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The Bush-Cheney Tapes: Fresh Evidence For George W. Bush's Ranking As the Worst U.S. President

12/09/2005 09:54 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

President Feared Gestapo-style U.S. Torture Hurt His "Compassionate Conservative" Image

"The National Security Agency has released hundreds of pages of long-secret documents on the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident..." --"Vietnam War Intelligence 'Deliberately Skewed,'" Secret Study Says, N.Y. Times, December 2, 2005

"One former senior official, who served in Bush's first term, (said that) after September 11 he was told that Bush felt that `God put me here' to deal with the war on terror. Bush saw the (2002 Republican Congressional) victory as a purposeful message from God that `he's the man.' Publicly, Bush depicted his reelection as a referendum on the war; privately, he spoke of it as another manifestation of divine purpose." -- "Up In the Air," Seymour Hersh, The New Yorker, November 28, 2005

WASHINGTON, DECEMBER 9, 2045: The National Security Agency has released hundreds of pages of long-secret telephone transcripts of conversations between former President George W. Bush and his Vice-President Richard Cheney, that occurred in December 2005, at a low point in the Bush Presidency.

These tapes provide the first confirmation of reports by Seymour Hersh, a well-known New Yorker journalist. Hersh had reported that Mr. Bush refused to pull out of Iraq, despite the massive evidence that his intervention was a fiasco strengthening America's enemies, partly because he believed his policy was divinely-inspired.

The tapes are also noteworthy for revealing Mr. Bush's hitherto unknown concerns about the damage done to his personal image from his identification with torture. While the President had no moral qualms about torturing people without evidence of their guilt, he apparently did fear that doing so might hurt his image as a "compassionate conservative." He is heard on the tape expressing concern that he was looking like an "idiot" for claiming the U.S. didn't torture even as his Administration lobbied for torture; and he feared appearing "weird" because the U.S. was practicing the same near-drowning technique - called "waterboarding" - that was commonly used by the Nazi Gestapo in World War II.

This material will not only be a boon for historians of the Bush-Cheney Presidency, but also lexicographers interested in the etymology of the common use of their names. Both men's names have become epithets among the younger generation who, according to a recent poll, agree with the statement that "the world would be a far better place today had George W. Bush and Richard Cheney never been born" by a margin of 95-5. A majority of 85-15 agreed with the statement that "George W. Bush and Richard Cheney would have been found guilty of crimes against humanity had international laws forbidding torture, to which the U.S. was a signatory, been applied to them."

"Bush" is defined by the new Webster's as "1. adj. foolish, stupid, dumb; 2. n. an individual with native intelligence who is mentally lazy and emotionally disengaged, and has no idea of the immense damage he does. 3. n. an insecure leader needing constant praise who is indifferent to the fate of his own descendants and future generations."

"Cheney", is defined as "1. adj. venal; evil 2. n. a torturer and war criminal, responsible for torturing other human beings without evidence of their guilt in violation of international law, human decency, and common sense. 3. n. a vulgar, foul-mouthed, deceptive, secretive, opportunist with no moral center."

Polls show that Mr. Bush is regarded by the public and historians alike as by far the worst leader in American history. His name is cursed globally because his Administration accelerated the global warming and other biospheric problems which have in recent decades killed so many millions, impoverished so many tens of millions more, led to the disappearance of numerous coastal regions and much of Bangladesh, and caused mass migrations and diseases on a scale never before seen in human history.

And he is hated in his own country for having amassed a huge government debt which Americans today are still repaying, and for his wrong-headed intervention in Iraq - which fatally weakened the U.S. military, needlessly killed thousands of young Americans, and vastly increased the Muslim terrorism which has killed hundreds of thousands of American citizens. Historians date the decline of America to Mr. Bush's Administration (2000-2008).

Discussing the significance of the tapes, Harvard historian John Adams explained:

"These tapes are significant because they occurred in December 2005, the period which launched the psychological meltdown which occurred during Mr. Bush's final three years in office. Bush, regarded as second-rate `junior' to his far more successful father throughout his life, had finally begun to feel like a man in his own right after winning re-election in 2004. But then things fell apart for him in 2005.

"The President is revealed in these tapes as a deeply insecure man who compensated for his inner feelings of inadequacy with a surface bluster and superstitious belief that he was acting on God's orders. These conversations give a clearer insight into why he did so much damage between 2006 and 2008, accusing his critics of having "stabbed America in the back", and sowing a legacy of national discord. Fearing that he had failed his lifelong psychological project of becoming a man worthy of respect in his own right, he just didn't give a psychological damn anymore.

"And finally, these tapes reveal that Richard Cheney is commonly regarded `as the most powerful Vice-President in U.S. history' because Mr. Bush was psychologically dominated by him. They help explain why he continued to rely on Mr. Cheney despite his disastrous and wrong-headed advice on Iraq, defense and energy policy, and torture, and the indictment of Mr. Cheney's chief of staff for perjury. These tapes also confirm that Mr. Cheney possessed a mean streak and unusual foul-mouthed vulgarity. This had been suspected after he lost control of himself and snarled "go fuck yourself!" to a respected Senator on the floor of the U.S. Senate, but its extent has not been revealed until now.

The full transcript of a December 9 conversation between Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney follows:

BUSH: "Dick, I understand the Democrats criticizing us, that's just politics. But you need to go down to Congress and talk turkey to the Judases on our side of the aisle. Remind them how I said before the last election that I listen to the greatest Father of them all here. How could anyone in their right mind not understand that when the Big Man talks, I have to listen? They need to understand that pulling out is not an option unless we want to lose His favor. And if that happens, they face eternal damnation! They need to get rational here. Have they lost their minds? Can't they think any more? Are they really willing to ignore the evidence that we are only doing what He wants?

CHENEY: "Mr. President, I am on my f___g way!

BUSH: Take 'em through the evidence, Dick. Logically. First I lose the popular vote in 2000. But He ensures that a Republican Supreme Court puts me in anyway. Second by making me President when 9/11 happens, not that gutless Al Gore, He ensures that America has a strong leader to combat those godless fanatics. Third, the Democrats put up a brainy war hero in 2004. But He so addles his brain - "I voted for the bill after I voted against it", letting the Swifties kneecap him - that I win in a walk. And the number He does on Dan Rather! Hoo boy! Fourth, He is presently protecting America. It's been a certified miracle there have been no more 9/11s given how fouled up Homeland Security has become.

"These are facts, see. Anyone with half a brain can see what they mean. And ask them this, Dick: is your seat in Congress worth a lifetime in Hell? How much more evidence do they need to see that God put me here to deal with the war on terror? I want you to ask each one of them directly: do you really expect the President of the United States, who has accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior, to disobey the Lord Our God? What are they thinking? Are they nuts? Failure is not an option, not for anyone who wants to sit at the right hand of God for the rest of time!

CHENEY: "I hear you, Mr. President, and don't worry about a f____g thing. By the time I'm done with those p___ies, they'll be eating out of our hands. And as for the Democrats, we'll have one basic message for them: "go f_____ yourself!" We're going to shove that talk of troops withdrawals right up their big fat Democratic a___es! Big time! They'll be f___g squealing for mercy like Iraqi prisoners, the a___h___s! Can you imagine that c___ Pelosi (NB: Nancy Pelosi, leader of House Democrats) challenging your leadership? That b___h is actually the perfect symbol for those Democrats: they have no b___s! Heh, heh. Get it?"

BUSH: "Heh, heh. Yeh. And look Dick, remind them that as good a man as my father was, when he left office Saddam did not. It took me - and my Great Helper In the Sky - to do what my earthly father could not. I'm the man, Dick! Chosen by our Heavenly Father!"

CHENEY: "F___ g A, Mr. President! You know I loved your father, but he just didn't have your b__s when the s___t hit the fan. History will record that you're more of a f___ ing man than your father ever was. I was there, Mr. President, and he and that p____sy Brent (National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, a former mentor to the opportunistic Cheney, who said in 2005 he no longer knew who the formerly centrist Cheney was) were p____g in their pants at the idea of overthrowing Saddam. It took a man like you to stick it right up Saddam's a____ hole."

BUSH: "Right, Dick. I hear you. But I gotta ask you about one thing. This whole torture business. I know we've got to torture, but I sound like an idiot. On the one hand you've got me saying we never torture. On the other, you've got me saying we need to torture so bad that I'm going to veto the Defense Bill because of the anti-torture clause. (An amendment submitted by Senator John McCain disallowing torture.)

"I don't get it. How can I both say we never torture and lobby for torture at the same time? And I'm worried that it doesn't really work with the `compassionate conservative' thing. I mean it looks funny."

MR. CHENEY: "Mr. President, torture is a defining hallmark of this Administration. It is what we are f___ all about. Strength. Standing up to f___g terrorism! Your ability to torture people who oppose this nation is non-f___g negotiable. The problem is that sanctimonious p____k McCain, who's just trying to position himself for 2008. I know the a___hole was tortured in Hanoi and all that. But g____n it, he needs to get over it, to stop being a f___g cry-baby and start thinking of his country! It helped us then to beat up on those a__holes the North Vietnamese for torturing. But now we need a free hand to f___g do it ourselves."

MR. BUSH: "Yeh, yeh, McCain! `Please don't torture me, please don't torture me!' He's pitiful. But we've still got a problem here, Dick. I mean I was watching this World War II movie the other night, and the Nazi GESTAPO (emphasis added) was ducking people in water. And the next day I read in the Washington Post that we're doing the same thing, calling it `waterboarding'. It looks weird. I mean, the Gestapo?

MR. CHENEY: "Mr. President, I told you how the media has reported that Condi (Secretary of State Condelezza Rice) is as popular as a f___ing "global rock star" these days! Those stupid Japs went crazy for that idiotic P.R. gimmick of having that fat Jap (NB: a nationally-known Sumo wrestler) meet her plane. Plus, as you so wisely predicted, nothing goes over better with those politically correct European a___ holes than a Negro gal.

Just yesterday she had those s___head NATO Defense ministers saying torture was a non-issue after just meeting with her for an hour! If anyone can make torture a non-f____g issue, Mr. President, she can. And the best part of it is she won't be like that p___k (NB: former Secretary of State) Colin Powell, judasing you out later on. She's loyal, Mr. President!"

BUSH: "Oh, yeah, isn't Condi a great gal! Condi'll do anything I ask her. Anything! Can you imagine a former provost for Stanford University willing to justify torture? Now that's loyalty!"

MR. CHENEY: "Mr. President, the basic issue is f___g simple. Torture is the only way to get information, g_____ it! How are we to stop those motherf___g ragheads if we're not allowed to torture their sorry little a___s? The great leaders of history like yourself were not weak p___ies worried about `human rights'. You know as well as I do it's the winners who write the f___g history books. When we prevail in Iraq, noone is going to remember your killing that d___h__d McCain's amendment."

MR. BUSH: "Well, I know one thing, Dick. We're going to win in Iraq, no matter what the N.Y. Times says. Of course, they're godless atheists, they can't understand. But I know that My Father did not bring me this far to fail me now. Why would He do that? It just doesn't make sense. People need to use their heads, darn it! I can't even imagine pulling out of Iraq. It would make a mockery of me and everything this Administration stands for. Not going to happen!"

MR. CHENEY: "Of course, Mr. President, withdrawal is a non-f____ starter. The only way we can lose is if those spineless a____holes in Congress force us out. And if that happens, we'll make sure that every American knows that our brave young boys were stabbed in the back here at home by the f_____ Democrats. We are going to f____ these b____ds so badly that they'll be p___ing in their pants! F___ them, Mr. President, you have nothing to worry about! Your place in history is secure!

MR. BUSH: "Well, Dick, I'm sure you're as right on this as you have been on everything else!"

To explore the impact of these tapes on the younger generation, these transcripts were shown to a group of college students studying American politics at Georgetown University.

"Boy, I never understood the real meaning of the word bush before. What an idiot Bush was! How could he keep Cheney around after he totally screwed up on the war in Iraq, energy policy, torture and so much else?," asked Stacey Kelly, a freshman.

And the Vice-President - what a cheney!," said David Brown, a second-year student. "How could America allow itself be so identified with torture?," he added. "Why wasn't this cheney seen as the national disgrace he was? Couldn't people see that he shamed and dishonored an entire nation, turned the world against us, and vastly increased the torture of Americans?"

"Don't be bush, dude!," George Smith, also a second-year student, said. "All those cheney lobbyists and corporations were getting rich. They kept the Republicans in control of Congress to the very end, so impeachment wasn't on the table. It would have taken a revolution to turn things around!

"The bottom-line is that a large segment of the public was so afraid of terrorism that they turned to the President to protect them, even though his incompetence was the greatest ally the terrorists had. Given this, it would have taken alot more integrity and courage than either the mass media, Democrats, or other opinion-leaders possessed to tell the real truth to the American people.

"Reading these transcripts just confirms what we already know, dude. Those venal idiots are dead and gone, but we're still here, paying for their bush and cheney mistakes. And our kids and grandkids will still be paying for them for a long time to come. It's cheney, man, really cheney. If only they'd never been born."