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Rogue Justice: The Making of the Security State Hardcover – May 24, 2016
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A KIRKUS REVIEWS BEST BOOK OF 2016
"Karen Greenberg’s new book, Rogue Justice, takes on a challenging task: adding new insight to our understanding of the long-running legal battles surrounding the post-9/11 fight against terrorism. Those who have followed U.S. detention and interrogation, surveillance and targeting policies for the past 15 years have been spoiled by a bounty of rich journalistic accounts of the legal debates inside the government and out… But Greenberg has a wider ambition. She aims to assess the damage these practices have done to law in the United States. As she frames it, the picture is grim... Given this stark framing, one might worry that what follows is a one-sided account. But Greenberg rightly tells a more nuanced story."
"Clear and engaging... an important reminder of the Bush administration's excesses."
"Detailed and meticulously researched... [an] excellent book... [and] an unflinching document."
“A terrifying history of American surveillance in the 21st century... The author fully explains the government's panicked motivation for permitting torture and secretly watching its own citizens. Yet the book's central question is timeless: once a government takes rights away, can they ever be restored? … A sophisticated study of executive tyranny in the never-ending war on terror.”
—KIRKUS REVIEWS (starred)
"Rogue Justice is Karen Greenberg’s splendid new book about all the ways liberty was assaulted in America in the decade after the cataclysm of 11 September 2001...By connecting so many of the dots in the War on Terror, the author has made her own very important contribution."
“[Greenberg’s] attention to how seemingly minor changes can hobble longstanding constitutional protections recalls Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow…What Alexander's work illuminates for mass incarceration, Rogue Justice does for the national-security state, detailing the subtle and unsubtle power grabs that eroded U.S. commitment to the rule of law.”
—COURTHOUSE NEWS SERVICE
“There is nobody I would rather read than Karen Greenberg on the collision of public fears, core legal values and the insatiable demands of the national security state. Rogue Justice is no political tract. It is a measured, richly informed and gorgeously written narrative of well-meaning presidents, lawmakers, judges and bureaucrats who lost their bearings after 9/11. Greenberg knows these people. They are not cartoons to her. Many of them have passed through her New York policy salon, where Greenberg holds court over a revolving cast of soldiers, spies, cops, geeks, public officials and some of their fiercest critics. She is immersed in their worlds, yet uncaptured. Rogue Justice offers a behind-the-scenes tour that blends fresh insights with stories that we have not heard before.”
—BARTON GELLMAN, author of Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency
“In her indispensable book, Karen Greenberg documents the death of American liberty by a thousand cuts. In these times of dangerous fearmongering, she reminds us of how fragile American democracy is and why it is vital that we confront fear with courage, and stay true to our best principles.”
—KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, editor and publisher, The Nation
“Rogue Justice is the definitive account of the legal machinations behind the 'war on terror.' 9/11 America's top lawyers argued for and defended torture, mass surveillance and indefinite detention. Karen Greenberg expertly guides us through the thicket of legal questions generated by the war on terror, laying out with great clarity the stakes involved and painting deft portraits of the key players who set the nation down a path we associate more with banana republics than with American ideals.”
—PETER BERGEN, author of United States of Jihad and Manhunt
“Rogue Justice vividly tells a decade long story of how the US justice system and those entrusted to ensure the rule of law facilitated the birth and expansion of the post 9/11 security state.”
—RICHARD A. CLARKE, former National Coordinator for Security and Counter-terrorism; author of Cyber War
"Rogue Justice is a blistering indictment of the way that America’s leaders, steered by fear in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, retreated from the very principles on which the nation was founded. In clear, sober prose, Greenberg gives us a vital overview of the way that the administrations of Bush and Obama pursued, in growing secrecy, increasingly unrestrained executive power and weakened the Bill of Rights in ways that led to torture, targeted killings and mass surveillance. Thankfully, she also offers us profiles in courage of those mostly unsung heroes who resisted. It is a cautionary tale of the fragility of the rule of law, and a clarion call for all Americans to stand up to terror with the courage of our convictions.”
—ALEX GIBNEY, director of Taxi to the Dark Side and Going Clear
“Rogue Justice reads like a well-honed argument delivered to a jury. Greenberg has wrestled complex questions of law and policy into a clear, compelling narrative that shows us how the United States abandoned its principles of justice and due process during the war on terror, and why we must fight to bring them back. A must-read for anyone who cares about the Constitution.”
—ANTHONY ROMERO, executive director, ACLU
“9/11 changed America. This invaluable book shows how close we came to losing many of the basic principles that underlie our system of justice – and how much we still have to do to protect the basic principles that make our country a beacon for human rights.”
—LAWRENCE WRIGHT, author of The Looming Tower and Thirteen Days in September
“Karen Greenberg is one of our leading national security experts, and her book combines sweeping narrative with deep analysis, yielding a powerful history of the legal aspects of counterterrorism policy since 9/11. Rogue Justice is an unprecedented achievement that will change the way we think about the rule of law in this country.”
—ALI SOUFAN, author of The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda
About the Author
Karen J. Greenberg is director of the Center on National Security at Fordham University School of Law. She is also the author of The Least Worst Place: Guantanamo’s First 100 Days and coeditor of The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib.
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This is not an anti-Bush screed, though there is a moment of hope when Obama comes into office and appoints Eric Holder as Attorney General. Alas, confounded by battling with the judiciary, which mostly will not concede that it's ok to torture anyone, including US citizens, the Obama administration resorts to drone kills.In one particularly horrific case, the father of a non-terrorist target of this program tries to take legal action to prevent his son's murder. He is told that he has no standing to sue, and that "there are circumstances in which the Executive's unilateral decision to kill a US citizen overseas is...judicially unreviewable." A few months later the son, along with some unfortunate friends, is drone-killed. At least 1000 others have met a similar fate, many of them as collateral damage. Note that the guilty parties need not have committed a crime, but must only be deemed capable of committing a crime. The thought police are among us.
If you despise the ACLU and believe we have been engaged in a nonstop battle against the forces of evil since 2001, you will not enjoy this book. Don't even bother. If, on the other hand, you want to cheer when a Supreme (in this case, Justice Anthony Kennedy) says: "The Nation's basic charter cannot be contracted away like this....to hold that the political branches may switch the Constitution on or off at will would lead to a regime in which they, not this Court, say what the law is" you will find this book a riveting read. The writing is a little dry, more academic than journalistic, but once I got into it, it was hard to put down.
I have picked up Jane Mayer's The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals and also Guantánamo Diary for more background. I recommend reading Rogue Justice on a kindle or other e-reader so you can more easily follow up on references to people and places -- Rogue Justice covers a lot of ground, and you could use up a batch of sticky notes on this book.
Karen Greenberg ("The Least Worst Place," "The Torture Papers") has written extensively about the post-9/11 security state and now, with "Rogue Justice," she writes incisively and, on occasion, angrily about the systemic attack on our American values of freedom and privacy. These are two of the key principles that make America so special, and yet we as a people willingly sacrificed these goals in the name of security and the War on Terror. Politicians desperate to be seen taking actions to protect the country (and in many cases sincerely hoping that actual protection would result) worked with skillful, ambitious lawyers to undermine our Constitutional protections. Step by step, memo by memo, law by law, America authorized torture, suspended habeas corpus, and enabled systemic warrantless surveillance of Americans and our communications.
And in many cases, bald-faced lies were told to make these changes.
Greenberg, armed with facts and quoting extensively from original sources, explains in these pages how lawyers such as John Yoo used an Orwellian mastery of words to conclude that 'enhanced interrogation techniques' such as water-boarding did not constitute 'torture.' Other lawyers, misled by their co-workers, stood before judges and told bald-faced falsehoods about the nature of how the American surveillance system worked. And our worst fears were exploited to keep Guantanamo Bay and 'dark sites' open for business while excoriating the ability of our judicial system to handle terrorism cases.
And the blame does not fall entirely on the Bush Administration, although in Greenberg's telling the Obama Administration's sins are in many respects less brazen than his predecessor's. (With the notable exception of putting American names on the drone 'kill list,' of course.)
'Rogue Justice' is an essential read for anyone who wants to understand what the American government did in the name of security following 9/11. As Greenberg details, the undermining of the Constitution was serious and extensive, not just the paranoid fantasies of the ACLU attorneys. Thanks to the heroic efforts of Americans to buck the tide and take a stand for the Constitution, the pendulum appears to be shifting back toward a respect for human rights, privacy, and freedom of expression. But we still have a long way to go.
"Rogue Justice" is too short to be considered a definitive treatment of post-9/11 America, but it's an essential read nevertheless. Highly recommended.
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