Filling in for Lynne…Glenn Kessler and Peter Slevin
Glenn Kessler & Peter Slevin of the Washington Post do a wonderful job servicing the hard-to-find and even harder-to-subpoena Dick Cheney. I know that if I want to get to know the real Dick Cheney, the behind-the-scenes, no-holds-barred Dick Cheney, I will immediately run to completely neutral Paul Wolfowitz who is, like, totally unbiased:
â€œHe is as concerned as any human being I know about the danger of a much more serious terrorist attack on the United States, that Sept. 11 was only the beginning,â€ said Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who said Cheney â€œwas influenced significantly by the developing intelligence on Iraq in general and al Qaeda in particular.â€
To see how Cheney developed his world view, Kessler & Slevin point out that:
While a student at Yale University in the early 1960s, Cheney took a course with H. Bradford Westerfield, then a conservative foreign policy specialist in the tradition of Sen. Henry â€œScoopâ€ Jackson (D-Wash.). Westerfield, who also taught George W. Bush a few years later, said he stressed the long-term global contest for freedom, promoting the idea that it was permissible to overthrow regimes if it would bring the new government within the Western alliance.
Cheney remembers little of the specifics of the course, but it hooked him on political science.
That Cheney is hazy on the specifics of the course is unsuprising as he was busy at the time flunking out of Yale and avoiding the draft. But he, liked, aced, that class…
To show how farsighted this great man is, we learn:
Cheney was defense secretary when in 1991 Bushâ€™s father chose to halt the Persian Gulf War with Hussein still in power. Cheney has never publicly second-guessed his support of that decision. But, even then, he was keenly interested in Iraqâ€™s possible use of chemical and biological weapons. He ordered a secret study when he felt that Powell, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was not taking the problem seriously enough.
It was also one of the first thoughts that jumped to his mind as he watched the World Trade Center towers collapse while he was sitting in the White Houseâ€™s underground bunker. â€œAs unfathomable as this was,â€ Cheney said to an aide as they stared at the television, â€œit could have been so much worse if they had weapons of mass destruction.â€
Like Nostradamus with a bad ticker, he had a premonition of things to come…….(cue ominous music)
They then conclude:
The situation was â€œworse than a vacuum,â€ a senior official said. â€œThe wrong arguments were out there. It was a period when, in the absence of making a case, there was a lot of air time being filled by other people.â€
Cheney concluded that the administration couldnâ€™t wait. He mentioned to Bush that he planned to give a speech on Iraq, and the president contributed a few suggestions, officials recounted. Then, the day before the speech, Cheney laconically mentioned that the speech would be â€œpretty tough.â€
â€œTough?â€ Bush asked.
â€œYep,â€ Cheney said.
â€œOkay,â€ Bush replied
Tom Clancy couldn’t have written it any better. No, really. Clancy couldn’t.