This is a kind of bleg, I guess: I recently finished reading Jane Mayer’s The Dark Side: the Inside Story of How The War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals, and it’s a pretty disturbing book. Now, there’s no question that Mayer has an agenda, and that that agenda leads her to structure the narrative in ways that point rather crudely to Pretty Good Guys (e.g., Jack Goldsmith) and Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Guys (Dick Cheney and David Addington). And she occasionally relies on unnamed sources. But if you take all of that away, and see the book only as an anthology of information in the public record — newspaper articles, interviews with named figures, books by former Bush administration officials, government documents, and so on — it’s still a convincing demonstration of how certain high-ranking leaders ignored international law and overturned decades (even centuries) of American practices towards enemy combatants.
Yet I have seen almost no response to this book in the conservative press. What’s up with that? The Dark Side has been reviewed in most major newspapers and magazines, but not from any of the conservative organs I’ve seen. Have I missed something? And if not, what are we to make of this silence? Do conservatives think Mayer’s book is so bad that it’s unworthy of response? (If so, they’re wrong.) Are they just trying to avoid acknowledging uncomfortable truths, and would prefer not to think about what the Bush administration has done in prosecuting its war on terror? Or — perhaps the most interesting possibility — do they agree that Mayer has accurately described the administration’s actions but simply judge those actions very differently, as necessary and even commendable responses to the Islamist threat?
P. S. Please note that my question here does not concern whether the Bush administration has acted wisely or unwisely, but rather why conservatives seem to have been so silent about this otherwise much-discussed book.