Richard Cheney

Torture Connection: 
The man behind the curtain
  • Born 1941, Lincoln, Nebraska. Grew up in Casper, Wyoming.
  • Attended Yale University, states that he "flunked out."
  • B.A., M.A. in Political Science from University of Wyoming
  • Began Ph.D. program at University of Wisconsin, did not complete it.
  • Staffer for Donald Rumsfeld at Office of Economic Opportunity during late sixties
  • Staffer in Nixon White House
  • Chief of Staff to President Ford, replacing Rumsfeld.
  • Represented Wyoming in House, 1978-1989
  • Chairman and CEO of Halliburton.
  • Vice-President, 2001-2009.

Cheney’s quiver of dark political arts includes torture

Despite no portfolio of governmental responsibilities and no footing in the political or military chain of command, Vice-President Cheney, by all accounts, extended the reach and control of the Bush administration to an unprecedented extent. He consolidated power via unflinching deployment of secrecy, surveillance, political purges, bureaucratic backstabbing, rogue operations, and even torture. Although he publicly defended torture as critical to national security, evidence strongly suggests that his torture policy was instead rooted in panic and paranoia—if he could only force prisoners to “confess” that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and ties to al-Qaida, then his crumbling case for war might be salvaged, and with it his wellspring of power: the fearfulness of the American people. He pursued torture, along with kidnapping, assassination, and indefinite detention in secret “black sites,” not because the United States was in grave danger but because his own political schemes and fantasies seemed threatened.

Rogue operations in Pentagon provide Cheney with power base

Cheney and his lawyer David Addington, who eventually became his chief of staff, hijacked bureaucrats deep in the bowels of the Pentagon to establish the vice-president’s own secret intelligence service, Mideast think tank, law office, and war-planning operation. Staffers in these offices completely bypassed the official chain of command and answered directly to Cheney, providing him with “intelligence” reports, legal memos, background papers, and policy documents to orchestrate the runup to war beginning in 2001. Torture—“taking the gloves off”—was part of the planning from the start. Although he was rarely seen in public and almost never spoke publicly while in office, he and his cabal of loyalists rode roughshod over administration officials and/or agencies they viewed as obstacles to Cheney’s war plans. Occasionally, other officials were able to stop him—as, for example, when he attempted to use the army instead of the FBI to arrest U.S. citizens with suspected links to terrorist organizations. But more often, Cheney got his way, ensuring that the government wiretapped, kidnapped, and tortured at will, all in the name of a war against that sort of behavior.

For Cheney, torture helps sustain climate of fear

Within minutes after the World Trade Center towers collapsed, Cheney had tasked his loyalists with producing reasons why Saddam Hussein must be involved in the hijackings and why the U.S. response should include the neocons’ long-sought dream of regime change in Iraq. His rogue intelligence operation within the Department of Defense concocted “evidence” of such a link, along with “proof” that Saddam Hussein was building nuclear bombs and hoarding chemical weapons and other tools of mass destruction. He insisted that interrogation of high-level prisoners in both Afghanistan and Iraq would yield confessions detailing Iraq’s role in the 9/11 attacks as well as Saddam Hussein’s stockpile of weapons of mass destruction. When no such evidence emerged, he called for intensification of the brutality in the interrogation procession, waterboarding suspects over and over again, depriving them of sleep, chaining them in stress positions, and torturing them in every way he and his henchmen could devise. Cheney’s own hysteria that the case for war was crumbling fed his panicky obsession with extreme torture. The intelligence and confessions he wanted could shore up his power base within the administration and also—by stoking red-hot fear in the American population—strengthen the hand of the administration in general.

Cheney shows contempt for rule of law

Early on, Cheney identified like-minded loyalists among the Bush administration lawyers, notably John Yoo. He tasked Yoo with drafting legal memos supporting his plans for war and for drastically expanding executive powers. To please Cheney, Yoo and other lawyers wrote that the First and Fourth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution could be ignored, that our Geneva Conventions treaty obligations did not bind us, that Congressional statutes requiring CIA oversight and FISA warrants for wiretapping need not be observed, that detainees could be tortured at the President’s discretion, and in general that Congress could not restrict any executive-branch activities carried out in the name of national security. To Cheney, torture was not an evil to be avoided except in dire circumstances; in his world, torture was routine daily business, to be embraced enthusiastically as a crucial underpinning of American politics--in his words, "a no-brainer."

Sources on Richard Cheney

The Intercept
The New York Times
The Hill
The Monitor
Consortium News
Global Researc
The Canadian Press
The American Prospect
Daily Kos
HuffPost News
The Atlantic
Moderate Voice
Human Rights First
The Guardian
The Guardian
American Torture
Fire Dog Lake
Fire Dog Lake
Huffington Post
The New Yorker
Seattle Times
Washington Post
Washington Post
Washington Post