Summary and book reviews of How Would A Patriot Act? by Glenn Greenwald

How Would A Patriot Act?

Defending American Values from a President Run Amok

by Glenn Greenwald

How Would A Patriot Act? by Glenn Greenwald X
How Would A Patriot Act? by Glenn Greenwald
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  • Paperback:
    May 2006, 146 pages

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Book Summary

If we are to remain a constitutional republic, Greenwald writes, we cannot abide radical theories of executive power, which are transforming the very core of our national character, and moving us from democracy toward despotism. This is not hyperbole. This is the crisis all Americans—liberals and conservatives--now face.

In the spirit of the colonists who once mustered the strength to denounce a king, Greenwald invites us to consider: How would a patriot act today?

Glenn Greenwald was not a political man. Not liberal, not conservative. Politicians were all the same and it didn’t matter which party was in power. Extremists on both ends canceled each other out, and the United States would essentially remain forever centrist. Or so he thought.

Then came September 11, 2001. Greenwald’s disinterest in politics was replaced by patriotism, and he supported the war in Afghanistan. He also gave President Bush the benefit of the doubt over his decision to invade Iraq. But, as he saw Americans and others being disappeared, jailed and tortured, without charges or legal representation, he began to worry. And when he learned his president had seized the power to spy on American citizens on American soil, without the oversight required by law, he could stand no more. At the heart of these actions, Greenwald saw unprecedented and extremist theories of presidential power, theories that flout the Constitution and make President Bush accountable to no one, and no law.

How Would a Patriot Act? is one man’s story of being galvanized into action to defend America’s founding principles, and a reasoned argument for what must be done. Greenwald’s penetrating words should inspire a nation to defend the Constitution from a president who secretly bestowed upon himself the powers of a monarch. If we are to remain a constitutional republic, Greenwald writes, we cannot abide radical theories of executive power, which are transforming the very core of our national character, and moving us from democracy toward despotism. This is not hyperbole. This is the crisis all Americans—liberals and conservatives--now face.

In the spirit of the colonists who once mustered the strength to denounce a king, Greenwald invites us to consider: How would a patriot act today?

Chapter 1: American Devolution: 9
One Nation, Indivisible–Listening In–Reining in the Presidents–Pattern of Deceit–Unilateral Actions

Chapter 2: The Power of One: 38
The King and Yoo–Matter of Decree–The Case of the "Dirty Bomber"–Confessions by Waterboarding–Tortured Legislation

Chapter 3: "What Can't He Do?": 61
The Weight of the Law–In Defense of the President–"A Strong, Robust Executive Authority"

Chapter 4: Patriotism Beyond Politics: 72
The Right Hooks–All-American Blogosphere–Revolutionary Wisdom–The Youngstown Decision–"Oppressive and Lawless"

Chapter 5: Fear as a Weapon: 93
Be Very Afraid–Freedom Fighters–Life During Wartime–More Safe, Less Free

Chapter 6: Fate of the Union: 107
The Watergate Lesson–Nothing to Hide?–Muzzling the Media–America's Choice

Epilogue: 125
Acknowledgments:...

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Left wing groups are embracing Greenwald as their own and right wing groups accuse him of selling out. However, it really does seem that Greenwald is genuinely non-partisan - he does not criticize Republicans nor, for that matter, praise the Democrats. His focus is simply on an administration that he sees as operating in clear contradiction of, not only America's laws, but also the core values that define America. Whatever your political persuasion, this book is worth a second glance..continued

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Media Reviews

Author Blurb Joseph Wilson, Former U.S. ambassador author of The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife's CIA Identity
All citizens, regardless of political party, should be concerned by the issues he raises. Well worth the time to read.

Author Blurb Markos Moulitsas, Founder of Daily Kos and co-author of Crashing the Gate: Netroots, Grassroots and the Rise of People-Powered Politics
Often reducing complex legal issues into language anyone can understand, Glenn shows why he's one of the smartest and most important new voices to emerge in politics in years.

Author Blurb Arianna Huffington, Editor, Huffington Post
No matter your political persuasion, this book is a must-read for all Americans who believe the Constitution must remain the law of this land — and a refreshing reminder that there is more than one way to be an American patriot.

Author Blurb John W. Dean, former Nixon White House counsel and author of Conservatives Without Conscience
Greenwald has gathered solid information and marshaled a litany of abuses of power that make Richard Nixon's imperial presidency look timid. All thinking Americans must answer How Would A Patriot Act? this coming election, and those who ignore what Greenwald has to say act at our collective peril.

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Beyond the Book

Glenn Greenwald is a Constitutional law attorney, and author of the political blog, "Unclaimed Territory." He has written for American Conservative magazine and appeared on a variety of television and radio programs, including C-Span's "Washington Journal," Air America's "Majority Report" and Public Radio International's "To the Point." His reporting and analysis have been credited in The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, Salon, Slate and a variety of other print and online publications.
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