Bush Claimed the Power to Suspend First Amendment Rights


ImageAs crazy as it sounds today, Deputy Asst. Attorney General John Yoo wrote a memo in 2001 that claimed that because of the war on terror, the president had the power to suspend Americans’ First Amendment Rights. It seems that we came a lot closer to a post-9/11 dictatorship than many of us even imagined.

The chilling sentence in the memo titled, “Memorandum Regarding Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activities within the United States (10-23-2001) states the belief that, “First Amendment speech and press rights may also be subordinated to the overriding need to wage war successfully.” Yoo also used several cherry picked Supreme Court decisions to claim that, “Thus, the Supreme Court has recognized that the Government’s compelling interests in wartime justify restrictions on the scope of individual liberty.”

This opinion stood in the administration for five years until an October 2006 memo rescinded by stating, “These statements too, were unnecessary to the opinion, and overbroad and general, and are not sufficiently grounded in the particular circumstances of a concrete scenario, and therefore can not be viewed as authoritative.” In layman’s terms they are saying that Yoo’s interpretation was baseless and went too far. The 2006 memo tries to justify this opinion as a reaction to the post-9/11 climate, but there is no excuse for administration to believe that they have the right to suspend the First Amendment.


The Bush administration had refused for years to release these memos, and now we all understand why. Using the logic of this memo the president could declare on any concept or tactic and suspend First Amendment rights. LBJ could have done it with the war on poverty. Reagan could have done it with the war on drugs. The flaw in Yoo’s reasoning is simple. It is impossible to carry out a constitutional war on a tactic. He expanded traditional wartime powers to the concept of war, not war itself.

Imagine an America where it is illegal for the media to criticize the president, and dissenters are thrown in jail. Come to think of it, this version of America sounds a lot like the Bush administration’s description of Iraq under Saddam Hussein. The ultimate hypocrisy of the Bush administration will always be the fact that they tried to justify the invasion of Iraq as necessary to spread freedom, while at the same time they were considering and in some areas acting to repress the rights of United States citizens. This may be the closest the U.S. ever came to dictatorship.

9 Replies to “Bush Claimed the Power to Suspend First Amendment Rights”

  1. iT’s aBoUt DaMn TiMe We sEE mOrE aRtIcLeS LiKe ThiS oNe. tHe tRuTh oF tHeIr REAL iNtEnTiOnS nEEdS tO bE kNoWn, PeOpLe!!

  2. Jason Easley is another liberal/leftist with nothing better to do than conduct nonsensical political activism and lie about what conservatives say and do.

  3. What past of they REALLY did this are you too stupid to understand? I am way more fearful of the right wing politics than I ever will be of the left. You probably have “My Country Right or Wrong” tatooed on your butt.

  4. And to think of it, Mr Yoo is a proffesor in one of the mos accredited Law school in california!!!!
    I wonder what he teachs???

  5. I am not sure if Rich’s dig was directed at me. First off, I am Jason Easley, and it is nice to meet you. I am not too stupid to understand this, based on what I wrote about the implications of such an opinion, but the evidence of this position has been circumstantial since the illegal wiretap story broke. I guess that nothing should surprised me about the Bush administration, except for the fact that they were stupid enough to put this opinion in writing and think that they could keep this classified forever.

  6. So where in the article did Bush claim such power? Answer: Nowhere. Another feeble attempt by a libtard to claim victimhood.

  7. He doesn’t have to claim the right. The fact that a high ranking member of his administration even thought that the First Amendment was optional is such an affront to liberty that it defies belief.

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