Morning Report 11/2/05
Radioactive Man and Fallout Boy
Only in an America that's in the grip of Dick Cheney could a secret Senate session be a step toward democracy.
I don't care what the TV idiots say: You're witnessing a rebellion by the Democratic members of America's most exclusive club. That's how harsh the repression is in the U.S. Senate.
And that's the kind of constitutional crisis America is struggling with on several fronts right now — all those right-wing pundits like David Brooks notwithstanding.
And only in a country being run by a jerk-o'-lantern like Cheney could this de facto president find a replacement for the indicted Scooter Libby who makes Libby seem mild. That new chief of staff is David Addington.
This all-round fix-it guy is the legal mind behind an absurd doctrine of imperial presidential powers that scares even other conservatives. This is the kind of thing that my colleague Nat Hentoff just wrote about, and which I riffed on yesterday.
Don't blame Alberto Gonzales for all of the Bush regime's tortured logic. Addington was the ghostwriter of Gonzales's torture memos, as R. Jeffrey Smith and Dan Eggen of the Washington Post pointed out this past January 5. And those documents — the ones we've been able to see — are the most odious justifications for torture and ill behavior that have ever slimed their way out of the White House.
Addington has also interfered in environmental matters and slammed the door on the public's right to know what went on in Cheney's "energy task force" early in George W. Bush's first term. (See congressman John Dingell's chronology for details.)
Those schnook-like activities are pretty well-known, but Addington is also an infamous censor, threatening legal action against the purveyors of obvious satire. Addington's target was John Wooden's consistently hilarious whitehouse.org, the self-proclaimed "officious" website of the Bush regime. Wooden went after Lynne Cheney, and Addington then went after Wooden. More on that brouhaha in another item, but read about it here.
You just can't make up a guy like Addington. Caught as Cheney is in the middle of the too-hot-to-handle Plamegate scandal, the U.S. CEO is Radioactive Man, the dunderheaded superhero idolized by Bart Simpson. If Cheney is that blockhead, then Addington is his loyal sidekick, Fallout Boy.
But all these glowing recommendations for Cheney and Addington are really no laughing matter.
The Washington Post's Dana Milbank profiled the frightening Addington before last fall's re-election of George W. Bush. Milbank wrote on October 11, 2004:
- Cheney has tried to increase executive power with a series of bold actions — some so audacious that even conservatives on the Supreme Court sympathetic to Cheney's view have rejected them as overreaching. The vice president's point man in this is longtime aide David Addington, who serves as Cheney's top lawyer.
The Post's editors blew it on the play of that story. Milbank's piece that day was a masterful analysis of one of America's scariest duos, yet the story was buried inside the paper. It's a must-read today. As Milbank pointed out:
- Where there has been controversy over the past four years, there has often been Addington. He was a principal author of the White House memo justifying torture of terrorism suspects. He was a prime advocate of arguments supporting the holding of terrorism suspects without access to courts.
Addington also led the fight with Congress and environmentalists over access to information about corporations that advised the White House on energy policy. He was instrumental in the series of fights with the Sept. 11 commission and its requests for information. And he was a main backer of the nomination of Pentagon lawyer William J. Haynes II for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. Haynes's confirmation has been a source of huge friction on Capitol Hill.
It seems to fit that Addington was the longtime counsel for the American Trucking Associations, the powerful lobby of the trucking industry, because he and Cheney tend to want to run us over. Think of Dennis Weaver's hapless character at the mercy of a menacing trucker in Duel, the 1971 TV movie that made Hollywood moguls take notice of its young director, Steven Spielberg.
All the body armor is needed to protect our men and women in Iraq, so you'll have to arm yourself with knowledge. Why voters didn't listen to this stuff about Cheney and Addington before re-electing the Bush regime is still a mystery. But it's just another piece of the puzzle worth putting together.
You might want to note that Cheney and Addington have been running things since before the Bush regime officially took office. As Post reporter John Mintz pointed out in January 2001:
- "This transition is a Cheney operation," said one lawyer on the Interior advisory team. "Cheney's people are everywhere, and when people talk about decisions being made, it's by him and his folks."
Two longtime Cheney aides, from both the Defense Department and the political worlds, work closely with him on the transition: former Halliburton Co. lobbyist David Gribbin and David Addington, a former top official at the American Trucking Associations.
We're not only run by a cabal, but they got themselves a convoy. And it's outta control, pardner.