This book is awesome. Awesome, awesome. Not only do I strongly agree with most of the author's arguments, but he was able to convince me on a couple of topics I hadn't thought too much about.
James Bovard is a guy I've mentioned several times before - usually in very adulatory tones. This is actually the first book of his that I've read, and I wasn't disappointed.
This book is so good, I've decided to blog the entire thing, just a paragraph or two (with links) from every chapter of the book. I only want to offer a taste of the book - not trying to kill sales. It's scary trying to find an 'anti-Bush book' that is not 'just another anti-Bush book'. According to the book jacket text, 'Bovard presents a detailed analysis from a conservative and libertarian perspective'. This, alone, separates Bovard from most of the other anti-Bush books out there - and some would say the criticism is more damning since it's coming from a conservative perspective - one that Bush is supposed to represent.
I've not read too many political books, but this one stands out for its insane amount of footnotes. I mean, it seems like almost every sentence in the book has a footnote next to it, documenting the source of the information contained in that sentence. For instance, Chapters 2, 3, and 4 have 102, 63, and 54 footnotes, respectively. And while many of the footnotes are from articles from major news outlets like The New York Times, The Washington Post, etc., many others include books and all sorts of government reports - many of which I promise you've never heard of. Bovard reads them all. The dude is ridiculous. To have all these sources of information so readily available in the back of the book is just awesome. To have someone like Bovard who enjoys research just a little too much - to pour through these myriad documentary artifacts is awesome. Now, if it was on the web - with hyperlinked footnotes - well, that'd be just paradise. I'll be able to offer a taste with these chapterly excerpts.
Chapter 1 -- Introduction
Bush is dropping an iron curtain around the federal government. The Bush administration is hollowing out the Freedom of Information Act, making it more difficult for citizens to discover government actions and abuses. Bush invoked executive privilege to block a congressional investigation into the FBI's role in mass murder in Boston and in framing innocent men for those murders. The Supreme Court tacitly endorsed the Bush doctrine that the feds may carry out mass secret arrests and suppress all information about the roundup (including names of those detained, charges, and detail on prison beatings).
This paragraph, strangely enough, doesn't have any footnotes - in part because we're still in the introduction, I figure, but also because this is just a high-level overview of the case that Bovard is going to lay out, with specifics, over the next 16 chapters. I've linked the text from articles I found using Google's News search.
That 'mass murder' thing up there still surprises me. I hadn't paid much attention to that when I first read it. But Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., remembers it. Check out what Burton said after Bush invoked executive privilege, stepping on Burton's toes:
"This is not a monarchy.... We've got a dictatorial President and a Justice Department that does not want Congress involved.... Your guy's acting like he's king."
And Burton's a partisan Republican! This quote makes him sound like a card-carrying member of the ACLU! That's what Bush's extremism can do - radicalize people. That should be Bush's re-election tagline: Radicalizing Muslims abroad and Republicans at home since 1991.
Check out the entire first chapter for free here.
Rep. Henry Waxman's (D-Cal.) office put together an 81-page report on Bush's secrecy policies.
(Notice anything about the picture on the book cover?)