By Charlie Savage
In 1789, the Founders devised a system of checks and balances to keep kingly powers out of the hands of presidents. But in the 1970s and 80s, a faction of Republicans, outraged by the weakening of the presidency after Watergate and Vietnam, abandoned the traditional conservative suspicion of concentrated government power. These men hatched a plot that would allow the White House to wield enormous powers, operating behind a veil of secrecy and unchecked by Congress or the courts.Today's administration is bringing this project to fruition. TAKEOVER reveals the machinations behind the headlines and lays bare a hidden agenda three decades in the making, one that links warrantless wiretapping and Bush's judicial nominees, torture and Cheney's energy task force, the faith-based initiative and the imprisonment of citizens without trial. It tells the story of how a group of true believers, led by Cheney, set out to establish near-monarchical executive powers that, in the words of one conservative critic, 'will lie around like a loaded weapon' for any future president.