Vice President Dick Cheney leaves office this week—none too soon one of the nation's most unpopular politicians.
In his final public appearances, the Veep has been defending the Bush Administration as well as his own actions of the past eight years. History, Cheney suggests, will be much kinder to the Bush Administration than the legions of critics and naysayers now taking shots at the Bush team.
Now, thanks to Nina Totenberg, the ace legal reporter at National Public Radio, we have some cogent commentary on Cheney's legacy.
Here are some key parts of that report, facts that suggest Cheney's future may be much dimmer than he and his supporters believe.
It gets worse, much worse:
"Vice President Cheney has been the most powerful vice president that we've ever had," said Joel Goldstein, author of The Modern American Vice Presidency.
In the first term, Cheney reshaped national security law, expanded the prerogatives of the executive branch and orchestrated secret, warrantless domestic surveillance, circumventing a court set up by Congress specifically to oversee such surveillance. He presented the president with options that led to a shutdown of negotiations with North Korea, and played a major role in persuading President Bush to go to war against Iraq.
"Cheney created a new doctrine in which the president was accountable to no one in his decisions as commander in chief," [author Bart] Gellman said. "What was new and innovative here, and quite radical, was the notion that the president's interpretation could not be challenged, that because the executive is a separate branch, courts and Congress could not tell the president, in any way, how to exercise his powers as commander in chief."The entire (and very scary) report can be found here. Let's hope the new president and his team can undo the Cheney legacy.
Indeed, so pervasive was Cheney's control that when lawyers from the National Security Agency, which was conducting the domestic surveillance, went to the Justice Department to look at the legal opinion authorizing the warrantless surveillance, Cheney's lawyer, Addington, showed up and angrily told them they had no right to see it.