The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

The World, Through Dick Cheney’s Eyes

One more thing about former Vice President Dick Cheney and torture, loosely connected to Ross Douthat’s New York Times column. If you’re Dick Cheney, right now,

Tyreece Bauer
News
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Apr 28, 2009

One more thing about former Vice President Dick Cheney and torture, loosely connected to Ross Douthat’s New York Times column. If you’re Dick Cheney, right now, it’s got to feel like history is repeating itself. My copy of Bart Gellman’s Cheney biography, “Angler,” is at home right now, but if you go through it, you’ll see that a seminal moment in Cheney’s career comes in the 1970s, when the Church and Pike commissions expose massive illegality in the intelligence community, prompting new legal actions to restrain it. (The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was one.) Cheney draws from the experience the conclusion that legitimate executive power is under siege and needs to be expanded from the overreach of Congress if national security is to be protected. As far as I’m aware, Cheney hasn’t given any statement to indicate that Gellman had that wrong.**

Leave aside for a moment the merits of the case. Right now, the CIA, at the behest and with the encouragement of the Bush administration, is having its dirty laundry aired through the disclosure of the Office of Legal Counsel torture memos. There’s the prospect — possibly not the likelihood, but at least the prospect — of another congressional commission into past the agency’s interrogation and detention activities during the Bush years. Certainly there’s a Senate intelligence committee inquiry under way. Cheney allies like Porter Goss, a former CIA director, are already warning that agency morale is cratering (which is ironic, since Goss came into the agency like a meatcleaver to purge supposed anti-Bush elements at CIA, but let’s leave that aside). It’s got to feel to Cheney like the end of “Battlestar: Galactica.” All this has happened before, and will happen again …

The question is whether Cheney will examine whether the Bush administration’s actions played any role in contributing to the prospective agency retrenchment. (Let’s stipulate for the sake of argument that such a thing will occur.) Again, leave aside the merits of the arguments for torture or against it. The fact is the Bush administration and the Tenet-era CIA leadership encouraged and blessed the agency to go very far outside the boundaries of what it was previously allowed to do. Never before was the CIA in the detention business. It did not maintain a corps of interrogators before 9/11. And there was never a legal redefinition of U.S. laws and treaty obligations about torture. The available evidence suggests that the congressional leadership of the Democratic Party was complicit in, at least, aspects of that arrangement.

But did Cheney think that the political situation was permanent? That the United States wouldn’t revisit the apparatus of interrogation and detention created in the aftermath of 9/11? Hadn’t the Bush administration placed the CIA out on a limb? Wasn’t it foreseeable that such a thing wouldn’t last forever?

Perhaps the lesson of the Church/Pike era, and this current one, isn’t that Congress ought not to intrude onto the prerogatives of the executive, but rather that the executive shouldn’t require the CIA or other agencies to break/stretch/redefine the law.

Tyreece Bauer | Analyst and photographer in the field of technology. When I'm not working on my laptop, I like to go surfing, hiking with friends, and go karting or play soccer with my nephew. I enjoy traveling and am excited to visit Tokyo this summer. What are your plans for your next trip?

Related

Rep. Paul Ryan to deliver SOTU response

Chairman of the House Budget Committee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will deliver the Republican response to the State of the Union Tuesday, according to Mike Allen

Rep. Paulsen allies with medical device industry to relax FDA oversight

Source: Flickr; Republicanconference (www.flickr.com/photos/republicanconference) On the heels of the Minnesota Independent story last week about U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen’s cozy financial relationship with the medical device industry, the New York Times reported Tuesday that some health professionals are alarmed by Paulsen’s push to relax Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversight

Rep. Paulsen touts balanced budget constitutional amendment

In a post for the conservative blog True North , U.S. Rep

Rep. Patrick McHenry: Please, Conservatives, Fill Out Your Census Forms!

The conservative congressman from North Carolina, a constant critic of the census -- one of the people who sounded the alarm about politicization when the

Rep. Paulsen, Karl Rove the latest to get ‘glittered’

Rep. Erik Paulsen and former Bush staffer Karl Rove were both showered with glitter at the Midwest Leadership Conference Friday

Rep. Perlmutter to hold constituent meet-up in grocery store

Colorado Congressman Ed Perlmutter will hold a Government in the Grocery constituent meet-up this evening from 5-7 at the Safeway at 38th and Wadsworth in Wheat Ridge. The address is 3900 Wadsworth. The meeting, where Perlmutter typically sits at a folding table and talks to whomever shows up, is free and open to the public

Rep. Perlmutter criticizes House measure that would eliminate 800K federal jobs

Congressman Ed Perlmutter today issued a scathing statement criticizing the House of Representatives for passing a spending bill that could put nearly a million federal employees out of work. The Colorado delegation voted strictly on party lines, with all four Republicans voting in favor of the bill and the three Democrats voting in opposition. Perlmutter’s statement: “My number one priority is to get people back to work because that’s the best thing we can do to pay our debt and move forward toward economic stability

Rep. Pete Stark Won’t Dignify Constituent by, er, Micturating Upon His Leg

In the tradition of Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), California Democratic Rep. Pete Stark revealed at a recent town hall gathering that there are limits to what

Rep. Peace, ACLU seek investigation of soldier’s allegations of racial discrimination in Afghanistan

Both Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM) and the American Civil Liberties Union agree: There needs to be an investigation into Spc.

© Copyright 2021 The Washington Independent All Rights Reserved

Terms & Privacy | twi.news@washingtonindependent.com