MSM ---1, Digby ---0

by digby

Well, when I'm an ass, I'm an ass. Yesterday I complained that the mainstream media had dropped the ball with the Imperial Dick Cheney story, but I was wrong, at least with respect to one paper. Check out this Wapo piece today on the subject. They've clearly been working on a major Cheney piece for months and it's a goodie.

As we all suspected, he is the chief megalomaniacal psychopath:

More than any one man in the months to come, Cheney freed Bush to fight the "war on terror" as he saw fit, animated by their shared belief that al-Qaeda's destruction would require what the vice president called "robust interrogation" to extract intelligence from captured suspects. With a small coterie of allies, Cheney supplied the rationale and political muscle to drive far-reaching legal changes through the White House, the Justice Department and the Pentagon.

And I continue to be stunned to find that amongst the top brass in the Bush administration, John Ashcroft seems to be the only one who had any guts:

To pave the way for the military commissions, Yoo wrote an opinion on Nov. 6, 2001, declaring that Bush did not need approval from Congress or federal courts. Yoo said in an interview that he saw no need to inform the State Department, which hosts the archives of the Geneva Conventions and the government's leading experts on the law of war. "The issue we dealt with was: Can the president do it constitutionally?" Yoo said. "State -- they wouldn't have views on that."

Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, was astonished to learn that the draft gave the Justice Department no role in choosing which alleged terrorists would be tried in military commissions. Over Veterans Day weekend, on Nov. 10, he took his objections to the White House.

The attorney general found Cheney, not Bush, at the broad conference table in the Roosevelt Room. According to participants, Ashcroft said that he was the president's senior law enforcement officer, supervised the FBI and oversaw terrorism prosecutions nationwide. The Justice Department, he said, had to have a voice in the tribunal process. He was enraged to discover that Yoo, his subordinate, had recommended otherwise -- as part of a strategy to deny jurisdiction to U.S. courts.

Raising his voice, participants said, Ashcroft talked over Addington and brushed aside interjections from Cheney. "The thing I remember about it is how rude, there's no other word for it, the attorney general was to the vice president," said one of those in the room. Asked recently about the confrontation, Ashcroft replied curtly: "I'm just not prepared to comment on that."

True, he was just miffed because he wasn't included, but it seems that old John was often put in this position and actually fought back, which is more than you can say about Colin Powell, for instance. He should have resigned, as anyone with a shred of integrity would have, because they sure didn't care what he thought:

According to Yoo and three other officials, Ashcroft did not persuade Cheney and got no audience with Bush
Ashcroft's replacement Alberto Gonzales is, as everyone has long suspected, nothing more than a glorified houseboy. But I was surprised to learn that he acted on behalf of Dick Cheney and not George W. Bush. Apparently, even Bush's long time loyalists treat him like a mentally disabled child:

One lawyer in his office said that Bellinger was chagrined to learn, indirectly, that Cheney had read the confidential memo and "was concerned" about his advice. Thus Bellinger discovered an unannounced standing order: Documents prepared for the national security adviser, another White House official said, were "routed outside the formal process" to Cheney, too. The reverse did not apply.

Powell asked for a meeting with Bush. The same day, Jan. 25, 2002, Cheney's office struck a preemptive blow. It appeared to come from Gonzales, a longtime Bush confidant whom the president nicknamed "Fredo." Hours after Powell made his request, Gonzales signed his name to a memo that anticipated and undermined the State Department's talking points. The true author has long been a subject of speculation, for reasons including its unorthodox format and a subtly mocking tone that is not a Gonzales hallmark.

A White House lawyer with direct knowledge said Cheney's lawyer, Addington, wrote the memo. Flanigan passed it to Gonzales, and Gonzales sent it as "my judgment" to Bush. If Bush consulted Cheney after that, the vice president became a sounding board for advice he originated himself.

This is exactly the kind of manipulation that is made possible by a weak and stupid president. Reagan was not particularly bright, but he gathered people around him who were not insane, had known him forever and shared his goals. Bush is a child whose agenda was whatever the last person he spoke with told him it was.

I know that I sound like a character in an Oliver Stone movie, ("one pristine bullet? That dog don't hunt!" ) but I have never been sanguine about the fact that all the big money boyz and all the power brokers in the GOP traipsed down to Austin to meet that grinning moron and came away thinking he was the right choice to run the most powerful nation on earth. It makes far more sense to me that they wanted to install Cheney from the beginning (remember the energy task force?) and they needed an empty suit with a winning personality to actually run for the office. Maybe it really was a quiet coup, who knows?

Be sure to read the whole article. I just highlighted a few passages that I found interesting. There are many others. It seems the Bushie wall of silence has finally broken. Scooter should probably make a deal while it still means anything.