Monday, January 30, 2006

Newsweek: the price of questioning Dick Cheney

One of the most fascinating and important stories to be reported in the last several months. This should be read closely.
Palace Revolt - Newsweek Politics - MSNBC.com

...These Justice Department lawyers, backed by their intrepid boss Comey, had stood up to the hard-liners, centered in the office of the vice president, who wanted to give the president virtually unlimited powers in the war on terror. Demanding that the White House stop using what they saw as farfetched rationales for riding rough-shod over the law and the Constitution, Goldsmith and the others fought to bring government spying and interrogation methods within the law. They did so at their peril; ostracized, some were denied promotions, while others left for more comfortable climes in private law firms and academia. Some went so far as to line up private lawyers in 2004, anticipating that the president's eavesdropping program would draw scrutiny from Congress, if not prosecutors. These government attorneys did not always succeed, but their efforts went a long way toward vindicating the principle of a nation of laws and not men.

The rebels were not whistle-blowers in the traditional sense. They did not want—indeed avoided—publicity. (Goldsmith confirmed public facts about himself but otherwise declined to comment. Comey also declined to comment.) They were not downtrodden career civil servants. Rather, they were conservative political appointees who had been friends and close colleagues of some of the true believers they were fighting against. They did not see the struggle in terms of black and white but in shades of gray—as painfully close calls with unavoidable pitfalls. They worried deeply about whether their principles might put Americans at home and abroad at risk. Their story has been obscured behind legalisms and the veil of secrecy over the White House. But it is a quietly dramatic profile in courage. (For its part the White House denies any internal strife. "The proposition of internal division in our fight against terrorism isn't based in fact," says Lea Anne McBride, a spokeswoman for Vice President Dick Cheney. "This administration is united in its commitment to protect Americans, defeat terrorism and grow democracy.")

The chief opponent of the rebels, though by no means the only one, was an equally obscure, but immensely powerful, lawyer-bureaucrat. Intense, workaholic (even by insane White House standards), David Addington, formerly counsel, now chief of staff to the vice president, is a righteous, ascetic public servant.

... Addington and a small band of like-minded lawyers set about providing that cover—a legal argument that the power of the president in time of war was virtually untrammeled. One of Addington's first jobs had been to draft a presidential order establishing military commissions to try unlawful combatants—terrorists caught on the global battlefield. The normal "interagency process"—getting agreement from lawyers at Defense, State, the intelligence agencies and so forth—proved glacial, as usual. So Addington, working with fellow conservative Deputy White House Counsel Timothy Flanigan, came up with a solution: cut virtually everyone else out. Addington is a purist, not a cynic; he does not believe he is in any way ignoring or twisting the law. It is also important to note that Addington was not sailing off on some personal crusade; he had the full backing of the president and vice president, who shared his views. But, steeped in bureaucratic experience and clear in his purpose, Addington was a ferocious infighter for his cause...
Cheney's chief of staff. Remember the name Addington. Remember too that this war is the Long War -- projected at over 20 years by the DOD. Twenty years of presidents and their staff growing increasingly accustomed to unlimited power. What's the chance American democracy could survive that? Who's the greater threat to our future -- Zawahiri or David Addington?

The more we learn of the Bush regime, the more disturbing they appear.

1 comment:

amendaciouslife said...

Where have all the great Republicans gone and what has happened to the Grand Ole Party?

I want to take just a few minutes to give you my opinion of where the Republican Party started changing. Even you young Democrats that know of nothing more than what your parents are teaching you and you older closed minded Democrats that refuse to believe that The Republican Party stood for something noble and good at one time, I hope will take a moment of your time to read and think about this.

The Republican Party had many great men who helped shape our nation and served as President. Abraham Lincoln, can anyone dispute that although not perfect his views and policies toward mankind were very compassionate? How about Teddy Roosevelt, no greater conservationist has ever ran or held the office of the President (not even Al Gore). Richard Nixon, no President did more for international relations than did Nixon. Opening talks with the Soviet Union and Communist China. And there has never been a Republican President and maybe a lot of Democratic Presidents that were considered as liberal with their domestic policies toward race relations and economics. These policies and his determination to end the war in Vietnam and reunite the country help bring him down. He of course was involved in the Watergate scandal that in the end was his undoing. But, we need to look at the Republicans of today and wonder where this group of fundamentalist came from. Is W to blame for it all, I don’t know but consider this little piece of history and pay close attention to the people involved. Do the Names Cheney, Rumsfeld, Nitze, Perle, Schlesinger, Zumwalt and Moorer ring a bell.

D├ętente and rapprochement (and ultimately the defeat in Vietnam) prompted these early neo-conservative Republicans to organize against Nixon’s foreign policy (and to a lesser degree his liberal domestic reforms). These were the men (initially Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Nitze, Richard Perle, James Schlesinger, Adm. Elmo Zumwalt and Adm. Thomas Moorer) who wanted Nixon weakened and who ultimately supported his resignation. Watergate facilitated their opposition to the most enlightened aspects of his foreign policy. From this nucleus of men emerged the full blown neo-conservative movement within the Republican party and that dominated Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy in his first term and has completely taken over George W. Bush’s.

Viewed in this light, Watergate and the Nixon presidency has a contemporary importance that has been largely ignored. This new interpretation also finally confirms the obvious about Richard Nixon’s political career: he had never been an arch conservative on either domestic or foreign policy. Instead of his conservatism being the cause of his downfall, as so many have claimed, his more liberal or enlightened policies so alienated radical conservatives (many of whom urged him to resign) that they contributed to his downfall and vowed to reverse and/or discredit both his foreign and domestic policies.
In essence, Watergate killed Republican centrism and opened the door for the take-over of the Republican party by neo-conservatives. This is the most important contemporary significance of the Nixon presidency in relation to Watergate, regardless of the fact he should of been indicted and convicted for obstructing justice. His downfall represented the beginning of a conservative coup. So when you think about the Republican party of today, remember they weren’t always the bad guys.