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Monday, November 5, 2007

Dead Certain and the Terror Presidency


The New York Times has an excellent review of two new books: Dead Certain by Robert Draper and The Terror Presidency by Jack Goldsmith

Draper was given extraordinary access to president Bush and other members of the Executive; and has as a result written a shocking and revealing biography of Bush in his book “Dead Certain;” the title reflecting Bush's relentless denial of the facts in favor of his own strongly held beliefs.
When “Mission Accomplished” turned sour in Iraq, when various supposed benchmarks of success did not stop the bloodshed, the president remained utterly confident of victory. He was sure, Draper writes, that “history would acquit him.”

Goldsmith's book "The Terror Presidency" deals with issues Draper does not discuss: Bush's policies on the use of torture.
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.

Read the reviews at the New York Times

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