Jeffrey's Reviews > The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals

The Dark Side by Jane Mayer
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Aug 11, 08

bookshelves: current-events, over-rated-you-can-skip, war
Read in August, 2008

The Dark Side by Jane Mayer

This is the critically acclaimed book recently released by Jane Mayer. The critics love this book so much because it is a simply reiteration of leftist gospel about the war on terror. This book contains little new information and definitely shares a tired cliched point of view that has be the norm for liberal writers for the last several years. If you wanted an easy summation of the book, it would be very easy - Cheney is evil. That is the entire subtext of an infuriating book that has been embraced by the usual suspects in the media.
Countless pages are given to the authors thesis that Cheney is a paranoid tyrant that is illegally pushing torture in the War on terror. She even states that torture is now the law of the land. No where does she allow for an intelligent look at what is torture and why there is disagreement to not only the definition but the possible usefulness. The tone of the book is given through the opening quotes to each chapter. Mayer seems to like to quote the Church Committee without picking up the irony that it was that very committee that has destroyed the effective intelligence gathering of the CIA.
As is usual with this sort of book, the author lionizes the same "good" Bush people against the "bad Bushies". Powell is again seen as a saint serving amongst evil. To say that this has become tiring is more than trite. To say that Mayer's book has no heroes would be a disservice, for she has found one person in the war on terror to give enormous benefit of the doubt. Too bad that person was john Walker Lindh, "the American Taliban". Throughout the chapter she devoted to Lindh, she accepts his version of events - even going as far to say that he was merely learning Arabic and Koran, never mentioning that one does not need to go to Afghanistan under a brutal regime to do that. Even if you felt the need to depart these shores there are countless countries that offer such courses without going to a regime known for committing atrocities against women and other faiths. She also hinted that fallen agent Mike Spann, killed while Lindh was being captured, may have been a war criminal - yet never in the book does she speak of why groups such as al Quada and and the Taliban should be excluded from usual POW status, citing their refusal to act according to those same conventions.
The Dark Side is a highly partisan book that merely acts like an echo of those before it. No new ground is examined here. There is no real merit to the book, which is sad, for I was looking for an intelligent look at we have gotten here, but no look that excludes Congressional failure, lying media and the political manipulations of anti-war Democrats can provide the honest and full assessment that so many want. If Mayer gave as much benefit to Bush that she did to John Walker Lindh, the work would benefit very much.
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Comments (showing 1-21 of 21) (21 new)

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message 1: by Dan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dan Lowe I thought Dick Cheney was treated quite well, actually. Rather than being posed as a power-abusing neo-fascist, he was portrayed as simply a deeply concerned patriot -- often disturbingly flawed in his decisions, but ultimately acting in what he believed to be right for his country.

And what use is including a dialogue about the pertinence of torture in a book when Washington went without one when shaping its official policies?

She's clearly arguing that utilizing torture harms the image of the United States -- a fact that the aforementioned policy makers validate by at least trying to deny that what they're practicing is actually torture. Including a digression into the potential 'benefits', regardless of their effect on the country -- which is what she cares about -- seems like it would be a bit out of place, no?


Justin I thought about responding, but it's clear that if Jeffrey actually read the book, he didn't comprehend a single word.

"The critics love this book so much because it is a simply reiteration of leftist gospel about the war on terror."

Once somebody uses the phrase, "Leftist Gospel", you know they aren't diving into a book with an open mind.

"If you wanted an easy summation of the book, it would be very easy - Cheney is evil. That is the entire subtext of an infuriating book that has been embraced by the usual suspects in the media. "

The book goes into more detail on Cheney than I've seen anywhere else. It doesn't go out of its way to paint him as evil, merely lists examples in his past that show what some would call paranoia, others would call a hypersensitivity to national security issues. It'd be nice if Cheney felt he had an obligation to perform his role in our government with just a little transparency, but since he doesn't we're going to have to keep turning to "leftist gospels" to find out what he's been up to. And it's true, to anyone who has a concern for civil libertarian issues, that he's been up to no good.

As for "the usual suspects in the media", I can't imagine how comfortable it makes you feel to blame a profession for the fall of the right, a movement that used to include people like me--people who believed in individual rights, a limited role for government in our personal life, and smaller government--but now, it's torture, a total disregard for the constitution, etc.

Mayer's book goes into amazing detail. For someone to so flippantly review it makes me not question her work, but question their seriousness in reading it.


Jeffrey Then Justin, you do not read very much. There have been some major works on Cheney that do not begin with a dishonest recounting of the last eight years. Mayer has written a waste of time and you blindly follow...


Justin 1124350 Just because we disagree, you claim I'm blindly following an author I wouldn't even recognize in a crowd? Just because we disagree, you say I don't read much? Come on. Be serious. I know--based on your flimsy review of this very thorough work--that you like to dismiss opposing viewpoints without seriously engaging their arguments, but this is just self-parody.

Provide me with some book titles. I'd be more than willing to read some.


Jeffrey Cheney by Stephen Hayward for one. War and Decision by Douglas Feith for an insiders look at the war. Mayer did not have access to papers nor did she interview many that disagreed with her. Her rousing tribute to Powell and Armitage early in the book betrayed her bias, she carried on with the most one sided collection of "facts" this side of Howard Zinn.

I had looked forward to the book, I wanted a fair assessment, this was not even close to fair nor was it meant to be, as we all now from her publicity tour.

I find it hard to take you serious. if you had read anyother books on the subject not from the same point of view, or knew the characters more than the satire provided by the media, you would see how damaged this book really is. Ask yourself this, if this was groundbreaking or extraordinary in its conclusions, we would have heard more about it. As it stands now, this is just another in a long line of crappy journalism trying to be more than it is, a hacks account of the war.


Justin "Ask yourself this, if this was groundbreaking or extraordinary in its conclusions, we would have heard more about it. "

Uhm... I have. Many of the accounts in this book have been publicized elsewhere.

"I find it hard to take you serious. "

Look, I'll give up on commenting with you because you're only interested in making assumptions about what it is I do or do not know, and what it is I do or do not read, based on virtually no information. That reflects pretty poorly on you, not me or anyone else.


Jeffrey Really, you accused me of not understanding the work. I counter that if you HAD read others you would see the problem. You then ask for books which I then gave you. You then take quotes out of context. I am not a Bushie, but I tire of the media hackery and those that cannot tell the difference between good research and shoddy partisan dreck.

I am sorry if your feelings are hurt.


Justin You cited books written not by independent journalists, but by close friends, coworkers, and fellow neoconservatives! And you're going to tell other people they need to read less biased sources with a straight face?

Mayer probably is a liberal. But I haven't heard you pointing out any factual errors in her work. You just don't like what she has to say. I could cite a lot of factual errors made by Feith, Cheney and company. Starting with WMDs.


Justin "Really, you accused me of not understanding the work. "

Because you don't show any understanding of it. You hate it not because it's untrue (you haven't pointed out where it's factually incorrect), but because it had things to say that you, a lonely fat man who uses phrases like "leftist gospel", were pre-programmed to ignore.

"I counter that if you HAD read others you would see the problem. You then ask for books which I then gave you."

One of your books was written by Douglas Feith, a long-time friend of Dick Cheney who has been implicated in falsifying intelligence to link Saddam Hussein with Al-Q. He's a hero in the neoconservative movement, but nobody else takes him seriously. He isn't qualified to write an objective book about his close friend.

The other book was written by Steven (with no PH) Hayward, a fellow at the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute. Look, I'm all for reading differing viewpoints, but the Neoconservative movement (led by former Trotskyists! No, seriously, I wish I were joking) has no credibility left with anyone. They were wrong on everything. EVERYTHING! for Christ's sakes.

Knowing what I already know about the authors you cited, and their preexisting special relationships with Dick Cheney, I'd imagine they do have a lot more information on the man. But I have serious doubts as to whether anything they say could possibly be considered objective journalism.

You strike me as one of those people who gets off on being a contrarian. Everyone tells you you're wrong, so you just think that makes you more right. Well, sometimes, you're just wrong.


Jeffrey And you do seem to be the idiot I took you for, showing once again I have impeccable first instincts. I do not aim to make a litany of her "facts" since so much of her book is emotive assumptions of motive. She places evil motives on people she has never met nor interviewed. She is no independent Journalist, just another leftist hack.

As for Feith, his book was highly footnoted and linked. Not a lot of emotion based polemics to be found there.

For the record, I doubt you know what a Neo-Con is, so quit mimicking the big boy leftists.


Justin You're adorable!

"I do not aim to make a litany of her "facts" since so much of her book is emotive assumptions of motive."

Ahh, dismiss the whole work with a sentence. Thanks for not disappointing me.

"She places evil motives on people she has never met nor interviewed. She is no independent Journalist, just another leftist hack."

SHE TREATS MY FRIENDS UNFAIRLY! I DO NOT LIKE HER! BUT I CAN'T OFFER SPECIFICS BECAUSE MY FAT FEELINGS ARE HURT!

Sorry, this is all you're worth to me now: Insults and mindless entertainment. I hope someone else gets a kick outta this too.

"As for Feith, his book was highly footnoted and linked. Not a lot of emotion based polemics to be found there. "

I'm sure he wasn't afraid to take on one of his best friends either! I'm sure he has lots of disagreements with him on issues such as the imperial Presidency, foreign policy, and... Oh, wait. They're clones? Ahh, Hell.

"For the record, I doubt you know what a Neo-Con is, so quit mimicking the big boy leftists. "

I know it's neither new nor conservative. Most of the prominent neocons started out as revolutionary trotskyist types--and they didn't stray far from there. Neoconservatism--that poison ideology which has gotten the GOP right where it is today--is a belief that America is inherently exceptional, and that she can use her military power to change the world in wonderful ways. Bringing Democracy to countries that have never known it, for example. As for domestic and economic issues, it has nothing to say at all. In fact, most neoconservatives flat-out ignore anything happening within our borders, unless it can be described as a "sleeper cell."

Like most neoconservatives (not all, but certainly close), you strike me as one of those people who doesn't have the guts to fight in the wars that you support. You probably wouldn't meet the physical fitness requirements anyway.


Justin On a serious note, you don't have to be a "leftist hack" to oppose extraordinary rendition, violent and illegal torture (not just illegal under international laws, but our very own), and a paranoid, excessively secretive executive branch.

You just have to be a decent person.


Jeffrey For some one all high and mighty, you have called me fat twice, now I am not disagreeing with you on that, but you are an idiot of epic proportions. I am not a Neo-conservative - I have never been a Commie, yet you seem to be a current member. Or are you of the Pat Buchanan Nazi experiment. Either way, your sudden reach at insulting me based on my looks shows you to be a horse's ass.

Go on, read the drivel of Mayer and you and your "friends" can smoke whatever has damaged your thought centers and blame Bush.


Justin "For some one all high and mighty, you have called me fat twice, now I am not disagreeing with you on that, but you are an idiot of epic proportions."

And you are simply of epic proportions. Ha ha.

"I am not a Neo-conservative - I have never been a Commie, yet you seem to be a current member."

HOW DID YOU KNOW!!??

"Or are you of the Pat Buchanan Nazi experiment. "

Pat Buchanan actually formed me in a test tube. I'm here to stop all the illegal immigrants and reanimate the corpse of Nixon so he can go back to being a speech writer. Though I do have a soft spot for Pat, since he was buddies with Hunter Thompson and he's part of a dying breed of conservatives.

"Either way, your sudden reach at insulting me based on my looks shows you to be a horse's ass. "

I would call you a horse's ass, but that would be one hell of a gigantic horse.

"Go on, read the drivel of Mayer and you and your "friends" can smoke whatever has damaged your thought centers and blame Bush. "

If I didn't have the lungs of a small girl, I'd take you up on that.


Jeffrey Decent person? Which international laws would that be? Could they be the ones that PROHIBIT non-uniformed combatants? Could it be the ones that make it illegal to target civilians? Are these the same laws that prohibit launching attacks from civilian centers? Things are not as Black and white as you want to believe. International law is never followed by our enemies, yet you want to tie them around our neck. You are the problem, not me.


Justin "Which international laws would that be? Could they be the ones that PROHIBIT non-uniformed combatants?"

So let me get this straight: If somebody shoplifts, I can steal their car? Hey, they broke the law, so it NO LONGER APPLIES TO ANYONE. You should be a lawyer. A bad one. But I do get a kick out of the fact that you think we shouldn't be any better than these terrorists.

"International law is never followed by our enemies, yet you want to tie them around our neck. You are the problem, not me. "

I am not the problem. Pat Buchanan is the problem. He made me. In all seriousness, I don't much care for international laws--except that when we don't follow them, neither does anyone else. But there are AMERICAN LAWS PROHIBITING TORTURE, you massively overweight buffoon. Nobody--not the President, his Vice President, or Nancy Pelosi--has the right to violate the laws of my Goddamn country, no matter what some fat lonely man on the Internet says.

Let me give you a hippy link that will spell it out for you in simple english. Sorry I couldn't find something written by a Neocon, but it turns out they don't give a rat's ass about our laws: http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/us_la...




Justin My name is Jeffrey. I am impeccable and of epic proportions. You are a communist who reads from the leftist gospel and therefore do not know how to read. You are all the idiots I took you for, you leftist hacks! You blindly follow the drivel of left-wing propagandists! One day, I will get other people to fight a war for me so I can establish a neocon DICTATORSHIP!

Fox News keeps wanting to compete with The Daily Show. They should just give you a half hour every day to act serious. As a bonus, I bet there's free catering, and maybe you can get one of those pretty blond anchors to whisper something naughty in your ear if you promise them a cabinet position in your imaginary universe.


Jeffrey "massively overweight buffoon"

Sir, you are an idiot. I am now bored with your less than stellar "thought".


Justin Sir, you are pretentious and take yourself far too seriously. I'm going to go bang my hot wife now. Have fun masturbating to fantasies of Ann Coulter.


Jeffrey Your hot wife? That is your sister, dude...


Justin YOU ARE A CLEVER ONE AGAIN! Ha ha! She is totally my sister! She must be! We have the same last name! Ha ha! Seriously, half an hour, on Fox, you'll kill John Stewart in the ratings. You just pointed out to everyone on the Internet that I have sex with my sister! I have four brothers and no sisters--so maybe my wife is my brother then, no? HA HA! Oh my God! I am clearly engaging in hot, sweaty, illegal incest with all my siblings! I am so crazy!

But seriously, I'm outta here. If you're tired of Ann Coulter, I'm sure you can photoshop Michelle Malkin's face onto Dick Cheney's body.


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