Monday, January 29, 2007

He's Not Unraveled Enough

In the wake of recent revelations about his role in Plamgate, speculation abounds as to Cheney's eroding political capital. Given that it now is clear that he instructed Libby to leak Plame to the press, one might in a more reasonable age hope for him to be removed from office and put on trial - but even this mere political inconvenience may be enough to keep US troops out of Iran.

It may have to be.


Blogger Management said...

The Unraveling of Dick Cheney

By Dan Froomkin
Special to
Monday, January 29, 2007; 12:18 PM

While Dick Cheney undoubtedly remains the most powerful vice president this nation has ever seen, it's becoming increasingly unclear whether anyone outside the White House believes a word he says.

Inside the West Wing, Cheney's influence remains considerable. In fact, nothing better explains Bush's perplexing plan to send more troops to Iraq than Cheney's neoconservative conviction that showing the world that we have the "stomach for the fight" is the most important thing -- even if it isn't accomplishing the things we're supposed to be fighting for. Even if it's backfiring horribly.

But as his astonishing interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer laid bare last week, Cheney is increasingly out of touch with reality. He seems to think that by asserting things that are simply untrue, he can make others believe they are so.

Maybe that works within the White House. But for the rest of us, it's becoming a better bet to assume that everything -- or almost everything -- Cheney says is flat wrong.

Meanwhile, the trial of Cheney's former chief of staff Scooter Libby is exposing to public view the vice president's role as master-manipulator of misinformation and vindictive retaliator-in-chief -- once again, indifferent to the truth. (For example, Cheney ordered his staff to lie to reporters about the contents of a highly classified National Intelligence Estimate.)

And former aide Cathie Martin's testimony on Friday validated the most cynical conspiracy theories about how Cheney manipulates the press.

President Bush, while taking action that clearly suits the vice president, has nevertheless moderated some of his rhetoric -- acknowledging serious troubles in Iraq, for instance, and admitting that American soldiers are now caught in the middle of sectarian warfare.

But for Cheney, Iraq is an "enormous successes," it's the media's fault that more people don't recognize that, and showing "lack of stomach" in Iraq would lead not just to a debacle there but to cataclysmic domino-style effects across the globe and terrorist attacks within our borders.

So perhaps it's not a surprise that Cheney is losing support even from fellow Republicans who, looking ahead to the 2008 elections, do not relish carrying the burden of defending his increasingly indefensible world-view.

The CNN Interview

Maura Reynolds writes in Thursday's Los Angeles Times: "A day after President Bush struck a conciliatory tone toward critics of the Iraq war, Vice President Dick Cheney did the opposite Wednesday, denouncing as 'hogwash' the assertion that the administration had lost credibility because of blunders in Iraq. . . .

"Cheney long has been a polarizing figure for the administration, which is one reason why he has generally limited his public appearances to conservative groups. But in recent months, Cheney has become an increasingly problematic figure even among stalwart Republicans, in part for how he defended former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld."

Peter Baker writes in Thursday's Washington Post: "Vice President Cheney said yesterday that the administration has achieved 'enormous successes' in Iraq but complained that critics and the media 'are so eager to write off this effort or declare it a failure' that they are undermining U.S. troops in a war zone, striking a far more combative tone than President Bush did in his State of the Union address the night before.

"In a television interview that turned increasingly contentious as it wore on, Cheney rejected the gloomy portrayal of Iraq that has become commonly accepted even among Bush supporters. 'There's problems' in Iraq, he said, but it is not a 'terrible situation.' And congressional opposition 'won't stop us' from sending 21,500 more troops, he said, it will only 'validate the terrorists' strategy.' . . .

"Cheney has been criticized in the past for presenting what some called an overly rosy view of the situation in Iraq, most notably in 2005 when he said the insurgency was in its 'last throes.' The view he expressed yesterday seemed no less positive, and he sparred repeatedly with 'Situation Room' host Wolf Blitzer, telling him 'you're wrong' and suggesting he was embracing defeat."

Here's the transcript and video of the CNN interview.

There were so many baseless assertions, it's hard to know where to start. Blitzer tried valiantly to challenge some of them, to no avail.

Here's Cheney talking about what would have happened if the U.S. had not invaded Iraq: "Saddam Hussein would still be in power. He would, at this point, be engaged in a nuclear arms race with Ahmadinejad, his blood enemy next door in Iran --

"Q But he was being contained as we all know --

"THE VICE PRESIDENT: He was not being contained. He was not being contained, Wolf.

"Q -- by the no-fly zones in the north and the south.

"THE VICE PRESIDENT: Wolf, the entire sanctions regime had been undermined by Saddam Hussein. He had --

"Q But he didn't have stockpiles of weapons of --

"THE VICE PRESIDENT: -- corrupted the entire effort to try to keep him contained. He was bribing senior officials of other governments. The oil-for-food program had been totally undermined, and he had, in fact, produced and used weapons of mass destruction previously, and he retained the capability to produce that kind of stuff in the future.

"Q But that was in the '80s.

"THE VICE PRESIDENT: You can go back and argue the whole thing all over again, Wolf, but what we did in Iraq in taking down Saddam Hussein was exactly the right thing to do; the world is much safer today because of it. . . .

"Q But the current situation there is --

"THE VICE PRESIDENT: But the fact of the matter was -- the fact of the matter was that al Qaeda was out to kill Americans before we ever went into Iraq."

On credibility:

"Q Here's the problem that you have -- the administration -- credibility in Congress with the American public, because of the mistakes, because of the previous statements, the last throes, the comment you made a year-and-a-half ago, the insurgency was in its last throes. How do you build up that credibility because so many of these Democrats, and a lot of Republicans now are saying they don't believe you anymore?

"VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: Well, Wolf, if the history books were written by people who have -- are so eager to write off this effort, to declare it a failure, including many of our friends in the media, the situation obviously would have been over a long time ago. Bottom line is that we've had enormous successes, and we will continue to have enormous successes. It is hard. It is difficult. It's one of the toughest things any President has to do. It's easy to stick your finger in the air and figure out which way the winds are blowing and then try to get in front of the herd. This President doesn't work that way. He also -- be very clear in terms of providing leadership going forward for what we need to do in Iraq.

"Now, fact is, this is a vitally important piece of business. It needs to be done. The consequences of our not completing the task are enormous. Just think for a minute -- and think for a minute, Wolf, in terms of what policy is being suggested here. What you're recommending, or at least what you seem to believe the right course is, is to bail out --

"Q I'm just asking questions.

"VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: No, you're not asking questions.

"Q Yes, I am. I'm just asking."

When Blitzer asked Cheney to respond to criticisms from within the Republican base regarding the pregnancy of his lesbian daughter, Cheney lashed out: "I think, frankly, you're out of line with that question."

Newsweek Interview

In a Newsweek interview, conducted much more obsequiously by Richard Wolffe and published online yesterday, Cheney was not as petulant. But he was equally sure of himself.

On the danger of withdrawal: "All of a sudden, the United States which is the bulwark of security in that part of world would I think no longer -- could no longer be counted on by our friends and allies that have put so much into this struggle."

On the loss of Republican support for the escalation: "My sense of it is that what's happened here now over the last few weeks is that the President has shored up his position with the speech he made a couple of weeks ago, specifically on Iraq. And I think the speech, frankly Tuesday night, the State of the Union address was one of his best. I think there's been a very positive reaction of people who saw the speech. And I think to some extent that's helped shore us up inside the party on the Hill."

Asked how he responds to criticism from former associates such as former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft, who has said that he does not know Cheney anymore, Cheney shot back: "Well, I'm the vice president, and they're not."

9:34 PM  
Blogger Management said...

BREAKING: Libby Destroyed Evidence Prior To Testifying, Cheney ‘Deeply Involved’

Under oath, Vice President Cheney’s former chief of staff Scooter Libby told a grand jury that he first learned that Joe Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, was a CIA agent from conversations with the media. In fact, he first learned that information from Vice President Cheney himself.

Libby is now on trial for perjury. His defense is that he simply forgot who told him that Plame worked for the CIA. But in court today, prosecutors outlined a powerful case establishing that Libby had reason to remember who told him and motive to cover it up. MSNBC’s David Schuster said today’s revelations from prosecutors are “new and will astound a number of people, even those who have been following this case.” Among the new claims:

– “Vice President Cheney himself directed Scooter Libby to essentially go around protocol and deal with the press and handle press himself…to try to beat back the criticism of administration critic Joe Wilson.”

– Cheney personally “wrote out for Scooter Libby what Libby should say in a conversation with Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper.”

– “Scooter Libby destroyed a note from Vice President Cheney about their conversations and about how Vice President Cheney wanted the Wilson matter handled.”

Schuster has the report. Watch it:


SCHUSTER: During opening arguments in the case against Scooter Libby, prosecutors outlined evidence about Vice President Cheney’s role in the leak of CIA operative Valerie Wilson that is new and will astound a number of people, even those who have been following this case. The prosecutors said the evidence will make it clear that the very first government official who told Scooter Libby about Valerie Wilson, the wife of a critic and the fact that she was working at the CIA, the very first person who told him that was Vice Ppresident Cheney. The prosecutor said the evidence will also show Vice President Cheney himself directed Scooter Libby to essentially go around protocol and deal with the press and handle press himself, that Scooter Libby should be the one talking to the press to try to beat back the criticism of administration critic Joe Wilson.

Prosecutors also revealed today that Vice President Cheney himself wrote out for Scooter Libby what Scooter Libby should say in a conversation with Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper. It was during that conversation when Scooter Libby provided confirmation to Cooper that Valerie Wilson worked at the CIA. In addition, there were some blockbuster revelations this morning about Scooter Libby’s actions before he testified to the FBI about the original leak. According to prosecutors, the evidence will show that Scooter Libby destroyed a note from Vice President Cheney about their conversations and about how Vice President Cheney wanted the Wilson matter handled.

There was other information that came out about Vice President Cheney. The prosecutors talked about the State of the Union speech where the president made a false claim about reasons for war with Iraq — the idea that Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger. When that came out, and the white house was trying to figure out who should take responsibility, according to prosecutors, Vice President Cheney repeatedly urged the Director of the CIA George Tenet to take full responsibility and that no blame whatsoever should land on the president or Office of the Vice President.

It was blockbuster developments about Vice President Cheney. This is the kind of information that supporters of the Vice President have feared would come out in this trial. The Vice President is not accused of any wrongdoin, but prosecutors are building their case, trying to give the jury a motive for why Scooter Libby did what he did as far as blaming reporters for passing along classified information when, the prosecutors allege, he learned that from the beginning from the Vice President.

9:35 PM  

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