Today, we learned about another secret White House memo that provided legal justification for “domestic military operations” to spy against people in knowing violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. Either George W. Bush knew about these illegal activities, or he was an incompetent President who was not in control of the U.S. federal government in a time of emergency.
Either way, in effect, the Bush White House suspended the Constitution for an entire year without telling anyone about it..
This secret memo, according to another memo that was just released, claimed that “Our office recently concluded that the Fourth Amendment had no application to domestic military operations.”
Let’s dispense with this claim straight away. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, like all parts of the Constitution, applies to all government operations, military and otherwise. To claim that the American military is exempt from the Constitution, and can do anything it pleases regardless of the law, is completely without foundation.
Furthermore, there are specific parts of U.S. law that specifically forbid the military from engaging in law enforcement activities, such as investigations using wiretaps, within the United States. Most people know about the Posse Comitatus Act. However, there is also Title 10 of the United States Code § 375, which reads:
The Secretary of Defense shall prescribe such regulations as may be necessary to ensure that any activity (including the provision of any equipment or facility or the assignment or detail of any personnel) under this chapter does not include or permit direct participation by a member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps in a search, seizure, arrest, or other similar activity unless participation in such activity by such member is otherwise authorized by law.
Title 10 of the United States Code determines what the U.S. military is allowed to do. This code is very clear. The U.S. military is not allowed to search, seize, arrest, or engage in similar law enforcement activities within the borders of the United States.
White House lawyers surely knew about this part of the U.S. Code. They ignored it. They provided a justification for violation of the Constitution and of federal law that was as thin as rice paper, and just as transparent.