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Dick Cheney and the lessons of Watergate


 

It will soon be 35 years since President Gerald Ford pardoned his disgraced predecessor, Richard Nixon, on September 8, 1974. It was the first and only time in American history that such an extraordinary act took place. Historians have rendered a mixed judgment on the wisdom of such a move. Some believe it mined the goodwill Ford was shown following Nixon’s resignation and conclude it was a deciding factor in his loss in 1976 to Jimmy Carter. Others look back on Ford’s action as a gesture of healing that permitted America to move beyond the dark chapters of Watergate and Vietnam. I subscribe to both interpretations—it was not the best move in the short term, but we have come to recognize that, whatever Ford’s motives were at the time, a prolonged process may have been more traumatic for the nation. Among some of those who lived through the Watergate travails as politicians or political operatives, a third interpretation took root. To them, Ford’s pardon amounted to a weakening of the executive branch of the United States government. One of those who believed this was Ford’s chief of staff, Dick Cheney.

In the aftermath of Watergate, Congress took steps to subject the president to greater scrutiny. Public financing of presidential campaigns was legislated and greater oversight measures of the executive branch were enacted. Additionally, the Supreme Court judgment authorizing the release of the White House tapes at the height of the crisis made a permanent dent in the argument of executive privilege before the courts. It is understandable then that proponents of a strong presidency operating in a dangerous world riddled with nuclear weapons would conclude that the office’s weakening was a risky proposition, especially when confronted with a superpower like the former Soviet Union. (One must not forget that the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred a decade earlier than the Watergate Scandal.) Cheney, a disciple of Cold War politics, did not see these developments as a validation of the American system, which had correctly mandated the respect of its constitutional principles. Rather, he saw them as a power grab by Congress. Subsequent events during Cheney’s vice presidency would prove that this was the wrong lesson to be taken from Watergate.

The Watergate scandal was about more than a president participating in the cover-up of a burglary. It was about the systematic hijacking of the American Constitution by the country’s most powerful elected official. It involved illegal bugging, obstruction of justice, and illegal payouts to buy the silence of accused felons. It involved illegal operations directed by the White House (carried out by the so-called “Plumbers”) and the Committee To Re-elect The President. The attorney general of the day, John Mitchell, endorsed and supervised known criminal activity. Institutions of government like the IRS, the FBI, and the CIA were used to spy on and intimidate so-called enemies. It was without a doubt the greatest political scandal in American history. Jail sentences were handed out to some of Nixon’s closest advisors, including his chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman, and Nixon himself was sure to face impeachment had he not resigned.

I remember when Ford pardoned Nixon. There was outrage across the United States. Without a pardon, Nixon would have in all likelihood faced jail time. Were it not for the Congress, the Supreme Court, the special prosecutors appointed by successive attorney generals, witnesses like John Dean (a co-conspirator who later confessed during the Senate Watergate hearings), men of integrity like Attorney General Elliot Richardson and William Ruckelshaus who refused to obey Nixon’s order to fire Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox, FBI agent Mark Felt (a.k.a Deep Throat), and the secret taping system at the White House, these felons masquerading as public servants would have certainly gotten away with this abhorrent violation of the American Constitution. Cheney saw all this but still believed that the post-Watergate reforms were excessive in reducing presidential power.

Cheney’s behaviour as vice president, in spite of his latest efforts to rewrite much of the account of the last eight years, seems to have been motivated by his crusade to regain some of that lost power and bring back what he considered constitutional balance to the American system of government. His closest aide, Scooter Libby, was found guilty of perjury and another close aide, David Addington, is still under a cloud of suspicion regarding the destruction of videotapes made by the CIA showing the use of torture. Cheney’s efforts in the dying days of the Bush Administration to obtain a pardon for Libby and his latest interview with Fox News prove beyond a doubt that the politics of fear related to national security trump the rule of law in Cheney`s book. When asked if he agreed that enhanced interrogation techniques could be justified even if interrogators knowingly broke the law, he replied he was “OK with it.” Scary.

The Wall Street Journal has put forward the possibility that Dick Cheney could be the GOP’s candidate for the presidency in 2012 should the threat to national security be the overriding issue. (Of course, this would mean a terrorist attack would have to take place on American soil before the next election.) The former vice president may be a man of talent, but the thought of Cheney as president would be scary to say the least, largely because he took away the wrong lesson from the Watergate scandal.


 

Dick Cheney and the lessons of Watergate

  1. Yes, a lot of people think that Ford's pardon helped "heal" America. I disagree: for a start, instead of Nixon being tried on the many things he was guilty of, he could claim later that it was only the June 23 tape that was a problem, and that wasn't really so bad. At the very least a full confession should have been required. And considering the Iran-Contral scandal and the Bush Cheney torture affairs, the Republican party really needs to be told that it is not above the law.

  2. Cheney is quite simply a criminal of the highest order. He holds the American constitution in contempt and did his best to violate it for the sake of violating it. He must have been grinning from ear to ear the afternoon of 9/11. If the Americans do not prosecute him, it will be a sad testament to the degeneracy of their political system.

    • He must have been grinning from ear to ear the afternoon of 9/11

      You stay classy Jack

      • Real clever, john g. What's unclassy about that? Or was 9/11 so tragic a tragedy that we're cool with people cynically exploiting it? It's a fact that while you and I were still recoiling with shock and horror, Dick Cheney was planning to leverage public opinion into a war of choice with Iraq. There is nothing less classy than that.

        • Real clever, john g. What's unclassy about that?

          The same kind of classlessness that suggests that the Palin children deserve all of the jokes, ridicule, and media circus that they've been put through "because of who their mother is", as you've previously stated.

          Jack you're a smart guy, I love the little poems that you are able to whip off at a moment's notice, but there is something about Republicans that brings out something truly nasty in you. Suggesting that any American leader was grinning ear to ear about 3000 people dying is about as reprehensible as you can get.

          • Are you some kind of literalist, suddenly? I meant that 9/11 made Dick Cheney happy, not that he was literally grinning. And the proof that it made him happy is the fact that he immediately — as in, the morning after — used it to advance his "Project for a New American Century" in the most cynical possible way. Don't defend Dick Cheney, it makes you look soft-hearted. Sometimes it's absolutely necessary to be as harsh as possible.

          • "Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz create a secretive, ad hoc intelligence bureau within the Pentagon that they mockingly dub “The Cabal.” This small but influential group of neoconservatives is tasked with driving US foreign policy and intelligence reporting towards the goal of promoting the invasion of Iraq. To this end, the group—which later is folded into the slightly more official Office of Special Plans (OSP) (see 2002-2003)—gathers and interprets raw intelligence data for itself, refusing the participation of the experts in the CIA and DIA, and reporting, massaging, manipulating, and sometimes falsifying that information to suit their ends."

            "O'Neill also reported that, by the time of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the plan for conquering Iraq had been developed and that Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld indeed urged just such an attack at the first National Security Council meeting convened to discuss how the U.S. should react to the disaster."

            That plan had already been worked out months before, in detail.

            These facts are all very well known by now. I have no time for your idiotic comparisons of Dick Cheney with Sarah Palin's children.

          • "Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz create a secretive, ad hoc intelligence bureau within the Pentagon that they mockingly dub “The Cabal.” This small but influential group of neoconservatives is tasked with driving US foreign policy and intelligence reporting towards the goal of promoting the invasion of Iraq. To this end, the group—which later is folded into the slightly more official Office of Special Plans (OSP) (see 2002-2003)—gathers and interprets raw intelligence data for itself, refusing the participation of the experts in the CIA and DIA, and reporting, massaging, manipulating, and sometimes falsifying that information to suit their ends."

            "O'Neill also reported that, by the time of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the plan for conquering Iraq had been developed and that Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld indeed urged just such an attack at the first National Security Council meeting convened to discuss how the U.S. should react to the disaster."

            That plan had already been worked out months before, in detail.

            These facts are all very well known by now. I have no time for your idiotic comparisons of Dick Cheney with Sarah Palin's children.

  3. I think President Ford took the right decision in giving pardon to President Nixon. You have to remember that he gave it to the President, not to anyone else. He protected the ''leadership'', the institution. Ford did not protect any advisor nor did President Bush. If there is one good thing about President W. Bush, it's that he didn't give pardon easily! Scooter Libby was a prominent lawyer, but he acted stupidly and against the law. He had to be punished for that. Bush knew it, and didn't give him reason.

    It is indeed scary that Dick Cheney could run for office in 2012. I believe he has some chances, but I doubt he can win. There is a HUGE gap between Cheney and President Obama. For that gap to collapse, I think Obama would have to ''prove'' that he is ''soft'' on war…

  4. Although I disagree with Cheney on the interrogation issue, it is true that the law may be broken under urgent circumstances. An obvious example is speeding to bring an injured friend to the hospital. Hijacking a car in order to transport someone with time-critical information on a terrorist attack. Tapping a phone line without a warrant if you know that you'll overhear the location of a dirty bomb in Seattle.

    Therefore, his position that the rule of law takes second priority to national security is not incorrect. It's a question of where one draws the line. To quote a favorite author: "The Constitution is not a suicide pact."

    If you really want an example of a President (other than Nixon) who held the rule of law in low esteem, try Clinton. You know, the guy who perjured himself to a grand jury, a felony for which ordinary citizens go to jail. The guy who pardoned Sandy Berger after Sandy stole classified documents hidden in his socks and destroyed them.

    I'll bet Parisella found nothing scary about Clinton's self-interested contempt for the rule of law, but Cheney's willingness to put national security first is somehow terrifying. Go figure.

  5. Although I disagree with Cheney on the interrogation issue, it is true that the law may be broken under urgent circumstances. An obvious example is speeding to bring an injured friend to the hospital. Hijacking a car in order to transport someone with time-critical information on a terrorist attack. Tapping a phone line without a warrant if you know that you'll overhear the location of a dirty bomb in Seattle. There are plenty of examples.

    Therefore, his position that the rule of law takes second priority to national security is not incorrect. It's a question of where one draws the line. To quote a favorite author: "The Constitution is not a suicide pact."

    If you really want an example of a President (other than Nixon) who held the rule of law in low esteem, try Clinton. You know, the guy who perjured himself to a grand jury, a felony for which ordinary citizens go to jail. The guy who pardoned Sandy Berger after Sandy stole classified documents hidden in his socks.

    I'll bet Parisella found nothing scary about Clinton's self-interested contempt for the rule of law, but Cheney's willingness to put national security first is somehow terrifying. Go figure.

  6. Although I disagree with Cheney on the interrogation issue, it is true that the law may be broken under urgent circumstances. An obvious example is speeding to bring an injured friend to the hospital. Hijacking a car in order to transport someone with time-critical information on a terrorist attack. Tapping a phone line without a warrant if you know that you'll overhear the location of a dirty bomb in Seattle. There are plenty of examples.

    Therefore, his position that the rule of law takes second priority to national security is not incorrect. It's a question of where one draws the line. To quote a favorite author: "The Constitution is not a suicide pact."

    If you really want an example of a President (other than Nixon) who held the rule of law in low esteem, try Clinton. You know, the guy who perjured himself to a grand jury, a felony for which ordinary citizens go to jail. The guy who pardoned Sandy Berger after Sandy stole classified documents hidden in his socks and destroyed them.

    I'll bet Parisella found nothing scary about Clinton's self-interested contempt for the rule of law, but Cheney's willingness to put national security first is somehow terrifying. Go figure.

  7. Although I disagree with Cheney on the interrogation issue, it is true that the law may be broken under urgent circumstances. An obvious example is speeding to bring an injured friend to the hospital. Hijacking a car in order to transport someone with time-critical information on a terrorist attack. Tapping a phone line without a warrant if you know that you'll overhear the location of a dirty bomb in Seattle. There are plenty of examples.

    Therefore, his position that the rule of law takes second priority to national security is not incorrect. It's a question of where one draws the line. To quote a favorite author: "The Constitution is not a suicide pact."

    If you really want an example of a President (other than Nixon) who held the rule of law in low esteem, try Clinton. You know, the guy who perjured himself to a grand jury, a felony for which ordinary citizens go to jail. The guy who pardoned Sandy Berger after Sandy stole classified documents pertaining to Clinton by hiding them in his socks.

    I'll bet Parisella found nothing scary about Clinton's self-interested contempt for the rule of law, but Cheney's willingness to put national security first is somehow terrifying. Go figure.

    • I can't believe you are comparing Clinton's perjury or the Berger affair with Cheney's conspiring to declare martial law, having a private army, lying to the United Nations, etc. etc. etc.. Do you seriously take Dick Cheney at his word about dirty bombs and all that fantasy? This is a man who declared his own actions to be above the law. He didn't just violate the law, he denied it.

      • I know nothing about Cheney improperly using martial law, having private armies, or lying. Enlighten me.
        I do know that dirty bombs are not a fantasy.

        • He was apparently planning to impose martial law, i.e. use the army domestically to enforce his (unquestionable, unaccountable) executive orders. He had a private army of Special Forces that the CIA and Pentagon barely knew about and we hardly knew anything about. All googlable, I don't care if you believe me or not, it's credibly documented and he doesn't deny any of it. As to lying, give me a f*cking break. You're not a halfwit, Gaunilon, and not everybody who pretends to be the Lord's Anointed is so. You seem perfectly prepared to sell our society out to the first dictator who makes the right Christianist noises. I can hardly believe a thinking person could be so intellectually perverted as to defend Dick Cheney at this stage of the game.

          • Actually, at 2:30 am I am kind of a half-wit, but dude.

          • Actually, at 2:30am I am kind of a half-wit, but dude.

          • Ever lived in a totalitarian or post-totalitarian society? I saw the making of one in the USA from 2001-2005. I lived in it, I felt the fear. There are right-wing media stars on US TV basically 24/7 demanding the use of torture. If you think we're all fine and dandy and our Western Values(tm) will carry us through thick and thin no matter what, think again. If you don't want to end up like Bonhoeffer, and don't want me to end up like Walter Benjamin, you should oppose not only the reality of authoritarianism and militarism when they are entrenched but when they first rear their head. I don't mind bringing in the heavy rhetoric for something as serious as this. Everything else pales in comparison.

          • Interestingly, I lived in the US for roughly the same time period. I felt more free there than I do here. I disagreed with much that I saw there, as I do with much that I see here. I never for a moment felt that I'd be persecuted for my disagreement there, however.

            The first steps toward authoritarianism are (1) concentration of power in the state rather than private entities, and (2) enforced penalties on those who speak out against the state.

            There was some of (1) immediately after 911, although not nearly as much as there has been in the last 6 months. There was none of (2), as the many protests, blogs, and hostile (to Bush) news entities amply demonstrated.

            In Canada, on the other hand…

          • Don't be ridiculous. People were being investigated by local sheriffs for belonging to peacenik groups. TV hosts were being fired for questioning the official rhetoric about 9/11. Nothing like that exists in Canada (or, thankfully, in the USA at present). As to the centralisation of power, you are surely joking that Obamacare and whatnot could possibly compare to the planned imposition of martial law by Cheney in the event of a second attack, or the Goebbels-esque manipulation of the American media on Iraq. If you didn't feel the fear in the USA in 2001-2006, it's because you were on the side of the authoritarians.

          • People here are investigated for home-educating their children or belonging to pro-life groups. In the US the most recent report from the Dept. of Homeland Security suggested gathering information on veterans, those who disagree with abortion, and those who opposed Obama's election because they were likely right-wing extremists.

            As to centralization, no, I was thinking more of the takeover of large swaths of industry.

            "Goebbels-esque manipulation of the American media on Iraq"?? Are you serious? The news media spent 6 years hammering Bush on Iraq! (and Katrina, and the "jobless recovery") You'd think if Bush was manipulating the media they'd have been a little more favourable!

            No, if you want a good example of government/media manipulation and control, try the CBC.

          • People here are investigated for home-educating their children or belonging to pro-life groups. In the US the most recent report from the Dept. of Homeland Security suggested gathering information on veterans, those who disagree with abortion, and those who opposed Obama's election because they are likely right-wing extremists.

            As to centralization, no, I was thinking more of the takeover of large swaths of industry.

            "Goebbels-esque manipulation of the American media on Iraq"?? Are you serious? The news media spent 6 years hammering Bush on Iraq! (and Katrina, and the "jobless recovery") You'd think if Bush was manipulating the media they'd have been a little more favourable!

            No, if you want a good example of government/media manipulation and control, try the CBC.

          • People here are investigated for home-educating their children or belonging to pro-life groups, and prosecuted for saying things deemed potentially hateful. In the US the most recent report from the Dept. of Homeland Security suggested gathering information on veterans, those who disagree with abortion, and those who opposed Obama's election because they are likely right-wing extremists. This was distributed to police departments nationwide.

            As to centralization, no, I was thinking more of the takeover of large swaths of industry.

            "Goebbels-esque manipulation of the American media on Iraq"?? Are you serious? The news media spent 6 years hammering Bush on Iraq! (and Katrina, and the "jobless recovery") You'd think if Bush was manipulating the media they'd have been a little more favourable!

            No, if you want a good example of government/media manipulation and control, try the CBC.

          • People here are investigated for home-educating their children or belonging to pro-life groups, and prosecuted for saying things deemed potentially hateful. In the US the most recent report from the Dept. of Homeland Security suggested gathering information on returning veterans, those who disagree with abortion, and those who opposed Obama's election, deeming all such as potential right-wing extremists. This was distributed to police departments nationwide.

            As to centralization, no, I was thinking more of the takeover of large swaths of industry.

            "Goebbels-esque manipulation of the American media on Iraq"?? Are you serious? The news media spent 6 years hammering Bush on Iraq! (and Katrina, and the "jobless recovery") You'd think if Bush was manipulating the media they'd have been a little more favourable!

            No, if you want a good example of government/media manipulation and control, try the CBC.

          • Abortion has warped your mind. As to the anti-Bush frenzy, it started only in 2005.

          • Did I mention the lovely incident this summer in which the White House urged everyone to forward any "fishy" emails they saw regarding Obama's Health Care plan to flag@whitehouse.gov for permanent archival (mandated by law!), in complete violation of privacy laws. There's nothing like reporting one's friends, neighbours, and relatives to the State for "fishy" statements if you want to see the beginnings of authoritarianism.

          • Did I mention the lovely incident this summer in which the White House urged everyone to forward any "fishy" emails they saw regarding Obama's Health Care plan to flag@whitehouse.gov for permanent archival (mandated by law!), in complete violation of privacy laws? There's nothing like reporting one's friends, neighbours, and relatives to the State for "fishy" statements if you want to see the beginnings of authoritarianism.

          • Did I mention the lovely incident this summer in which the White House urged everyone to forward any "fishy" emails they saw regarding Obama's Health Care plan to flag@whitehouse.gov for permanent archival (mandated by law!), in complete violation of privacy laws? There's nothing like reporting one's friends, neighbours, and relatives to the State for "fishy" statements if you want to see the beginnings of authoritarianism.

            As to my warped mind, read the DHS report. It's linked from that Washington Post article.

  8. Although I disagree with Cheney on the interrogation issue, it is true that the law may be broken under urgent circumstances. An obvious example is speeding to bring an injured friend to the hospital. Hijacking a car in order to transport someone with time-critical information on a terrorist attack. Tapping a phone line without a warrant if you know that you'll overhear the location of a dirty bomb in Seattle. There are plenty of examples.

    Therefore, his position that the rule of law takes second priority to national security is not incorrect. It's a question of where one draws the line. To quote a favorite author: "The Constitution is not a suicide pact."

    If you really want an example of a President (other than Nixon) who held the rule of law in low esteem, try Clinton. You know, the guy who perjured himself to a grand jury, a felony for which ordinary citizens go to jail. The guy who pardoned Sandy Berger after Sandy stole classified documents by hiding them in his socks.

    I'll bet Parisella found nothing scary about Clinton's self-interested contempt for the rule of law, but Cheney's willingness to put national security first is somehow terrifying. Go figure.

  9. Further note: "The Constitution is not a suicide pact." Actually, it is. If you find you're committing suicide, you change the Constitution. You don't treat it like dirt. Assuming you're a patriot. An American's loyalty is to the Constitution: that's a suicide pact if I ever heard one, i.e. you give your life if called upon to do so.

    • An American must give his life for the Constitution, true. He might justifiably violate the Constitution if obedience leads to the deaths of others, however. Would you have a man obey the Constitutional prohibition on quartering soldiers in a house without the owner's consent if that house is the only one from which they can guard a known drop-point for a terrorist cell which is hours away from launching a major attack?

      The Constitution is not natural or divine law. It's a human construct. It can be rightfully disobeyed if obedience would lead to great evil.

    • An American must give his life for the Constitution, true. He does not have to give the lives of others, however.
      Would you have a man obey the Constitutional prohibition on quartering soldiers in a house without the owner's consent if that house is the only one from which they can guard a known drop-point for a terrorist cell which is hours away from launching a major attack?

      The Constitution is not natural or divine law. It's a human construct. It can be rightfully disobeyed if obedience would lead to great evil.

      • Then let those with the courage to do so violate it and be prosecuted. The problem here is that the US Constitution was grossly and systematically violated and there was no ticking time bomb. Which explains why they are now squirming the asses off to try and avoid prosecution.

        • Perhaps it was, perhaps not. But as long as there is a hypothetical case where violating the Constitution would be justified, the point stands: national security can take precedence over the law. From which it follows that Parisella's castigation of Cheney merely for implying same is faulty.

      • Then let those with the courage to do so violate it and be prosecuted; that way they could affirm their Constitution all the more. The problem here is that the US Constitution was grossly and systematically violated and there was no ticking time bomb. Which explains why they are now squirming the asses off to try and avoid prosecution.

  10. Are you this sophistical on all questions, or only on serious issues?

    • Just call me Gorgias. Or Gorgeous.

      Anyway, in all seriousness one counter-example refutes a universal. That's logic, not sophistry.

  11. Just call me Gorgias. Or Gorgeous.

  12. So now you are arguing that potential domestic terrorists should not be followed, all because they hew to your line. Lord.

  13. So now you are arguing that potential domestic terrorists should not be followed, all because they hew to your line. What's your opinion of Timothy McVeigh?

    • You can't have it both ways, Mitchell. Either investigating people for belonging to perfectly legal groups is the beginning of authoritarianism, or it's just following potential domestic terrorists. Not both. Returning veterans? People who opposed Obama's election? We're talking about half the US here.

    • You can't have it both ways, Mitchell. Either investigating people for belonging to perfectly legal groups is the beginning of authoritarianism, or it's just following potential domestic terrorists. Not both. Returning veterans? People who opposed Obama's election? People who oppose abortion? We're talking about more than half the US here.

      • It's not "people who oppose abortion," it's potentially psycho killers who might well think Obama is the Antichrist and try to gun him down. Or bomb abortion clinics. I.e. violence. It's not "returning veterans," it's people who join violent groups and possess bomb-making abilities. The quite little peacenik groups in rural California that were being "penetrated" by zealous sheriffs are not comparable; the groups in question here are the right-wing answer to the Weathermen. And, yes, I do think the FBI / CSIS should investigate such groups, if they pose a genuine danger to public safety. You'd have to be half-mad to think the FBI would investigate people simply because they're anti-abortion!

      • It's not "people who oppose abortion," it's potentially psycho killers who might well think Obama is the Antichrist and try to gun him down. Or bomb abortion clinics. I.e. violence. It's not "returning veterans," it's people who join violent groups and possess bomb-making abilities. The quiet little peacenik groups in rural California that were being "penetrated" by zealous sheriffs are not comparable; the groups in question here are the right-wing answer to the Weathermen. And, yes, I do think the FBI / CSIS should investigate such groups, if they pose a genuine danger to public safety. No one is being investigated for their views, they're being investigated (if at all) for their McVeighism (if any). You'd have to be half-mad to think the FBI would investigate people simply because they're anti-abortion!

        • No, the report makes no such distinctions. All returning veterans, all those who belong to anti-abortion groups, and all those who oppose the new administration are tarred. Read it. They're being investigated for their views.

        • No, the report makes no such distinctions. All returning veterans, all those who belong to anti-abortion groups, and all those who oppose the new administration are tarred. Read it. They're being proposed as targets for investigation because of their views, or (in the case of veterans) because of their experiences.

          Anyhoo, somnus me vocat. Later, dude.

        • No, the report makes no such distinctions. All returning "disgruntled" veterans, all those who belong to anti-abortion groups, and all those who oppose the new administration are tarred. Read it. They're being proposed as targets for investigation because of their views, or (in the case of veterans) because of their experiences.

          Anyhoo, somnus me vocat. Later, dude.

          • LMAO! Jack… bomb making abilities??? so every American that has a bag of lawn fertilizer in their garage and can buy a gallon of diesel has bomb making abilities, to use your quote… "What's your opinion of Timothy McVeigh? "

          • Well, talents, then. Seems to me the DHS is worried that a highly trained combat veteran — like, say, a demolition expert — just might be more dangerous as a member of an extremist organisation than the average extremist with his bag of manure and his can of diesel and his Diet Coke. Doesn't that seem likely to you, cleargreen? I mean, if I were putting together a violent rightwing extremist organisation, I'd much prefer a SEAL to some random guy who mistakenly thinks he knows what he's doing.

          • Jack,

            Again, I find it necessary to thank you for so eloquently articulating my gut instincts in such a way that I keep thinking "I wish I said that." I have followed this whole string and can only nod dumbly with nothing to add. Well done.

          • Thanks, Be_rad, and thanks for mentioning it.

          • That's definitely big, given the Blackwater operates outside the military hierarchy, and that its CEO is a complete psychopath; I was thinking of Cheney's secret assassination squad, however:

            http://rawstory.com/08/news/2009/07/10/lawmaker-w

            This is the mentality that brought us this video (from 2002 or 2003, IIRC) of Blackwater mercenaries randomly shooting civilian Iraqis on the freeway:

            [youtube KZX1odzHdAo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZX1odzHdAo youtube]

          • Sleep well, Gaunilon!

          • Sleep well, Gaunilon!

            I read it. Every single friggin' sentence in the report mentions "rightwing extremists." In other words, only insofar as any group is associated with rightwing extremists — and, you know, they really do exist, those rightwing extremists — are they even considered. E.g. "DHS/I&A assesses that rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to exploit their skills and knowledge derived from military training and combat." That does not (!!) mean that every returning veteran will join a rightwing extremist organisation and come under suspicion. Honestly, how on earth do you want the DHS to describe rightwing extremist groups except in terms of their membership?

  14. You're so full of sh*t it's pathetic. Now you're defending Blackwater mercenaries and accusing me of slandering the criminals who have been shooting civilians in a foreign country during an illegal war. Those great heroes.

    I'm embarrassed that you wasted all that time watching the video, it's just something I googled. The point is that Cheney fought his Iraq war with mercenaries who were not accountable to the Army in the usual way. Try and keep up.

  15. There may be genuine cases of atrocities, but this was not one. You posted it as "Blackwater mercenaries randomly shooting civilian Iraqis on the freeway".

    Have the decency to admit you were wrong. This was slanderous.

  16. There may be genuine cases of atrocities, but this was not one. You posted it as "Blackwater mercenaries randomly shooting civilian Iraqis on the freeway". I watched it (with some shock) because I took your word for it, until I saw what the video actually showed.

    Have the decency to admit you were wrong. This was slanderous.

  17. This is pretty disappointing, Mitchell. I honestly thought better of you.

    I don't think this conversation is worth continuing.

    • Wow, I've got it!
      Mitchell = Rosie O'Donnell

      • And scf =Glen “the Dumb Ass“ Beck.

  18. Likewise, though I can't say I ever thought better of you, Gaunilon.

    • I'm afraid my opinion of you has dropped quite a bit as well Jack.

      • The sound you don't hear is me crying, TylerEzro. You and your pro-Cheney, pro-authoritarian, pro-torture breed can quite simply bite me.

  19. Wow!!Just got back from vacation and look up this blog and see Gaunilon vs. jack mitchell. Aclssic blogospere battle. Way to go . Very informative on both sides .MY VERDICT? jack mirchell wins because Cheney is a liar and should be tried as a war criminal . He violated the constitution and should be prosecuted.
    But gaunilon is right to attack Clinton because he too broke the law . BUT , compared to Cheney , his transgession is a `misdemeanor“.
    Liked this blog because I am a Watergate buff. Nixon was bad but Cheney is worse. Good job , Mitchell!

    • Cheney worse than Nixon? There seems to be a lot of Cheney conspiracies around for no apparent reason. Carter was worse than both, soon to be joined by Obama.

      • You are certainly kidding or JUST PLAIN STUPID. Carter?
        Hating Obama is one thing but Cheney is a war criminal . Obama just wants ALL Americans to have health care .

    • Your "Cheney is a war criminal" rant belies your verdict on the debate. Clearly your mind was made up before you started reading.

  20. There may be genuine cases of atrocities, but this was not one. You posted it as "Blackwater mercenaries randomly shooting civilian Iraqis on the freeway". I watched it (with some shock) because I took your word for it, until I saw what the video actually showed.

    Have the decency to admit you were seriously wrong. This was slanderous and misleading. It also does an injustice to Iraqis by reducing the credibility of those who provide real evidence for atrocities.

    • I already said it was a mistake ("just something I googled").

      Slander my ass, you don't even know the word. You were the one "slandering" the DHS further up this thread; where's your apology, bucko? Too busy harassing women at some abortion clinic to make time? Or praying to the Lord Jesus on the steps of Parliament? Or forgiving your enemies behind clenched teeth?

  21. Pardoning Nixon gave carte blanche to the Republican Party et al. to do the whole scam from Reagan on. No accountability nothing works. as has been attributed to St. Ronnie of GOP, "trust but verify". Nixon was but a foretaste.

  22. Due to Cheney's medical record including three serious heart attacks, taxpayers had to provide him with a doctor and ambulance on hand 24/7 during his vice-presidency. So the Cheney For President 2012 is a non-starter, period.

  23. An interesting post because we get to see what motivates a guy like Cheney. Always been perplexed on Cheney . Good on tv and seems very intelligent. But there is a dark side to him -one that seems to exploit the weaknesses of others-Ford was not a very bright man as is Bush . The brightest was Bush's father and he kept Cheney in check with James Baker and Brent Scowcroft . So on the basis of that I tend to side or lean to Jack Mitchell . Gaunilon reminds me of Cheney –he appears smart but he has a Darth Vador side.

    • "Gaunilon reminds me of Cheney –he appears smart but he has a Darth Vador side."

      Appearances can be deceiving.

      Don't underestimate the pow-ah of the Dark Side. (hhhhhh pah ….. hhhhhhhhhh pah …..)

    • "Gaunilon reminds me of Cheney –he appears smart but he has a Darth Vador side."

      Appearances can be deceiving.

      Don't underestimate the pow-ah of the Dark Side. (hhhhhh pah ….. hhhhhhhhhh pah …..)

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