Bush advisers debated troops to nab US terror targets

The Bush administration debated testing the US Constitution by sending troops into the suburbs of Buffalo, New York to arrest a group of men suspected of plotting with al Qaeda, The New York Times reported last week.
Some of President George Bush’s advisers, notably Vice President Dick Cheney, contended that a sitting president had the power to use the military on US soil to sweep up the men, known as the Lackawanna Six, and brand them as enemy combatants, the newspaper said.
Bush eventually decided against the proposal, which was floated in 2002 without consulting senior military officials, the Times said. It sourced the report to unnamed former administration officials.
US laws and the Constitution, notably the 4th Amendment which bans unreasonable search or seizure without probable cause, restrict military action for domestic raids.
The report said Bush administration officials debated the move using a broad interpretation of presidential authority roughly a month after the September 11 attacks on the US, arguing that domestic use of military force against al Qaeda would be legal because it served a national security, rather than a law enforcement purpose.
Proponents of the plan, advanced by Cheney and his legal adviser, David Addington, used a memo written by Justice Department lawyers John Yoo and Robert Delahunty that asserted it would be legal.
“The president has ample constitutional and statutory authority to deploy the military against international or foreign terrorists operating within the US,” the Times quoted the memo as saying.
Among those opposing the proposal were then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, FBI director Robert Mueller and Michael Chertoff, then head of the Justice Department’s criminal division.
“It was a bit of a turf war,” the Times quoted a former senior administration official as saying.
“For a number of people, crossing the line of having intelligence or military activities inside the US was not worth the risk.”
Bush finally ordered the FBI to make the arrests. The men from the Buffalo suburb of Lackawanna all pleaded guilty to terrorism related charges.

Pic: US Troops