Cheney, Richard Bruce

From Bwtm

Richard Bruce Cheney (born January 30, 1941) is the 46th Vice President of the United States, serving under the President George W. Bush. Previously, he served as White House Chief of Staff, member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Wyoming, and Secretary of Defense. In the private sector, he was the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Halliburton Energy Services.



A Vice President Without Borders, Bordering on Lunacy

Pushing the Envelope on Presidential Power

Ten things about Dick

June 25, 2007

The latest issue of Newsweek tells us about 181 things we need to know now. We're reminded of the opening lines of "Dick is a Killer": "Mr. Speaker, members of Congress, Mom and Dad: Last month a girl in Lincoln, Rhode Island sent me a letter. It began, 'Dear George W. Bush, if there's anything you know, please send me a letter.'"

But seriously -- one-hundred-and-eighty-one things? Who can deal? If you have the time and the mental capacity to know where the 2008 presidential election will be decided, when your brain stops making neurons and the names of the continents where "American Idol" is shown, more power to you.

Us, we'll be satisfied -- if that's the right word -- with knowing just 10 things from Parts I and II of the Washington Post's extraordinary four-part series on Vice President Dick Cheney.

1. The vice president's "understanding" with the boss. Just after Cheney took office, former Vice President Dan Quayle warned him about the ceremonial nature of the job. Cheney smirked and told Quayle: "I have a different understanding with the president." Quayle says Cheney saw himself as what Quayle calls a "surrogate chief of staff." Bush's actual chief of staff, Josh Bolten, says Cheney's deal with Bush guarantees him a seat at "every table and every meeting" and the right to make his voice heard in "whatever area the vice president feels he wants to be active in."

2. How it works. The Post says Cheney "holds his purchase on an unrivaled portfolio across the executive branch." Bush deals at the level of "broad objectives, broadly declared." Cheney, on the other hand, "inhabits an operational world in which means are matched with ends and some of the most important choices are made. When particulars rise to presidential notice, Cheney often steers the preparation of options and sits with Bush, in side-by-side wing chairs, as he is briefed."

3. The secrecy. The vice president's Dracula-and-sunlight-like aversion to transparency is well known, but the Post adds two nice details: The "daily work" of the Office of the Vice President is stored in "man-size Mosler safes," typically used by other government agencies only for classified material. And in Cheney's office, just about everything is classified, or treated that way: The vice president apparently invented a new classification for pseudo-secrets to be used even for not-so-secret documents like press talking points: "Treated As: Top Secret/SCI."

4. The power. Even as the towers fell on 9/11, Cheney and his then-legal aide, David Addington, began planning an expansion of presidential powers. The Post explains: "Down in the bunker, according to a colleague with firsthand knowledge, Cheney and Addington began contemplating the founding question of the legal revolution to come: What extraordinary powers will the president need for his response?"

5. Cheney's team. On matters of presidential power: John Yoo, Tim Flanigan and David Addington. "Gonzales, a former Texas judge, had the seniority and the relationship with Bush," The Post says. "But Addington -- a man of imposing demeanor, intellect and experience -- dominated the group. Gonzales 'was not a law-of-war expert and didn't have very developed views,' Yoo recalled, echoing blunter observations by the Texan's White House colleagues."

6. The order. In the Post's telling, Cheney and his team pretty much single-handedly came up with the plan to send detainees to military tribunals rather than civilian courts; they short-circuited a panel that was supposed to be considering the issue, rejected the complaints of Attorney General John Ashcroft, and kept their plan secret from Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell. After ordering that the plan be kept out of any staff review, Cheney got Bush to sign it by hand-walking it to him at lunch in the private dining room near the Oval Office.

7. Torture. The Post says Cheney's office "played a central role in shattering limits on coercion in U.S. custody, commissioning and defending legal opinions that the Bush administration has since portrayed as the initiatives, months later, of lower-ranking officials." How they did it: "Cheney and his allies, according to more than two dozen current and former officials, pioneered a novel distinction between forbidden 'torture' and permitted use of 'cruel, inhuman or degrading' methods of questioning. They did not originate every idea to rewrite or reinterpret the law, but fresh accounts from participants show that they translated muscular theories, from Yoo and others, into the operational language of government."

8. More torture. Former Assistant Attorney General Jay S. Bybee wasn't the author of the infamous August 2002 memo that smashed through the limits to what that the United States could or couldn't do to people in its custody. Although the White House has attributed the work to Yoo, Yoo tells the Post that the other members of the Cheney team contributed. Addington, Cheney's legal advisor, was behind what the Post calls the memo's "most radical claim": If the president authorizes an interrogation method, it can't be illegal because . . . the president has authorized it. A second memo, also prepared by Team Cheney, approved of a long list of interrogation techniques the CIA wanted to use -- including, the Post says, "waterboarding."

9. And still more torture. The signing statement in which Bush all but eviscerated John McCain's Detainee Treatment Act by saying its language would be construed "in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President to supervise the unitary executive branch and as Commander in Chief."? It came from Cheney's office.

10. Guantánamo. Last week's talk of a high-level meeting and an impending decision to close the U.S. detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba? The Post says Cheney is actually in favor of expanding the facility. He's almost alone in that view, the Post says, but he has succeeded so far in keeping Gitmo open.

-- Tim Grieve

Blatant nepotism and more about Corporate Cronyism

The press's warped priorities, It cares more about Mary Cheney's gayness than it does about the dangerous actions of Dick Cheney's son-in-law, Philip Perry.

Vice President Dick Cheney (second from left) waves from the stage with his family, left to right, daughter Liz Cheney Perry holding grandson Phillip Richard Perry, granddaughter Elizabeth Perry, granddaughter Kate Perry, wife Lynne, granddaughter Grace Perry, and son-in-law Phil Perry, after speaking on the third night of the 2004 Republican National Convention on Sept. 1, 2004.

Feb. 16, 2007 Did you hear that Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter is having a baby? Of course you did -- and so did everyone else -- because over the past two months, the controversial pregnancy of Mary Cheney has been noted and debated on every almost every significant news outlet in America.

When Wolf Blitzer opened up that touchy topic during an interview on CNN, the vice president responded with his trademark snarl. Mary Cheney seems to resent questions about her personal life, too, except when she is promoting her book or marketing Coors beer.

Embarrassing as the contradictions between his gay daughter and his homophobic party may be, however, the vice president should be grateful that the mainstream media hasn't turned the spotlight on his son-in-law.

The man who married straight daughter Liz Cheney is a sharp conservative lawyer named Philip Perry. Like his wife, who serves as deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, Perry has held a series of high-level patronage appointments in the Bush administration. Not long after his father-in-law took office in 2001, President Bush appointed Perry to the third-ranking position in the Justice Department; from there he moved to the top legal position in the Office of Management and Budget and later became general counsel to the Department of Homeland Security, with intermittent stints in the private sector.

But the true scandal of Perry's career in government and law is less about blatant nepotism and more about corporate cronyism.

As the Washington Monthly reveals in its current issue, Perry has spent the past few years at DHS obstructing federal and state regulation of the nation's chemical industry, which still remains vulnerable to a devastating terrorist attack -- and which has paid millions of dollars to Latham & Watkins, the Washington law firm where he has been a partner and lobbyist, earning as much as $700,000 a year. (Having just resigned from Homeland Security last month, Perry could soon return to Latham, thus completing his third circuit through the revolving door.)

Perry's crowning achievement in the months before he quit the federal government is a set of laws and regulations that permit chemical manufacturers to decide whether and how to improve the notoriously lax security at their plants. Last fall, with Perry overseeing the legislative process, Congress passed a feeble bill that was supposed to force reform before a disaster occurs. The hardworking Perry made sure that the bill was rendered even more toothless when he and his staff set up the regulations to enforce it. Those rules include a special provision designed to frustrate vulnerable states such as New Jersey from passing stronger regulations, which will be preempted by the weak federal law.

In an interview with the Washington Monthly, Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., furiously excoriated the Bush administration for coddling its corporate friends. "In order to please their cronies in the chemical industry, the Bush administration is willing to put the health and safety of millions of people at risk," he said of Perry's handiwork.

Or as Art Levine himself put it in his article: "A flippant critic might say the father-in-law has been prosecuting a war that creates more terrorists abroad, while the son-in-law has been working to ensure they'll have easy targets at home. But it's more precise to say that White House officials really, really don't want to alienate the chemical industry, and Perry has been really, really willing to help them not do it."

Meanwhile, as Perry was preparing to leave his sinecure and return to the private sector, he came under severe criticism from within the government as well. On Feb. 13, Comptroller General David Walker, one of the more independent-minded officials in the capital, reported to Congress that Perry had purposely frustrated every effort by the Government Accountability Office to monitor the Department of Homeland Security -- which is widely regarded as a wasteful, ineffective, lobbyist-infested disaster.

Does that strike you as an important story? Obviously the security of the chemical industry is a matter of critical importance, perhaps even more urgent than a lesbian pregnancy in the Cheney family. (I should admit that I may be biased on the subject, because the Nation Institute Investigative Fund, which I recently joined as director, helped to finance Levine's research last year.)

Someday the potential damage done to national security by Philip Perry may cost us very dearly, as another penetrating article in the Washington Monthly by terror expert Stephen Flynn explains in grave detail. Hundreds of chemical facilities across the country are inadequately protected, which Levine proved when he casually infiltrated one of them, and the most dangerous could kill tens of thousands of people if blown up by terrorists.

Yet so far the mainstream media has more or less ignored this story of public peril and corporate influence, despite the added frisson of the Cheney connection. Lesbian baby gossip is so much juicier, so much easier to report, so much simpler to sensationalize -- and so much more fascinating for the Washington press corps, whose priorities are as warped and trivial as the tabloid culture they now emulate.

CEO of the Halliburton Company

Richard Cheney who for five years was CEO of the Halliburton Company. When he left Halliburton in 2000 to become George W. Bush's running mate, the Republican ticket was touted as two tough-minded business executives running against wimpish politicians. "The American people should be pleased they have a vice presidential nominee who has been successful in business," Karen Hughes, Bush's then-communications director, enthused.

A rather different story is told by a class-action investor lawsuit against Halliburton, recently revived after languishing for four years. It describes Cheney as not much different from other corporate titans ensnared by accusations of fraud. 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. By then Bush/Cheney were rolling out another bold venture--the invasion of Iraq.