By Matthew Rothschild on March 03, 2009

It turns out that some of our most paranoid fears about the Bush Administration had a basis in reality.

The Bush Justice Department, if you can call it that, issued legal opinions in late 2001 asserting that the President had the authority to use the military within the US against suspected terrorists, and that he could use the military to barge into your home without a warrant.

“The warrant and probable cause requirements . . . are unsuited to the demands of wartime and the military necessity to successfully prosecute a war against an enemy,” said an October 23, 2001, memo.

The authors were John Yoo, who was then deputy assistant attorney general, and Robert Delahunty, who was special counsel at the Justice Department. And they sent the memo to Alberto Gonzales, then the counsel to the President.

Domestic eavesdropping without a warrant was also OK, according to Bush lawyers at Justice.

They also said the President could unilaterally abrogate treaties, and that Congress had no say-so over the treatment of detainees.

Yoo and Delahunty clearly contemplated waging war here at home.

“Efforts to fight terrorism may require not only the usual wartime regulations of domestic affairs, but also military actions that have normally occurred abroad,” said the Yoo-Delahunty memo.

It contemplated using the U.S. military in the United States for “attacking civilian targets, such as apartment buildings, offices, or ships where suspected terrorists were thought to be; and employing electronic surveillance methods more powerful and sophisticated than those available to law enforcement agencies.” And it recognized that these actions could be “involving as they might American citizens.”

It said the decision to use the military this way lies entirely in the President’s hands. “It also bears emphasizing again that it rests within the President’s discretion to determine when certain circumstances . . . justify using the military to intervene.”

Yoo and Delahunty also proposed shelving the First Amendment.

“First Amendment speech and press rights may also be subordinated to the overriding need to wage war successfully,” they wrote.

This was an “Everything Must Go” fire sale from the Bill of Rights.

And we’re just lucky we somehow managed to escape without getting too singed.

Now Senator Leahy is proposing a Truth Commission.

We need that—and prosecutions—if we are to find out not only just how close we came to a fascist government over the last eight years but also how to prevent that slide in the future.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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