It’s not often that I believe a book should be required reading. I pretty much think people should be left to their own devices when it comes to literature. But it’s quickly become apparent to me that every American needs to read The Dark Side by Jane Meyer. So I’m breaking my own rule. But it’s worth it.
I’m only 70 pages in and I’m consistently nauseated at the idea of people like John Yoo, a strict-constructionalist, presidential power, WACKO, that was given the leverage to award President Bush undue power to do — well, anything he wanted. The book is part of an assignment for a class I’m taking; I chose it because I felt like it was about time I delved into some of the great stuff written on the Bush years.
It seemed like a safe bet now that the Bush years are over. Unfortunately, the damage they did, and the completely out of sync ideas they had, are still haunting us. Not so safe a bet after all.
There’s a great scene in the book, in which Mayer quotes an unnamed associate of David Addington (Addington, along with Yoo, was the ultimate authority in the Bush administration on expanding presidential power). Of Addington the associate said: “There was no one to his right in the room.” My initial reaction was how that statement couldn’t ever, not in our current president’s White House or any Democratic president’s White House before, be duplicated to match the other side.
Well-respected “liberal” legal scholars uphold American ideals — the kinds of ideals we’re taught are a part of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights; people to their left, to the left of the ACLU, to the left of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, to the left of Earl Warren — people who believe in Democratic Socialism (and all of the other “scary” -isms they talk about on Fox News) — well they don’t get jobs in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel or as lead counsel to the Vice President. If they did, the right would have a field day. It’s unheard of.
David Addington and John Yoo believe in a kind of founding history, of American values, that are so crazy, there are people in The Federalist Society who say they’re crazy! Imagine that. Clarence Thomas thinks your too conservative. How do you sleep at night?
And yet they were are the very forefront of our government, they were going about the powers laid out in the Constitution, they were super-seceding channels of interagency authority, they were telling the Attorney General what to do!
And do we rise up in anger? Do we say, put them in jail! Do we recognize that when other countries do things like this we pillory them?!
NO! Of course we don’t. We give them jobs teaching law (law!) at Berkely and let them write editorials in the Wall Street Journal, espousing their ridiculous, dangerous ideas — ideas, which, by the way, have been soundly rejected by the American public.
I’m sorry. I sound like a conspiracy theorist and a fanatic. But I’m incensed. If the Office of Legal Counsel was able to write memos that made illegal activities legal, hence making those activities unpunishable, surely we should be able to look at the facts and conclude that, at the very least, the people who wrote those memos were deliberately subjugating the American justice system and are subject to investigation?
If you need more to get your blood boiling, please pick up Mayer’s book. You’ll be terrified. But you’ll be glad you did.