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Power Wars: Unmasking National Security Legal Policy Deliberations Under Bush & Obama (Kindle Single) [Kindle Edition]

Charlie Savage
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

When the President’s top lawyers disagree about sensitive issues, should newspapers treat those internal arguments as front-page news – even at the risk of chilling the candor of the legal advice offered to the commander-in-chief? How should the public evaluate the work of the politically appointed lawyers who determine the rules within which executive branch policymakers may operate?

Pulitzer Prize-winner Charlie Savage, a Washington correspondent for the New York Times, makes the case for revealing the questions that executive branch lawyers struggle with behind closed doors. He argues that a crucial lesson of the post-9/11 era has been that such internal fights matter enormously, especially in national security disputes that are rarely tested in court. And, drawing on his work as an author and a reporter, he offers models to help understand the impact that the Bush and Obama legal teams have had on American democracy – and provides a framework for analyzing a recurring question: Has President Barack Obama become indistinguishable from George W. Bush as he carries forward the continuing war on Al Qaeda and its allies?

Adapted from a keynote address to the Harvard Law School-Brookings conference “Law, Security, & Liberty After 9/11: Looking to the Future,” on September 17, 2011.

Editorial Reviews Review

We all learn about the system of checks and balances baked into the fundamental structure of our federal government. But did you know that the day after George W. Bush's first inauguration as President, his White House Counsel held a meeting to plan a permanent expansion of the office's powers? Or, as Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Charlie Savage puts it, "The Bush administration was in the business of creating executive power precedents." But don't mistake Power Wars for a partisan screed. In documenting the slow but measurable creep toward the strengthening of the Presidency, Savage makes much of the Obama administration's opportunistic use of newly expanded powers. The result is a short, eye-opening, three-fold study: a fascinating look at what presidential precedent means after the headlines die down, an object lesson in the dangers of Congressional hypocrisy and ineptitude, and a passionate defense of journalism's responsibility to keep a close watch on the often inscrutable legal battles about national security policy. --Jason Kirk

Product Details

  • File Size: 113 KB
  • Print Length: 21 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005OTY468
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #410,032 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
3.2 out of 5 stars
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Presidential power uber alles September 24, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Charlie Savage believes that national security policy deliberations within the executive branch of government ought to be conducted in the public view. More often than not, however, those discussions have been held in secret, behind closed doors in the White House during both the Bush (W) and the Obama administrations.

Who might you expect is the person most responsible for shutting out any public scrutiny and debate? Dick Cheney more than anyone bears responsibility for taking things secret, for leading what amounted to a transformation from a nation governed by laws and statutes to a country run by politics. All in the name of extending the power of the executive branch to act unilaterally without any congressional or judicial checks and balances and without any outside scrutiny.

Pulling out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty without even a nod toward the Senate, wiretapping without warrants, turning our backs on provisions of the Geneva Conventions and claiming to have the presidential right to imprison U. S. citizens indefinitely without trial are examples of Bush-Cheney acts, enacted secretly. All motivated by Cheney's goal to extend presidential power uber alles.

The mechanism for most all the shenanigans was something called a presidential "signing statement." It worked like this: faced with a statute or act he didn't like, the president could override it by attaching a signing statement saying that although the statute existed and was binding, in this particular instance, national security issues were involved and therefore the president could override it.

The president could append a signing statement to a bill and by invoking national security concerns he could more or less do whatever he wanted without any oversight.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Timely March 7, 2013
By Jason D
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Given Senator Rand Paul's filibuster last night, I found it timely. Having read it about a week before the filibuster. However, one of the disadvantages of the Kindle is that one never really knows how long something is. This isn't an in depth legal study of the policy deliberations, but more of a lengthy news article about them. Nevertheless, I found it informative.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars July 16, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
( See comments re last listed item )
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not for me January 28, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
I found my mind having trouble staying interested, thus put it down. This could be a matter of bad timing.
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1 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Left leaning testimonial October 10, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
Sure, the description of this Kindle Single paints the essay as a non-partisan effort, but the author spends a lot of time complaining about Bush/Cheney. He simply blames Obama for continuing (and expanding, to some extent) the policies that began with Bush. If you're a solid lefty who needs confirmation that Obama is straying from his far-left promises, then you may like this.
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