The Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes, who is Dick Cheney’s official biographer, is making the rounds of the chat fests to sell his book. From the book, we are told what Ron Suskind already told us far more effectively in “The One Percent Doctrine”: that Dick Cheney is obsessed with making us more secure, and will go to any means to get us there. This is an overly generous whitewashing of Cheney’s overreaching desire to put in place the unitary executive and return the country to an imperial presidency under the cloak of fighting terrorists at every street corner, in effect giving the executive unlimited war making powers free from congressional oversight inconsistent with the Constitution.
Even if one adopts the most charitable view of Cheney possible, that his deeds should be excused because they are allegedly rooted in a benevolent determination to make us safer, his record of failure argues for his replacement.
1. He was presented with a plan to go after Al Qaeda in early 2001, and instead he and Condi Rice shelved it until we were attacked eight months later.
2. From the earliest days of the administration, he worked in secret on a plan aimed at increasing our access to oil supplies, and yet he has failed at developing an energy policy that makes us more independent, thereby endangering our national security.
3. In the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, he and Donald Rumsfeld were more energized about going after Saddam Hussein than they were in killing those who attacked us.
4. He put in place an illegal detention and interrogation program against detainees, whether they are enemy combatants or everyday Iraqis that has yielded little over the last five years.
5. He passed on a chance to get Osama Bin Laden at Tora Bora, and then repeated similar mistakes with al-Zarqawi several times.
6. He redirected Afghan war resources without congressional authorization towards a war with Iraq, a war that has crippled our ability to threaten and close down Al Qaeda.
7. He approved a war plan that had too few troops for maintaining the peace, and retaliated against critics instead of listening to them.
8. In an act of political retaliation, he authorized the destruction of an intelligence asset and front company, Brewster Jennings, that was covertly tracking Iran's nuclear development efforts.
9. He continued to spew lies about Saddam, Al Qaeda, and 9/11 to this day, and his biographer himself makes straw man arguments about his opponents instead of dealing factually with criticism.
10. He encouraged a plan whereby the Pakistani government would give a safe haven to the Taliban and by connection Al Qaeda, a safe haven than his own NIE has now concluded is the reason for a resurging Al Qaeda six years after 9/11.
11. He argues for a indefinite commitment of battle-weary forces to policing a civil war of his own making, a war that has created a second base of operations for Al Qaeda, instead of redeploying our forces back to their primary mission of destroying those who attacked us on 9/11.
12. He argues against a diplomatic course in the region even when we have common ground with the Iranians against Al Qaeda, and instead encourages the Saudis to bankroll Sunni extremism against Shiites, inviting all-out regional conflict that will destabilize our allies and endanger our access to oil.
13. He looked the other way while Pakistan supported Al Qaeda and allowed A. Q. Khan to market nuclear weaponry to terrorists groups, and stalled chances to stop North Korea from selling nuclear material to those same terror groups for years.
14. To this day, he has no idea how to stop and eliminate Al Qaeda and those who attacked us on 9/11, and instead enables terrorists and war profits for his company and the defense industry.
15. His office among the executive branch cannot account for its handling of national security material, and two of his staff have already been convicted of felonies related to national security.
And now, we are supposed to give Hayes’ book a serious reading because Dick Cheney is only watching out for all of us? Instead, it boggles the mind to see how one administration could make this many mistakes, and if such a record was racked up by a Democratic president and vice-president, the Mighty Wurlitzer would be calling for their heads.
Cheney and Bush will leave this country in 2009 worse off and far less safe than they found it in 2001. Instead of giving Cheney a pass, he should be impeached for failing to defend the country.