There is a lot here. I recommend reading both, though will warn you that it will cause a certain distress. Especially in part two when you find out how disconcerned this man was with the torture of others. On the contrary, he pushed for the narrowed definition and the right to inflict cruelty on others. I could handle his ruthlessness if it weren't so damn clear--as Powell and even Rice tried to point out--that there were many unintended consequences of this action. Every individual that Cheney authorized to torture may have given us a modicum of intelligence, but more than likely created 100 terrorists. Seems like a losing game.
More interesting, I think, is the window into how this man operates--and it confirms what many of us previously thought. The rules apply to others, not him. He forces others to share information with him, but refuses to share even the slightest amount. He told James Baker to be an "honest broker" and adhere to the process, yet has bypassed the process in numerous and serious issues and punished anyone who dared dissent with him.
The way he did it -- adhering steadfastly to principle, freezing out dissent and discounting the risks of blow-back -- turned tactical victory into strategic defeat. By late last year, the Supreme Court had dealt three consecutive rebuffs to his claim of nearly unchecked authority for the commander in chief, setting precedents that will bind Bush's successors.
Updated. Sully weighs in:
"No vice-president has the right to do this, to change the basic morality of the United States, to undermine its laws, withdraw from its treaty obligations, and do so without even consulting other individuals within the executive branch, let alone the Congress.
And yet Cheney, in a vice-presidential power-grab unparalleled in U.S.
history, didn't only do it; he did it in such a way as to deny his own
accountability and responsibility."
The Anonymous Liberal points to the destructive nature of the VP's campaign:
"Another meta-theme that emerges from the articles is how utterly self-destructive Cheney's legal crusades have been. Time and again you see smart lawyers within the administration (often ones who agree with Cheney substantively) warning him that the courts aren't going to accept certain arguments, and time and again you see Cheney ignoring this advice and insisting that the administration plow ahead. In every case, the courts ended up rejecting Cheney's views, and in the exact way the administration's own lawyers had predicted. As Bruce Fein, who is quoted in the piece, says:
"The irony with the Cheney crowd pushing the envelope on presidential power is that the president has now ended up with lesser powers than he would have had if they had made less extravagant, monarchical claims."
That's unquestionably true. The legal positions that Cheney demanded the administration take were so audacious and unsupportable that they essentially forced the courts to step in and rebuke the administration, thereby creating important legal precedents in areas where none previously existed. Had the administration adopted positions that were aggressive but not insane, the courts would likely have been more deferential.