Power Wars

The Relentless Rise of Presidential Authority and Secrecy


By Charlie Savage

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Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Charlie Savage’s penetrating investigation of the Obama presidency and the national security state.

Barack Obama campaigned on changing George W. Bush’s “global war on terror” but ended up entrenching extraordinary executive powers, from warrantless surveillance and indefinite detention to military commissions and targeted killings. Then Obama found himself bequeathing those authorities to Donald Trump. How did the United States get here?

In Power Wars, Charlie Savage reveals high-level national security legal and policy deliberations in a way no one has done before. He tells inside stories of how Obama came to order the drone killing of an American citizen, preside over an unprecendented crackdown on leaks, and keep a then-secret program that logged every American’s phone calls. Encompassing the first comprehensive history of NSA surveillance over the past forty years as well as new information about the Osama bin Laden raid, Power Wars equips readers to understand the legacy of Bush’s and Obama’s post-9/11 presidencies in the Trump era.


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A Note on Sources and Quotations

This history of national-security legal policymaking in the Obama administration is primarily based on my interviews with more than 150 current and former government officials, many of whom I spoke with on multiple occasions. Where possible, I cite these officials by name. Most of them agreed to speak with me on "background" rules, meaning that I would not identify them as sources of particular information. I sought to corroborate accounts by cross-referencing their memories and claims with multiple witnesses.

Power Wars also quotes internal government documents that are not, as of this writing, available for public scrutiny. Where possible, I cite publicly available sources, including leaked or declassified documents, congressional testimony, oversight reports, court files, memoirs, and contemporaneous news articles.

Finally, this book contains dialogue from private conversations and meetings. I use italicized text to signal remarks that have been reconstructed, from memories or notes, in approximate form. This practice extends to reconstructed dialogue I have drawn from former officials' memoirs, witnesses' testimony about previous events, and other journalists' work.

Selected Members of the Obama National Security and Legal-Policy Team

Keith Alexander—National Security Agency director, 2005–2014

James Baker—Justice Department intelligence counsel, 2001–2007; associate deputy attorney general, 2009–2011; Federal Bureau of Investigation general counsel, 2014–

David Barron—Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel acting assistant attorney general, 2009–2010

Robert Bauer—White House counsel, 2010–2011

Preet Bharara—United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, 2009–

Joe Biden—vice president, 2009–

Dennis Blair—director of National Intelligence, 2009–2010

John Brennan—White House counterterrorism adviser, 2009–2013; Central Intelligence Agency director, 2013–

Lanny Breuer—Justice Department Criminal Division assistant attorney general, 2009–2013

Valerie Caproni—Federal Bureau of Investigation general counsel, 2003–2011

John Carlin—Justice Department National Security Division assistant attorney general, 2013–

Ashton Carter—secretary of defense, 2015–

James Clapper—undersecretary of defense for intelligence, 2006–2010; director of National Intelligence, 2010–

Hillary Clinton—secretary of state, 2009–2013

James Cole—deputy attorney general, 2011–2015

James Comey—Federal Bureau of Investigation director, 2013–

Gregory Craig—White House counsel, 2009

James Crawford—Joint Chiefs of Staff legal counsel, 2007–2011

Rajesh De—National Security Agency general counsel, 2012–2015

Martin Dempsey—chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 2011–2015

Mary DeRosa—National Security Council legal adviser, 2009–2011

Thomas Donilon—White House deputy national security adviser, 2009–2010; national security adviser, 2010–2013

Brian Egan—National Security Council legal adviser, 2013–

Neil Eggleston—White House counsel, 2014–

Daniel Fried—State Department envoy for Guantánamo closure, 2009–2013

Robert Gates—secretary of defense, 2006–2011

Glenn Gerstell—National Security Agency general counsel, 2015–

Richard Gross—Joint Chiefs of Staff legal counsel, 2011–

Chuck Hagel—secretary of defense, 2013–2015

Avril Haines—National Security Council legal adviser, 2011–2013; Central Intelligence Agency deputy director, 2013–2015; deputy national security adviser, 2015–

Todd Hinnen—Justice Department National Security Division deputy assistant attorney general (and sometimes acting head), 2009–2011

Eric Holder—attorney general, 2009–2015

Jeh Johnson—Department of Defense general counsel, 2009–2012; Homeland Security secretary, 2013–

James Jones—White House national security adviser, 2009–2010

Nathaniel Jones—Justice Department National Security Division counsel to the assistant attorney general, 2009; National Security Council director for counterterrorism, 2009–2012

Elena Kagan—solicitor general, 2009–2010

Neal Katyal—principal deputy solicitor general (and sometimes acting head), 2009–2011

John Kerry—secretary of state, 2013–

Edwin Kneedler—deputy solicitor general, 1993–

Harold Koh—State Department legal adviser, 2009–2013

Caroline Krass—National Security Council deputy legal counsel, 2009–2010; Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel principal deputy assistant attorney general (and sometimes acting head), 2011–2014; Central Intelligence Agency general counsel, 2014–

David Kris—Justice Department National Security Division assistant attorney general, 2009–2011

Martin Lederman—Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel deputy assistant attorney general, 2009–2010

Michael Leiter—National Counterterrorism Center director, 2007–2011

Paul Lewis—Defense Department envoy for Guantánamo closure, 2013–

William Lietzau—National Security Council deputy legal adviser, 2009–2010; deputy assistant secretary of defense for rule of law and detainee policy, 2010–2013

Robert Litt—Office of the Director of National Intelligence, general counsel, 2009–

Loretta Lynch—United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, 2009–2015; attorney general, 2015–

Neil MacBride—United States attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia (and chairman of the Terrorism and National Security Subcommittee of the Attorney General Advisory Committee), 2009–2013

Mark Martins—Justice-Defense detainee-policy task force codirector, 2009; Office of Military Commissions chief prosecutor, 2011–

Denis McDonough—foreign policy adviser to Senator Obama, 2007–2008; National Security Council chief of staff and head of strategic communication, 2009–2010; deputy national security adviser, 2010–2013; White House chief of staff, 2013–

Mary McLeod—State Department principal deputy legal adviser, 2010–(and acting head, 2013–)

Daniel Meltzer—deputy White House counsel, 2009–2010

Lisa Monaco—associate deputy attorney general, 2009–2011; Justice Department National Security Division assistant attorney general, 2011–2013; White House counterterrorism adviser, 2013–

Robert Mueller—Federal Bureau of Investigation director, 2001–2013

Michael Mullen—chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 2007–2011

Janet Napolitano—Homeland Security secretary, 2009–2013

Barack Obama—president, 2009–

David Ogden—deputy attorney general, 2009–2010

Matthew Olsen—Justice Department National Security Division deputy assistant attorney general, 2006–2009; Guantánamo detainee-review task force director, 2009; associate deputy attorney general, 2010; National Security Agency general counsel, 2010–2011; National Counterterrorism Center director, 2011–2014

Leon Panetta—Central Intelligence Agency director, 2009–2011; secretary of defense, 2011–2013

David Petraeus—United States Central Command commander, 2008–2010; International Security and Assistance Force in Afghanistan commander, 2010–2011; Central Intelligence Agency director, 2011–2012

Stephen Preston—Central Intelligence Agency general counsel, 2009–2013; Department of Defense general counsel, 2013–2015

Benjamin Rhodes—foreign-policy speechwriter to Senator Obama, 2007–2008; deputy national security adviser for strategic communications and speechwriting, 2009–

Susan Rice—ambassador to the United Nations, 2009–2013; White House national security adviser, 2013–

John Rizzo—Central Intelligence Agency principal deputy general counsel (and often acting general counsel), 1998–2009

Kathryn Ruemmler—principal associate deputy attorney general, 2009; deputy White House counsel, 2010–2011; White House counsel, 2011–2014

Virginia Seitz—Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel assistant attorney general, 2011–2013

Clifford Sloan—State Department envoy for Guantánamo closure, 2013–2014

Robert Taylor—Department of Defense deputy general counsel, 2009–

Karl Thompson—Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel acting assistant attorney general, 2014–

Donald Verrilli Jr.—associate deputy attorney general, 2009–2010; deputy White House counsel, 2010–2011; solicitor general, 2011–

Michael Vickers—undersecretary of defense for intelligence, 2011–

Andrew Weissmann—Federal Bureau of Investigation general counsel, 2011–2013

Brad Wiegmann—Justice-Defense detention-policy task force codirector, 2009; principal deputy assistant attorney general, Justice Department National Security Division, 2009–

J. Douglas Wilson—interrogation and transfer-policy task force director, 2009; and assistant United States attorney for the Northern District of California

Lee Wolosky—State Department envoy for Guantánamo closure, 2015–

Sally Yates—deputy attorney general, 2015–

  PART I  

OBAMA'S 9/11


The Captive

1. Aboard Flight 253

It was about half past eleven on December 25, 2009—a quiet Christmas morning. The administration of President Barack Obama, the constitutional lawyer who had risen to power on a message of change from the tumultuous era of President George W. Bush's "global war on terror," was not yet a year old. The new president was vacationing in his native Hawaii, and his national security legal-policy team were scattered to their own homes as an event that would reshape their story began to unfold.

Around ninety-two hundred feet above the surface of the earth, Northwest Airlines Flight 253, an Airbus A330 bound from Amsterdam to Detroit, approached the border between Canadian and American airspace. Inside, one of the two hundred and ninety people aboard, a Nigerian passenger named Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, stood up from seat 19A, next to the window looking out onto the aircraft's right wing.1 Three days earlier, the young man—a banker's son who had studied in Britain and was fluent in English—had marked his twenty-third birthday. Now, he was preparing to die.

Abdulmutallab rummaged through the carry-on bag stashed in the overhead bin a row behind his seat, found a Ziploc of toiletries, and carried it down the aisle to the bathrooms at the rear of the plane.2 Inside one of the cramped compartments, he methodically washed his face, brushed his teeth, and dabbed on cologne.3 Then, considering himself purified, he walked back to his seat, past dozens of the strangers whom he intended to kill.

Abdulmutallab believed he was about to commit an act of jihad and martyrdom. This would be "retaliation," in his word, for the United States' support of Israel in its "killing of innocent and civilian Muslim populations in Palestine," as well as for America's "killing of innocent and civilian Muslim populations in Yemen, Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan and beyond, most of them women, children, and noncombatants."4 The innocent passengers on the plane who would die if his suicide bombing was successful were nearly all noncombatants too, and they included many women and children. But Abdulmutallab dismissed them all as "collateral damage" in a war between the United States and Islam.5 It was a misuse of the term, since he was deliberately targeting them and a civilian aircraft. But the term was also heavily loaded from its frequent invocation by the American government in its excuses for the civilian casualties that resulted incidentally from its missile strikes targeted at Islamist militants—when the United States acknowledged those strikes and bystander deaths at all.

At 11:38 a.m., Flight 253 was passing over Lake St. Clair, which lies along the international border northeast of Detroit, and was about nine thousand feet above the ground. Muttering to a nearby passenger that he did not feel well and wanted to sleep a bit before they landed, Abdulmutallab slumped back in his seat and draped a thin airline blanket over his head and body. Concealed beneath it, he said his final prayers to himself and then pulled down his cargo-style pants.

His underwear, which he had been wearing for days, was curiously bulky—like a toddler's pull-up Pampers. But the extra padding was not intended to absorb. Sewn into pouches were packages of chemicals known by the abbreviations TATP and PETN, the latter a prime ingredient in plastic explosives. The idea, conceived by a bomb maker in Yemen, was to ignite a chemical fire that would detonate the TATP, which would in turn trigger a far more powerful PETN blast—a compound bomb that used no metal parts and so was undetectable at a routine airport-security checkpoint. The plane would be blown open in midair.

Abdulmutallab unwrapped the tape from a plastic syringe, inserted its tip into the seam around the TATP pouch, and pushed the plunger.

2. Change and Continuity

At that moment, six time zones to the west, the dawn had not yet broken over the highly guarded Hawaiian compound where Obama and his family were staying. Campaigning for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, then–Senator Obama had sharply criticized many of the national security policies that Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney had put in place following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Claiming that a president's power as commander in chief trumped legal constraints in wartime, the Bush-Cheney administration had authorized Central Intelligence Agency interrogators to torture detainees in secret overseas prisons. It had declared that the Geneva Conventions did not protect wartime prisoners captured in Afghanistan, some of whom it held without trial at the American navy base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. It had directed the National Security Agency to wiretap on domestic soil without the court orders required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). In the campaign and in his early days as president, Obama had vowed to chart a new course.

"To overcome extremism, we must also be vigilant in upholding the values our troops defend, because there is no force in the world more powerful than the example of America," Obama had said a year earlier as part of his first address to a joint session of Congress, in February 2009. "And that is why I have ordered the closing of the detention center at Guantánamo Bay and will seek swift and certain justice for captured terrorists, because living our values doesn't make us weaker. It makes us safer, and it makes us stronger. And that is why I can stand here tonight and say without exception or equivocation that the United States of America does not torture."6

But if Obama's words had seemed clear, his actions proved to be murky. In his first weeks as president, Obama had already started to assemble an ambiguous record on the security state he had inherited from Bush. He banned torture—but his new CIA chief said the agency would continue to use extraordinary rendition, the practice of seizing terrorism suspects and transferring them to the custody of third countries for questioning outside the criminal process, relying on diplomatic assurances that they would not be mistreated. He promised greater transparency—but his Justice Department had already twice reasserted the state secrets privilege to block pending lawsuits, one involving CIA torture practices and the other challenging the National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance program. He ordered the prison at Guantánamo closed—but his cabinet nominees had testified in their confirmation hearings that it was, nevertheless, lawful for the military to imprison al-Qaeda suspects without trial under the laws of war. He closed the CIA's black-site prisons—but the CIA's drone strikes in Pakistan had continued. And he halted Bush-era military commission trials at Guantánamo—but he left the door open to potentially reviving them after an overhaul of the rules, and he later did just that. In short, having promised change, the new president seemed to be delivering something more like a mere adjustment—a right-sizing—of America's war on terror.

As Obama's team was still drafting that first address to a joint session of Congress in early February 2009, I called the White House and said I was planning to write about what appeared to me to be a surprising degree of continuity between Obama's emerging national security legal policies and those he had inherited from Bush. I asked if I could speak with someone about it. Obama's new White House counsel, Greg Craig, invited me to his office in the West Wing. I had first met Craig in the summer of 2008 at a launch party for a book about the CIA torture program, The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals, by Jane Mayer of the New Yorker. With a shock of white hair, a ruddy face, and an energetic manner, Craig had been President Bill Clinton's defense lawyer during the Monica Lewinsky impeachment scandal, but his first love was foreign policy and national security issues. When many people had thought Senator Hillary Clinton was a lock for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, Craig was among those who broke with the Clintons to become an early and senior campaign adviser to Senator Barack Obama. He had hoped to be made secretary of state, but when Obama gave Clinton that job, Craig ended up as White House counsel instead. During the transition, he had been a key force in drafting Obama's executive orders banning torture, directing the CIA black-site prisons to close immediately and the military prison at Guantánamo to close within a year.

Our appointment was for the afternoon of February 13—a brisk, sunny, windy day. I walked down from the New York Times' Washington Bureau office past the statues and trees of Lafayette Square to the White House visitors' gate on Pennsylvania Avenue, which has been closed to vehicles since the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. Outside the fence, nine protesters wearing orange prison-style jumpsuits and black hoods stood with signs reading Shut Down Guantánamo and Free the Uighurs, a reference to some Chinese Muslims at the military prison who had been brought to Guantánamo by mistake and were stuck there because there was no good place to send them. Several months later, the Obama administration would badly mishandle an attempt to find a solution for the Uighur problem, damaging Craig's standing in the White House.

Inside the West Wing, a press aide ushered me up winding stairs to Craig's corner office. Denis McDonough, the chief of staff and head of strategic communications for the National Security Council, joined us. McDonough had been Senator Obama's top foreign-policy adviser and would later be his fourth White House chief of staff. But as we sat around a coffee table, he let Craig do most of the talking. Craig made no apologies for any disconnect between the expectations created by Obama's campaign rhetoric and his early governing decisions. He told me how during the transition after the election, the incoming Obama team had visited the CIA and spent extensive time talking with incumbent managers of Bush-Cheney administration intelligence and military programs. They were going to be slow, careful, and deliberate before enacting changes, he said. The Obama team's decision-making process about what to do with the counterterrorism structures Bush had bequeathed to them, he added, was not "shoot from the hip. It is not bumper sticker slogans."7

Following the interview, I drafted a story reporting that despite the early flurry of high-profile executive orders on issues like torture, "the Obama administration is quietly signaling continued support for other major elements of its predecessor's approach to fighting Al Qaeda," which was "prompting growing worry among civil liberties groups and a sense of vindication among supporters of Bush-era policies."8

The Times printed the story on an inside page, but it attracted widespread attention on the Internet thanks in part to a lengthy column written about it by Glenn Greenwald, then a prominent Salon blogger on civil liberties and secrecy issues. I had corresponded with Greenwald since 2006, when he took an interest in articles I had written about Bush's use of signing statements to claim a right to bypass new laws; in 2013, Greenwald would evolve from a commentator into a journalist after the former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden leaked him archives of top secret documents about surveillance programs. Back in February 2009, Greenwald highlighted my story as interesting but respectfully disagreed with my analysis, writing: "While believing that Savage's article is of great value in sounding the right alarm bells, I think that he paints a slightly more pessimistic picture on the civil liberties front than is warranted by the evidence thus far (though only slightly)."9 But six months later, Greenwald had changed his mind: "In retrospect, Savage was right and I was wrong about that: his February article was far more prescient than premature," he wrote in July 2009.10

Indeed, what Obama's recalibration would add up to was subject to wildly divergent early interpretations. As Obama's first year wound on, some Bush-Cheney administration veterans, notably Cheney himself, focused on what had changed. They accused Obama of not really believing the country was at war with al-Qaeda and said he was making the country less safe. But other conservatives and Republicans focused on what had stayed the same. They crowed that Obama had vindicated the Bush-Cheney administration, revealing that much of the Democratic criticism of the previous president—including Obama's own campaign rhetoric—had been empty partisanship.

On the other end of the spectrum, some liberals and Democrats also focused on those things that had changed. While celebrating Obama's departures from Bush policies, they also tended to accept what was staying the same, changing their minds about policies they had opposed when Bush instituted them because Obama now said those policies were necessary and they trusted him more. But other liberals, like the American Civil Liberties Union, pointed to the places of continuity and accused Obama of betraying his promises. An anti-Obama left began to take shape, denouncing Obama for institutionalizing and normalizing aspects of the Bush-era security state by creating bipartisan consensus over what had previously been subjects of dispute. This movement would join forces with libertarians on the right, as the anti–Big Government sentiments that had been quiet under Bush reemerged within the Republican Party now that a Democrat was president.

None of these views, of course, reflected what Obama and his legal team understood themselves to be doing. During my early meeting with Craig, Obama's top lawyer insisted that the new administration's early signs of caution about changing some Bush policies should not be interpreted as meaning that Obama had embraced Bush's view of his powers or the world.

"We are charting a new way forward, taking into account both the security of the American people and the need to obey the rule of law," Craig said. "That is a message we would give to the civil liberties people as well as to the Bush people."

3. The Underwear Bomb

Ten months after that meeting, when Abdulmutallab injected the chemicals into the bomb hidden in his underwear, Mike Zantow was sitting just behind him in row 20.11 For the past decade, Zantow had been working abroad as a military contractor for DynCorp International, supervising the repair of U.S. Air Force equipment being used in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was now returning home to visit his sick mother. Zantow later recalled that he had heard a "large pop" like a "very large firecracker." It was not immediately clear where the sound had come from. The whole plane grew quiet as everyone tried to figure out what was happening. Then, after about half a minute, the passenger sitting next to Abdulmutallab cried out, Hey, dude, your pants are on fire! A flight attendant hurried up to investigate and the man reiterated, This guy's pants are on fire! Zantow looked over the seat back and saw smoke rising from Abdulmutallab's "lap area between his legs." The Nigerian man appeared numb and displayed no awareness of what must have been searing pain.

The passengers pulled the passive Abdulmutallab out of the seat—Zantow grabbing his right arm—and laid him flat on his back on the floor of the aisle, exposing the burning and bulky underwear. As people screamed in panic and confusion throughout the aircraft, several passengers tried to smother the flames on his body, one of them using a hat, but the chemical fire needed no oxygen and blazed on.


  • A New York Times Editors' Choice

    Named one of the best books of 2015 by ABC News and The Guardian

    "Offers a master class in how to think seriously about crucial aspects of the [war on terrorism]. ... comprehensive, authoritative ... anyone truly interested in foreign policy or national security should find it essential and enthralling, thanks to the author's intelligence, objectivity, legwork and literary skill. ... Savage's superb book should stand as an indispensable guide to the debate."—Gideon Rose, New York Times Book Review
  • Power Wars "will almost certainly stand as the most comprehensive account of the Obama administration's policies, views, theories and bureaucratic battles over national security laws and the legacy of the 2001 attacks. His account is thoughtful and consistently fair-minded... no small achievement."—James Mann, New York Times
  • "Both the most comprehensive and the most engrossing look at how Obama morphed from a candidate beloved by the civil liberties community into what many saw as a continuation of George W. Bush...could not be more timely."—Trevor Timm, The Guardian
  • "The most essential explanation of modern-day American national security policy.... Anyone who has followed current events on drone strikes, surveillance, and encryption, and other essential issues at the forefront of modern America--and wants the entire inside baseball play-by-play to go with it--will love this book."—Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica
  • "Delves deeply into the nooks and crannies of every significant national security debate touching on the intersection of national security and law. The product of prodigious research and interviews with seemingly every player, Savage's book provides a revealing picture of the inner workings of the Obama presidency."—Gabriel Schoenfeld, The Weekly Standard
  • "The book has much broader appeal than to those in the national security law bubble... [Deeply sourced] is an understatement, as Savage reveals the contents of never-before released documents, memos, and internal deliberations across a variety of topics."—Cully Stimson, Lawfare
  • "Over the years, Savage has become one of the most knowledgeable and tireless reporters chronicling the civil liberties and war powers controversies under the Obama administration. ... Savage has written a book that will clearly be the comprehensive historical account of these controversies."—Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept
  • "A rich blow-by-blow account of how and why the Obama administration determined the legality of its war-on-terrorism policies."—Jack Goldsmith, The New Rambler
  • "It is hard to imagine many journalists capable of writing a book on this topic on the scale, and with the ambition, of this one."—Robert Bauer, Time
  • "The value that Savage brings to his book is in reporting out how Obama's lawyers, who were often the toughest critics of Bush when they were out of power, wrestled with and ultimately sanctioned this retrenchment."—Eli Lake, Bloomberg View
  • There is "no more comprehensive guide to today's debates over national security and civil liberties."—Dina Temple-Raston, The Washington Post
  • "The most comprehensive account to date of the Obama administration's approach to national security law and policy-making."—Matthew C. Waxman, Time
  • "Extraordinarily comprehensive."—Marty Lederman, Just Security
  • Power Wars covers "in intricate detail nearly every major issue in Obama's national security policy: detainees, military commissions, torture, surveillance, secrecy, targeted killings, and war powers. Its behind-the-scenes story will likely stand as the definitive record of Obama's approach to law and national security. ... His main interest is presidential power in its perennial struggle with Congress and the courts. Ultimately, the stakes are high: whether we will continue to have, in John Adams's words, 'government of laws, and not of men.'"—David Luban, The New York Review of Books
  • Power Wars "offers a unique and thorough history of the American surveillance policy post-9/11, the inner machinations of the executive branch at the highest levels, the legal battles, the battling personalities, and the strange evolution from Bush to Obama in this critical area of law and policy ... As one who has studied and written about the Snowden phenomenon, I can't imagine a better, more total and fair inside history of that dramatic event."—Ronald Goldfarb, Washington Lawyer
  • "Already classic.... Savage's 700 page book, with access to a staggering 150 current and former top officials, including executive branch lawyers normally terrified of the press, paints a picture like no other."—Yonah Jeremy Bob, The Jerusalem Post
  • "Deserve[s] to be widely read, by the public at large and by those who will staff the next administration...Will stand among the definitive accounts of the United States' approach to national security and law over the past decade and a half."—Dawn Johnsen, Foreign Affairs

On Sale
Jun 27, 2017
Page Count
848 pages
Back Bay Books

Charlie Savage

About the Author

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Charlie Savage is a Washington correspondent for the New York Times and has been covering post-9/11 legal policy issues since 2003. A native of Fort Wayne, Indiana, he graduated from Harvard College and holds a master’s degree from Yale Law School. His first book, Takeover, a bestselling and award-winning account of the Bush-Cheney administration’s efforts to expand presidential power, was named one of the best works of 2007 by the Washington Post, Slate, and Esquire.

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