It's no longer news that the Bush Administration is cavalier about the law and civil liberties. Thanks to Dick Cheney, David Addington and John Yoo, Bush and his minions have bent the rules whenever and wherever it suited their purpose.
Nevertheless, it is more than a little alarming to see the extent of the Bush secret surveillance program. Reporter Eric Lichtblau does just that in a his book Bush's Law: The Remaking of American Justice, just out from Pantheon Books.
In a New York Times book review published this week, attorney Jeffrey Rosen writes that Lichtblau's book "documents, with scrupulous detail, the broader costs of the Bush administration's excesses for innocent victims and for the rule of law."
Some 2,700 men were locked up after 9/11, Rosen notes, most of whom were never shown to have links to terrorism.
Some examples from Lichtblau's research: Taj Bhatti, an elderly Pakistani doctor in Virginia, "whose house and computer discs were surreptitiously ransacked and who was secretly imprisoned…."
There's also Brandon Mayfield, a former Army officer whose who was secretly (there's that word again) searched and who was arrested in connection with the Madrid train bombing. Only one problem: the whole business was based on a mistaken fingerprint match. (Mayfield eventually won an apology from the government, along with a $2 million settlement.)
The extent of the administration's zealousness doesn't stop there. Lichtblau also reveals how the Bush team retaliated against its critics, including Lichtblau himself.
Thanks to Lichtblau and fellow reporter James Risen, the public now knows that, in Rosen's words, "the president and his aides approved a secret eavesdropping program that many of his own lawyers thought was illegal, lied about it to the press and public and then attacked the journalists who disclosed it."