President Bush and members of his Administration believed that they had the power to suspend Amendments to the Constitution, to detain prisoners without charge, to deploy the military on U.S. soil, to whisk people off to other countries so that they could be tortured, to listen in on the phone conversations of Americans without a warrant, and to find legal opinions that would justify this type of behavior. Those who have been critical of these actions along the way were either painted as "soft" or told they were on some kind of liberal witch-hunt. It cannot be much clearer that this type of assault on the liberties of Americans warrants further investigations and will have long term consequences.
Glenn Greenwald provides some excellent analysis of what this means:
This is factually true, with no hyperbole: Over the last eight years, we had a system in place where we pretended that our "laws" were the things enacted out in the open by our Congress and that were set forth by the Constitution. The reality, though, was that our Government secretly vested itself with the power to ignore those public laws, to declare them invalid, and instead, create a whole regimen of secret laws that vested tyrannical, monarchical power in the President. Nobody knew what those secret laws were because even Congress, despite a few lame and meek requests, was denied access to them. What kind of country lives under secret laws?
Perhaps this is the same country that has a political class that continues to push the importance of "looking forward instead of backward" instead of critically examining these flagrant assaults on our laws and liberties. This is the continued viewpoint of the current Administration, despite indications that these memos are just the "tip of the iceberg".
Meanwhile, we have a group of people on the right that are screaming about President Obama and his supposed failure to adhere to the Constitution and how his policies are going to be the end of America. Could it be any clearer just how backward the discourse has become?
We may not have realized it at the time, but in the period from late 2001-January 19, 2009, this country was a dictatorship. The constitutional rights we learned about in high school civics were suspended. That was thanks to secret memos crafted deep inside the Justice Department that effectively trashed the Constitution. What we know now is likely the least of it.