Jack Goldsmith may not be a household name. But he was a key player in the post-9/11 battle over how much power the president should have in fighting terrorism. Hired in 2003 to run the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, Goldsmith was charged with advising the White House on the limits of executive power.
He quickly found himself butting heads with fellow conservatives and longtime friends over the Bush administration’s aggressive anti-terror policies, chiefly torture and warrantless wiretaps.
Goldsmith was even present at the dramatic hospital room showdown between Attorney General John Ashcroft and White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales and Chief of Staff Andy Card. Now a Harvard Law School professor, Goldsmith has written a new book, “The Terror Presidency” (W.W. Norton). In an interview with NEWSWEEK’s Daniel Klaidman, Goldsmith explains why he resigned after less than a year on the job, and why he stayed quiet after media reports incorrectly stated that he had helped craft legal justifications for domestic spying and torture—opinions that he actually fought against.