Mark Danner is Chancellor’s Professor of English and Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley and James Clarke Chace Professor of Foreign Affairs and the Humanities at Bard. His most recent book is Spiral: Trapped in the Forever War. (November 2016)
All American elections tend to be touted as historic, for all American culture tends toward the condition of hype. Flummoxing, then, to be confronted with a struggle for political power in which, for once, all is at stake. We have long since forfeited the words to confront it, rendering superlatives threadbare, impotent.
Observe the celebrity known as Donald Trump saunter onto the stage at Boca Raton, twenty minutes after his helicopter swoops in. The slow and ponderous walk, the extended chin, the pursed mouth, the slowly swiveling head, the exaggerated look of knowing authority: with the exception of the red “Make America Great Again” ball cap perched atop his interesting hair the entire passage is quoted whole cloth from the patented boardroom entrance of The Apprentice.
The Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Torture: Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program
by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
Mark Danner has been writing in these pages about the use of torture by the US government since the first years after September 11, 2001. Following the release in December 2014 of the Senate’s report on the CIA torture program, Hugh Eakin spoke to Danner for the New York Review …
From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider’s Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War
by Robert M. Gates
As I had told President Bush and Condi Rice early in 2007, the challenge of the early twenty-first century is that crises don’t come and go—they all seem to come and stay. —Robert M. Gates Early 2007: American troops are pinned down in the fourth year of a losing …
If you want to be loved, you know, go be a movie star. —Dick Cheney, in The World According to Dick Cheney I came upon the half-destroyed truck atop a highway overpass outside Fallujah, the cab all shot to hell, the trailer bloodstained and askew, propped at a crazy …
Almost exactly a decade ago, Vice President Dick Cheney greeted President George W. Bush one morning in the Oval Office with the news that his administration was about to implode. Or not quite: Cheney let the president know that something was deeply wrong, though it would take Bush two more days of increasingly surprising revelations, and the near mass resignation of his senior Justice Department and law enforcement officials, to figure out exactly what it was.
No turning back would be a good slogan for Dick Cheney. His memoirs are remarkable—and he shares this with Rumsfeld—for an almost perfect lack of second-guessing, regret, or even the mildest reconsideration. Decisions are now as they were then. If the Mission Accomplished moment in 2003 seemed at the time to be the height of American power and authority, then so it will remain—unquestioned, unaltered, uninflected by subsequent public events that show it quite clearly to have been nothing of the kind. “If I had to do it over again,” says Cheney, “I’d do it in a minute.”
One of the main findings of the Senate investigation of the CIA’s torture program was not simply the abuse, or the law-breaking, or the moral reprehensibleness of it. It was that there was a fundamental corruption of governance, in which the CIA persistently lied, not only to Congress but to the executive branch to which it ostensibly reported.