September 9, 2009
The following is an excerpt from David Swanson’s best-selling Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union on the subject of Dick Cheney’s acts while in the White House and their effects on the Constitution even today. The article is reprinted as it appeared today on AlterNet:
. . . Nixon doesn’t even come close. Nixon never kept as much of our government secret as Bush-Cheney did, and when push came to shove, he gave up some of his secrets and left town. Nixon’s former legal counsel John Dean agrees that the Cheney-Bush gang far surpassed Nixonian levels of secrecy and abuse of power. Not to mention lawyerly deviousness. Cheney claimed privileges supposedly belonging to the executive branch when it suited him. For example, he refused to comply with subpoenas because “the president and the vice president are constitutional officers and don’t appear before the Congress.” At other times, Cheney claimed to be part of Congress in order to avoid complying with rules governing the executive branch. Hence the conclusion that if Cheney belonged to any branch it had to be the hitherto unheard of Dick Cheney Branch, which perhaps existed in Cheney’s well-known “undisclosed location.” Speaking of which, the fact that there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell that Vice President Joe Biden will reveal the nature of the bunker Cheney created at the vice presidential residence makes a nice analogy for how power accumulates from one ruler to the next. It’s much easier to create and pass down than it is to refuse. . .
All in all, Dick Cheney dramatically enlarged the powers of the vice presidency, claiming for it authority that rightfully belongs to other sections of the government, or to no section of government at all. These powers will lie around like a loaded weapon on the vice presidential estate and in the White House. These powers may be abused by any new duumvirate in the near or distant future.
Much more on Cheney’s powers, the history of the vice presidency, and what America needs to do to move forward can be found at the AlterNet posting — or by picking up a copy of Daybreak from Seven Stories.