Decent opinion is divided about Dick Cheney, some holding that he’s the evil troll under the White House and others that he’s the crazy aunt in its attic. Trolls and aunts indignantly reject both hypotheses.The Washington Post offers strong evidence for both contentions, however, in a four-part series currently running:
One lawyer in his office said that Bellinger [ranking national security lawyer in the White House, reporting to Condoleezza Rice] was chagrined to learn, indirectly, that Cheney had read the confidential memo and “was concerned” about his advice. Thus Bellinger discovered an unannounced standing order: Documents prepared for the national security adviser, another White House official said, were “routed outside the formal process” to Cheney, too. The reverse did not apply.
No one but a present or former senior government bureaucrat (I am the latter) can fully appreciate how stunning this is. Till Bush turned Cheney loose on the land, the last adviser to have this sort of power was Rasputin.
From that moment, well before previous accounts have suggested, Cheney turned his attention to the practical business of crushing a captive’s will to resist. The vice president’s office played a central role in shattering limits on coercion of prisoners 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…
That same day, Aug. 1, 2002, Yoo signed off on a second secret opinion, the contents of which have never been made public. According to a source with direct knowledge, that opinion approved as lawful a long list of interrogation techniques proposed by the CIA — including waterboarding, a form of near-drowning that the U.S. government has prosecuted as a war crime since at least 1901. The opinion drew the line against one request: threatening to bury a prisoner alive…
“That’s just the vice president,” said Gerson, the former speechwriter, referring to Cheney’s October remark that “a dunk in the water” for terrorists — a radio interviewer’s term — is “a no-brainer for me.”
Gerson added: “It’s principled. He’s deeply conscious that this is a dangerous world, and he wants this president and future presidents to be able to deal with that.”
Himmler added: “It’s principled. Der Führer is deeply conscious that this is a dangerous world.” Not that I’m equating Gerson to Himmler, of course. I’m equating, all right, but to a couple of other guys.