The NYT has posted a lengthy article-interview of Jack Goldsmith by Jeffrey Rosen, to appear in next week's NYT Magazine.
Now Goldsmith is speaking out. In a new book, “The Terror Presidency,” which will be published later this month, and in a series of conversations I had with him this summer, Goldsmith has recounted how, from his first weeks on the job, he fought vigorously against an expansive view of executive power championed by officials in the White House, including Alberto Gonzales, who was then the White House counsel and who recently resigned as attorney general, and David Addington, who was then Vice President Cheney’s legal adviser and is now his chief of staff. [...]
Goldsmith told me that he has decided to speak publicly about his battles at the Justice Department because he hopes that “future presidents and people inside the executive branch can learn from our mistakes.” In his view, American presidents for the foreseeable future will, like George W. Bush, face enormous pressure to be aggressive and pre-emptive in taking measures to prevent another terrorist attack in the United States. At the same time, Goldsmith notes, everywhere the president looks, critics — as well as his own lawyers — are telling him that pre-emptive actions may violate international law as well as U.S. criminal law. What, exactly, are the legal limits of executive power in the post-9/11 world? How should administration lawyers negotiate the conflict between the fear of attacks and the fear of lawsuits?
In Goldsmith’s view, the Bush administration went about answering these questions in the wrong way. Instead of reaching out to Congress and the courts for support, which would have strengthened its legal hand, the administration asserted what Goldsmith considers an unnecessarily broad, “go-it-alone” view of executive power. As Goldsmith sees it, this strategy has backfired. “They embraced this vision,” he says, “because they wanted to leave the presidency stronger than when they assumed office, but the approach they took achieved exactly the opposite effect. The central irony is that people whose explicit goal was to expand presidential power have diminished it.”