Jessica's Reviews > With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful

With Liberty and Justice for Some by Glenn Greenwald
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's review
Oct 19, 2012

really liked it
Read in October, 2012

In 'With Liberty and Justice for Some,' Glenn Greenwald explores many systemic problems that have created an elite class in America. The elite class is comprised of those who write and enforce our laws and most people who write about the laws and how they are enforced. In other words, career politicians, corporate lobbyists, and journalists who cover the charade make up the American elite class. The elite can pay for luxuries that other Americans never will afford. The founding fathers would be embarrassed to know what their money can buy.

Greenwald takes on four major industries to illustrate American inequality. First, he explores the widespread illegal wiretapping of American citizens during the Bush Administration and the ability of the telecommunications sector to retroactively change legislation to ensure their immunity. Second, Greenwald studies torture. He discusses the inconsistency with which the Bush and Obama administrations applauded human rights and accused other countries of abusing war prisoners while regularly directing the American military to violate international treaties that prohibit torture. These stories made me cringe; it is beyond reason how anyone can authorize the manners in which our military tortures other human beings. Third, Greenwald turns to the banking industry and the financial crisis of 2008. Here, he really starts to dig into the inequality of the ruling elite and other Americans, telling stories of Americans whom the banks negligently and fraudulently kicked out of homes and left no remedial measures. Like his section on the telecommunications sector, Greenwald discusses the close relationship of members of Congress with the banking industry lobbyists. The fourth industry he confronts is American prison. With more Americans in jail during the past decade than ever before, the companies who operate our state and federal prisons are extremely well off financially. The common thread among these four industries is the ability with which they avoid any responsibility for wrongdoing. The elite class is immune from responsibility for their crimes, while most poor people in America have seen the inside of a jail cell because of petty crimes and insufficient legal defenses.

Though Greenwald focuses on these four industries and on the last decade in particular, he starts with James Madison, John Jay, and Thomas Jefferson. He cites many examples in the Federalist Papers and the Constitution about our founding fathers' goal to establish a national framework based on a rule of law and not a rule of men. He also points to former President Ford's decision to pardon former President Nixon after Nixon resigned from office. Greenwald uses Ford's pardon of Nixon as a catalyst that solidified the creation of a corrupt elite class that rarely must take responsibility for its crimes. He often repeats the oft-heard political mantra of looking forward instead of looking back as a way in which politicians avoid investigating wrongdoing and enforcing punishments against those who they have replaced.

The following is pretty clear: Glenn Greenwald is cynical about the direction America has been going and appears to be headed. That said, Greenwald is a phenomenal writer who cites all of his research. Despite his cynicism, I believe this book can instill courage in Americans to make this country a better place and I highly recommend that you read it.
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