Friday, July 17, 2009

Cheney's Inferno

I tend to regard Dick Cheney the way most of us divorced folks probably think of our ex-spouses. The ex-spouses are going to hell and revenge is already ours, so why waste our breath on them? It’s likewise with Cheney. He’s out of power, his next political post will be as Vice-Prince of Darkness; is he worth wasting a thousand-word essay on anymore? Then something happens to remind me that there’s a big difference between Dick Cheney and ex-spouses. Ex-spouses may have been bona fide bums and broom jockeys, but none of them was the first arch villain of the 21st century.

Were any of us actually shocked by the recent revelation that Lord Cheney ordered the CIA to withhold information about a secret program from Congress for eight years? Given the galactic scale of his malevolence in the Office of the Vice President, ordering the CIA to lie to Congress amounts to a parking violation. Even before young Mr. Bush was elected, Cheney was a proponent of extra-constitutional presidential powers. Most of us are familiar with the unprecedented extent to which Bush exceeded his Article II authorities. Even more horrifying, though, is the way Cheney expanded the powers of his office.

The Constitution gives the vice president one power only: Article I states that “The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no vote, unless they be equally divided.” Cheney made himself a vice-commander in chief.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, Cheney, from a bunker beneath the White House, called his old pal Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon. Cheney told Rumsfeld that "pursuant to the president's instructions,” he had ordered fighter pilots to shoot down the airliners involved in the attacks. What’s wrong with this scenario is that the vice president is not in the military chain of command. As delineated in the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986, command authority passes directly from the president to the secretary of defense to the four-star unified commanders (Central Command, Southern Command, European Command, etc.)

Young Mr. Bush was alive and conscious throughout that crisis—well, as conscious as he ever was. He had no business passing orders through Cheney, and Cheney had no business ordering anybody to fire on anything. It’s possible that the military commanders he spoke to knew this and didn’t pass the orders along to the pilots in the air. Bush should have gone directly through Rumsfeld who, as it played out, was only informed of Cheney’s illegal orders after the fact.

We know that Cheney cooked the intelligence on Iraq through Doug Feith’s Office of Special Plans. Journalist and former CIA officer Philip Giraldi asserts that Cheney was behind the forgery of the Nigergate “Habbush letter” document. Cheney authorized Scooter Libby to leak classified information to discredit Joe Wilson when Wilson refuted the claim that Saddam Hussein had sought uranium from Niger. Cheney also played a key role in revealing Valerie Plame’s undercover role in the CIA. Cheney’s secret White House Information Group, which included Condi Rice, Karl Rove, the nightmarish Mary Matalin and other right wing luminaries, sold the war to the American public through false propaganda echoed by access-poisoned journalists like Michael R. Gordon and Judith Miller of the New York Times.

Cheney used the Iranian Directorate to cook intelligence on Iran much as the Office of Special Plans manufactured WMD evidence on Iraq. The Iranian Directorate was located in the same office as the OSP and included OSP veterans Abram Shulsky, John Trigilio, Ladan Archin and Reuel Marc Gerecht.

Cheney authorized illegal torture. He met secretly with big oil executives to formulate an energy policy that favored his pals at Exxon and Shell and the other major energy companies.

Cheney has a reach-around relationship with Israel’s hard-right Likudniks. Sidney Blumenthal of reported in August 2006 that Cheney and his henchmen were sharing National Security Association intelligence with Israel as part of an attempt to escalate the Iraq war into open hostilities with Iran and Syria. Many are convinced, as am I, that Israel’s 2006 invasion of Lebanon was agreed upon at a meeting between Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu at an American Enterprise Institute conference in Colorado.

Cheney subverted the operations of the entire executive branch by inserting neocon ideologues in key positions. Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Doug Feith and Stephen Cambone strangled dissent in the Defense Department. Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley ensured that his boss Condoleezza Rice was nothing more to Bush than a workout partner and an office wife. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control John Bolton undermined Colin Powell’s efforts at statesmanship. In the second Bush term, when Rice moved to the top State billet, Cheney arranged to have Bolton made U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., ensuring continuation of the administration’s “make them an offer they can’t accept” diplomacy, of which the Iran policy was a perfect example. Insisting that Iran give up its inherent right—as guaranteed by the U.N. Nonproliferation Treaty—to develop nuclear energy as a precondition to direct talks ensured that those talks would never take place.

Senator Pat Leahy (D-Vermont), speaking of the revelation that Cheney had directed the CIA to withhold information from Congress, said that nobody in America, including Cheney, is “above the law.” Where has Leahy been for the last eight years and change? Everybody in the Bush administration except Scooter Libby was above the law.

President Obama has so far been reluctant to investigate the wrong doing of the Bush administration. That’s a mistake. If we let that administration’s major decision makers walk, we leave the door open for the next generation of tyrants to give us a repeat performance.

Cheney will spend the next life roasting in a room at the Robert McNamara Suite of the LBJ Hilton in Hell, but we need to start rebalancing the scales of justice on this side of eternity.

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes at Pen and Sword. Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books), a lampoon on America's rise to global dominance, is on sale now.


  1. To allow Cheney to just "walk away" is criminal. This idea of letting the past go is wrong. As you said here, it just leaves the door open for further abuses of power by the next gang who takes over. Cheney must answer for his abuse of power and we must prove that nobody is above the law.
    The crimes of the past administration need to be seen in the light of day by all of us. I have no political axe to grind here. I don't support either animal gang, not the donkey one nor the elephant one. They are neither of them house broken. They both tramp through the flower beds and crap in my yard.
    Great article sir.

  2. I can just see it now.

    "Welcome to hell, Mr. Cheney. We have rooms available in the seventh, eighth and ninth circles. It was hard to decide just which one would suit you best."

    Sometimes I find myself exclaiming "They should build a new circle of hell for these guys!", but I've said it so often recently that Hell Inc. is going to have to acquire some extra real estate to accommodate them all.

    Hell can wait. A little justice now would do a lot of good for the hell they've created right here on earth.

    Broom jockeys? Don't tell me. I don't think I want to know.

  3. Charlie,

    I'm with you on the animal gangs. The elephants have been leaving the biggest stinkers for the last decade, though.


    Yeah, we need justice now.


  4. Why are people getting all upset over Cheney’s illegal death squads, illegal torture techniques, illegal NSA spying program, lets face it, nothing will happen to him, they might investigate, the justification will be 9/11, 9/11, 9/11 or you are only giving ammunition to our enemies and in the end nothing will happen, he is part of the ruling class. The chickens are coming home to roost from the operatives that stole the election for Bush/Cheney 2000 in Florida and 2004 in Ohio. I love listening to Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck, these chicken hawks on the War on Terror have become chicken little’s that the sky is falling when it comes to the economy, too funny.

  5. Anonymous3:32 PM

    I would like to force read your piece to Holder although I don't think he or his boss will do anything about your evidence chain.

    Obama set up the pass jail card for this piece of degenerate frog spawn about the same time he announced Bagman Likudnik Biden as his running mate. What it will take to get the president to uphold the Constitution of the United States?

    Buzz Meeks

  6. Just like my ex-Cheney keeps on taking money long after the marriage is over.

  7. LOL, Skip. Another apt analogy.


  8. re - " It’s possible that the military commanders he spoke to knew this, and didn’t pass the orders along to the pilots in the air. Bush should have gone directly through Rumsfeld"

    On morning of 9/11 there were National Guard jets in several locations around the east coast within range and within time. None of them did anything useful. Peter Lance's Triple Cross identifies some of the particulars that morning.

    I agree, the morass of confusion resulting from Cheney and Bush's disregard for chain of command may well have contributed significantly to the lack of anything useful happening with our Air National Guard interceptors during the real live emergency of the morning of 9/11.

    Warren Grove training range
    Naval Air War Warfare Center
    Dover, DE
    Ft Dix
    McGuire AFB
    Atlantic City NJ

    None of them had jets and personnel that were scrambled usefully.

    Sec of Transp Mineta was even "ordered" by VP Cheney -- whom members of cabinet do not report to -- to not take common sense steps that morning in defense of the Pentagon.

    Lance's book Triple Cross has some factual info on many of these unexplained items. Many of these facts definigtely need some explanation.

  9. There's another way that Cheney's activities have impacted the compass of the country--our soldiers and rates have become so expendable as to almost be treated (by their commanders) as sub-human. I refer specifically to the statements of Fox's Mr. Peters who advocated (with no apparent stomach trouble) that the Taliban execute the private in their custody to save the U.S. various "headaches." I'm keenly embarrassed that scum like Peters could ever hold a command.

  10. Anonymous2:55 PM


    There HAS to be an "or else."

    If there are no consequences - there is no deterrent to law breaking.

    If there is no "or else" for Cheney, nothing will change from the last administration --- to this one -- to the next one.

    Unfortunately, we will continue to be a nation --- not of laws --- but of the most elite men.


  11. It's real simple to me: Cheney is a traitor and that has become mainstream with no accoutability.

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