Creators Syndicate, Inc.September 17, 2007
"Never in the history of the United States had lawyers had such extraordinary influence over war policy as they did after 9/11." Those are the words of Jack Goldsmith, the Harvard law professor who was one of those lawyers, as head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel in 2003 and 2004. They appear in his book "The Terror Presidency," hailed as a criticism of the Bush administration's legal policies, which in part it is. Believing that some of his predecessor's opinions, particularly two on interrogation techniques, were "deeply flawed," he reversed them. He argues that the administration would have ended up with more latitude in fighting terrorism if it had worked with Congress to get legislation, even if those laws would not have been as expansive as the administration wanted. It's a serious argument, and he also presents fairly, I think, the opposing view that such restrictions would make it harder to protect the American people.