Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist explores Obama administration’s national security issues in latest book

Claire Allbright

Charlie Savage, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, spoke about his latest book, “Power Wars: Inside Obama’s Post-9/11 Presidency,” on Monday afternoon.

Savage said the purpose of the book is to explore the Obama administration’s national security policies by interviewing 150 current and former officials, accessing new documents and using examples to illustrate these themes.

Savage spoke about the ways in which the Obama administration differs from the previous Bush administration — evidenced in Obama’s stated desire to close Guantanamo Bay prison. Savage said Obama’s administration is comprised of lawyers and deals with rule of law issues and makes decisions based on these issues.

“Like everything, it is complicated,” Savage said. “In general, he is the lawyer-in-chief, too. His interests are driving and shaping this deliberative process. However, I have unearthed several instances where he adopted legal interpretation in a way that was … expedient to solve the problem in front of him.”

Bobby Chesney, law professor and director of the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law, said Savage is one of the nation’s leading journalists of national security policy and that it is important for students to hear the results of his work.

“At the end of the day, this is the world that our graduates are coming into,” Chesney said. “Longhorns are going to go off and become future presidents, future government lawyers, future military leaders, future leaders of civil liberties organizations and a host of other jobs in which these issues will matter.”

Although not studying the foreign policy issues Savage addressed, Peter Sarasohn, graduate student in the LBJ School of Public Affairs, said he did not want to miss the opportunity to hear the distinguished journalist.

“One of the great advantages of the Lyndon Johnson school … is that we bring in a lot of very impressive people to give talks on complicated issues,” Sarasohn said. “The chance to listen to a reporter with so much experience dealing with these complicated national securities and civil rights and civil liberties issues is not something I wanted to pass up.”

Chemical engineering freshman Teresa Wang bought Savage’s book Monday because she said she is interested in politics.

“I’ve always been kind of interested in these kinds of political ideas and arguments, and I haven’t actually gotten too into any of these and looked too much into it, so I figured this might be a good start,” Wang said.