April 5, 2010
Just Books at the Brennan Center and Wills's Bomb Power
The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law launched a new feature called Just Books. The site contains book reviews of books related to constitutional law, author interviews, links, and the like.
One of the author interviews now on the site is with Garry Wills, author most recently of Bomb Power: The Modern Presidency and the National Security State.
Here's a short excerpt from the interview that also summarizes the thesis of the book:
Wills: After most wars, emergency powers are recanted, sometimes by the Supreme Court, which, for example, essentially said "well, it was understandable you broke the law, suspended habeas corpus, or interned Japanese Americans." But after World War II, in the national security area, the state of emergency continued. And the emergency power not only continued, they increased on the model of the Manhattan Project.
Most people don't remember the Manhattan Project as illegal through and through. Yet it was. It broke the Constitution, statutes, the military chain of command. It used unauthorized monies. It spied on American citizens and foreigners. It set out to kill Werner Heisenberg in Europe. It did all the things the CIA later do, and nobody recanted that.
We went from the emergency of the war to the emergency of the Cold War, and now into the emergency of the War on Terrorism.
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Fallout Zone is the title of the interview, not the book!
There's a nice review of Wills's book by Stephen Holmes in the London Review of Books (8 April 2010): http://www.lrb.co.uk/v32/n07/stephen-holmes/salute
Like Wills himself in a recent essay for the NYRB, I use the foreign policy of the Obama Administration to argue for the plausibility if not persuasivenss of his thesis here: http://www.religiousleftlaw.com/2010/03/the-national-security-state-and-the-presidency.html
Posted by: Patrick S. O'Donnell | Apr 5, 2010 4:23:20 PM