Under the leadership of Dick Cheney, Alberto Gonzales, the ever-confident John Yoo and others, the Bush Administration has not distinguished itself as a protector of civil liberties.
Now a former Bush legal advisor, Jack Goldsmith, is offering his own perspective on the Bush record. His book, The Terror Presidency, is just out. Based on reviews we've seen, it's a dismal legacy.
Today's New York Times, for instance, notes that Goldsmith entered the administration in 2003 "with sterling conservative credentials." Nevertheless, Goldsmith was alarmed to learn that many of the administration's counterterrorism policies were, in his own words, "rested on severely damaged legal foundations."
Ouch! But there's much more to worry about in Goldsmith's book.
One more example is suggestive: Goldsmith is "scathing," the Times reports, in recounting the administration's sidestepping of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Top Bush Administration officials, he writes, dealt with the act "the way they dealt with other laws they didn't like: they blew through them in secret based on flimsy legal opinions that they guarded so no one could question the legal basis for the operations."
Unlike the Bush team, Goldsmith is an actual conservative, not an ideologue. To his great credit, he wants to follow the rule of law and protect civil liberties.