Thursday, June 16, 2016

Karen J. Greenberg's "Rogue Justice"

Karen J. Greenberg is the Director of the Center on National Security at Fordham University. 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.

Greenberg applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Rogue Justice: The Making of the Security State, and reported the following:
There is no page 99 in Rogue Justice, as that is the break between the ending of Part I which describes the immediate panicked responses to 9/11, and the beginning of Part II, the discovery of the secret policies and the reactions of officials and the public. Browsers who usually use the 'page 99 test' might flip forward to page 101 where you would find..."The justices of the Supreme Court were not alone in having misgivings about the president’s power grab.”

2004 was a pivotal year in the war on terror – at least at the outset. Early in the year, lawyers in the Department of Justice discovered the secret memos that had been written in 2001 and 2001 by John Yoo, a young lawyer a the DoJ’s Office of Legal Counsel. Yoo’s memos authorized unprecedented presidential power when it came to surveillance, detention, and torture. Jack Goldsmith, who came in as head of the Office of Legal Counsel in late 2003, balked at the existence of these memos which stretched the law in some instances, and misrepresented it or violated it outright in others. Along with other lawyers at DoJ, including the current director of the FBI, Jim Comey, Goldsmith tried on the one hand to avoid a policy vacuum and on the other to avoid illegality.

In late spring 2004, the photographs from Abu Ghraib prison set in motion a public airing of the programs that the memos had created. Weekly, documents authorizing torture began to appear in public, including DoJ memos authorizing the use of torture against detainees. While officials scrambled to deny the torture program, the lawyers at DoJ saw the surveillance authorities that had been granted to be even more egregious than the torture memos – and potentially damaging to many more lives and people, including Americans.

That summer, Goldsmith quietly resigned, having revoked one of the torture memos, and having set in motion the process that would eventually remove some control of surveillance from the White House. In the months to come, the push to reform would be largely negated; new memos authorizing torture were written – and, as Snowden would later reveal, unprecedented, broad surveillance practices continued. In November, 2004, President Bush was re-elected despite the revelations of torture, and in a vacuum of public knowledge about surveillance. It was a missed moment in reversing the war on terror’s legal excesses, one that would not come again until the election of President Obama.

This 99 page test definitely works for this book, introducing the question of how hard it would be to fix what was so quickly and thoroughly broken. It is a turning point in the book, standing at the crossroads between the building blocks of rogue justice and the many attempts, from inside government and outside of it, to right what had gone wrong.
Learn more about Rogue Justice at the publisher's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Least Worst Place.

--Marshal Zeringue