Sunday, June 3, 2018

the last book I ever read (A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership by James Comey, excerpt six)

from A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership by James Comey:

Goldsmith and Philbin had shared their concerns with the White House—where the president’s counsel, Alberto Gonzales, and the vice president’s counsel, David Addington, were the primary contacts. Of the two, Addington was the dominant force. He was a tall, bearded lawyer with a booming voice that showed just a hint of a southern accent. In philosophy and temperament, he was a reflection of Vice President Cheney. He did not tolerate fools and had an ever-expanding definition of those who fit that category. After infuriating Addington by telling him the legal foundation of the program was falling apart, Goldsmith and Philbin then set about trying to convince Addington that I, the new deputy attorney general, should be told about—or “read into”—the Stellar Wind program so I could actually see what was going on.

Addington resisted this mightily. Since the program was conceived and authorized, he had succeeded in keeping the number of those who knew the details of the program to an absolute minimum—maybe a couple dozen throughout the U.S. government. Four people at the entire Justice Department had previously been read into the program, and that did not include my predecessor as deputy attorney general. On an activity of such profound importance, one that tested the limits of the law, that small circle was unusual if not unprecedented. Addington had even arranged to have the documents on the program held outside the normal process for presidential records. He—the vice president’s lawyer—kept the orders bearing the president’s signatures in a safe in his own office. Eventually, and only after considerable pressure, Addington relented and allowed me to be briefed.

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