I have just finished reading a remarkable book, “How Would a Patriot Act?” by Glenn Greenwald. What I found so remarkable – and so refreshing – about this book is that it presents a clear, concise, and non-partisan analysis of the way that George Bush has chosen to wield the power of the executive office.
Greenwald is a constituational lawyer, and an avid scholar of the Constitution both as a document as well as its history. He presents a clear and cogent analysis using the Constitution and the Federalist Papers as his main source material, with some additional references from other writings of the founding fathers and a few supreme court decisions. I am a staunch believer in the Constitution of the United States, and I often consult my copy of The Federalist Papers whenever I have a question about how a particular law or action of the government ought to be judged. So Greenwald’s methodology strikes a resonant chord with me.
This book is not just an excellent analysis – it’s also a great read. Like only a handful of lawyers (John Grisham and Vincent Bugliosi come to mind) he has the gift of prose. I could not put this book down, and found myself reading almost the entire 125 page book in a single sitting. How Would a Patriot Act is a true page-turner. It harkens back to good old investigative journalism, the type we haven’t seen since the days of Watergate. And yet… every single item in the book can easily be found on the Internet. There are no secrets here, just plain talk.
Here’s a quote from the concluding pages of the book that sums up the premise neatly:
We now have a president who is claiming the power to break our laws and to act without any checks of any kind from the Congress, the courts, or the citizens. He and his administration have said this repeatedly and expressly; and they are not just mouthing words; they have acted on them repeatedly. They have broken our laws and exercised against American citizens precisely the powers our Constitution is designed, at its core, to prevent.
Another element that Greenwald writes clearly about is the use of fear and terror by the Bush administration to govern. This has always been the aspect of the Bush presidency that has angered me the most: preying upon our natural fears and desire for safety in order to cement his power.
Let me take this opportunity to state something clearly: I am not afraid of terrorists. I am angry at them. I can not and will not live my life in fear. What angers me the most about George W. Bush is that he gave the terrorists exactly what they wanted: our freedom. “Give me liberty or give me death“, Patrick Henry famously said. And Benjamin Franklin later wrote “Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither”. Those quotes sum up my views succinctly. King George is ruling by using terror as a weapon, as a justification, and as a way of life.
Read this book. How Would a Patriot Act? by Glenn Greenwald. It’s an absolute must, one of the best books I have read in a long while. And if, like me, you find this book compelling, educational, and though-provoking, check out Glenn Greenwald’s always-excellent blog Unclaimed Territory.