The Dark Side : The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals
One of The New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year
With a New Afterword
National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
A Best Book of the Year: Salon, Slate, The Economist, The Washington Post, Cleveland Plain-Dealer
The Dark Side is a dramatic, riveting, and definitive narrative account of how the United States made terrible decisions in the pursuit of terrorists around the world--decisions that not only violated the Constitution, but also hampered the pursuit of Al Qaeda. In spellbinding detail, Jane Mayer relates the impact of these decisions by which key players, namely Vice President Dick Cheney and his powerful, secretive adviser David Addington, exploited September 11 to further a long held agenda to enhance presidential powers to a degree never known in U.S. history, and obliterate Constitutional protections that define the very essence of the American experiment.
- National Book Critics Circle Awards
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 must-read: a meticulous behind-the-scenes reconstruction of policymaking that demonstrates how legal abstractions became an ugly reality.
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May 03, 2009
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Excerpt from The Dark Side by Jane Mayer
PANIC America should go “not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. . . . She might become the dictatress of the world: she would be no longer the rulerof her own spirit.”–John Quincy Adams,An Address . . . Celebrating the Anniversary of Independence, at the City of Washington on the Fourth of July 1821 If anyone in America should have been prepared to respond to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, it ought to have been Vice President Dick Cheney. For decades before the planes hit the Pentagon and World Trade Center, Cheney had been secretly practicing for doomsday. During the 1980s, while serving as a Republican congressman from Wyoming and a rising power in the conservative leadership in Congress, Cheney secretly participated in one of the most highly classiﬁed, top-secret programs of the Reagan Administration, a simulation of survival scenarios designed to ensure the smooth continuity of the U.S. government in the event of all-out nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Every year, usually during congressional recesses, Cheney would disappear in the dead of the night. He left without explanation to his wife, Lynne Vincent Cheney, who was given merely a phone number where he could be reached in the event of emergency. Along with some four or ﬁve dozen federal ofﬁcials, Cheney would pretend for several weeks to be chief of staff to a designated substitute “president,” bivouacked in some remote location in the United States. As James Mann reveals inThe Vulcans,his rich intellectual history of the neoconservative brain trust that has guided Bush foreign policy, the exercise tried to re-create some of the anticipated hardships of surviving a nuclear holocaust. Accommodations were Spartan and cuisine was barely adequate. Civilian communications systems were presumed destroyed. The challenge was to ensure civil order and control over the military in the event that the elected president and vice president, and much of the executive branch, were decimated. The Constitution, of course, spells out the line of succession. If the president and vice president are indisposed, then power passes ﬁrst to the Speaker of the House, and next to the president pro tempore of the Senate. But in a secret executive order, President Reagan, who was deeply concerned about the Soviet threat, amended the process for speed and clarity. The secret order established a means of re-creating the executive branch without informing Congress that it had been sidestepped, or asking for legislation that would have made the new “continuity-of-government” plan legally legitimate. Cheney, a proponent of expansive presidential powers, was evidently unperturbed by this oversight. Mann and others have suggested that these doomsday drills were a dress rehearsal for Cheney’s calm, commanding performance on 9/11. It was not the ﬁrst time he had stared into the abyss. One eyewitness, who kept a diary, said that inside the Presidential Emergency Operations Command, or PEOC, a hardened command center several hundred feet under the by-then-evacuated White House, Cheney never broke a sweat as he juggled orders to shoot down any additional incoming hijacked planes, coordinated efforts with other cabinet members, most particularly the Directors of the FBI and CIA, and resolved issues such as how to avoid charges of taking hostage two visiting foreign heads of state, from Australia and Lithuania, after all air trafﬁc had been shut down. Six weeks after the attacks on New York and Washington, the Bush Administration had successfully restored calm, reassured the ﬁnancial markets, and rallied the sympathies and support of much of the world. But once again the White House was plunged into a state of controlled panic. On October 17, 2001, a white powd