Because Ideas Matter...
The faculty and staff of Butler University's College of Liberal
Arts and Sciences presents
The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War
on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals
by Jane Mayer, Doubleday 2008
Reviewed by William Watts
Mayer's book is important, and will be of
interest to anyone who is concerned about the health of our
Drawing on a series of articles she published in the New Yorker,
Mayer knits together into one compelling narrative the interlocking
stories of aggressive interrogation methods used at Guantanamo, the
abuses at Abu Ghraib, extraordinary rendition, Supreme Court
rulings protecting the rights of prisoners, and Congressional
efforts to outlaw torture.
The good news in Mayer's account is that many patriotic
Americans tried along the way to stop our descent into becoming a
nation that tortures. The bad news is that the defenders of human
rights and our Constitution almost always lost.
Mayer is very careful both in documenting the actions she
recounts, and in drawing conclusions about those actions. It is
very hard to read this book, however, and escape the conclusion
that Dick Cheney and David Addington, his former legal counsel,
have, at the very least, failed to keep their pledge to preserve
and defend the Constitution, and it seems likely that George W.
Bush and Alberto Gonzales are also culpable.
In a season when Sarah Palin can declare, casually, that
"Al-Qaida terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on
America" and Senator Obama is "worried that someone won't read them
their rights," we should all be deeply concerned about the culture
of torture and abuse documented in Mayer's book.
- William Watts is associate professor of English at Butler