Barack Obama campaigned on a promise of change from George W. Bush's "global war on terror." Yet from indefinite detention and drone strikes to surveillance and military tribunals, Obama ended up continuing-and in some cases expanding-many policies he inherited. Read more...
Barack Obama campaigned on a promise of change from George W. Bush's "global war on terror." Yet from indefinite detention and drone strikes to surveillance and military tribunals, Obama ended up continuing-and in some cases expanding-many policies he inherited. What happened?
In Power Wars, Charlie Savage looks inside the Obama administration's national security legal and policy team in a way that no one has before. Based on exclusive interviews with more than 150 current and former officials and access to previously unreported documents, he lays bare their internal deliberations, including emotional debates over the fates of detainees held on torture-tainted evidence and acts of war that lacked congressional authorization. He tells the inside stories of how Obama came to order the killing of an American citizen, preside over an unprecedented crackdown on leaks, and keep a then-secret National Security Agency program that collected records of every American's phone calls.
Savage also pieces together the first comprehensive history of how American surveillance secretly developed over the past thirty-five years, synthesizing recent revelations and filling in gaps with new reporting. And he provides lucid explanations of legal dilemmas in a way that non-lawyers can understand. Highlighted by new information about the pivotal aftermath to the failed Christmas underwear bombing and the planning for the Osama bin Laden raid, Savage's own eyewitness reporting at Guantanamo, and detailed accounts of closed-door meetings at the highest levels of government, Power Wars equips readers to understand the legacy of Obama's presidency."
- ISBN-13: 9780316286572
- ISBN-10: 0316286575
- Publisher: Little Brown and Company
- Publish Date: November 2015
- Page Count: 784
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-11-09
- Reviewer: Staff
A government of lawyers wrangles over the War on Terror in this sprawling study of national security policy in the Obama Administration from Pulitzer-winning New York Times correspondent Savage (Takeover). He follows law-professor-in-chief Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, and their legal advisers as they try to square statutes, court rulings, and constitutional principles with harsh, dubious policies on terrorism detainees, Guantánamo Bay prisoners, targeted killings, drone strikes, warrantless NSA surveillance, and prosecutions of whistle-blowers. In a cogent critique, Savage portrays Obama's "lawyerly administration" as more concerned with legal authorization than civil liberties, embracing Bush administration policies that dismayed the liberal base. Working from insider interviews, Savage foregrounds human drama ("in Montclair, New Jersey, Jeh Johnson tried not to brood") as policymakers react to Republican political attacks and events such as the failed underwear bombing of an airliner. But this is largely the dry drama of attorneys taking meetings, pondering Talmudic legal niceties (how long can a suspect be held on a ship according to the Geneva Conventions?), and writing climactic memos. Savage's doorstop-size tome is a comprehensive, reasonably accessible account of national security legal issues that often bogs down in eye-glazing details of FISA courts and the like; this is a political saga that only a lawyer could love. Photos. (Nov.)