Dark side The inside story of how the war on terror turned into a war on American ideals

Jane Mayer

Book - 2008

In the days immediately following September 11th, the most powerful people in the country were panic-stricken. Radical decisions about how to combat terrorists and strengthen national security were made in a state of chaos and fear, but the key players used the crisis 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. This is a dramatic 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. Whatever the short-term gains, there were incalculable losses in terms of moral standing, our country's place in the world, and its sense of itself.--From publisher description.

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Subjects
Published
New York : Doubleday c2008.
Edition
1st ed
Language
English
Physical Description
392 p., [8] p. of plates : ill. ; 25 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN
0385526393
9780385526395
Main Author
Jane Mayer (-)
  • Panic
  • Blame
  • The warning
  • Men of zeal
  • Detainee 001
  • Outsourcing torture
  • Inside the black sites
  • The experiment
  • The memo
  • A deadly interrogation
  • Blowback
  • Cover-up.
Review by PW Annex Reviews

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. (Jul. 15) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A provocative study of how the U.S. made disastrous, self-destructive decisions in pursuit of terrorism around the globe in the wake of 9/11 reveals how these actions not only violated the Constitution and American values, but also hampered efforts to bring down Al Qaeda, seriously damaging the nation's moral and political standing in the world. 100,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Examines how the U.S. made self-destructive decisions in pursuit of terrorism in the wake of 9/11 and reveals how these actions violated the Constitution, hampered efforts to bring down Al Qaeda, and damaged the nation's moral and political standing in the world.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

A dramatic and damning narrative account of how America has fought the "War on Terror"In the days immediately following September 11th, the most powerful people in the country were panic-stricken. The radical decisions about how to combat terrorists and strengthen national security were made in a state of utter chaos and fear, but the key players, Vice President Dick Cheney and his powerful, secretive adviser David Addington, used the crisis 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.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 to which White House officials took an oath to uphold, but also hampered the pursuit of Al Qaeda. In gripping detail, acclaimed New Yorker writer and bestselling author, Jane Mayer, relates the impact of these decisions—U.S.-held prisoners, some of them completely innocent, were subjected to treatment more reminiscent of the Spanish Inquisition than the twenty-first century.THE DARK SIDE will chronicle real, specific cases, shown in real time against the larger tableau of what was happening in Washington, looking at the intelligence gained—or not—and the price paid. In some instances, torture worked. In many more, it led to false information, sometimes with devastating results. For instance, there is the stunning admission of one of the detainees, Sheikh Ibn al-Libi, that the confession he gave under duress—which provided a key piece of evidence buttressing congressional support of going to war against Iraq--was in fact fabricated, to make the torture stop.In all cases, whatever the short term gains, there were incalculable losses in terms of moral standing, and our country's place in the world, and its sense of itself. THE DARK SIDE chronicles one of the most disturbing chapters in American history, one that will serve as the lasting legacy of the George W. Bush presidency.