licensed-to-lie-bookSidney Powell’s Licensed to Lie: Exposing Corruption in the Department of Justice is a disturbing, enlightening, and superbly presented exploration of one of the most dramatic and chilling accounts of injustice in American judicial history. Written with the skill of a novelist, the keen eye of a memoirist, and the passion of an early American pamphleteer, Powell takes us on a journey through an institutional landscape created to protect the innocent and punish the guilty transformed into a house of “legal” horrors, the framing of an innocent man, the concealing and altering of evidence, the ignoring of the law, the flouting of political power, the constant display of an ego-driven desire to win at all costs, even if the result is the devastation of a  good a family who must have felt stunned by the despotic evilness of a government suddenly and completely in charge of their lives.

As dark and disheartening as it is, there is a lesson here that should be taught in every civics class—the greatest human ideal of Justice is only as good as the character of those who administer it, existing only if its guardians are devotees to integrity and fairness.

And yet in all this frustration and anger, there manages to remain a ray of hope. For ultimately this book becomes the unintentional profile of a  courageous and strong woman determined to fight through the corruption, cronyism, vindictiveness,  amoral egos, and repeated miscarriages of justice in order to free the light of truth from the dark place in which it had been deliberately hidden—and then let that light purify the wrongness of an inquisitional institution “once upon  time” imagined as the one absolute certainty on which all Americans could rely, a certainty that’s supposed to reflect the national conscience of America.

But is this one case enough to assure us?  What about the little guys, the poor and meek and disadvantaged who have no one to champion their causes? How many of them have suffered and are now suffering helplessly?

As Judge Sullivan concluded, “In nearly twenty-five years on the bench, I’ve never seen anything approaching the mishandling and misconduct that I’ve seen in this case:  shocking, disturbing.”

Michael Adams, Ph.D. University Distinguished Teaching Associate Professor of English, Interim Director, James A. Michener Center for Writers, University of Texas, Austin

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