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With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful Hardcover – October 25, 2011

4.6 out of 5 stars 108 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Greenwald lets no one off the hook in demonstrating the vast differences in legal recourse between rich and poor, powerful and weak… When the executive, judicial and legislative branches collude to avoid enforcement, lawlessness is the end result.” ―Rachel Maddow

“Glenn Greenwald's latest book is an absolute must-read. Incredibly persuasive, rigorous and damning.” ―Christopher Hayes

“Glenn Greenwald is not just the American Left's most fearless political commentator; his fearlessness is such that he has shifted the expectations for everyone else, too. His rock-ribbed principles and absolute disregard for partisan favor have made U.S. political discourse edgier, more confrontational, and much, much better.” ―Rachel Maddow

“The first thing I do when I turn on the computer in the morning is go to Glenn Greenwald's blog to see what he said. He is truly one of our greatest writers right now.” ―Michael Moore

“The most important voice to have entered the political discourse in years.” ―Bill Moyers

About the Author

GLENN GREENWALD is the author of several best sellers, including How Would a Patriot Act? and With Liberty and Justice for Some. Acclaimed as one of the 25 most influential political commentators by The Atlantic and one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers for 2013 by Foreign Policy, Greenwald is a former constitutional law and civil rights attorney. He was a columnist for The Guardian until October 2013, and is now building a new media organization. He is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, and various other television and radio outlets. Greenwald's NSA reporting in 2013 has won numerous awards, including the top investigative journalism award from the Online Journalism Association, the Esso Award for Excellence in Reporting (the Brazilian equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize), and the 2013 Pioneer Award from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. He was also the recipient of the first annual I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism in 2009, and the Online Journalism Association Award in 2010 for his investigative work on the arrest and detention of Bradley Manning. Greenwald is a frequent guest lecturer on college campuses and his work has appeared in many newspapers and political news magazines, including The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and The American Conservative.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Metropolitan Books; First Edition, First Printing edition (October 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805092056
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805092059
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (108 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #273,551 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I am a long time reader of Glenn's at his blog on salon.com. He's written a book that basically tracks his last few years of blogging, but in a longer format. Starting with Ford's pardon of Nixon, Glenn documents the various ways that political and financial elites have developed a two-tiered justice system with the elites generally immune to the laws and the rest of us harshly punished for even the most minor crime.

The best section, for me at least, was the final chapter on the second and third tiers of the justice system. America's prison state is appalling, and most of this section's material was brand new to me.

If I had one criticism it would be that if you've followed his blog as closely as I have, almost none of this--the last chapter partially excepted--is going to be new to you. But Glenn has published many thousands of words over the past three or four years, if you haven't read them all you'll find Glenn's aggressive style refreshing. He pulls no punches, names names, and doesn't necessarily play nice with the Beltway establishment. But that's what makes his voice so unique and needed--even if you disagree, you won't say that Glenn is pandering to anyone.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Glenn Greenwald's With Liberty and Justice for Some is an extremely important book. I don't exaggerate when I say it's a book everyone in the United States should read, something I don't normally say about even my favorite books.

Greenwald makes the case in the United States today, rule of law is disappearing. Instead, we have what he calls "The Principle of Elite Immunity,"-the idea that political and business elites are never to be punished for their crimes, except perhaps if their crimes harm other elites. Greenwald blames the current mindset on Ford for pardoning Nixon and justifying the pardon on the grounds that prosecuting Nixon would be too divisive.

Now, personally, I don't think the pardon of Nixon would have been such a bad thing if it had been a one-time thing and the country had gotten back on course afterwards. However, Greenwald convincingly argues that the Nixon pardon was the beginning of a pattern of bad excuses for forgiving any and all high-level wrong doing in this country. Thus, we get pardons for Iran-Contra criminals, Bill Clinton suppressing inquiry into Regan and Bush's illegally providing of weapons to Iraq in spite of having promised investigations, and Obama's failure to prosecute the crimes of the Bush administration.

It's important to stress that the excuses really are ridiculous-read the book for the full recitation, but here's one especially bad example, both in terms of the flimsiness of the rationale and the fact that it was given by a member of our government's alleged watchdog, the media.
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Format: Hardcover
When I say fantastic, I mean of or relating to fantasy. And that fantasy is the idea that the "law" or the "state" ever equally represented people, that it was ever not a tool ultimately under the control of the economically powerful, that it ever functioned to provide liberty and justice for ALL.

As he does on his blog, Glenn fills his book with example after example of the legal double standards in the United States. It is in pointing out these double standards that he's at his most impassioned and readable. But just as his strengths carry over from his blog to the book, so do his weaknesses. The biggest one is that Glenn never really gets beyond the listing of grievances to offer a compelling explanation of why injustice has grown in recent decades (although, to Glenn's credit, he notes it has coincided with a massively growing economic gap). In other words, Glenn describes well, but explains poorly.

His attempt to provide an over arching framework is to cite the pardon of Nixon as a watershed moment, as if the pardon was a consciousness raising moment for political elites who were then emboldened to break the law with impunity. The problem with this historical narrative isn't that Nixon's pardon wasn't exceptional. It was indeed exceptional, but for a completely different reason. It symbolized a brief moment in U.S. history where grassroots pressure resulted in the exposure of crimes at the highest level of government. It was the exposure of the crimes, crimes which LBJ, JFK, and so many other previous presidents (of both parties) engaged in, that was remarkable. Not the fact that political leaders were getting away with the crimes, not the fact that political leaders began to expect to get away with their misdeeds.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Glenn Greenwald's subtitle, "How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful", is an apt summation of the thesis of his book. He argues that, despite the intent of the Founders (admittedly not always applied in reality) that no one should be either above or below the law, American jurisprudence as it now de facto exists, creates two tiers of "justice": one level for the elite (government and business leaders and other rich and powerful individuals) which allows virtual immunity from all prosecution or consequences from nearly unlimited law-breaking, and another level for the rest of us.

For Greenwald, the Watergate scandal and President Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon represented a fundamental break in American history. He doesn't argue that government and business elites never broke the law before that or even that they never got away with it, but in theory at least, the law was supposed to apply equally to everyone. Ford's pardon set the precedent for, and provided the justification of, immunity for the highest officials and defended such immunity as a good thing. The pardon raised the idea that reconciliation and prevention of future problems outweigh and overshadow punishment for past misbehavior (as if the former can happen without the latter), the idea that prosecution is too "messy" and divisive for the country, and the idea that certain positions are just too important to undermine for our national unity and security.

From that foundation, Greenwald touches briefly on the Iran-Contra scandal and the pardons and immunity granted to high level actors (which such protections, conveniently enough, protected those even higher on the food chain). But mostly Greenwald focuses his attention on the events of the past ten years.
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