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From: Eric Berlin @ Center-Left'))
To: Phillip Winn @ Center-Right
Subject: Vice President Cheney
There are so many topics to talk about in politics at the moment – the war in Iraq, a myriad of political scandals, Supreme Court nominee Alito, just to name three – but one question keeps coming up for me again and again:
What's up with Vice President Cheney?
For all extents and purposes, Cheney is the head of a once powerful force in Republican circles known as the neoconservatives (or neocons), or those who wish to use American military power to transform the world into a place that is both safer and more secure for the United States. The war in Iraq, of course, was the first big test of this worldview and strategy. 9/11 provided the impetus for the neocons to really take the helm at the White House, driven by Cheney's close proximity to President Bush's ear and a Karl Rove-led PR machine that drove home the message that went something like the following:
Terrorists = bad.
Saddam Hussein = bad.
We must fight terrorists there so we don't have to fight them here.
Saddam's gotta go.
Cut to 2005 and we're still in Iraq and American soldiers are giving up their lives to increasingly sophisticated insurgent attacks. Recent developments have also brought us back to the run-up to the war, particularly the PR machine that was run out of the Vice President's office. Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff, Scooter Libby, is under indictment for perjury and obstruction of justice in the matter of revealing CIA operative Valery Plame's identity in an effort to destroy the reputation of former Ambassador Joe Wilson, who, lo and behold, tried to put the brakes on the Let's Go War! dance by refuting claims that Saddam Hussein tried to purchase from Niger materials that could be used in the construction of nuclear weapons. (Full disclosure: the British claim that Hussein actually did try to purchase these materials, so who knows what the truth is?)
So, Cheney is at the center of a war policy that, by the best of estimates, is not going very well, and is perilously close to a political scandal that is toxic to an already floundering administration. So what does he do? Go to Disney Land?
Nope, he's a sole voice in the wilderness in support of torturing detainees.
Just last week, Cheney showed up at a Republican senatorial luncheon to lobby lawmakers for a CIA exemption to an amendment by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) that would ban torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners. The exemption would cover the CIA's covert "black sites" in several Eastern European democracies and other countries where key al Qaeda captives are being kept.
So I ask you, Phillip, old buddy: