I have been arguing for years that Vice President Cheney had done more than any other single person in the government — including the President of the United States — to plant acolytes and followers of his throughout the national security bureaucracy. He has had spies and apparatchiks in the Departments of State and Defense, in the Directorate of National Intelligence, the National Security Agency and the CIA, and elsewhere in government.
John Bolton was one of these at the State Department, as was Robert Joseph — both of whom held the position of Under Secretary of State for International Security and Arms Control.
Finally, there is a breath-taking, disturbing four-part series in the Washington Post written by Barton Gellman and Jo Becker detailing the most outrageous usurpation of power that this nation has seen in decades, if not in its history. The series is on Cheney’s Rasputin abilities and methodologies and is titled “Angler,” the term the Secret Service uses to identify the Vice President.
Most outrageous is Cheney’s recent claim that his office is not in the Executive Branch and is not an agency of government that fits within the matrix of checks and balances that affect the presidency.
If that absurd assertion is allowed to stand, then the Office of Vice President must be de-funded by Congress immediately, and all powers related to the Vice President immediately made null.
If the Vice President thinks that there is no authority to which he reports, then he has committed a high crime against this nation and its democracy.
Every word of this long series should be absorbed. Some of what it reports is new and much not — but it provides important validation for what some writers — including those at this blog and others like Sidney Blumenthal have been describing for a very long time.
On January 7, 2007, I wrote a piece at The Washington Note arguing that long time Washington Post writer Bob Woodward had done the nation a great disservice in his book State of Denial by getting so much of the inside story on the Iraq War right — and then depicting Cheney as a relatively uninfluential, eccentric character.
I’m very pleased to see that the Post‘s own team has invalidated Woodward’s work with regard to the role and influence of this Office of the Vice President.
I would also like to direct readers to this TWN piece from a while back, “Can Cheney be His Own Declassification Machine?”
It is clear now, in retrospect that Cheney has worked hard to write in the “Office of the Vice President” as a body with specific statutory authority that does not derive from the Presidency as his machinations on modifying Executive Orders on “Classified National Security Information.”
Republicans and Democrats in Congress should be unifying now on all fronts to immediately contain the power of Cheney and his team if they in fact do not feel that there are any controls on them that should be acknowledged.
Bush was never a Julius Caesar type. Cheney, however, is.
— Steve Clemons