May 24, 2013
A Dud From ‘Darth’
Posted on Sep 8, 2011
By John Dean
Given the human toll and economic cost of the “war on terror,” which for Cheney of course included the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, I kept waiting for him to give some justification for the remarkable financial burdens these wars have placed on the American economy. While the former vice president boasts about his role in working on the pre-9/11 Bush tax cuts, which he helped get through Congress, he never addresses the economic impact of those tax cuts along with the staggering financial costs of the wars he and Bush gave the nation. Given the fact that we are still reeling from the Bush/Cheney tax cuts and wars, he could not easily have forgotten. Rather, he cannot explain away such thinking, so he ignores it. Thus, nowhere does he acknowledge, not to mention provide any arguments to counter, the fact that Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida’s goal had been to bleed and bankrupt the United States. Reading this memoir, I had the feeling that Cheney has been sucker-punched by our enemy, but has yet to realize it. Money never seems a problem to the writer of this book; rather, he takes it for granted. He is simply blinded by his arrogance and worldview.
Most of Cheney’s score-settling is based on his characterization of events, and mischaracterization of the positions of others through less than full or inaccurate depictions of situations. At times he claims someone was wrong on some minor matter, which he inflates to significance by raising it. Most of these are little more than historical spitballs that will be forgotten quickly. But there is one score-settler I found particularly unseemly, not to mention that it may be based on classified surveillance information that Cheney uses to harm no less than a former president of the United States: Jimmy Carter.
Cheney’s hard feelings toward Carter are those of a bad loser. It was Carter who beat Jerry Ford in the 1976 presidential election, when Cheney was Ford’s White House chief of staff. After sprinkling several pages of the memoir with negative comments about what a miserable president he felt Carter had been, Cheney reports that his “biggest frustration with President Carter” occurred when Carter was out of office and Cheney was secretary of defense: “President George H.W. Bush and Secretary of State James Baker were working to get U.N. Security Council approval of a resolution authorizing the use of force to eject the Iraqis from Kuwait in 1990-91. We found out that former President Carter was actively lobbying against the U.S. position. He had contacted heads of government with seats on the Security Council to urge them to oppose our resolution.” Cheney says Carter’s efforts were “ineffective” and “totally inappropriate for a former president.”
In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir
By Dick Cheney; Liz Cheney
Threshold Editions, 576 pages
Surely Cheney knows that this “by the way” information is, in fact, charging former President Carter with criminal behavior under the federal criminal law, a violation of the Logan Act, which prohibits citizens from conducting foreign relations without authority. More specifically, 18 U.S.C. § 953 states: “Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.” While the statute of limitations has expired regarding any actions that might be taken against Carter, the claim, if true, that he was lobbying heads of state with seats on the U.N. Security Council clearly violates this statute.
Cheney does not say how he learned this information. But this is precisely the type of information that the widespread U.S. government electronic surveillance of the United Nations circa 1990-91 might have picked up. If Carter’s action were truly “frustrating” to President George H.W. Bush, or Secretary of State Baker, they were the type of men who would have picked up the phone and asked Carter to cease what he was doing, and probably would have warned him he was violating the Logan Act. More likely, this was a tidbit of classified electronic surveillance that Cheney picked up as SecDef and stored away to use later, as he now has. He stops short of calling the behavior with which he disagreed treasonous; instead, for revenge against Carter, he offers it up all these years later as a conspicuous violation of the Logan Act. How remarkable, and ironic, that a man who may one day be charged as a war criminal would leak information suggesting criminal behavior by a former president trying to stop a war.
As I mentioned to friends when I started this read, I was doing it so others would not have to. And, as a precaution, I did it alone in case my head exploded. It did not. This book is a bomb, but not the exploding kind. Rather, I can certify it is a dud. However, one thing is clear from Cheney’s memoir, and his promotion of it: He is not likely to be traveling abroad soon. Cheney’s “In My Time” speaks to the mentality of a contemporary war criminal, but it certainly provides no defense. Along with videos of him dressed as Darth Vader, it would make a nice exhibit at his war crimes trial.
John Dean was Richard M. Nixon’s White House lawyer for 1,000 days and is the author of several books. Also, he is a columnist at Justia.com and a commentator on Current TV’s “Countdown With Keith Olbermann.” Contact him on Twitter: @johnwdean.
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