special Prosecutor
    For All Their Crimes


    You should also
    contact AG Holder directly &
    Demand a Special Prosecutor.

    Department of Justice Switchboard – 202-514-2000
    Office of the AG – 202-353-1555


    U.S. Department of Justice
    950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
    Washington, DC 20530-0001

    & SAY “Investigate!”

  12. Lee says:

    The interesting point for me is that Bush said “no” to this. That moves him up from sewer scum to pond scum in my book (with apologies to actual scum in general for the metaphor).

  13. SEA says:

    Owell… let them terrorize us… America is a big walking ASS waiting to be fucked anyway.
    And what’s most ironic? Our laws prevent us from cracking the whip on those who want to fuck us. It’s great. We literally protect terrorists in our country…

    America is FUCKED.

  14. REALTALK1 says:

    We shouldn’t waste our time arguing about how to do it. The fact that the arrests were made is victory. Stop squabbling about who’s gonna get em, just get em. They pleaded guilty, and we stopped them. Look bigger picture gents.

    And SEA, we’re not “fucked” Europe is. We’re the only ones doing anything.

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