Legal Issues

House of cards

“If this were a dictatorship, it’d be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I’m the dictator.” – George W. Bush, Transition of Power: President-Elect Bush Meets With Congressional Leaders on Capitol Hill. Aired December 18, 2000 – 12:00 p.m. ET

Finally, maybe, people are beginning to see that President Bush has overstepped his bounds. The recent wiretapping scandal has brought both parties down around his ears, and the American people are slowly realizing what sort of person they elected.

Absolutely amazing analysis over at Bruce Schneier’s blog. Excerpts below, but you really should read his whole piece, as well as the copious linkouts to other stories.

In defending this secret spying on Americans, Bush said that he relied on his constitutional powers (Article 2) and the joint resolution passed by Congress after 9/11 that led to the war in Iraq. This rationale was spelled out in a memo written by John Yoo, a White House attorney, less than two weeks after the attacks of 9/11. It’s a dense read and a terrifying piece of legal contortionism, but it basically says that the president has unlimited powers to fight terrorism. He can spy on anyone, arrest anyone, and kidnap anyone and ship him to another country … merely on the suspicion that he might be a terrorist. And according to the memo, this power lasts until there is no more terrorism in the world.

Yoo then says: “The terrorist incidents of September 11, 2001, were surely far graver a threat to the national security of the United States than the 1998 attacks. … The President’s power to respond militarily to the later attacks must be correspondingly broader.”

This is novel reasoning. It’s as if the police would have greater powers when investigating a murder than a burglary.

This is indefinite dictatorial power. And I don’t use that term lightly; the very definition of a dictatorship is a system that puts a ruler above the law. In the weeks after 9/11, while America and the world were grieving, Bush built a legal rationale for a dictatorship. Then he immediately started using it to avoid the law.

Indeed. Just a few years ago, the American people decided that we would impeach a president because he lied under oath about a blowjob. Why aren’t we impeaching Bush for directly ignoring the Constitution of the United States?

By griffey

Jason Griffey is the Director of Strategic Initiatives at NISO, where he works to identify new areas of the information ecosystem where standards expertise is useful and needed. Prior to joining NISO in 2019, Jason ran his own technology consulting company for libraries, has been both an Affiliate at metaLAB and a Fellow and Affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, and was an academic librarian in roles ranging from reference and instruction to Head of IT at the University of TN at Chattanooga.

Jason has written extensively on technology and libraries, including multiple books and a series of full-periodical issues on technology topics, most recently AI & Machine Learning in Libraries and Library Spaces and Smart Buildings: Technology, Metrics, and Iterative Design from 2018. His newest book, co-authored with Jeffery Pomerantz, will be published by MIT Press in 2024.

He has spoken internationally on topics such as artificial intelligence & machine learning, the future of technology and libraries, decentralization and the Blockchain, privacy, copyright, and intellectual property. A full list of his publications and presentations can be found on his CV.
He is one of eight winners of the Knight Foundation News Challenge for Libraries for the Measure the Future project (, an open hardware project designed to provide actionable use metrics for library spaces. He is also the creator and director of The LibraryBox Project (, an open source portable digital file distribution system.

Jason can be stalked obsessively online, and spends his free time with his daughter Eliza, reading, obsessing over gadgets, and preparing for the inevitable zombie uprising.

One reply on “House of cards”

Just a few years ago, the American people decided that we would impeach a president because he lied under oath about a blowjob. Why aren’t we impeaching Bush for directly ignoring the Constitution of the United States?

Because the Constitution means very little to the average American. Even me, how much do I care about the Constitution on a daily basis? Intellectually yes, I care about it very very much, very deeply. But sex, everyone seems to understand, care about, appreciate, revile, defile, obsess, demonize, “pedestalize” sex. Sex is something everyone can get behind.

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