Kill or Capture: The War on Terror and the Soul of the Obama Presidency
by Daniel Klaidman
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 288 pp., $28.00
Power and Constraint: The Accountable Presidency after 9/11
by Jack Goldsmith
Norton, 311 pp., $26.95
How should we assess President Obama’s first term as a national security president from the standpoint of civil liberties and the rule of law? While he has continued to employ tactics traditionally associated with war—military detention, killing, and war crimes trials—he has sought to reconcile those practices with the rule of law that George Bush rejected. Where he has fallen short is not in fighting al-Qaeda, but in fighting his critics at home, and in failing to embrace the obligations of transparency and accountability so central to democratic legitimacy.
'Obama and Terror' September 27, 2012