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For at least 16 months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Bush administration argued that the Constitution's protection against unreasonable searches and seizures on U.S. soil did not apply to its efforts to protect against terrorism. That view was expressed in a secret Justice Department legal memo dated Oct. 23, 2001. The administration stressed yesterday that it now disavows that view.
The October 2001 memo was written at the White House's request by John Yoo, then the deputy assistant attorney general, and addressed to Alberto R. Gonzales, then the White House counsel. The37-page memo has not been released.
Its existence was disclosed Tuesday in a footnote of a separate secret Justice Department memo, dated March 14, 2003, that discussed the legality of various interrogation techniques. It was released by the Pentagon in response to an ACLU Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.
"Our office recently concluded that the Fourth Amendment had no application to domestic military operations," the footnote in that memo states, referring to a document titled "Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activities Within the United States."
Exactly what domestic military action was covered by the October memo is unclear.