How Would a Patriot Act?: Defending American Values from a President Run Amok

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Working Assets, 2006 - Political Science - 128 pages
27 Reviews
Glenn Greenwald was not a political man — neither liberal nor conservative. To him, the U.S. was generally on track and would remain forever centrist. But all that has changed.

Over the past five years, a creeping extremism has taken hold of our federal government, which threatens to alter our system of governing ourselves and our national character. This extremism is neither liberal nor conservative, but is driven by the Bush administration's radical theories of executive power. Greenwald writes that we cannot abide these unlimited and unchecked presidential powers if we are to remain a constitutional republic. Because when you answer to no one, you're not a president — you're a despot.

This is one man's story of being galvanized into action to defend his country, and his concise and penetrating analysis of what is at stake for America when its president has secretly bestowed upon himself the powers of a king.

From 9/11 to the question of nuclear war in Iran, Greenwald shows how Bush's claims of unlimited power play out. In the spirit of the colonists who once mustered the strength to denounce a king, Greenwald asks: how would a patriot act today?

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Of all the scathing indictments of the Bush administration, this book may be the most so. Not hysterical at all, no knee-jerk liberal reactionary, constitutional lawyer Glenn Greenwald lays out in a jam-packed-with-information 128 pages (I used 68 page markers in all on this book, well more than my usual 50 or so for a book twice that length) exactly how and why this administration is the most lawless ever to hold office. Not only are they lawless, he shows, but they are attempting to fundamentally alter our system of government through a pattern of deceit and unilateral decision-making. Completely bypassing or ignoring laws such as FISA, by eavesdropping (something no one has a problem with) without a warrant (something MANY people have a problem with), anti-torture legislation, etc., the administration is putting forth a theory of the Constitution, laid out in black and white by administration attorney John Yoo, that the President has UNLIMITED authority in matters of national security. Thus, he can do, quite literally, ANYTHING he wants if he deems it necessary to national security, and cannot be checked by either of the other two branches of government. This includes the ability to lock up American citizens, without a hearing of ANY KIND, nor access to legal representation, FOR LIFE. Therefore, under this theory, if the courts make a decision, or Congress passes a law, he can simply ignore it - it does not apply to him. There have been at least two instances of American citizens being jailed for years at a time without access to courts - and when challenged by others, they simply punt - in one case, charging the individual with an unrelated crime to what he was jailed for and insisting that the challenge to Bush's authority was now moot, and in the other, simply forcing the person to renounce his citizenship and setting him free. There is really no way of knowing how many others are in this situation.
This is dangerous stuff, and Greenwald does an excellent job of laying out before the reader how exactly the administration is doing this, I can only encourage all persons of liberal, moderate, or non-authoritarian conservative bents to read this book. The one criticism I have would be that there are no footnotes, but all of these items have been reported by major media at one point or another, and are easily uncovered with a simple google search.
While Greenwald barely mentions impeachment in this book, the implication is clear - this President has openly admitted committing what amount to high crimes and misdemeanors.

Review: How Would a Patriot Act? Defending American Values from a President Run Amok

User Review  - Dagan Toombs - Goodreads

This is a very good book that gives a slightly outdated pre-Snowden account of intelligence and the War on Terror. It should have a four star rating, but I gave it three because there are no citations ... Read full review



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About the author (2006)

Glenn Greenwald is a constitutional law attorney and author of the political blog Unclaimed Territory

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