Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Cheney -- the magnet you can't see.

As the Post reports, Cheney has been the driving force behind some of the most controversial decisions -- and some of the most legally suspect -- in the Bush White House.

Even while Americans awaited the legal outcome of the 2000 election and word of who our next president would be, Cheney got busy laying the groundwork for a Bush administration featuring Cheney allies in key positions. With these people, his deep knowledge of government's inner workings and his attachment to a naive and manipulable president, Cheney established his own shadowy reign over the land of the free.

While the attacks of Sept. 11 were under way -- the World Trade Center towers were still smoking -- Cheney began assembling lawyers to secretly stake out legal justification for expanded executive powers. We didn't even know who we would be fighting, but somehow our vice president knew that two centuries of precedent wouldn't be enough. The wartime powers historically wielded by presidents -- willingly given by a Congress that understood the gravity of war -- paled in comparison to the leeway Cheney staked out.

Now, six years later, the blowback from these clandestine power grabs that led us into war, torture and the abrogation of civil rights may have weakened the White House as an institution.

"The irony with the Cheney crowd pushing the envelope on presidential power is that the president has now ended up with lesser powers than he would have had if they had made less extravagant, monarchical claims," Bruce Fein, an associate deputy attorney general under President Ronald Reagan, told the Post.

Cheney's furtive legal manipulations laid the groundwork for Americans to perpetrate torture abroad and warrantless eavesdropping at home. He was a lead architect of the war in Iraq. We deposed a ruthless dictator but, lacking any post-war plan, also sparked a civil war that claims American lives every day.

Cheney's accomplishments don't stop there. Environment, tax and energy policy all feel the hand of Cheney, in overt and covert ways.

"You know that experiment where you pass a magnet under the table and you see the iron filings on the top of the table move?" former Bush speech writer David Frum told the Post. "You know there's a magnet there because of what you see happening, but you never see the magnet."

That's Cheney.