As in the torture discussions, Dick Cheney has always tried mightily to portray himself as a staunch defender of the United States. For the most part, on that claim, the media has given him a pass. The MSM "discussions" of Cheney's aggressive statements focus on their (often highly questionable) veracity and their political impact.
But Cheney's argument that he was just trying to protect America does not wash. He has a scurrilous life pattern of providing aid-and-comfort to enemies of the United States. Here are 4 examples in reverse chronological order:
#4. Releasing the detainee memos. Following the declassification and publication of the Bush legal memos designed to provide cover for torture, Cheney decried their release as endangering the country and, almost in the same sentence, called for the release of other documents that he said would show the valuable information the torture produced.
Let us examine these two sets of documents. The set released by the president were legal opinions, describing their views of the allowable and unallowable limits of physical abuse. The techniques had been widely described in the press for years.
The endangerment claim is that now enemies could train to resist these techniques. But, the President of the United States had already banned those techniques. So, what is it that an enemy could train to resist?
What about the documents Cheney wanted released? If they are to be believed, those documents would have revealed the secret information the torture produced. That information would tell the enemies what we know about them, and what we think we know but that they know is wrong.
Now, that is information that provides aid-and-comfort to our enemies.
The importance of not allowing one's enemies to know what you know about them was poignantly highlighted during World War II. The British had cracked the Nazis secret code, and knew exactly when they were going to bomb Coventry. To ensure that the Germans did not realize that the British knew their code, Churchill made what must have been the most difficult, wrenching decision of his career--not to forewarn the citizens of Coventry about the upcoming bombing. People who could have left the city were killed and injured.
So, what would be the value of releasing the memos letting our enemies know exactly what we know? To help Dick Cheney, at the expense of the country.
[Although not the main point of this article, Cheney assured that the only paper trail he left behind was the one he wanted. He refused to obey the law requiring Executive Branch personnel to maintain their records, claiming he was not part of the Executive Branch. The point of archives is to record history as it happened, in the hopes that future generations might learn from mistakes, and to have an accurate record. One needs to ask: what motivation, other than personal self-preservation would explain Cheney's refusal to cooperate? It is a small step from covering up history by destroying records and to revising history by creating false documents. There is already suggestive evidence that that is indeed what Cheney did]
#3. Outing Valerie Plame. We know from the Libby trial that Cheney was the instigator. He may very well have been the person who conveyed Plame's name and position to Libby.
Valerie Plame was conducting an undercover operation for the CIA. Although no one outside those operatives and their higher-ups at CIA will know exactly what the subject was, making an operation undercover suggests its importance, and the scuttlebutt has been that her operation concerned WMD and Iran.
Cheney had Plame outed to try to destroy the credibility of Plame's husband, Ambassador Wilson, whose Op-Ed piece discredited the Bush Administration's claim that Iraq was actively seeking to acquire nuclear materials.
But, there was no national security gain to the United States for discrediting Wilson. The only beneficiary: Dick Cheney. And, what did he sacrifice for that? The undercover operation, presumably in the national security interest of the United States.
Again, Dick Cheney sabotaged the interests of the United States for his own gain.
#2. As CEO of Halliburton, carrying on (illegal) business with Iraq and Iran. Dick Cheney was Defense Secretary to George HW Bush. After the first Gulf War, Cheney defended not going to Baghdad and removing Saddam Hussein saying that US troops would be caught in house-to-house combat and that Saddam was not worth the lives of "not that damned many" Americans.
He left HW to become CEO of Halliburton. It was illegal for Americans to do any business with Iran or Iraq. Whatever one's opinion of the value of those sanctions, they were US law.
Nonetheless, Cheney had Halliburton's offshore subsidiary, KBR, do that business, making gobs of money for Halliburton, increasing its share price and benefiting....Dick Cheney. He managed to keep helping Dick Cheney by holding onto his stock options in Halliburton during his Vice-Presidency that (strangely?) benefited during the Iraq War with billions in no-bid contracts. Who ever did that before?
Once again, Cheney sacrificed the interests of the United States for his own gain.
#1. As Congressman, voted against banning plastic guns. Plastic guns would be undetectable by metal detectors and thus wreak havoc with our airport and building security system. Even the National Rifle Association could muster only 3 votes in the House of Representatives. If all Members voted, that would be 432-3.
If Cheney's position had prevailed, it would have sabatoged our security systems both before and after 9/11. To board a plane, each person would have to be patted down, and suitcases would have to be opened and searched.
Of course, Cheney's vote could not help but have endeared him to the NRA.
Dick Cheney portrays himself as passionate about national security. But, his real passion is Dick Cheney, even at the expense of the country. It is long past the time that Cheney should be given a free pass on his claims to be committed to the national security of the United States.
Earlier in his life, during Vietnam, when called upon to show his commitment to national security at its most basic level, risking the ultimate sacrifice in war, Dick Cheney's answer was "hell no, I won't go". He secured 5 deferments, explaining that he had "other priorities", i.e., Dick Cheney.
And, throughout his entire life, he has sabotaged the interests of the United States to achieve that "other priority".
Follow Paul Abrams on Twitter: www.twitter.com/pabrams2001