The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals
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One of The New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year

National Bestseller
With a New Afterword

National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist

A Best Book of the Year: Salon, Slate, The Economist, The Washington Post, Cleveland Plain-Dealer

The Dark Side is a dramatic, riveting, and definitive narrative account of how the United States made terrible decisions in the pursuit of terrorists around the world—decisions that not only violated the Constitution, but also hampered the pursuit of Al Qaeda. In spellbinding detail, Jane Mayer relates the impact of these decisions by which key players, namely Vice President Dick Cheney and his powerful, secretive adviser David Addington, exploited September 11 to further a long held agenda to enhance presidential powers to a degree never known in U.S. history, and obliterate Constitutional protections that define the very essence of the American experiment.

Customer Reviews:

  • Frightening!
    It's shocking to read this book -- The overreaction of power by the Executive Branch and the dirty sad things they did will leave a dark mark on the legacy of Cheney and Bush --- All the things that Bush and his cadre of lawyers kept hidden from you is now revealed -- The truth will make you sick. This book is very well written and I'm not much of a book reader myself....more info
  • No wonder the Democrats swept into power
    This book is absolutely scary. The audacity of this government to impose their neo-conservative value system on the reputation of our great country makes me shiver with the thoughts of a neo-nazi police state....more info
  • Exceptional and Horrific!
    We have committed war crimes as a nation, and we should be held accountable. It's a desaster that needs an immediate recovery effort led by our new president-elect. Jane Mayer deserves the National Book Award....more info
  • Important Read
    In 1788 Warren Hastings, former viceroy of India, was impeached for corruption and abuse of power by the British authorities. By all accounts Hastings was not a terrible viceroy, and a lot of his actions could be justified by the culture he found himself in. But the Whig politician and prosecutor Edmund Burke argued that it was more than just Warren Hastings who was on trial: it was Britain's liberty and republican virtues that were really on trial. If corruption and abuse of power were not checked in India then East India Company employees would become fabulously wealthy there and return to corrupt the British political establishment. Hastings was acquitted, and the British republic soon afterwards became the British empire.

    In her book "The Dark Side" the veteran New Yorker journalist Jane Mayer puts on trial the chief architect of America's war on terror Dick Cheney, and charges him with incompetence and stupidity. Not only has the Vice-President failed to make America safer but by condoning and promoting torture and extraordinary rendition has tarnished America's reputation abroad. And by suspending habeas corpus and flagrantly expanding the power of the executive branch Dick Cheney has also imperiled America's liberty.

    Oddly enough Jane Mayer rarely mentions Dick Cheney, and instead focuses her attention on Dick Cheney's surrogates the brilliant workaholic lawyers David Addington and John Yoo. Together the two have overrided much of the government's oversight capabilities and shamelessly and blatantly politicized the Justice Department. Those who objected were treated harshly and banished from government.

    Dick Cheney's office and its supporters created a culture that produced the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal. And the grotesqueness of the evil of this culture is only matched by its gross incompetence. One top CIA officer decided on a whim to rendition a German tourist, and had him tortured for months without any solid evidence because she couldn't admit she had made a mistake.

    Barack Obama may have taken office but "The Dark Side" hints that this culture may be too difficult to abolish: the whisteblowers have left office, and the maliciously incompetent have been promoted too high.

    There is no doubt in Jane Mayer's mind: Dick Cheney and his top lieutenants are guilty of degrading America's ability to defend itself, its reputation abroad, and its liberties at home.

    The question only remains is if Dick Cheney is guilty of being stupid or being evil, and for Jane Mayer the answer is obvious. Dick Cheney has said publicly that he's making America safe, and clearly he's failed. But are Dick Cheney, David Addington, and John Yoo really that stupid and incompetent? How did they obtain so much power if they're so stupid and incompetent?

    We know that Dick Cheney and his people are sharp and competent, and so how could they fail so miserably? Well, who said they failed at all?

    At Guantanamo Bay, using modern science and psychology, they managed to perfect the most painful form of torture known to man. Hooded and naked in a cold dark room the detainees are deprived of identity and sense of place and time, driving some of them insane. Extraordinary rendition is also terrifying in its randomness: anyone can be at any time be made to disappear.

    If your goal is to extract actionable intelligence and hunt down terrorists torture and extraordinary rendition make no sense. But if your goal is to terrorize an entire generation of Muslim men so they wouldn't dare to join a terrorist group then Dick Cheney's policie make sense -- if only in a twisted and perverted Dick Cheney sort of way.

    So is Dick Cheney right? Well, he can't be proved wrong. And if there is a terrorist attack during Obama's regime then isn't he proved right? "The Dark Side" is really a lot darker than Jane Mayer or any one of us can truly imagine. ...more info
  • Compelling Read
    One of the best books on the thinking of the Bush Administration, and their misguided journey into torture and imprisonment. Ms. Mayer does a wonderful job of documenting the twists and turns of the decision making process, and capturing the damage done not only to the victims and the aggressors, but to the country as a whole. The New York Times Review of Books has rated The Dark Side one of the 10 best books of 2008, and rightly so. ...more info
  • The Dark Side isn't Just for Star Wars
    Though the title summons up the popular and satirical comparison between Dick Cheney and Darth Vader, The Dark Side is anything but satire. Mayer has given us a sobering and raw look into the war on terror and how entities within the Bush Administration used it, along with legal technicalities, to collect power for the executive branch--and then use that power to instate borderline-constitutional policies. Detailing the struggle between those within the administration that opposed the Machiavellian dealings of Cheney, Addington, and the like, and those power-hungry entities themselves, The Dark Side offers a genuine look into what has really happened to our government, and by extension to us, over the past 8 years.

    Mayer's work is reminiscent of watching yourself get conned. It's a record--it's the video camera that's outside of the 7-11 where you one time actually played Three-Card Monte. Of course you thought you were doing well, the con let you win the first few rounds so that you would get confident and put down a fat wad of cash, and once you did that, of course you lost, and the camera recording shows it all to you. The Dark Side shows us how we, as a whole, got duped, and does so in great detail. ...more info
  • Illuminates the darkness
    A beautifully written, powerful, well-documented book written by an honest, courageous, patriotic American. I found her book impossible to put down.

    Mayer's The Dark Side is a synthetic examination of the Bush presidency, and provides a most comprehensive overview of the history of the use of torture in support of the "war on terrorism." Mayer introduces us to the people who advocated for and developed the illegitimate legal arguments used to suspend basic human rights in opposition to the U.S. Constitution and a corpus of international law. She shows how an incompetent, mendacious, and cowardly triumvirate of Cheney/Addington/ Yoo developed, justified, and implemented policies that directly contradict the rights and freedoms that had previously defined America.

    Mayer is a master at her craft, and deserves our thanks for producing a book that allows us to peer into a world that its creators tried so hard to conceal from us. The Dark Side is essential reading.

    One question, not addressed by Ms. Mayer, remains unanswered: why were Bush and Cheney not impeached?...more info
  • Absolutely compelling
    This review covers the audio version of The Dark Side. I had no intention of listening to all 13 CDs, but the story was so compelling, so clearly and carefully told, that I was riveted until the end. I have loaned my set out, so I can't complement the reader (whose name is on the boxed set), who is wonderful. In terms of the book's content, I have nothing to add to prior reviews. My point is that for those of you who, like me, like "to read" while driving, this one is a winner. ...more info
  • Devastating!
    The Bush-Cheney regime created a torture state worthy of the Nazi's right here in our midst. This book is a work of genius and should be read by anyone before they even think about going along with any torture program. Forget about waterboarding, many of these people were killed or simply disappeared. If the perpetrators of these horrors are not brought to justice, we in America have gone beyond all hope....more info
  • all along
    mayer's book is for anyone who hated the bush administration since dec. 2000 and knew all along that this republican administration was up to no good, as well as for bush supporters (those of us who voted for it not once but twice) who didn't want to believe they could do this.

    the dark side would be the third book i have read in as many years that
    tells me we were wrong on our votes. sure mayer is a liberal reporter who writes for a liberal newspaper, but they were right....more info
  • why it's bad.
    This is just a tired rehash of press releases and corporate media drivel. Ms. Mayer is incapable or unwilling to speak truth to power. ...more info
  • An Important Read....
    This book should be nothing less than a "Best Seller". It is one of the most important, inciteful books concerning the presidency of George W. Bush. Words fail me in trying to convince people to read it. I can just say, it is a "must read" for every concerned American....more info
  • devastating portrait of power run amok; told elegantly--no polemic
    There is a good reason why this book is a finalist for the National Book Award. Without in any way becoming polemic or apostasy, Ms. Mayer cogently and elegantly depicts how Cheney, Addington (Cheney's Cheney), Bush, John Yoo et al deliberately and successfully set about to sabotage and undermine our Constitution.

    I got chills up and down my spine reading this masterful account.

    Everything I learned in law school and 30 years of litigation practice seemed for naught--elected officials set their own legal agenda and destroyed others' careers and sometimes consciences in reckless, illegal and immoral pursuit of the "war on terrorism."

    The sourcing is incredible. Rarely is journalism much more than the "first draft" of history; this book is a noble exception to that maxim.

    btw, my daughter listened to this as a book on tape while driving cross-country and was mesmerized also.

    Get it...in any form!
    ...more info
  • Torture: True or False
    There is no question the Bush-Cheney group are responsible for the implementation of torture as defined under the Geneva Conventions.

    When the order from Gitmo arrived in Iraq, un-trained and even more so, un-accountable contractors used the techniques used and authorized by Rumsfelt to inflict not only pain and suffering on innocent people, but moreover, a lifetime of "payback" mentality towards US forces in Iraq. That said, some of these innocent people who were detained and perhaps tortured were the ones who laid IED's of EFP's to kill or maim our troops.

    Bush, Cheney, Feith and others should be held accountable for their decisions and actions. Good book..factural and to the point.....more info
  • Hated it!
    Doesn't get that we are not fighting an army, but a ruthless islamic group that will not stop until we are all dead or converted. Thank God for George Bush and Dick Cheney that protected us from these civilian killers. If it takes pouring water over their face to simulate drowning to save mine, or your family.........sign me up. Humiliation is not torture. These people cut off our heads. WAKE UP AMERICA! ...more info
  • So that's what we were doing...
    This book is both fascinating and sad. It provides a gripping account of the Bush administrations blatant and tragic suspension of the constitution and Geneva conventions to turn us from a nation of mostly-law to a nation of lawlessness, from protecting civil rights to becoming a major violator and torturer. All done in the same incompetent and arrogant fashion that is so typical of the CIA. (This comment is based on information from The Sword and Shield, Truth of the 9/11 Commission, The Looming Tower). We want to create a gulag, but reinvent it. We want to find terrorists, but endlessly reward bad ideas and incompetence, destroying thousands of lives and our country's reputation in the process.

    The author provides some view into the mindset of what drove our country in this direction, and provides many details of what we did, showing the bureaucratic misdecisions and indecisions and corrupt decisions that led to our most senior government officials deciding that they were above the law.

    It is very interesting from a historical and legal perspective, and unless you have preconceived notions that the Bush administration did no wrong and could do no wrong, you will find this a fascinating book.

    My only complaint was that the author's portrayal of Zelikow is quite different than that I've read in other books, and that might lead to a more positive view of his role and Rice's role in the mess.

    A very good, interesting, detailed read that is important to read...more info
  • "The Dark Side"
    Bought it as a gift. Arrived in a timely fashion and in great condition. Thank you....more info
  • Smirky Journalism
    Meyer's thesis is that Islamic terrorism is a joke. As a person who has never had the duty to act in situations involving important interests, she uses 20/20 hindsight to smirk at and criticize those who performed that duty in good faith for us. Her cheap shots cause an ecstatic response at The New Yorker, but do not explain the decisions of the Bush administration. Meyer is almost totally ignorant of the constitution, and how the system of checks and balances operates. She attributes legislative power to Bush when almost every elementary student knows that Congress, not the president, makes the laws, and the president's duty is to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed". If Bush's acts were as unconstitutional as she claims, Congress could have, but did not, refuse to pay for them. If you are a Bush hater, you will love her book. If you are interested in unbiased history of terrorism, read Bernard Lewis' books instead....more info
  • The Dark Side
    Frightening. Did I say frightening?

    I had read most of what Ms. Mayer writes in her book by reading The Emerald City, The Assassin's Gate, and all of the others. But they were either diaries, or for short periods of time, or focused on just one aspect of this C-4. Ms. Mayer took the long view and tied many of the strings together. It's easier to see now that the war was rigged by the Administration. That they purposefully, yes, purposefully mislead the nation and the Congress, for the most part in their arguments for attacking Iraq. I never thought that I would say the word impeachment with regard to the Bush Administration, but that is definitely in the front of my mind now. Too bad they have to leave their rented apartments in four and a half months. It will deprive us of the ability to pursue this.

    Here is a question someone asked me recently: Are the 4000+ US dead, 30000+ US wounded and over 100,000 Iraqi and Afghani civilians killed balancing off the number of innocent civilians that were killed in the Towers by Al Qaeda? I do not know the answer, but I will say that this book definitely changed the way I felt about my god-child going over for her second tour, and her brother's tour, and her husband's second tour....more info
  • Important book: The Dark Side
    Title The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How The War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals
    Author: Jane Mayer
    Rating *****
    Tags terrorism, torture, bush administration
    I resisted reading this book for a while, but felt it was one of those books I HAD to read, as an American citizen, to know the worst about my government in order help to elect better ones. The book was hard to read, both for the occasional and in this case NOT gratuitous depictions of torture, and to see what fear did to this nation that has not ever before, as a policy, used coercive interrogations. Mayer makes that clear by giving a brief history. George Washington insisted on humane treatment of British prisoners of war, and that tradition continued with the U.S. in the forefront in creating treaties such as the Geneva Conventions.

    All that was turned on its head after 9/11. After that, captured terrorists were subject to extraordinary rendition, in which some were taken to foreign countries to be tortured for information, while others were tortured in prisons in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

    The story of how it happened is complex, and sickening... a combination of fear and incompetence. Policy on this, as on so many things, was mostly set by VP Dick Cheney and his legal adviser, David Addington. Both are authoritarian personality figures who do what they believe is right and don't listen to anyone advocating something different. Addington's response is usually to shout down the opposing opinion.

    One interesting thing that Mayer points out is that it was a quite small circle of people setting torture policy and that only Addington was a lawyer. Of course John Yoo, who wrote the infamous torture memo while on staff in the Office of Legal Council (OLC), was a lawyer as well, but other lawyers have said that his work was badly done. Jack Goldsmith, who was head of OLC later, thought it was so deeply flawed that he withdrew it, and that was something that had not been done before (I also recommend Goldsmith's book, The Terror Presidency, on this subject). What OLC says is so important because they are the standard bearer for any administration on legal matters, and what they say goes.

    The Dark Side is also frightening it its depiction of sheer incompetence. At the time of 9/11, the CIA had not done interrogations for years, and had few experts in it. At first, they used some of the FBI's interrogaters, who were experienced and did not use torture because they knew that information from torture was unreliable -it might be accurate, it might be lies, and you don't know which is which. They had interrogaters who were experts in Muslim culture and who were used at the beginning, but the powers that be thought that information wasn't coming fast enough and handed the interrogations over to the CIA who was told to use any means necessary to get information and get it quickly. The CIA retro-engineered the SERE program, which was used to teach soldiers and agents to withstand torture and began using those techniques to torture.

    All of this was done with doubtful legal and moral justifications. Mayer uses that marvelous quote from Nietzsche "He who does battle with monsters needs to watch out lest he in the process becomes a monster himself. And if you stare too long into the abyss, the abyss will stare right back at you." There seems to be some indications that many of those who tortured developed psychological problems themselves. There were also heroes in this battle, as Mayers is quick to acknowledge. See her summary in the afterward:

    "In looking back,. one of the most remarkable features of this struggle is that almost from the start, and at almost every turn along the way, the Bush administration was warned that the short-term benefits of its extralegal approach to fighting terrorism would have tragically destructive long-term consequences both for the rule of law and America's interests in the world. Those warnings came not from just political opponents, but also from experienced allies, including the British Intelligence Service, the experts in the traditionally conservative military and the FBI, and, perhaps most surprisingly, from a series of loyal Republican lawyers inside the administration itself. The number of patriotic critics inside the administration and out who threw themselves into trying to head off what they saw as a terrible departure from America's ideals, often at an enormous price to their own careers, is both humbling and reassuring." (p. 327).

    This book, along with others such as Barton Gellman's Angler, will be very important to historians trying to understand an administration that went so wrong in so many ways, and to those who, as citizens, want to understand so as to elect better governments. Besides, it is a story to stand up with any epic, a story of heroes and villains, as well as people simply trying to do their best for their country in a dangerous and uncertain world. Excellent and highly recommended read.


    Publication Doubleday (2008), Hardcover, 400 pages
    Publication date 2008
    ISBN 0385526393 / 9780385526395...more info
  • Blood, and Fire, and Pillars of Smoke
    The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a
    War on American Ideals
    Reviewed by Harold Reynolds

    Foreigners one day may visit this country to teach our children
    how our democracy decayed, drop by drop. The text for the course will be Jane Mayer's The Dark Side. A classically great work of investigative journalism, it is an appalling, profoundly disturbing revelation of the Bush Administration's war on terrorism. It is a grim warning of the threat to us that exists in a President who sets himself against the Constitution in a parallel world that he secretly constructs in the name of security. When reading it, you may have the fleeting sense that you are in Berlin and the year is 1938.
    The questions posed to our children will be whether President George W. Bush, Vice-President Richard Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, together with other high office holders and military commanders,should have been indicted for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the violation of federal criminal statutes described in The Dark Side, and whether, failing in that, we endangered ourselves to greater subversions of liberty.
    In September, 2001, when the dust of the Twin Towers had not yet settled, Cheney, mentor to Bush and long fixated on his felt need to increase the power of a presidency weakened by Vietnam and Watergate, took charge of national security issues. President Bush authorized CIA Director Tenet to use secret paramilitary death squads anywhere on earth to detain and interrogate suspected terrorists. When Congress, however, would not give him unlimited war powers, he secretly obtained from a cadre of lawyers in the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel bizarre, some said insane, legal memoranda that in sum held that Congress could not limit Bush's conduct of warfare. This cadre informally called themselves the "War Council". They advised Bush that he could defend the nation as he saw fit and ride over laws specifically designed to curb him. They assured him that he could set aside statutes prohibiting torture and secret detentions. Terrorists, they said, were outside the body of law, beyond the protection of the Geneva Conventions. They could be tortured. They knew what Cheney, Bush and Rumsfeld wanted and accordingly advised Bush that he had inherent authority to use military commissions empowered to sentence illegal combatants to death, all without review by Congress or the courts. These legal memos, hidden from all but a select White House circle, were five-and-dime store stunts manufactured to create a paper world of authority where none existed and upon which the principal actors, such was their contempt for the public, were ready to rely in justification of their abhorrent conduct. Indeed, these masters of self-deceit honed a memo stating that proof of torture required not only proof of the specific intent to inflict suffering but proof that the suffering was of "significant" duration. In short, the world might condemn an act out of hand as painful torture, but the torturer could raise in defense the claim that he intended an objective that involved a result other than that pain.
    And so it was that the natural passion to defend this country and punish those who had slaughtered our people was tragically placed in the hands of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld whose joint cunning and stupidity has caused one of the greatest horrors in our national history.
    The nightmare CIA secret "extraordinary rendition" program sent detainees to Egypt, Morocco, Syria, Jordan, Uzbekistan, and Afghanistan for torture. Bush and CIA Director Tenet knew that those renditions were forbidden by the Convention against Torture. Suspects in our custody were held in CIA top-secret "black site" prisons. Thus, Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld, Mayer contends, are prosecutable for war crimes and crimes against humanity, to say nothing of their violations of our federal criminal law.
    Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld approved of "enhanced" interrogation techniques in violation of the Convention Against Torture. After all, an Office of Legal Counsel memo declared that Convention unconstitutional because Bush, they said, had the power to order any interrogation technique. Indeed, the Office of Legal Counsel declared waterboarding lawful. Sexual humiliation, hoodings, shackled 8-hour standing with arms extended overhead, slamming prisoners headfirst against walls, sleep deprivation, bright light bombardment , 24-hour a day ear-drum shattering noise for weeks, caging squatting men in dog crates, was the order of the day. One of the Office of Legal Counsel scholars hypothetically suggested as lawful the gouging out of a prisoner's eyes, "slitting an ear, nose, or lip, or disabling a tongue or limb". Among the barbaric cruelties was "Palestinian hanging" in which a man's hands are secured behind his back and he is suspended from behind like a carcass in a slaughter house. Examining such a corpse, Dr. Michael Baden, the noted forensic pathologist for the New York State Police, found that "asphyxia is what he died from - as in a crucifixion". Surely, to see a crucifixion where beatings, broken bones, and murder were commonplace might give pause even to a predatory animal passing through at night.
    The International Committee for the Red Cross described the treatment of Abu Zubayda, an Al Qaeda logistics chief, as torture that constituted war crimes. The Los Angeles Times demanded a criminal investigation of Bush Administration for war crimes. So dismissive was
    Bush of lawful restraints that he himself ordered the waterboarding of Zubayda. So in-your-face arrogant was the CIA that hundreds of hours of video tapes of the interrogation of Zubayda , including his extensive waterboarding, were withheld from the 9/11 Commission and, in defiance of a federal court, were actually destroyed by the CIA.
    In 2002, one-third of Guantanamo's 600 prisoners had no connection with terrorism, thus implicating Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld in committing war crimes. Bush had thoughtfully determined that they were all "enemy combatants". Rumsfeld was directly involved in the straight out of hell, unutterably inhumane savaging of Mohammed al-Qahtani, the suspected "20th hijacker" who had set out but failed to join the 9/11 hijackers. His torture produced nothing of substance except the Pentagon's dismissal of the charges against him because his torture tainted his confession. Military interrogators opened themselves to prosecution for the brutal abuse of detainees. Frightened by the criminality of military torturers, the FBI denounced them for fear of being implicated. Alberto Mora, General Counsel of the Navy, warned that criminal charges from assault to war crimes were chargeable against Bush Administration officials. Incredibly, a March 2003 memo declared that federal laws prohibiting assault, maiming, and other crimes did not apply to military interrogators in Guantanamo.
    The scenario left by the Bush Administration is beyond ordinary imagining. When the next president is elected, a "transition team" will be designated by him to assist him in taking power. That team will be confronted with determining the location, inhabitants, and history of that parallel world of perhaps thousands of uncharged men and women cut off from access to their families, tortured, humiliated, beaten, kept off stage to this day by those fearful of prosecution.




















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  • Should be required reading for all Americans
    One of the most important books I have ever read. I lost count of the number of times I said "Dear God help us all" while reading about American's descent into Facism....more info
  • Heroes and villains
    A very well-written book, based on research and interviews that backup Mayer's stories. I found the lack of a chronological continuum a bit confusing at first, but as the book progressed, that was less disconcerting.

    The book presents a picture of the Bush administration in a time of crisis and how it reacted to that crisis. While history will probably praise some elements of the Bush team's reaction to 9/11, I fear it will be less laudatory of the ensuing torture debacle. This book presents a picture of Pres. Bush being out of the loop, WH Counsel (later AG)Gonzalez being out of his league, and VP Cheney (and his team) being out of control - a sad state of affairs that seems to have led to abuses that should never have happened. Whether you agree with Mayer's research or not, it does paint a less-than-rosey picture of the Bush Administration's use of executive power.

    But the real story the book tells is of the heroic efforts of other members of the administration who took exception to the practices and argued against them, oftentimes at great risk to their careers and even their persons. These stalwart believers in the Constitution and the Geneva Conventions fought until the Courts, Congress, the press, and the American public finally saw the true events and through the light of public scrutiny held them up as practices that tarnished the image of America at home and abroad.

    Whether a Bush-hugger or a Bush-basher, the reader must see the fight to stop the illegal treatment of detainees as evidence that there are still true heroes in the federal government....more info
  • Crimes, lies and videotape
    "Sunlight is the best disinfectant", U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once wrote, so Jane Mayer's stunning new look at the Bush administration's secret torture program inverts that quote into the perfect title of her book..."The Dark Side". In fact, she might have subtitled it, "Total Eclipse". It's bad enough that the president (so easily led as some in the White House have surmised) surrounded himself with one of the poorest teams in presidential history, but then he let the lawyers run it...David Addington and John Yoo, to name the two most influential ones. All of this under the secretive guise of the biggest "vice" of all...Dick Cheney...and you end up with an administration that thinks itself not only above the law, but that it IS the law.

    Mayer probes the set up as to how Guantanamo Bay came into being in its current state and how Abu Ghraib was the beginning of the end of secrecy in the Bush White House. She follows the case of Mohammed al-Qahtani, (detainee number 063 at Guantanamo), the so-called "twentieth hijacker", as well as Manadel al-Jamadi, whose quick arrest and subsequent beatings in American hands left him dead within hours. But perhaps the saddest of all cases was that of Khaled el-Masri, a German citizen who was detained and tortured for months because his name bore a resemblance to a similar name on a terrorist list. Completely innocent, Masri has never fully recovered after his release.

    The side show to all of this is the brutal infighting that took place in Washington. The Pentagon, CIA and FBI provided a trifecta of outsized egos and non-cooperation. With the White House added, it was a powder keg of a mix. As Mayer points out, it was the shamelessness of these people who went about trying to deny torture while knowing it was being carried out. That is the essence of "The Dark Side". But in it were those who tried to let in the light...Alberto Mora, Jack Goldsmith and James Comey....conservatives all, but with a strong core of decency.

    As this pitiful administration creeps to a close it will become more evident in the coming months and years how disastrous this post-9/11 time has been. Hijackers reduced the twin towers to rubble but the Bush White House reduced the country in its response. One can only hope that when we look back on this time, the phrase "a government of laws, not of men" will have seen to have been twisted into a gross aberration....more info
  • Wake Up America
    Someone wise once said: to those who understand no explanation is necessary; to those who do not, none is possible. Citing "human rights," Meyer and her minions agonize over such practices as waterboarding, sleep deprivation and such. This reveals that she knows nothing about torture as it has been practised our enemies over millenia. The irony of this is that the very people who denounce these interrogative techinques are the same ones who turn a blind eye to the inhuman, agonizingly painful destruction on helpless infants in the cause of "privacy" and "the right to choose." How can any sensible person take the likes of the irrational Bush haters such as Mayer seriously? The book reveals nothing that has not been in the news. Did Mayer complain about Clinton administration policy that Muslim attacks were to be treated as criminal matters and prosecuted accordingly? Do she understand that under the Rules of Criminal Procedure, matters of national security would have to be disclosed to defendants during a criminal prosecution? Is that really wise and would it keep us safe? One is tempted to think that Jane Mayer either wants to make money or she wants our country to go down the drain. Tell me, Ms. Mayer, what liberties would the culture that produced the inhabitants of Gitmo accord to you?...more info
  • a rule of men, not laws
    I'm the author of Prepared for Rage: A Novel, about an Islamic terrorist who tries to blow up the space shuttle. There are interrogation scenes at Guantanamo, and I was so dreading the research for them. I really didn't want to have to learn about waterboarding.

    A funny thing happened on the way to researching the Gitmo scenes. Every source I found, either on line or in the library, said the same thing: Torture doesn't produce good intel. The person being tortured will say anything to make the torture stop. The way to get good intel is to talk to the subject, to listen to them, to coax them, cajole them, flatter them, befriend them. Trick them. I can't tell you how relieved I was, and I promptly invented a honey trap instead.

    Then along comes Jane Mayer's The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How The War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals, and suddenly I'm in the middle of a horror show somewhere between the Spanish Inquisition and Nazi doctors in WWII concentration camps. People are being kidnapped and tortured by the CIA under cover of the executive privilege of the president of the United States. Surprise! No good intel is being produced, either.

    I gave it five stars for content, but I can't say you'll enjoy reading this book. I felt sick while I was reading it and I still feel a little sick now. But it's a book that should be read, at the very least as a cautionary tale as to just how far things can go wrong when nobody's watching. There are heroes, though, like David Brant, the head of NCIS, Alberto Mora, Counsel to the US Navy, the FBI agents who refused to have anything to do with the torture, and all those administration attorneys who, while they were hired because they had the correct conservative credentials nevertheless knew that kidnapping and torture are wrong, unconstitutional and unAmerican, and who fought the good fight against this program, some of them from the beginning, and some of whom were fired or forced to quit because of it.

    It's the victims who stay with me, though. Maher Arar and Khaled el-Masri, literally innocent bystanders who will never be the same again after their treatment at the hands of the CIA.

    This book is also difficult to read because of the sheer weight of detail beneath which it almost founders. I can't believe Ms. Mayer got this many people to talk so freely to her. I kind of got the impression that they'd been dying to talk to somebody. The least we can do is listen to what they have to say.

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  • THE DARK SIDE:THE iNSIDE STORY OF HOW THE WAR OF TERROR TURNED INTO A WAR ON AMERICAN IDEALS
    The book was delivered promptly and in mint condition. I will deal with this seller on any future books that he offers. I recommend him both to Amazon.com and to any purchaser of their discounted books. I also forgot to mention that I could not beat the price and quality of the book on any online store except Amazon.com. Thank-you both. ...more info
  • Addington-Cheney-Bush Abuses of Presidential Power
    The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How The War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals

    Jane Mayer's well-written and infuriating narrative of the current administration's abuses of the U. S. Constitution, laws and treaties is required reading for anyone who believes that one of the most monumental tasks of the Obama administration will be to restore the Constitution and the rule of law to the American people. Among the book's many attributes, Mayer puts the question to rest whether waterboarding constitutes torture. She also argues convincingly in several places that torture as practiced by the Bush administration involved the application of multiple forms of abuse on one person's body, either simultaneously or sequentially. Combined techniques could produce any kind of confession the CIA wanted, truthful or not. America will not be a civilized nation until these practices are abolished. Incidentally, I came away from Mayer's book with a better understanding of the military's strenuous objections to the tactics pushed relentlessly by the vice-president's office, and of the FBI's doubts about the administration's practices. ...more info
  • Shame On US
    This book is one of the the most chilling I have read in some time. It makes the Watergate era look like child's play. Where was Congress? Where were men of stout heart and sober minds to combat the sick minds of Cheney,Addington,Yew, and others?
    Most importantly, the echoes of torture approved by these men of no conscience, men that believed that cruelty was both necessary and justified, will reverberate throughout the years to come. The story is yet to end....more info
  • A part of history we cannot undo.
    Military Prosecutor Darrel Vandeveld recognized the "stain of Guantanamo not simply on America's standing in the world, but as a part of history we cannot undo." (I'm not sure where I found this quote.)
    Mayer's book is the result of extensive research into records and interviews with persons who were present at various proceedings related to the Bush-Cheney torture of prisoners of war. It documents that the Abu Ghraib torture was a direct result of White House orders and not the actions of a few bad people at the bottom. The White House, Cheney in particular, ignored and "got rid of" the many lawyers in high government positions who disagreed with them about the legality of torture of prisoners of war, who refused to break the law. Some of the descriptions of torture as told by persons-at-the-scene are so gruesome that they are hard to read. Both torture and detention at Guantanamo without due process of law were ruled by the US Supreme Court to be unlawful. Bush-Cheney ignored the court. Even Rice, feeble in most cases, asked them to respect the court decisions. They refused. I'm no legal expert, but I know a little something about morality and human decency, and I believe there is enough evidence in this book and other sources to indict Bush-Cheney for war crimes. I'm opposed to the death penalty, but if there ever was a case where it might be justified, this is it.
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