The Man in Charge - Cheney
by Robert Scheer
San Francisco Chronicle, October
Can this nation survive four more years
of Dick Cheney running the show? Probably, but it is a risk that
few thoughtful Americans, conservatives included, should want
Whatever one thinks of President Bush
- do you see a smile or a smirk? it is now patently obvious that
the most powerful vice president in U.S. history is in charge
of the White House. Cheney's ultra-secretive, anti-democratic
and crony-capitalist instincts have defined this administration.
Perhaps we should have. expected all this
from a man who, as head of the Bush vice-presidential search team,
selected himself. It was a forewarning of the Machiavellian arrogance
that has made him the leading individual in an administration
that has consistently believed that self-serving ends = such as
helping Enron at the expense of California's energy needs or boosting
Halliburton's profits at the expense of American troops - justify
lying, secrecy and preemptive war.
In the hours after the Sept. .11 massacres,
some Americans may have been reassured to have the older Cheney
around at a time when the "real" president was sitting
confused in a classroom listening to a story about a et goat.
However, in hindsight this was clearly misguided faith, in a man
who presents himself as a stern father figure but is just an irresponsible
ideologue whose disrespect and disregard for the US. Constitution
are manifest in all his actions.
It was the vice president who served as
the power behind a tiny group of fringe right-wing lawyers that
secretly created a system of unaccountable White House-controlled
military tribunals. Despite indelibly staining America's reputation
as a leader in democratic principles and endangering the lives
of American prisoners of war in current and future conflicts,
these proceedings have proved totally useless in the war on terror,
with zero terror convictions to date.
Never mind: After the tribunals decree
was signed by Bush, Cheney was off leading a new misguided crusade,
deploying a slew of manipulated and misrepresented intelligence
factoids, clever innuendos ad outright lies to fool Congress and
the public into supporting the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
As the Washington Post's Bob Woodward
reports in "Plan of Action," his insider account of
the Bush White House, Secretary of State Cohn Powell "detected
a kind of fever in Cheney . ... Cheney was beyond hell-bent for
action against Saddam. It was as if nothing else existed."
And through the reports of the bipartisan
Senate Intelligence Committee and Sept. 11 commission, and an
exhaustive compilation released last week by Sen. Carl Levin,
D-Mich., of the Senate Armed Services Committee, it is now possible
to read in excruciating detail about Cheney's role in convincing
a majority of Americans that - strong evidence to the contrary
- Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, was moving toward
the production of nuclear bombs and was an ally of al Qaeda.
As recently as June and contrary to the
Sept. 11 commission's final report, to give but one of many examples,
Cheney was still insisting that lead hijacker Mohamed Atta had
a ,meeting in Prague with a high-ranking Iraqi intelligence agent
before the Sept. 11 attacks. This is an unconscionable and obviously
knowing use of the Big Lie technique, given that the CIA and FBI
repudiated that baseless yet titillating claim in 2002.
Lately, as the war has become an unmitigated
disaster for the United States and Iraq, Cheney and the president
have been on the defensive against charges by numerous terrorism
experts - and presidential candidate John F. Kerry - at the invasion
of Iraq was a .dangerous distraction from the fight against al
Qaeda and its affiliates.
Undaunted, Cheney tells us the Jordanian-born
terrorist Abu Musab Zarqawi, who has been blamed for many anti-American
attacks in Iraq, originally entered Iraq with Hussein's permission;
thus Cheney tries to justify ex post facto the invasion as a legitimate
pillar of the war on terrorism. But it's just another lie, with
the CIA stating the opposite: The fundamentalist Zarqawi first
sneaked into Hussein's secular and nationalist dictatorship using
a false identity.
That Cheney clearly, has a huge personal
interest in the war makes all of this that much more sickening.
The latest report in a never-ending stream
of conflict-of-interest revelations about this administration
appears in the current issue of Time magazine. It detailed how
the Pentagon favored Halliburton - which Cheney headed from 1995
until 2000 - with long-term, no-bid contracts. No problem. In
Cheney's world, messianic ambition and personal greed can happily
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