Tuesday morning, between 9:30 am and 11:00 am EST, I am hosting a conversation at the New America Foundation with New Yorker Washington correspondent Jane Mayer about her news-busting new book on the torture-promoting War Council ecosystem that Vice President Cheney and one of his most tenacious consigliari, David Addington, constructed after 9-11.
The conversation screen will be posted at The Washington Note on Tuesday — and you can watch live here.
Jane Mayer’s book is titled The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How The War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals.
I have read the book and have a roster of the major news items she is breaking in the book — but I can’t post until July 15 because of a contractual agreement with Random House.
But here is an excellent review that runs in today’s Washington Post by Andrew Bacevich — and an excerpt:
Mayer recognizes but does not dwell on the intimate relationship between the global war on terror and Addington’s new paradigm. The entire rationale of the latter derived from the former: no war, no new paradigm. Hence, the rush to declare that after Sept. 11, 2001, everything had changed. The insistence that the gloves had to come off, that the so-called law enforcement approach to dealing with terrorism had failed definitively, that only conflict on a global scale could keep America safe: These provided the weapons that Addington’s War Council wielded to mount its assault on the Constitution — all of course justified as necessary to keep Americans safe.
Matthew Waxman, who in 2001 was serving as special assistant to then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, told Mayer that the decision to frame the U.S. response to 9/11 as a war was taken with “little or no detailed deliberation about long-term consequences.” Yet the decision was a momentous one, he continues, setting the United States on “a course not only for our international response, but also in our domestic constitutional relations.”
Little deliberation occurred because none was deemed necessary. As Mayer makes clear, the White House seized upon the prospect of open-ended war with alacrity. And why not? In the near term at least, going to war almost invariably works to the benefit of the executive branch. War elicits deference from Congress and the courts. As a wartime commander-in-chief, the president wields greater clout. In this particular case, war also helped deflect demands for accountability: Despite what Mayer describes as “the worst intelligence failure in the nation’s history,” the aftermath of 9/11 saw not a single senior official fired. (Earlier this week a bipartisan commission headed by former secretaries of state James A. Baker III and Warren Christopher proposed new legislation to govern the war-making powers of the president and Congress.)
Whether the prospect of war stretching for decades actually would serve the country’s true interests received comparatively less attention. The issue was not one that troubled the War Council, obsessed as it was about ensuring that when it came to national security, nothing should encroach upon the prerogatives of the chief executive. “What was missing,” Mayer says, “was a discussion of policy — not just what was legal, but what was moral, ethical, right, and smart to do.” Such matters remained on the periphery because “fundamentally, the drive for expanded presidential authority was about power.”
More later, but this is an early alert of a conversation you should watch and a book Americans — particularly Congressmen and Senators who should be staging serious investigations — should read.
— Steve Clemons