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Book Review, "The Dark Side" Jane Mayer's Gripping Analysis of the Quest for Actionable Intelligence

December 29, 2011 | Comments: 0 | Views: 158

The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals [Soft cover]

by Jane Mayer

432 pages, $15.95

ISBN-13: 978-0307456298

Nonfiction

When nineteen hijackers took possession of four airliners and flew planes into American buildings, the world was forever changed on September 11, 2001. While America mourned its loss, the Commander-in-Chief pledged from an elementary school in Florida, "Terrorism against our nation will not stand."

In the aftermath of this tragedy, America's war on terror began. Admittedly, those tasked with gathering intelligence to prevent future attacks on America faced an ominous task. Suspects were everywhere - the salient issue became: how does one get cogent information in a timely manner? Could interrogators go too far when trying to gather information?

Jane Mayer, in a gripping analysis of the dark side of the intelligence business, portrays Bush's administration on a quest to subvert future attacks against America. In shocking detail, she characterizes an insatiable drive to make terror suspects talk. Sadly, it is apparent that legal maneuverings were pursued to bring American interrogators to the edge of legally torturing individuals to obtain actionable intelligence. Unfortunately, after allowing such atrocities as sensory deprivation and the now infamous water boarding techniques, very little sound intelligence was ever developed.

Interestingly, Mayer demonstrates that the White House was all too aware that it was skirting on the edge of legal disaster. Its employment of extralegal wrangling, through strategically drafted internal memos, actually sanctioned forms of torture to extract information from suspects. According to the author, the legal determinations of what constituted "pain" or "suffering" arose from administration lawyers who were content to grapple with peoples' lives in a political power struggle.

Mayer sees this descent away from criminals' rights for the travesty it is. Devaluation of any human life is a short journey away from the ideals upon which this country was founded. Perhaps our resolve to discover information through "approved" torture has only alienated future generations of Arab youth and empowered them to dream of unspeakable atrocities they can perpetuate on our servicemen. More to the point, does the sanctioning of interrogation by any means possible open the doorway to limit freedoms of citizens of the United States who find themselves peripherally associated with terrorism?

Time will indicate if members of the former administration will answer criminally for what has transpired. Hopefully, America has learned that a tortured terrorist will admit to almost anything.

Review by Steven King, MBA, MEd

http://booksatthebeach.blogspot.com

http://about.me/booksatthebeach

Source: EzineArticles
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