John Dean: Bush almost became an 'unconstitutional dictator'
It was during the Civil War that President Abraham Lincoln became known as a "constitutional dictator," said former Nixon White House counsel John Dean during a Monday broadcast of MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann.
Responding to the recent release of several legal justifications for President Bush's most criticized policies, Dean summarized, "Reading these memos, you've gotta almost conclude we had an unconstitutional dictator. It's pretty deadly and pretty serious, what's in these materials."
The memos, released by Obama's Justice Department on Monday, outline possible methods for the president to ignore treaties and International laws, kidnap and torture American citizens and overrule the First Amendment to the Constitution which ensures freedom of speech and of the press.
All of these things and more could be done exclusively by the president in the name of fighting terrorism.
"Who in this formula was supposed to decide that these were terrorists?" asked Olbermann.
"Well, according to these memos, that was rather limited to the President of the United States and there are no guidelines as to how he might describe who was or was not a terrorist," said Dean.
Dean also said that the repeal of several of these memos just days before the Bush administration left power, was "definitely a bit of C-Y-A," though he did not ascribe "evil intent" to anyone.
"What does this say about what we need to do now in terms of investigating this, John?" asked Olbermann. "Is this the scale-tipper for everybody?"
"It could be," said Dean, "because the public is going to be aware of a lot more than they were. There is an investigation that is ongoing that started late in the Bush administration by the Office of Professional Responsibility.
"I think that investigation, which we've heard very little about, is going to be very hard to suppress now. ... I think the Office of Professional Responsibility may make some very strong recommendations that could include prosecution."
Dean has previously warned of "serious consequences" around the world if the Obama administration and Democrats in Congress are not willing to "point fingers" at Bush administration members who may be guilty of war crimes.
This video is from MSNBC's Countdown, broadcast Mar. 2, 2009.
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