Washington Post reporter Barton Gelman's book on Dick Cheney is embargoed until Tuesday, although two excerpts have run in the Post on Sunday and Monday. But the publisher is keeping the rest of the book under wraps for a while.
Here is a gem from a still embargoed portion of the book (I obtained my copy through someone other than the publisher, and as such did not break their embargo): According to the book, Cheney turned down a request from President Bush to take charge of the federal response to Hurricane Katrina, shortly after the Katrina made landfall on August 29, 2005.
Gellman writes that Cheney simply turned down the president -- something then-presidential counselor Dan Bartlett apparently remains unhappy about until present day.
From the book:
Days after the storm had passed, when he finally returned to Washington from Crawford, Bush assembled his senior staff in the Oval Office. He was going to set up a cabinet-level task force, he said.
"I asked Dick if he'd be interested in spearheading this," Bush announced, "Let's just say I didn't get the most positive response." Bush nodded ironically toward the vice president, putting on a show for the others: Card, Rove, Bartlett, Condi Rice. His expression, the tone of voice, had a hint of edge. Can you believe this guy?
Anyone who had face time with Bush said he was smarter than the public believed, and meaner. He spared Cheney the thunderbolts -- Rove got the worst of them, when Bush was in a mood to yell -- but now and then aides saw the president give Cheney the back of his hand.
"Will you at least go do a fact-finding trip for us?" Bush said.
"That'll probably be the extent of it, Mr. President, unless you order otherwise," Cheney replied. He was the Cheshire Cat inverted, only the smile dissolving, the rest of him still in the chair.
As well as he knew the two of them, Bartlett had to fight an impulse to roll his eyes. Katrina was shaping up as a true catastrophe. New Orleans was four-fifths under water, and the Gulf Coast had suffered grievous losses of life and property. The leisurely pace of federal action was not doing a bit of good for Bush. "Cheney wanted nothing to do with it," Bartlett said. Looking back on that moment, the president's counselor remained of two minds:
Cheney was the Master of Disaster, one of the government's most capable emergency managers. "It would send a powerful signal of our level of concern" to put the vice president in charge, Bartlett said. Eventually, though, Bartlett came to see Cheney's demurral "quite frankly as pretty good judgment." Cheney "doesn't do touchy-feely," Bartlett said, "Understanding what people's problems are and showing compassion -- that is an important part of the job of being the representative of he president... He was not going to go down there and hug babies."
Of course, there always stood the possibility that the vice president believed that the hurricane and its high winds were in their last throes.
Murray Waas, "Libby Testimony Raises More Questions About Cheney's Role in the CIA Leak Case," National Journal, Feb. 9, 2007.
Murray Waas, "Cheney's Authorized Libby to Leak Classified Information," National Journal, Feb. 9, 2006.
Murray Waas, "Fitzgerald Court Papers: Bush Was Briefed on Joe Wilson," Huffington Post, Feb. 3, 2006.
Murray Waas, "Addington's Role in Cheney's Office Draws Fresh Attention," National Journal, Oct. 30, 2005.
Murray Waas, "Cheney, Libby Blocked Papers to Senate Intelligence Committee," National Journal, Oct. 27, 2005.
Murray Waas, "Secret Service Records Prompted Key Miller Testimony," National Journal, Oct. 20, 2005.
Murray Waas, "House Republicans Beat Back Plame Resolution of Inquiry," Whatever Already!, Sept. 14, 2005.
Murray Waas, "Plame Exclusive: Attorney General Refuses to Comply with Congressional Request for Information on the Case," Whatever Already!, April 21, 2005.
Murray Waas, "Bush Administration Leaks Bolstered Rep. Renzi's Reelection Bid," the Hill, June 24, 2009.
Eric Alterman and Danielle Ivory, "Think Again: Blogosphere to Mainstream Press: Get Off the Bus," Center for American Progress, May 21, 2009.
Murray Waas, "The Big Stone Wall: Nine Bush-Era Officials Cooperate with DOJ Probes," Talking Points Memo, Feb. 18, 2009.
Damozel, "Rove to Cooperate?... or Not." Buck Naked Politics, Feb. 9, 2009.
Murray Waas, "Feds Probe Domenici for Obstruction of Justice in Iglesias Fight," TPM Muckraker, Feb. 4, 2009.
Murray Waas and Justin Rood, "Report: White House Involved in U.S. Attorney Firings," ABCNews.com, Sept. 29, 2008.
Glenn Greenwald, "Salon Radio: Murray Waas," Salon.com, Sept. 26, 2008.
Murray Waas, "McCain Transition Chief Aided Saddam Lobbying Effort," Huffington Post, Oct. 14, 2008.
Anna Schecter and Murray Waas, "DOJ Official Fired in Wake of ABC News Investigation," ABCNews.com, June 25, 2008.
Murray Waas and Anna Schecter, "Bush White House Pushed Grant for Former Staffer," ABCNews.com, June 24, 2008.
Brian Ross, Anna Shecter, and Murray Waas, "Justice Department Official Awards $500,000 Grant to Golf Group," ABC News, June 9, 2008.
"FDL Book Salon Welcomes Murray Waas and Jeff Lomonaco," Firedoglake, June 10, 2007.
Jim Boyd, "Why Courage is Hard to Find," Nieman Reports, Summer, 2006.
Jay Rosen, "Murray Waas is Our Woodward Now," PressThink, April 9, 2006.
Amy Goodman, "How Cheney Authorized Libby to Leak Classified Information," Democracy Now!, Feb. 10, 2006.
Murray Waas, "Key Bush Intelligence Briefing Kept From Hill Panel," National Journal, Nov. 22, 2005.
Amy Goodman, "How Dick Cheney's Top Aide Misled Federal Prosecutors in the CIA Leak Case," Democracy Now!, Oct. 12, 2005.
Murray Waas, "Libby Did Not Tell Grand Jury About Key Conversation," National Journal, Oct. 11, 2005.
Murray Waas, "Special Handling: How the Huckabee Administration Worked to Free Rapist Wayne Dumond," Arkansas Times, Aug. 1, 2005.
Jim Boyd, "Editorial Pages: Why Courage is Hard to Find," Nieman Reports, July 2006.
Murray Waas and Douglas Frantz, "Saudi Arms Link to Iraq Allowed: Under Reagan and Bush, U.S. Weapons were Secretly Provided to Mideast," Los Angeles Times, April 18, 1992.
Murray Waas will be writing more on his personal blog about Dick Cheney. Waas covered Cheney and the misuse of prewar intelligence by the Bush administration during the run up to the war with Iraq for the National Journal. Murray Waas has also written about the same issues for ABC News, the American Prospect, and the Huffington Post.