S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Spotlight on Cheney

Borrowing this photo from TWN, today's focus is on Vice President Dick Cheney (bio in title link above).

Due to the indictment of his Chief of Staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libbey, and problems with gout, he had been keeping a low profile. But it seems that the "Veep" is back in business.

Newsmaker - Before the close of last year's legislative calendar, he cast a major tie-breaking vote in the Senate. And the VP has resurfaced in the news since the beginning of this year. He has traveled to the Middle East. He made a major speech on January 19 at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.

Veep and Halliburton - It is probably not related, but the stock market plunged last Friday. Progress Now Action notes that Cheney is still doing well with Halliburton, however. To quote,
Like I say, it's all about what stocks you're checking. Notably, Dick Cheney's Halliburton closed at an all-time high of $75.50 a share yesterday. Bet he's not feeling much pain, and that's before you factor in the gout pills.
It is still a mystery how the Vice President has been able to hold on to his Halliburton stock since it is a conflict of interest for him. In another conflict of interest, Halliburton is by far the largest single no-bid contracter in Iraq. The company has had many ups and downs. This is probably a down. Senator Dorgan will begin looking into it today. AP reporter, Larry Margasak, reports that Halliburton has been cited for exposing troops in Iraq to contaminated water. Quote,
Water supplied to a U.S. base in Iraq was contaminated and the contractor in charge, Halliburton, failed to tell troops and civilians at the facility, according to internal documents from the company and interviews with former Halliburton officials. . . the company once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney denied there was a contamination problem at Camp Junction City, in Ramadi. . . Senate Democrats who are holding a public inquiry into the allegations Monday. Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., who will chair the session, held a number of similar inquiries last year on contracting abuses in Iraq.
Opinions in the blogs - Highly respected blogger, Steve Clemons at the Washington Note does not pull any punches with his evaluation of Cheney in a recent post urging Senator Reid to show more backbone. I quote,
However, as I told Senator Reid yesterday, Democrats have too much of a tendency to concede defeat before the battle has really been fought . . . I believe that the reasonable and sensible personalities in the Bush administration should be supported while the clan that holds close to Vice President Cheney -- and which is responsible for the worst disasters of Bush's term -- need to be exposed and vilified.
Veep on spying on Americans - According to a Washington Post article published January 4, Vice President Cheney claimed that the NSA secret wiretapping program was justified,
Vice President Cheney said yesterday that the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks might have been prevented if the Bush administration had had the power to secretly monitor conversations involving two of the hijackers without court orders. . . Cheney told a small group of conservatives at the Heritage Foundation that instead of being able to "pick up" on the terrorist plot "we didn't know they were here plotting until it was too late.". . . In his speech, scheduled as part of a White House offensive to defend the recently disclosed surveillance program, Cheney painted an ominous portrait of U.S. security without the controversial practice. . . Cheney said the National Security Agency program, combined with the expanded surveillance powers authorized by the USA Patriot Act, has saved lives -- and thwarted terrorist attacks. "No one can guarantee that we won't be hit again, but neither should anyone say that the relative safety of the last four years came as an accident," Cheney said. "America has been protected not by luck but by sensible policy decisions."

Clemons calls for the exposure of Cheney. The current Vice President has often been exposed, but there have just been no consequences for him. He seems immune. And he has always seemed "detached." In fact, he may literally be detached in ways that do not serve the nation well. Ex CIA operative Larry Johnson suggests that Cheney is not involved enough with the intelligence community. Johnson worries that we would not be able to catch Osama bin Laden before he attacks America again. Do you suppose the Veep is counting on the NSA domestic surveillance program to keep us safe? To quote from Larry Johnson's TPMCafe post,
. . . the bureaucratic walls that separated the law enforcement and intelligence communities prior to 9-11 are back up and higher than ever. I was given this bad news two weeks ago by an old friend . . . debacle of 9-11. The only way to break through the log jam of bureaucratic politics and stovepiping is for the President or Vice President to make forging interagency cooperation a priority. . . If they fail to act and the old status quo, which has reemerged with a
vengeance, remains in place then Bin Laden will eventually succeed. . . Bin Laden speaks clearly on this point: Quote, "As for us, we do not have anything to lose. The swimmer in the sea does not fear rain. You have occupied our land, defiled our honour, violated our dignity, shed our blood, ransacked our money, demolished our houses, rendered us homeless, and tampered with our security. We will treat you in the same way." . . .
"we have been warned," concluded Johnson.
Veep and Homeland Security - NPR's Robert Smith reports that the broadcast of the bin Laden tape will not raise the U.S. official security threat level. Again there is the Vice President's apparent detachment. I quote from their 1/20 blurb,
U.S. authorities say the release of a new audiotape . . . will not prompt an increase in the terror-threat level. The al Qaeda leader also makes a vague reference to a truce offer on the tape, which Vice President Cheney and other officials dismissed.
Veep on Iran - Is Vice President Cheney detached from what happens in Iran or not? Is he setting the stage for an invasion, or attack on Iran or not? He is keeping his cards very close to his chest. A larger number of people in the government need to know his plans because what he wants is always taken seriously by our current president. The neocons are still in charge. I have no doubt about that. The Political Gateway reports that "US Vice President Dick Cheney on Thursday warned against seeing US military intervention in Iraq as a precedent for possible action to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon." He hints about Iran:
"The fact of the matter is, it is a problem for the world if the Iranians have nuclear weapons, especially with a government headed up by the kind of individual that's there today," he said. "We are working aggressively to avoid having that situation arise."

Vice President Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld continue to wield enormous power in the imperial Bush administration. We need to keep the spotloght on them. I will focus on Rumsfeld in a subsequent post. If we fail to keep watch, we remain at risk for further erosion of the well-being of our nation.
My "creative" post today at Southwest Blogger is about BEING A "CITY KID".

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