The Terror Presidency: Law and Judgment Inside the Bush Administration

Overview

A central player's account of the clash between the rule of law and the necessity of defending America.
Jack Goldsmith's duty as head of the Office of Legal Counsel was to advise President Bush what he could and could not do...legally. Goldsmith took the job in October 2003 and began to review the work of his predecessors. Their opinions were the legal framework governing the conduct of the military and intelligence agencies in the war on terror, and he found many—especially ...

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The Terror Presidency: Law and Judgment Inside the Bush Administration

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Overview

A central player's account of the clash between the rule of law and the necessity of defending America.
Jack Goldsmith's duty as head of the Office of Legal Counsel was to advise President Bush what he could and could not do...legally. Goldsmith took the job in October 2003 and began to review the work of his predecessors. Their opinions were the legal framework governing the conduct of the military and intelligence agencies in the war on terror, and he found many—especially those regulating the treatment and interrogation of prisoners—that were deeply flawed.
Goldsmith is a conservative lawyer who understands the imperative of averting another 9/11. But his unflinching insistence that we abide by the law put him on a collision course with powerful figures in the administration. Goldsmith's fascinating analysis of parallel legal crises in the Lincoln and Roosevelt administrations shows why Bush's apparent indifference to human rights has damaged his presidency and, perhaps, his standing in history.

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Editorial Reviews

Anthony Lewis
…the record of Bush and his lawyers on torture…is grippingly examined by Jack Goldsmith in The Terror Presidency. Goldsmith is a conservative Harvard law professor who was assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel for nine months in 2003-4. That is where official government opinions on the law are prepared. John Yoo, a deputy assistant attorney general in the office, prepared the 2002 opinion defining torture narrowly and asserting that the president had supreme power to order its use. Goldsmith withdrew that opinion and replaced it with a much more modest one. It took courage to do that, because he was treated as a traitor by some in the administration—notably David Addington, then Vice President Cheney's counsel, now his chief of staff. And it has taken courage to write this book…Goldsmith's arguments are the more convincing because they are not premised on traditional liberal or civil libertarian views.
—The New York Times Book Review
Michiko Kakutani
Similar portraits, of course, have been drawn by reporters and other former administration insiders, but Mr. Goldsmith's account stands out by virtue that he was privy to internal White House debates about explosive matters like secret surveillance, coercive interrogation and the detention and trial of enemy combatants. It is also distinguished by Mr. Goldsmith's writing from the point of view of a conservative who shared many of the Bush White House's objectives (and who was an ideological ally of John Yoo, one of the main architects of the administration's legal responses to a post-9/11 world and the author of some of the very opinions Mr. Goldsmith would later call into question). But he found himself alarmed by the Bush White House's obsession with expanding presidential power, its arrogant unilateralism and its willingness to use what he regarded as careless and overly expansive legal arguments in an effort to buttress its policies.
—The New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393065503
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/17/2007
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Jack Goldsmith is the Henry L. Shattuck Professor of Law at Harvard University. From October 2003 to June 2004 he was assistant attorney general, Office of Legal Counsel. He lives in Newton, Massachusetts.

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Table of Contents


Preface     9
The New Job     17
The Commander in Chief Ensnared by Law     43
Fear and OLC     71
When Lawyers Make Terrorism Policy     99
Torture and the Dilemmas of Presidential Lawyering     141
The Terror Presidency     177
Acknowledgments     217
Notes     221
Index     251
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