In the fourth installment of this series I will cover the Vice President of the United States, Dick Cheney. For those just joining, here are the first three installments of The Usual Suspects:
Richard Perle, Michael Ledeen, and Stephen Bryen.
Dick Cheney has a long and illustrious career aiding and ultimately leading The Usual Suspects. While his political career started at roughly the same time as many of the Usual Suspects, unlike many of this gang, he didn’t get his start working for Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson. He started his career in politics working for Richard Nixon in 1969.
For those of us who lived in 1969, all that needs said is this was a man who was pro-Vietnam yet took 5 deferments because, as he was quoted in 1989: “I had other priorities in the ’60s than military service” and who then wanted to work for Richard Nixon.
For the rest of you: Meet Dick Cheney.
Of all Cheney’s deferments, the fourth and fifth ones are perhaps the most telling. After three deferments for being in college, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution meant being a college student wasn’t enough to avoid going to war. Being married could keep you home, however and so 22 days later, Dick Cheney married his wife Lynee. That kept him out of Vietnam for a while, but then, as Wikipedia explains it:
On October 6th, 1965, the Selective Service lifted its ban against drafting married men who had no children. On January 19th, 1966, when his wife was about 10 weeks pregnant, Mr. Cheney applied for 3-A status, the “hardship” exemption, which excluded men with children or dependent parents. It was granted. In January 1967, Cheney turned 26 and was no longer eligible for the draft.
Well, you do the math. On second thought, let me do the math. Cheney got his wife pregnant on or around the 10th of November, 1965. However, one might also note that their first daughter, Elizabeth, was born exactly 9 months and 2 days after the ban was lifted. Once all his other deferments would no longer keep him from going to war, he and Mrs. Cheney didn’t waste any time. Which is fine by me if you’re not at the same time supporting said war. Obviously, Cheney thought Vietnam was just dandy…for the other guy.
In his 1989 confirmation hearings to become Bush I’s Secretary of Defense, Cheney said
I would have obviously been happy to serve had I been called.
But back to 1969. Working for Richard Nixon, the man who said
when the president does it, that means it’s not illegal
Cheney was special assistant to the director of the Office of Economic Opportunity from 1969 to 1970. Yeah, who’da thunk it? Cheney working for the Office that oversaw Job Corps, Head Start and a great many of the programs of Johnson’s War on Poverty. Oh, wait, did I mention that the OEO was dismantled by Richard Nixon and most of its programs shipped off to other agencies? Guess that was one short lived war. I’m sure Dick Cheney “did his part.” He later voted against funding Head Start as a Representative of Wyoming in the 80’s. Oh, and by the way, guess who was the Director of the OEO at that time? Donald Rumsfeld.
And so it began.
As the Boston Globe reports:
The antipoverty agency, set up by Congress during the Johnson administration, was unpopular among conservatives, and Rumsfeld’s and Cheney’s job was to help Nixon impose greater political control over the office.
A chief target was the agency’s legal aid program, headed by Terry Lenzner. Now a private investigator, Lenzner said in a recent interview that the White House pressured him to fire lawyers who filed class-action lawsuits on behalf of the poor. But Lenzner said he could not fire them because of the way Congress had written the agency’s statute.
- “I was being told, ‘You have to put a stop to this, you have to control these lawyers,'” Lenzner recalled. “But I said that ‘If I do what you want me to do, it will violate the law.'”
The orders to fire lawyers, Lenzner said, came from other White House aides, not Rumsfeld or Cheney personally. Still, in November 1970, Rumsfeld summoned Lenzner to his office, and, with Cheney at his side, fired Lenzner because he was unwilling to follow orders.
Yep, that was one short war.
Under Ford, Cheney became the youngest White House Chief of Staff in history. An article in the Rolling Stone reported that
“Having turned Ford into their instrument, Rumsfeld and Cheney staged a palace coup. They pushed Ford to fire Defense Secretary James Schlesinger, tell Vice President Nelson Rockefeller to look for another job and remove Henry Kissinger from his post as national security adviser. Rumsfeld was named secretary of defense, and Cheney became chief of staff to the president.
More from the Globe shows us just how far Cheney would go to preserve unfettered presidential powers. When a 20 year CIA domestic spying program was revealed and Congress was in an uproar because the CIA had been opening mail, tapping phones and breaking into the homes of anti-war protestors:
In a memo to Ford, obtained at the Ford Presidential Library in Ann Arbor, Mich., Cheney urged the swift creation of a presidential commission to investigate the CIA. Cheney wrote that doing so was “the best prospect for heading off congressional efforts to further encroach on the executive branch”
The next spring, after revelations that the National Security Agency had monitored the phone calls of American civil rights and antiwar activists, Congress drafted legislation to require warrants for domestic surveillance. Cheney’s allies, including Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and then-CIA director George H.W. Bush, opposed such a bill as a derogation of presidential power.
And thus began FISA. So it should come as no surprise that Bush is ignoring FISA and domestic spying has once again become something an American president feels is within his presidential prerogative. Some dare call it tyranny.
In 1978, Cheney became a Representative for Wyoming. By 1988 he’d become the House Minority Whip. What happened during those years are most informative.
According to Sourcewatch
Mr. Cheney opposed the Equal Rights Amendment, is an anti-abortion advocate, and supports prayer in school. While serving in Congress, he was one of 21 members opposing the sale ban of armor-piercing bullets; was one of only four to oppose the ban on guns that can get through metal detectors; opposed sanctions against the apartheid-era South Africa in the mid-1980s along with voting against a resolution calling for the release of Nelson Mandela; voted for a constitutional amendment to ban school busing; voted against Head Start; and voted against extending the Clean Water Act in 1987.
Nice guy huh?
In November of 1986 the Iran-Contra scandal finally broke through the layers of Perception Management and entered the publics awareness. As Robert Parry, one of the reporters to first uncover parts of the scandal would later write:
Immediately, the administration and Republicans on Capitol Hill moved to counter and to contain the scandal. For his part, Bush insisted that he was “not in the loop” on the Iran-contra business.
Cheney to the Rescue
One of the key congressional Republicans fighting this rear-guard action was Rep. Dick Cheney of Wyoming, who became the ranking House Republican on the Iran-contra investigation. Cheney already enjoyed a favorable reputation in Washington as a steady conservative hand.
Cheney smartly exploited his relationship with Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Ind., who was chairman of the Iran-contra panel. Hamilton cared deeply about his reputation for bipartisanship and the Republicans quickly exploited this fact.
A senior committee source said one of Cheney’s top priorities was to block Democrats from deposing Vice President Bush about his Iran-contra knowledge. Cheney “kept trying to intimidate Hamilton,” the source said. “He kept saying if we go down that road, we won’t have bipartisanship.”
So, Hamilton gave Bush a pass. The limited investigation also gave little attention to other sensitive areas, such as contra-drug trafficking and the public diplomacy operation. They were pared down or tossed out altogether.
Despite surrendering to Cheney’s demands time and again, Hamilton failed, in the end, to get a single House Republican to sign the final report.
The watered-down Iran-contra majority report essentially let Vice President Bush off the hook. Bush’s political career was saved.
So the Democrats, in the name of bipartisanship, let The Usual Suspects off the hook over the Iran-Contra scandal and now they’re back, making an even greater obscenity of our government and laws and the Democrats are back in power again and what do they want? More bipartisanship.
Once the scandal was contained and Bush Sr safely elected President instead of send to prison, Cheney became Bush’s defense secretary. Later, when Bush lost his second election, he pardoned all the Iran-Contra criminals on Christmas Eve 1992. Thanks to that, Elliott Abrams was allowed to become Deputy National Security Advisor and, as can be found in Wikipedia:
The Observer and other journals have alleged that Abrams planned the Venezuelan coup attempt of 2002 against Hugo Chávez. These publications claim that he and Otto Reich, interim Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere in the Bush administration, were not only aware the coup was about to take place, but had sanctioned it and discussed it in some detail, right down to its timing, and estimated an excellent chance of success.
Bush’s junior is the President.
Dick Cheney is the puppetmaster behind the presidency.
Lee Hamilton has provided bipartisan cover for The Usual Suspect by serving as co-chair of the 9/11 commission, which Harpers decries as:
The plain, sad reality—I report this following four full days studying the work—is that The 9/11 Commission Report, despite the vast quantity of labor behind it, is a cheat and a fraud. It stands as a series of evasive maneuvers that infantilize the audience, transform candor into iniquity, and conceal realities that demand immediate inspection and confrontation.
And now Hamilton just wrapped up making his recommendations as co-chair of the Iraq Survey Group. Bipartisanship. Kinda makes ya feel all warm and fuzzy inside now that the Dems are back in charge doesn’t it?
But back to Dick Cheney, He Who Eats Babies Raw.
Having done his part to bail Daddy Bush’s butt out of the fire and nab himself the job of Secretary of Defense, Dick Cheney directed the invasion of Panama, sending of troops into Somalia and Operation Desert Storm. He worked closely with the likes of Paul Wolfowitz and it was Cheney who selected Colin Powell to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, it was Cheney who openly worried that Iraq, Iran or North Korea would get nuclear weapons.
When Saddam invaded Kuwait, Cheney advised Bush to start Operation Desert Storm without the consent of Congress. Bush asked Congress anyways, to which Cheney said:
From a constitutional standpoint, we had all the authority we needed. If we’d lost the vote in Congress, I would certainly have recommended to the president that we go forward anyway.
During Operation Desert Storm Cheney had to confront the Air Force Chief of Staff, Michael Dugan over quotes made to the press. As Colin Powell recollected:
Dugan had made the Iraqis look like a pushover; suggested that American commanders were taking their cue from Israel.
Cheney fired Dugan, the Iraqis were a pushover and from what we’ve seen so far from The Usual Suspects, American commanders probably were taking their cues from Israel. Can’t let the public find that out, doncha ya know.
Once Clinton took over the presidency, Cheney left public office and joined the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), whose membership seems to be mandatory for The Usual Suspects. One could rename the it The Usual Suspects Bar and Grill.
And of course, as pretty much anyone who hasn’t been in a coma knows, from 1995 to 2000, Cheney was the CEO of Halliburton. What most people don’t know is that during his tenure, Halliburtons off shore tax havens increased from 9 to 44. I can guarantee that most right wingnuts who railed about the U.N. Oil for Food program don’t know that Halliburton was making millions from Iraq’s oil industry under that same program.
Halliburton, of course, received a $7 BILLION no-bid contract to rebuild Iraq. I hear electricity is still sporadic in Baghdad even though Halliburton’s been in Iraq longer than the U.S. fought WW2. I guess $7 BILLION doesn’t go far in Iraq.
Patrick Leahy accused Cheney of cronyism, to which Cheney told Leahy to “go fuck yourself.”
In 2005, Cheney’s gross income was nearly $8.82 million. Most of this came from his Halliburton stocks. Not too shabby considering what The Nation reveals about what a class-action lawsuit against Halliburton has to say:
Brushing aside facts and subordinates’ warnings, CEO Cheney made a series of daring but wrong decisions that were disastrous for the company. The managerial incompetence was compounded by fraudulent accounting gimmicks that concealed the company’s true condition. Cheney, however, relentlessly issued bullish assurances, hiding the losses and pumping up the stock price.
Eventually, the truth caught up with the company–its stock tanked–but Cheney was already off to Washington, $40 million richer and running the country. He sold his shares at the top. HAL, the Halliburton stock symbol, began falling a few months after his resignation, from $53 to an eventual low of $8.
Emphasis mine because I just couldn’t miss pointing out the similarity between what happened to Halliburton and how they sold America a bill of goods about Iraq. Then he turns around and makes another killing, getting Halliburton the no-bid contract and taking them from $8 a share to todays final posting of $33.3 per share. Hmmm, quadrupled it since 2001. Not too shabby indeed.
Cheney was a founder for the Project for a New American Century (PNAC). This is the neocon Holy Grail. If you want to know what they plan for America’s future, just read that. It contains all sorts of wonderful ideas, like how a “Pearl Harbor” type event would be necessary to propel America into thier “process of transformation”. A completely “Ledeenian” type of statement. Or how we should develop genome-specific bioweapons. Eugenics being right up Michael Ledeen’s alley, I suppose.
advanced forms of biological warfare that can target specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool.
A politically useful tool?
Given Cheney’s chickenhawk credentials, I suppose a bioweapon is okay so long as it doesn’t affect him. A race-specific bioweapon, therefore, would be something he would have no problem with at all.
And of course, Cheney joined the board of advisors for JINSA, which, as I’ve already pointed out in Part 2, was founded by Michael Ledeen.
Since becoming Vice President of the United States, (which for some reason the very typing of those words reminds me of the The Omen III), Cheney made Paul Wolfowitz the Pentagons #2 man, he brought in John Bolton, then vice-president of AEI, and played a key role in getting Elliott Abrams to the Middle East office of the NSC.
Scooter Libby, another member of the PNAC, was his original Chief of Staff. Libby is under indictment for the Valerie Plame affair.
As for the Plame affair, there’s been plenty posted on the internet so far about Cheney’s possible involvement and to do it justice would take an article all to itself. I think the fact that Valerie Plame is suing Dick Cheney for illegally conspiring to reveal her identity about covers it for the time being.
Then there was Cheney’s relationship with Ken Lay. As Michael Moore wrote in “An Open Letter to George W. Bush”
Lay and Dick formed an ‘energy task force’ (Operation Enduring Graft) which put together the country’s new ‘energy policy.’ This policy then went on to shut down every light bulb and juicer in the state of California. And guess who made out like bandits while ‘trading’ the energy California was in desperate need of? Kenny Boy and Enron! No wonder Big Dick doesn’t want to turn over the files about those special meetings with Lay!
Let me finish with this quote by Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff to Mr Powell until last January:
What I saw was a cabal between the vice-president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made. – “Now it is paying the consequences of making those decisions in secret, but far more telling to me is America is paying the consequences.
There’s so much about Dick Cheney that a person could write several novels and still not cover the half of it. Anyone with additional insights, feel free to add your knowledge in the comments section below.