Daily Archives: March 7, 2009

Police store photos of peaceful protesters on criminal database

Police are storing details of innocent people who attend political demonstrations for more than seven years, it has emerged.

Telegraph | Mar 7, 2009

By Matthew Moore

The Metropolitan Police last night confirmed it uses a criminal database to hold private information about protesters, including those who have not been convicted or accused of any crime.

The records are said to contain photos obtained by video surveillance of rallies and meetings as well as details of the demonstrators’ political affiliations.

Activists who attended anti-war marches, climate change campaigns and protests against the proposed third Heathrow runway are among those whose personal data is stored on the Crimint database, which also contains intelligence on suspected criminals.

Last night civil liberty campaigners said that the police could be breaking the law by keeping information on innocent people. The Met Police’s video surveillance techniques are well known but it was previously unclear whether and for how long they kept the data.

Corinna Ferguson, Liberty’s legal officer, said: “A searchable database containing photographs of people who are not even suspected of criminal activity may well violate privacy rights under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act. It is particularly worrying if peaceful protesters are being singled out for surveillance.”

Police have not disclosed the number of activists on the database but one unnamed surveillance officer reportedly told a court said it contained details of “thousands” of campaigners.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said that the database only contained details of protesters who officers suspected may be involved in illegal activity.

“The vast majority of people attending demonstrations will be of no interest to police – they will only become of interest to police when their behaviour leads them to suspect that the person may be organising and planning disorder or criminal offences at events,” he said.

“Information where legally justified, which meets strict national guidelines, will be entered onto a Met Police database.”

Sovereignty Bill Introduced In Kentucky General Assembly

WFPL | March 7, 2009

By Gabe Bullard

A resolution introduced in the Kentucky General Assembly would declare state sovereignty in line with the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

House Concurrent Resolution 168 co-sponsor Kevin Bratcher of Jefferson County says the measure is simply an affirmation of states’ rights.

“It’s just one way to tell the federal government that we are a sovereign state and just re-assert it more than anything,” says Bratcher.

If passed, the resolution would ask the federal government to restrict its interaction with the commonwealth. For instance, Bratcher says it would send a message that the state does not want restrictions placed on how it can spend federal dollars.

University of Kentucky law professor Paul Salamanca says the issues in the resolution are largely thought to have been made irrelevant by the Civil War, and its passage would not change how the federal government operates.

“I can’t imagine this will pass,” he says. “But if it did pass, it’s just sound and fury.”

The resolution is currently in committee.

North Carolina Law Confronts State’s Troubling History of Eugenics Policies

North Carolina to Increase Education Regarding Past Eugenics Program

Finding Dulcinea | Mar 6, 2009

by Shannon Firth

A new law in North Carolina seeks to advance research into the state’s historic and tragic eugenic policies, and expand public awareness.

On March 5, North Carolina passed a bill to increase research and education of the forced sterilizations that occurred there for over 40 years, ending in 1974. According to The Associated Press, the state sterilized 7,600 people.

The AP writes, “The bill orders the placement of a historical marker, directs university researchers to collect the stories of survivors, and seeks to digitize records.” Compensation for the victims is still under consideration, though budget cuts could play a role.

According to the Winston-Salem Journal, North Carolina’s eugenics’ law—effected in 1929 and modified in 1933—had three reasons for sterilizing people: epilepsy, sickness and feeblemindedness.

More than 2,000 victims of the state’s program were minors, and in one instance, a 10-year-old boy was castrated. Some individuals were selected because they were blind or mentally disabled. However, the Journal notes most were “ordinary people” who may have had premarital sex. Beginning in the late 1960s, poor blacks were most often targeted, and 99 percent of those sterilized were women.

Elaine Riddick Jessie told the Journal that she was sterilized directly after giving birth to her son, because the state decided she was “feebleminded.” Jessie recalls, “I just kept trying to figure out why did it happen to me … I had just turned 14, what was a 14-year-old kid going to know about sterilization.”

While eugenics laws swept through at least 30 states, most shut down or trimmed back their operations after World War II, shamed by the ugly parallels between the ideals these laws promoted and the ideals of the Holocaust. North Carolina was the exception.

The program’s survival was due in part to a publicity campaign run by the Human Betterment League, spearheaded by James G. Haines, Alice Shelton Gray and Dr. Clarence Gamble. According to the Winston-Salem Journal, these were wealthy citizens who worried that their inheritances would be wasted on paying taxes to those on welfare.

The Journal’s former editor, Jon Witherspoon, said he regrets that his own newspaper played a role in spreading the league’s propaganda. The Journal also noted the much of the eugenics research occurred at Wake Forest University.

In 2003, Dr. William Applegate, dean of the medical school at Wake Forest, apologized: “None of us like what happened here and doubly regret that our institution was involved.”

Fox Admits To Planting Political Brainwashing In Popular TV Shows

Corporation boasts of “inserting messages” about global warming into hit shows like The Simpsons, 24, Prison Break & Family Guy

Prison Planet.com | Mar 6, 2009

BY Paul Joseph Watson

murdochRupert Murdoch’s Twentieth Century Fox corporation has admitted to planting political brainwashing within its globally popular TV shows and indeed boasts that it is proud of the fact.

A corporate video currently being showcased on another part of Murdoch’s media empire, MySpace.com, shows Fox executives and stars of its universally recognized shows bragging about how they use the platform of hit shows that are broadcast globally to implant messages about the supposed threat of global warming.

This is not the first time Fox have been enthusiastic in propagandizing for the establishment. In 2003, Rupert Murdoch himself admitted that the corporation had “tried” to help the Bush administration sell the war in Iraq.

The text accompanying the video states, “In 2006, News Corp. embarked upon a company wide initiative to reduce the size of its carbon footprint.”

The means by which this “initiative” was carried out is then made clear by a plethora of clips from Fox’s most popular shows – the Simpsons, King of the Hill, Family Guy, Prison Break – which are all loaded with messages about global warming and the need to do something about it.

“What could we do on a practical level to start making a difference,” asks one executive before another answers, “The biggest thing we’ve done is inserting messages about the environment into some of our content.”

In other words, Fox has embarked on a deliberate campaign, which could only have been done with the coordination of the script writers of each program, to force people to accept the pseudo-science of global warming by brainwashing them into accepting it as a reality. This has been achieved by weaving in messages about climate change and having popular characters in the TV shows embrace specific tenants of the global warming manifesto.

“The most powerful way we could communicate the commitment on behalf of our company, was to change the practices within the production, as well as work in a message about global warming, about environmental changes, about empowering people to take responsibilities,” states Fox chairman Dana Walden.

We’re also treated to the vomit-inducing sight of Kiefer Sutherland, who plays the torture loving Jack Bauer in 24, sounding about as genuine as a 3 dollar bill reading off a teleprompter about how Fox is committed to reducing its “carbon footprint”.

This again goes to show that the acceptance of global warming as a reality by the general public is not being accomplished as an organic reaction to scientifically proven threats, but by propagandists artificially piggy-backing the climate mantra on the back of fictional TV shows passively absorbed by people in their millions.

This is key because of the process that people’s brains undergo when they are watching television. Political messages implanted in fictional television programs will always enjoy a receptive audience.

According to an Associated Content article, “Studies have shown that watching television induces low alpha waves in the human brain. Alpha waves are brainwaves between 8 to 12 HZ. and are commonly associated with relaxed meditative states as well as brain states associated with suggestibility.”

Experiments have shown that less than one minute after the viewer begins to watch television, the brain switches from Beta level consciousness, associated with active and logical thought, to Alpha level, which is associated with passive acceptance and suggestibility. This is why advertisers spend billions a year on commercials as well as product placement within TV shows themselves.

The scale of what Fox is admitting to here is staggering, and the fact that they even boast about what they are doing beggars belief. As Darryl Mason sardonically comments, “I never realised just how much I’d learned about the dire threats of global warming-induced climate change simply by watching immensely, globally popular Murdoch/Fox entertainments like The Simpsons and 24.”

Millions of people not just in America but globally are being educated, or should I say re-educated, about the highly complex and highly debatable topic of global warming, not through a reasoned public debate between advocates and skeptics, but through fictional cartoons, comedies and drama shows produced by a monolithic corporation that has its tentacles deeply embedded into the same establishment that is trying to sell global warming in order to introduce a CO2 tax and regulate people’s lives.

Watch the corporate video

Stimulus raises state sovereignty issues

CNN | Mar 6, 2009

By Lauren Kornreich

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Republican lawmakers from more than 20 states across the country are willing to take federal funding, but only on their terms.

From Montana to South Carolina, lawmakers in mostly red states have pushed ahead with measures calling for state sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment, saying the federal government has overstepped its bounds with the stimulus package. The states are calling for the right to ignore laws they deem unconstitutional.

Oklahoma state Sen. Randy Brogdon, a Republican and the first to introduce this type of legislation last year, originally pursued it because he thought then-President Bush and Congress exceeded their authority with the Real ID Act, which required states to include certain information on driver’s licenses.

He called the stimulus package “immoral and unconscionable” and said it was “the final straw that broke the financial back of America.”

Brogdon’s bill passed the state Senate on Wednesday and the state House approved a similar measure. The office of lead House sponsor Republican Rep. Charles Key said it is confident a joint resolution will get through.

The legislation would be binding. So, if the governor signs it, it theoreticallly would allow Oklahoma to ignore laws that are not “enumerated and granted to the federal government by the Constitution,” as stated in the Tenth Amendment.

“I’m sick and tired of Congress overreaching and underachieving,” Brogdon said. He added, “If we have an opportunity to salvage freedom and protect sovereignty, it has to be done at the state level.”

Similar legislation is moving along in South Carolina. The bill already passed in the state House and a state Senate panel approved it on Tuesday.

Republican state Rep. Lee Bright said he chose to sponsor the South Carolina measure because he thinks the stimulus package grants the federal government more power than the Constitution allows.

“The federal government is living beyond the scope that the Constitution grants it and states should put it on notice,” Bright said. “I haven’t been pleased for some time with what the federal government gets involved in, but it came to a head with the stimulus bill.”

The Republican lead sponsor of the bill in Virginia, state Rep. Christopher Peace, said his state has used only a small portion of the money allocated in the stimulus package. He said local officials are the best managers of Virginia’s budget and the federal government shouldn’t interfere with how the state chooses to spend its money.

“I’m not saying we don’t benefit from some of the money, but it’s important to question what are the roles and boundaries, and ask if Congress is exceeding them,” Peace said. “Our representatives in the federal government represent the same people we do and they need to work to keep the government small and limited and efficient.”

All the bills invoke the Tenth Amendment, which states that “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”

Most are symbolic measures and none have passed yet, but local officials are hoping to send a message to Washington to back off.

Many states are criticizing the stimulus package, while others are trying to assert authority over other issues, like abortion in Missouri and exempting firearms from federal regulations in Montana.

Many of the bills include a provision that once the bill is passed, a copy will be sent to President Obama and Congress.

“It’s time to send a message to Congress that we’re sovereign,” said state Rep. Judy Burges, an Arizona Republican. “We have many states doing this and if you have enough sending the same message, they’re going to have to step back and take a look at what they’re doing.”

Gore allegedly afraid to debate Klaus on climate

EU-PARLIAMENT/

Czech Republic’s President Vaclav Klaus addresses the plenary session of the European Parliament in Brussels February 19, 2009.

ČTK | Mar 6, 2009

Prague, March 5 (CTK) – Former U.S. vice-president Albert Gore allegedly feared a direct confrontation with Czech President Vaclav Klaus at a conference on global warming, and this is why Gore’s presentation was rescheduled for another day, Lidove noviny (LN) writes Thursday, referring to Klaus’s spokesman.

Klaus will take part in the two-day international conference in Santa Barbara, the United States, on Friday, March 6 when he was to get involved in polemics with Gore, one of the main supporters of the global warming theory, which Klaus is sharply challenging.

However, Gore, a Nobel Peace prize winner, will speak at the conference Thursday. The organisers have changed the programme at the very last moment, LN writes.

“A dialogue (between Klaus and Gore) was to take place on one stage. We accepted the U.S. proposal positively. But the organisers reassessed the idea in the end,” Klaus’s spokesman Radim Ochvat told the paper.

“Gore might have feared such a clash,” he added.

However the reason was allegedly more pragmatic, LN notes.

The organisers decided to change the conference programme to attract the maximum attention on both days as Klaus and Gore are the key speakers at the conference, LN writers, referring to a source close to the organisers.

Klaus will also touch upon global warming in his 30-minute speech titled “Europe, Global Warming and the Current Economic Crisis: As Seen from Prague” at the Columbia University in New York on Monday, Ochvat told LN.

Klaus has repeatedly criticised Gore for not being willing to listen to other climate theories.

Most recently, Klaus commented on global warming at the economic forum in Davos, Switzerland, in early February. In his speech Klaus said “the environmental militant approach to global warming” was challenging human freedom.

Klaus also presented his stances on climate change theory in his answers to the questions of U.S. Congressmen two years ago, and in his latest book “Blue, Not Green Planet.”

Vaccines as Biological Weapons? Live Avian Flu Virus Placed in Baxter Vaccine Materials Sent to 18 Countries

NaturalNews | Mar 3, 2009

by Mike Adams

(NaturalNews) There’s a popular medical thriller novel in which a global pandemic is intentionally set off by an evil plot designed to reduce the human population. In the book, a nefarious drug company inserts live avian flu viruses into vaccine materials that are distributed to countries around the world to be injected into patients as “flu shots.” Those patients then become carriers for these highly-virulent strains of avian flu which go on to infect the world population and cause widespread death.

There’s only one problem with this story: It’s not fiction. Or, at least, the part about live avian flu viruses being inserted into vaccine materials isn’t fiction. It’s happening right now.

Deerfield, Illinois-based pharmaceutical company Baxter International Inc. has just been caught shipping live avian flu viruses mixed with vaccine material to medical distributors in 18 countries. The “mistake” (if you can call it that, see below…) was discovered by the National Microbiology Laboratory in Canada. The World Health Organization was alerted and panic spread throughout the vaccine community as health experts asked the obvious question: How could this have happened?

As published on LifeGen.de (http://www.lifegen.de/newsip/showne…), serious questions like this are being raised:

“Baxter International Inc. in Austria ‘unintentionally contaminated samples with the bird flu virus that were used in laboratories in 3 neighbouring countries, raising concern about the potential spread of the deadly disease’. Austria, Germany, Slowenia and the Czech Republic – these are the countries in which labs were hit with dangerous viruses. Not by bioterrorist commandos, but by Baxter. In other words: One of the major global pharmaceutical players seems to have lost control over a virus which is considered by many virologists to be one of the components leading some day to a new pandemic.”

Or, put another way, Baxter is acting a whole lot like a biological terrorism organization these days, sending deadly viral samples around the world. If you mail an envelope full of anthrax to your Senator, you get arrested as a terrorist. So why is Baxter — which mailed samples of a far more deadly viral strain to labs around the world — getting away with saying, essentially, “Oops?”

But there’s a bigger question in all this: How could this company have accidentally mixed LIVE avian flu viruses (both H5N1 and H3N2, the human form) in this vaccine material?

Was the viral contamination intentional?
The shocking answer is that this couldn’t have been an accident. Why? Because Baxter International adheres to something called BSL3 (Biosafety Level 3) – a set of laboratory safety protocols that prevent the cross-contamination of materials.

As explained on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biosaf…):

“Laboratory personnel have specific training in handling pathogenic and potentially lethal agents, and are supervised by competent scientists who are experienced in working with these agents. This is considered a neutral or warm zone. All procedures involving the manipulation of infectious materials are conducted within biological safety cabinets or other physical containment devices, or by personnel wearing appropriate personal protective clothing and equipment. The laboratory has special engineering and design features.”

Big Brother spy planes that track the Taliban may soon hover over your home

microdrone_hover_drone

The Microdrone has been trialled by Merseyside police. The white top features GPS technology, which allows officers to navigate it. It contains a memory card to store recordings from several flights.  Goggles enable officers to see exactly what the drone is filming.

Their use is likely to further fuel concerns about our march towards a Big Brother state.

Daily Mail | Feb 24, 2009

By Fiona Macrae

Pilotless planes used to track the Taliban could soon be hovering over our streets, it has emerged.

Remote-controlled drones are already used widely by the military. Now ministers believe they are likely to become ‘increasingly useful’ for police work.

Armed with heat-seeking cameras, the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles would hover hundreds of feet in the air, gathering intelligence and watching suspects.

In theory, their advantages are clear. They are cheaper and quieter than conventional helicopters, can circle their target for hours without refuelling – and they don’t get bored on long surveillance missions.

However, their use is likely to further fuel concerns about our march towards a Big Brother state. Britain already has more CCTV cameras than the rest of Europe put together.

More than four million closed-circuit TV cameras cover the streets; cars are monitored using cameras that check registration plates and a new law will see footage taken of shoppers buying alcohol.

The plan to deploy ‘spy in the sky’ planes is outlined in the Home Office’s latest Science and Innovation Strategy. It says: ‘Unmanned Aerial Vehicles are likely to be an increasingly useful tool for police in the future, potentially reducing the number of dangerous situations the police may have to enter and also providing evidence for prosecutions and support police operations in “real time”.’

Two years ago, Tony McNulty, then a Home Office minister, acknowledged that scientists were exploring the use of UAV technology for a ‘range of policing and security applications’.

They could be used by MI5 to watch a suspect’s address for long periods or track a car for miles.

The drones could also help officers plan raids in locations that are hard to reach, to record and monitor accidents or to spot speeding offences or reckless or uninsured drivers.

Ministers are liaising with the Civil Aviation Authority about the introduction of UAVs, some of which measure as little as 2ft across.

But the document cautions: ‘We need to investigate how such vehicles could be used, and their ability to provide high-quality evidence for convictions.’

There are also safety concerns surrounding the planes. Those used by the military are prone to crashes on takeoff and landing. Many have been lost over battlefields.

A trial by Merseyside police, of £30,000 remote-controlled miniature helicopters with still, video or infra-red cameras, highlighted more mundane problems related to battery life and the effects of bad weather on flights.

Mark Wallace, of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: ‘I think a lot of people would be concerned at the Home Office looking to use technology more generally associated with the tribal borders of Pakistan and the fight against terror over British towns to watch the British public.

‘It is not necessarily as glamorous or as high-tech, but a bobby snapping cuffs on a criminal is the most productive approach.’

‘Mafia Cops’ Get Life, and Their Pensions

stephen-caracappa-left-and-louis-j-eppolito

Stephen Caracappa, left, and Louis J. Eppolito received life sentences for a second time after a federal appellate court reinstated their 2006 conspiracy convictions.

NY Times | Mar 6, 2009

By JIM DWYER

A side door swung open, and the two retired police detectives, dressed in shapeless prison scrubs, walked into the courtroom. They looked as if they had been shipwrecked.

Nearly three years ago, the two men, Stephen Caracappa and Louis J. Eppolito, were convicted of serving as assassins and spies for the Mafia while they were employed as detectives for the Police Department.

A case of outsize horrors and drastic turns — plus celebrity lawyers, three books, and a conviction reversed, then restored — came to its reckoning Friday afternoon on the 10th floor of the federal courthouse in Brooklyn. By day’s end, it would provide one more twist from its store of the absurd.

“These two defendants have committed what amounts to treason against the people of the City of New York and their fellow police officers,” said Judge Jack B. Weinstein of United States District Court.

He sentenced Mr. Eppolito to life plus 100 years, and fined him $4.75 million; Mr. Caracappa got life plus 80 years, and a fine of $4.25 million. The judge said both men were likely to have “hidden assets” from their crimes.

Yet one asset — in plain sight — might not be seized to pay their debts.

Both men have been drawing tax-free disability pensions from the city since they left the Police Department, according to city records. Mr. Caracappa, who retired in 1992 as a first-grade detective, receives $5,313 a month. Mr. Eppolito, who retired in 1990 as a second-grade detective, is paid $3,896 a month. Because they retired before they were accused of crimes, their pensions will continue.

Moreover, the pensions are not subject to seizure for payment of the fines, said Joseph A. Bondy, the lawyer for Mr. Caracappa. “I fought the government for Peter Gotti when they tried to garnish a disability pension, and we won,” said Mr. Bondy, who defended Mr. Gotti on murder and racketeering charges in 2004.

Under state law, public pensions are treated as property held in trust for the employees, and periodic efforts to make their forfeiture a penalty for corrupt public employees have failed. The Daily News reported last year that 450 corrupt former officials, judges and police officers were receiving pensions.

While both men have families, the two are likely to have little use in prison for the tax-free bounty that, in theory, they earned during the years that, a jury found, they were also killing for the Mafia, setting up informants for death or exposure, and poring through confidential police computers in service of the organized crime figures who were providing them with regular payoffs.

At 67, Mr. Caracappa has grown gaunt, the color so vanished from his face that it was hard to say where a scraggly gray beard met his pallid skin; Mr. Eppolito, 60, appeared to have lost weight behind bars, but remained a round, burly figure whose face reddened as a son and a daughter of two victims stood to describe their losses.

Their trial in 2006 lasted three weeks, and was built on testimony from Burton Kaplan, a wholesale garment dealer who had gone into multiple schemes with organized crime figures. He was the subject of “The Good Rat” (Ecco, 2008), a pitch-perfect account by Jimmy Breslin, who described how Mr. Caracappa helped a Mafia patron hunt for a Nicholas Guido by using a police computer. But the detective provided the address of a different man, a young telephone installer with the same name as the hitmen’s prey. He was killed in front of his home in Park Slope.

The first reports of the detectives’ corruption were made in 1979, and they were implicated a number of times through the 1980s but were never charged, and managed to continue their rise within the police ranks, according to Greg B. Smith’s “Mob Cops” (Berkley, 2006).

In the courtroom on Friday afternoon, a son from one family, then a daughter from another stood to speak for murdered fathers. A man framed by the ex-detectives told them he hoped that they would suffer in prison for the rest of their lives, as he had for 19 years.

Both Mr. Caracappa and Mr. Eppolito protested their innocence on Friday. “You will never take my will to prove how innocent I am,” Mr. Caracappa said.

One of those who spoke was Yael Perlman, the daughter of a gem dealer, Israel Greenwald, whose business dealings with Mr. Kaplan went sour. He was pulled off a highway by the two detectives in 1986, killed and buried under an auto repair shop. She was 7 years old then, and it was not until 2005 that his remains were found. The lack of a body “prevented us from receiving the small material respite of life insurance,” Ms. Perlman said.

Told later that both men would continue to receive their police pensions, she said, “That’s sick.”

Documents show US had secret torture prison in Thailand

Damaging details about ‘war on terror’ under Bush emerge

Electric New Paper | Mar 6, 2009

THE US had a secret prison in Thailand that suspected Al-Qaeda terrorists were sent to and tortured by ‘waterboarding’.

In ‘waterboarding’, a detainee is strapped to a board, dunked under water and made to believe he might be drowned.

US Federal prosecutors revealed the details in documents submitted to a court in New York as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, reported the Bangkok Post.

They also said 92 videotapes made and stored in Thailand of the questionable interrogation techniques had been personally ordered to be destroyed by the then head of the CIA, Mr Jose Rodriguez Jr.

Current Attorney-General Eric Holder said in a speech on Monday that ‘waterboarding is torture’ and he would never authorise the technique.

When reports first surfaced in the US media in 2005 about such a prison, the Thai authorities denied it.

Yesterday, Thailand’s Army Chief General Anupong Paojinda continued to maintain the government’s line, reported Xinhua News Agency.

‘I can confirm that there is no such place in Thailand,’ Gen Anupong said, adding that ‘I (am willing to put my) post on the line that such a place does not exist’.

US president Barack Obama’s administration on Monday lifted the veil further on previous ‘war on terror’ methods.

Able to skirt international law

The US Justice Department released nine internal memos and opinions that it said gave legal grounding to the controversial policies, reported AFP.

The documents – the first dating from the wake of the 11 Sep 2001 attacks to the last from the months following the US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq – detail how then president George W Bush gave himself sole power over terror suspects.

‘The power to dispose of the liberty of individuals captured … remain in the hands of the president alone,’ said a 2002 opinion written by then-assistant attorney general John Yoo on US methods for transferring suspects.

‘Congress can no longer regulate the president’s ability to detain and interrogate enemy combatants than it may regulate his ability to direct troop movements,’ according to another 2003 opinion written for Mr Alberto Gonzales, then counsel for Bush, which detailed prerogatives for military interrogations.

In another potentially explosive opinion, Mr Bush’s administration also gave itself ample space to skirt international law.

The president’s ‘power to suspend treaties is wholly discretionary,’ according to a memo intended for Mr John Bellinger, who was then legal advisor to the National Security Council.

Self-applied boundaries for executive power gave the White House ‘unconstrained discretion to suspend treaty obligations of the United States at any time and for any reason,’ said Mr Obama’s Justice Department, in a statement released alongside the memos.

The house-cleaning move comes as the Obama administration seeks to distance itself from Bush-era policies.