Saturday, September 09, 2006

Dick Cheney Appoints Official Biographer

Ron Suskind, The New York Times, October 17, 2004:

In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''

Vice-President President Cheney is creating his own reality again: He has commissioned a right-wing propagandist to be his official biographer:

With two and a half years remaining in the Bush administration, Dick Cheney has appointed his own official biographer -- a choice that illuminates the vice president's deeply held view of truth and history.

Cheney's rise from a modest background in Casper, Wyoming to become the most powerful vice president in American history is a story that contains many unresolved and still murky aspects that would demand the most diligent scholarship and acute judgment on the part of a biographer. Cheney's complex relationships with a cast of characters over decades, providing a tour d'horizon of the Republican ascendancy, would also require intensive investigation. For example, Cheney's long alliance with Donald Rumsfeld, beginning in the Nixon White House when he was hired to serve as Rumsfeld's deputy, would call for the deepest scrutiny.

Cheney's ambiguous and ambivalent relationship with George Bush Sr, would need assiduous and careful telling. When Cheney was President Ford's chief of staff he helped elevate Bush to President Ford's CIA director while at the same time frustrating Bush's ambition to become Ford's vice president. He then received appointment as President Bush's secretary of defence, supportive of halting the war before seizing Baghdad, and then as vice president purging elder Bush's associates for their realism. Cheney's long cold war with Colin Powell, with whom he battled from the Gulf War, when General Powell was Bush Sr's chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, to the Iraq war, when Powell was secretary of state, would entail utmost attention. Other relationships would also demand study, including Cheney's mentorship when he was the house Republican whip of the far-right backbencher Newt Gingrich and his guidance of Gingrich into the Republican leadership. Of course, Cheney's secretive exercise of extraordinary power in the current Bush administration must be the central focus of the historian's effort.

For this Herculean task, Cheney has passed over every single professional historian and instead selected Stephen Hayes, a writer for the neoconservative organ, the Weekly Standard. "I'm not a historian," Hayes told US News, modestly.

For years, Hayes has doggedly attempted to prove links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida in order to buttress Cheney's uncorroborated claims. From the run-up to the Iraq invasion to the present he has been relentless in publishing articles purporting to disclose conclusive evidence that has been repeatedly, consistently and thoroughly debunked by major news organisations.

Hayes is the guy who wrote the Weekly Standard piece, "Case Closed," which used a leaked memo written by Douglas Feith, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy in Bush's first term, to "prove" that Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda were in cahoots together. "Case Closed" is the article Cheney recommended to the Rocky Mountain News as "the best source of information" on the relationship between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. And Curt at Flopping Aces cites "Case Closed" (as I mentioned here) as part of the "mountain of information" he claims is out there to show that Saddam and Al Qaeda were connected.

One problem: Doug Feith was part of the small cabal of Bush officials who cherry-picked the intelligence to justify the invasion they had already decided to do:

"Dick Cheney Was Right" ran the headline on a Hayes piece of October 20 2003, followed by a cover story in The Weekly Standard on November 14, 2003, entitled "Case Closed". Unfortunately, the Washington Post and Newsweek promptly discredited his "proof," a leaked memo written by the neoconservative undersecretary of defence Douglas Feith. Newsweek's report, "Case Decidedly Not Closed: The defense dept. memo allegedly proving a link between al-Qaida and Saddam does nothing of the sort," stated that Hayes's account was "mostly based on unverified claims that were first advanced by some top Bush administration officials more than a year ago -- and were largely discounted at the time by the US intelligence community, according to current and former US intelligence officials."

So that should tell you the level of historical and academic integrity you can expect from a Cheney bio authored by Stephen Hayes.

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