Today's subject is Garry Wills, a visitor to the Free Library of Philadelphia's Central Library last night to talk about his new book, Bomb Power: The Modern Presidency and the National Security State.
Wills says the American presidency arrogated for itself extraordinary powers amid the Manhattan Project, then kept those powers once the emergency of World War II had passed. The results include extraordinary secrecy, disrespect for the Constitution, the undermining of Congress, "the era of undeclared war, presidential war," and the development of a massive national security apparatus not at all times zealous about the truth.
Unlike the other 300 million Americans, Wills worries about the institution of the presidency, rather than about this Democrat or that Republican, and here's where a crime fiction or thriller plot suggests itself: A president takes office and finds out from his national security apparatus about secret, perhaps dirty projects around the world. He tries to end them. What happens?
© Peter Rozovsky 2010