Rogue Justice: The Making of the Security State


The definitive account of how America’s War on Terror sparked a decade-long assault on the rule of law, weakening our courts and our Constitution in the name of national security.

The day after September 11, President Bush tasked the attorney general with preventing another terrorist attack on the United States. From that day forward, the Bush administration turned to the Department of Justice to give its imprimatur to activities that had previously been unthinkable—from the NSA’s spying on US citizens to indefinite detention to torture. Many of these activities were secretly authorized, others done in the light of day.

When President Obama took office, many observers expected a reversal of these encroachments upon civil liberties and justice, but the new administration found the rogue policies to be deeply entrenched and, at times, worth preserving. Obama ramped up targeted killings, held fast to aggressive surveillance policies, and fell short on bringing reform to detention and interrogation.

How did America veer so far from its founding principles of justice? Rogue Justice connects the dots for the first time—from the Patriot Act to today’s military commissions, from terrorism prosecutions to intelligence priorities, from the ACLU’s activism to Edward Snowden’s revelations. And it poses a stark question: Will the American justice system ever recover from the compromises it made for the war on terror?

Riveting and deeply reported, Rogue Justice could only have been written by Karen Greenberg, one of this country’s top experts on Guantánamo, torture, and terrorism, with a deep knowledge of both the Bush and Obama administrations. Now she brings to life the full story of law and policy after 9/11, introducing us to the key players and events, showing that time and again, when liberty and security have clashed, justice has been the victim.


North American publisher: Crown Publishing Group

Foreing rights contact: Crown Publishing Group, Linda Kaplan (

Film rights contact: Gillian MacKenzie (


"Greenberg’s new book, Rogue Justice, takes on a challenging task: adding new insight to our understanding of the long-running legal battles surrounding the post-9/11 fight against terrorism. Those who have followed U.S. detention and interrogation, surveillance and targeting policies for the past 15 years have been spoiled by a bounty of rich journalistic accounts of the legal debates inside the government and out… But Greenberg has a wider ambition. She aims to assess the damage these practices have done to law in the United States. As she frames it, the picture is grim.....Given this stark framing, one might worry that what follows is a one-sided account. But Greenberg rightly tells a more nuanced story."—The Washington Post

“A terrifying history of American surveillance in the 21st century... The author fully explains the government's panicked motivation for permitting torture and secretly watching its own citizens. Yet the book's central question is timeless: once a government takes rights away, can they ever be restored? … A sophisticated study of executive tyranny in the never-ending war on terror.”—Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

"Rogue Justice is Karen Greenberg’s splendid new book about all the ways liberty was assaulted in America in the decade after the cataclysm of 11 September 2001...By connecting so many of the dots in the War on Terror, the author has made her own very important contribution."—The Guardian
“[Greenberg’s] attention to how seemingly minor changes can hobble longstanding constitutional protections recalls Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow…What Alexander's work illuminates for mass incarceration, Rogue Justice does for the national-security state, detailing the subtle and unsubtle power grabs that eroded U.S. commitment to the rule of law.”—Courthouse News Service

“There is nobody I would rather read than Karen Greenberg on the collision of public fears, core legal values and the insatiable demands of the national security state. Rogue Justice is no political tract. It is a measured, richly informed and gorgeously written narrative of well-meaning presidents, lawmakers, judges and bureaucrats who lost their bearings after 9/11. Greenberg knows these people. They are not cartoons to her. Many of them have passed through her New York policy salon, where Greenberg holds court over a revolving cast of soldiers, spies, cops, geeks, public officials and some of their fiercest critics. She is immersed in their worlds, yet uncaptured. Rogue Justice offers a behind-the-scenes tour that blends fresh insights with stories that we have not heard before.”—Barton Gellman, author of Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency

“In her indispensable book, Karen Greenberg documents the death of American liberty by a thousand cuts. In these times of dangerous fearmongering, she reminds us of how fragile American democracy is and why it is vital that we confront fear with courage, and stay true to our best principles.”—Katrina Vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of The Nation

Rogue Justice is the definitive account of the legal machinations behind the 'war on terror.' 9/11 America's top lawyers argued for and defended torture, mass surveillance and indefinite detention. Greenberg expertly guides us through the thicket of legal questions generated by the war on terror, laying out with great clarity the stakes involved and painting deft portraits of the key players who set the nation down a path we associate more with banana republics than with American ideals.”—Peter Bergen, author of United States of Jihad and Manhunt

Rogue Justice vividly tells a decade long story of how the US justice system and those entrusted to ensure the rule of law facilitated the birth and expansion of the post 9/11 security state.”—Richard A. Clarke, former National Coordinator for Security and Counter-terrorism; author of Cyber War

"Rogue Justice is a blistering indictment of the way that America’s leaders, steered by fear in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, retreated from the very principles on which the nation was founded. In clear, sober prose, Greenberg gives us a vital overview of the way that the administrations of Bush and Obama pursued, in growing secrecy, increasingly unrestrained executive power and weakened the Bill of Rights in ways that led to torture, targeted killings and mass surveillance. Thankfully, she also offers us profiles in courage of those mostly unsung heroes who resisted. It is a cautionary tale of the fragility of the rule of law, and a clarion call for all Americans to stand up to terror with the courage of our convictions.”—Alex Gibney, director of Taxi to the Dark Side and Going Clear

Rogue Justice reads like a well-honed argument delivered to a jury. Greenberg has wrestled complex questions of law and policy into a clear, compelling narrative that shows us how the United States abandoned its principles of justice and due process during the war on terror, and why we must fight to bring them back. A must-read for anyone who cares about the Constitution.”—Anthony Romero, executive director, ACLU

“9/11 changed America. This invaluable book shows how close we came to losing many of the basic principles that underlie our system of justice – and how much we still have to do to protect the basic principles that make our country a beacon for human rights.”—Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower and Thirteen Days in September

“Greenberg is one of our leading national security experts, and her book combines sweeping narrative with deep analysis, yielding a powerful history of the legal aspects of counterterrorism policy since 9/11. Rogue Justice is an unprecedented achievement that will change the way we think about the rule of law in this country.”—Ali Soufan, author of The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda