This hard-hitting expose examines both the controversial excesses of the war on terror and the home-front struggle to circumvent legal obstacles to its prosecution. New Yorker correspondent Mayer (Strange Justice) details the battle within the Bush Administration over a new anti-terrorism policy of harsh interrogations, indefinite detentions without due process, extraordinary renditions, secret CIA prisons and warrantless wiretappings.
Fighting with memos and legal briefs, Mayer reports, hard-liners led by Dick Cheney, his aide David Addingtion and then-Justice Department lawyer John Yoo rejected any constraints on the treatment of prisoners or limitations on presidential power in fighting terrorism, while less militant administration lawyers invoked the Constitution and international law to oppose their initiatives.
As a counterpoint to the wrangling over the definition of torture and the Geneva Conventions, the author looks at the use of techniques like waterboarding, stress positions, sleep deprivation and sexual humiliation against prisoners by the American military and CIA; her chilling account compellingly argues that this “enhanced interrogation” regimen constitutes torture. The result is a meticulous behind-the-scenes reconstruction of policymaking that demonstrates how legal abstractions became an ugly reality.
Going from reading the oh-so-digestible “Twilight” saga to Jane Mayer’s “The Dark Side” is giving me frigging whiplash! I’m only 51 pages in and already my little head is spinning. It’s an interesting read about the run up to 9/11 and its aftermath. Alas, no sparkly vampires in this one (well, Cheney but he doesn’t sparkle so much as glow-in-the dark). I’m glad the library gave me a month to read it because it’s so dense that it takes me a while to work through even a few pages. I may have to buy this one because I can only take in so much at a time before I’m overwhelmed with names, facts and icky stuff. However, it’s nice to give my brain a workout once in a while.