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Cheney’S War Crimes: The Reign of a De Facto President

Cheney’S War Crimes: The Reign of a De Facto President

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Cheney’S War Crimes: The Reign of a De Facto President

220 Seiten
2 Stunden
Feb 7, 2013


In an important sense, Holcomb Noble spent most of his career at The New York Times preparing for this project, the first ten years as an acquisitions editor and rewrite person at the Sunday magazine. After stints as a science-section editor, metropolitan news editor, and business editor, he was made an investigations editor, during which he led two teams in year-long investigations that won back-to-back Pulitzer Prizesone proving that the Star Wars anti-missile shield would not work, saving the nation an estimated cost of more than a trillion dollars, and the second uncovering corruption in the space industry, which directly accounted for the crash of the space shuttle Challenger and death of seven astronauts. His journalism career began as a reporter for the Worcester Telegram in Massachusetts after graduation from Amherst College. He joined the Associated Press in 1960 and went on to become day supervising editor of the APs general news report. Part of his responsibilities included directing coverage of the moon missions of Apollo 12, 13, and 14 from the AP bureau at the space center in Houston.

Cheneys War Crimes brings together for the first time the many strands of the Shakespearean tragedy that is the story of Dick Cheney. It gives an insiders account of his extraordinary seizure of power in becoming the de facto president; makes shocking disclosures about the chaos and confusion in response to the 9/11 attacks; and tells step by step how Cheney led the nation into two destructive wars in the Middle East.

Feb 7, 2013

Über den Autor

Holcomb B. Noble shared in two Pulitzer Prizes in leading two back-to-back, year-long investigations about the U.S. space program for The New York Times. He directed The Times coverage in discovering fatal flaws in President Ronald Reagan’s massive program, known colloquially as Star Wars, to build a anti-missile missile shield around the globe, and in disclosing the cause of space shuttle Challenger. After a six-part series on Star Wars had run, the trillion-dollar program was scraped. After he retired from The Times, he wrote this book on Dick Cheney, published by AuthorHouse, a division of Penguin. Noble joined The New York Times as an editor of its Sunday Magazine, where he served ten years editing such writers as John Kenneth Galbraith, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., James Clavel, Anthony Burgess and Seymour Hersh. Other special investigations he lead included fraud in the for-profit mental-health industry for committing teenagers to mental institutions who skipped school, warning the parents that the child was suicidal and then pronouncing them cured when their parents insurance ran out. That investigation led to a $350,000, then the largest health-care fine in the nation’s history.

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Cheney’S War Crimes - Holcomb B. Noble


© 2013 Holcomb B. Noble. All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means without the written permission of the author.

Published by AuthorHouse, a Penguin Company, 7/11/2013.

ISBN: 978-1-4772-6977-0 (hc)

ISBN: 978-1-4772-6978-7 (sc)

ISBN: 978-1-4772-7467-5 (e)

Library of Congress Control Number: 2012917829

Because of the dynamic nature of the Internet, any web addresses or links contained in this book may have changed since publication and may no longer be valid.

The views expressed in this work are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, and the publisher hereby disclaims any responsibility for them.



Chapter One: Where Was Dick Cheney?

Chapter Two: Two Guys

Chapter Three: Oil

Chapter Four: The Coup

Chapter Five: 9/11, The Cheney Version

Chapter Six: Moving the War

Chapter Seven: The New Colonies

Chapter Eight: Torture

Chapter Nine: The Hidden Eye

Chapter Ten: Killers for Hire

Chapter Eleven: Father Partisan

Chapter Twelve: Daughter Liz

Chapter Thirteen: Indictment for War Crimes

Chapter Fourteen: So?


To son J. H., his wife, Lisa, daughter, Carolyn, grandchildren Hannah, Kate and James.


I’m sure to miss someone. There have been so many people living or dead who helped in important ways produce this book: Tom Spencer, a Dartmouth College professor, one of the best editors I’ve known who read every line; Jeanne Linnes, a crackerjack copy reader, as well; and not necessarily in this order: David Mermelstein, who got me started on the project, interns Lizza Dworkin, Jonathan Blitzer, talky Amherst College classmates Jan, Eck, Clark, Van, Ted, Rob, the late Greek scholar John Moore. NYT colleagues Rick F., Abe R., Lou U., Peter K, Bill B, John L., Seymour T; not least, Lewis Bergman, who knew everything about writing, style, editing; the brave, whistle-blowing Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, whose new information and knowledge, even after the millions of words had been written or spoken about or by Dick Cheney; my son J.H. in hundreds of conversations; Susan and Pierre Yves Tiberghien of Geneva, who constantly urged me on; so many others helped me and were eager to read the story of Richard Bruce Cheney. I am also indebted to Elaine Teng, an Amherst college summer intern, who worked tirelessly and shared some of the writing with Jonathan Blitzer.


Cheney’s War Crimes provides in essence a mini-version of the Pentagon Papers, which dealt with the causes of the war in Vietnam. This version is on the causes of the war in Iraq and the prolonging of the US military presence in Afghanistan. The book brings together for the first time the many tangled strands of the Shakespearian tragedy that is the Dick Cheney story. It contains new understanding of how he seized control of the government from a position as vice president whose occupants, from John Adams to Lyndon Baines Johnson, found useless and empty. The book describes how, in a silent coup staged with the help of Donald Rumsfeld, Cheney became de facto president in defiance of the United States Constitution, which specifically prescribes very limited duties to the vice president: (1) to preside over the US Senate; (2) to cast the deciding Senate vote in case of a tie; and (3) to take over if the elected president dies or becomes incapacitated in office.

This was actually the second White House coup Cheney and Rumsfeld carried out together. The first, labeled the Halloween Massacre, took place in the 1970s in the office of President Ford when they managed to persuade Ford to remove moderate Republicans from the White House, like Nelson Rockefeller, George Herbert Walker Bush. Henry Kissinger, and Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger, and replace them with more extremist members of the Republican Party like themselves. Cheney became White House chief of staff, Rumsfeld secretary of defense. This more current coup enabled Cheney, as the book explains from inside sources within the administration, to exert far greater control over the running of the United States government than most Americans ever understood.

In June and July of 1971, The New York Times published a nine-part series on the Pentagon Papers, after a battle between its executive editor and the publisher on one side and those opposing publication as a possible act of treason on the other. The secret 7,000-page document, leaked to Times reporter Neil Sheehan by Daniel Ellsberg of Robert McNamara’s defense department, revealed that President Johnson had lied to the American people about the cause of the Vietnam War. It also disclosed that the North Vietnamese were not the actual aggressors at all in the alleged firing on an American destroyer in the Gulf of Tonkin but were lured into the attack—which in the end may not actually have occurred at all—by a carefully orchestrated, eight-month campaign of near war, harassment, and provocation by the United States government. The papers had taken a special Pentagon team of thirty to forty members a year to complete.

A small Times team worked in secret in a Manhattan hotel, with a newly laid parquet floor to hold the specially installed presses, to prepare the newspaper’s account of what the Pentagon Papers said and analyze their significance. The Times managed to print the first three parts of its series by June 15 of that year, before it was halted by the Supreme Court in a suit by the Nixon Administration, the first case of newspaper prior restraint in the nation’s history. But the court found for the paper, which resumed the series on July 1, after a hiatus of fifteen days.

This book will show how twenty-one years later, then–Defense Secretary Richard Bruce Cheney planted the seeds of his own deceit in 1992 in a secret report, which he may have kept secret from his own president George H.W. Bush, that called for the United States military domination of the world to protect American interests and his own. In the Middle East that meant oil. His secret report was leaked to Patrick Tyler of The New York Times¹ and when President Bush learned of it, he informed countries around the world that this was not US policy.

Cheney, out of government during the Clinton years (1993–2001) but back in after his election as vice president in 2000, maintained in a speech in August 2002 that there was no doubt that Saddam [Hussein of Iraq] had weapons of mass destruction and that he would use them on other nations, including the United States.² But he knew there was doubt. Seven months earlier, in February, probably motivated by some doubt himself, he had asked the CIA to check out the infamous Niger report, which supported suspicions that Saddam had WMDs and specifically was seeking 500 tons of yellowcake uranium, used to make nuclear weapons.³ By that previous February, the Niger report had been unmasked as a fake by two American ambassadors—the American ambassador to Niger, and a former ambassador with experience in Africa, Joseph Wilson—a four-star US Army general, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The IAEA said a signature on the report was an obvious forgery. Cheney, suggesting that he did not know of the negative findings, said he had never heard back from the CIA,⁴ as unlikely as that sounds under the circumstances. But he should have known. In his unusually frequent visits to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, prompting its agents to complain that he was pressuring them to report conclusions they were not finding, why didn’t he simply ask for the results of his request?

Instead he and his comrade in arms, then–Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, began taking steps to move the war in the Middle East away from Afghanistan, from which the 9/11 attacks emanated and which was President George W. Bush’s preference, to Iraq where the oil was. Cheney and Rumsfeld did so under the false pretenses that Saddam was a threat, that he was tied to 9/11, and that the Iraqis would welcome the American invaders as liberators.

In stepping back and looking at the whole picture, one sees Dick Cheney’s exercising far broader powers than has been generally understood, controlling the levers of energy policy, foreign policy, national-security policy (in this case, war policy), environmental policy, and budgetary and economic policy. But he and Karl Rove were always careful to maintain the illusion that the president was in full control. On the other hand, Bush seemed less interested in thinking about and shaping policy than in being liked, even by those under him who performed badly, such as Heckuva Job Brownie—Bush’s nickname for Michael D. Brown, former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), who was relieved of his job after hurricane Katrina.

Cheney’s War Crimes is about Dick Cheney’s obsessions to protect, preserve, and expand what he and, as it happened, his own small band of lawyers, saw as dangerously declining powers of the presidency since the Vietnam War. These lawyers, from the office of the vice president, the Oval Office, and the Justice Department, wrote memo after memo attempting to justify Cheney’s own unconstitutional acts. They all saw presidential power in wartime—and, not incidentally, the vice president’s as well—as virtually unlimited. It is the story of his criminal negligence in ignoring literally hundreds of warnings that a major catastrophe, such as 9/11, was coming; acting recklessly without sounding widespread intra-government and public alarm, taking reasonable precautions, or acting quickly enough in response when the attacks came; and putting many others at risk of injury or death as a result. The book will show that Cheney failed to heed the warnings over nine months from Presidential Daily Briefings (PDBs) by the CIA and the FBI and from counterterrorism chief Richard A. Clarke that a catastrophic attack on American soil was imminent.

Cheney’s War Crimes takes the position that the attacks could have been prevented, citing the chairman and vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission to that effect. And when the attacks came, the US response was not only slow but disorganized, chaotic, and in some cases irresponsible. Finally, American forces had all but driven al-Qaeda out of Afghanistan (President Bush’s preference from the start) when Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld now pulled their forces out of Afghanistan and moved the war to Iraq. Cheney had in mind invading Iraq for its oil back in 1992, and when the 9/11 attacks came, Cheney used them as a justification to carrying out his plan. In addition, he led the nation to war on the pretext that Saddam had or was seeking weapons of mass destruction and that the Iraqis would welcome invading US forces as liberators.

Cheney’s is the story of violations of existing international law, the Geneva Conventions, the UN charter, national statutory law, and the Constitution in prosecuting a war that eventually took hundreds of thousands of lives, The lesson of his reign is that military might, the force of invasion, and the torture of those who resist occupation cannot readily impose a democracy. Democracy depends on many factors, including especially the will of a generally cohesive people to live together under one state. Now, more than a decade later, the Sunnis and Shiites still fight over which group best represents the teachings of Mohammad.

The story of Dick Cheney, the de facto president, is one full of complexities and contradictions—the story of a brilliant leader born to take charge who, indeed, almost always got his way, even if it undercut the president of the United States, even if his way led in the wrong direction. Once a calm and reasonable man, a man once possessed of a keen sense of humor and the love of a practical joke, Cheney had found himself stuck in a position empty of the power and glory around him. His situation, compounded by his ill health and classic signs of post open-heart-surgery syndrome, began to turn him into someone even his old friends did not recognize.

Chapter One:

Where Was Dick Cheney?

At 8:54 a.m. somewhere over Ohio on September 11, 2001, one of the four hijacked airliners on scheduled flights from the East Coast to the West Coast strayed off course, turned back east and headed for, you could say, two of the most significant buildings in, or symbols of, America: the White House and the Pentagon. Presumably no one but those two hijacking pilots would decide whether to strike one or the other or both when they got closer to their targets. About ten minutes before the first two hijacked planes of the morning, AA 11 and UA 175, destroyed the World Trade Center, the third plane, AA 77, swooped down over Washington D. C. and hit the Pentagon, killing 125 people inside. The fourth plane, UA 93, turned off course about thirty-five minutes later, and, after a group of bravely resisting passengers attempted to take control, forced the plane down in a field in Shanksville, Pa. They were more heroic than they or anyone knew at the time, as they probably saved the lives of the soon-to-be de facto leader of the United States and the others not evacuated from the White House. And the White House itself.

It is now clear that from the time of the first hijacking that morning the United States government committed a series of monumental national-security failures. The major immediate failure was Cheney’s in that he appeared at the emergency control bunker beneath the White House some fifty-five minutes after the time he later implied. Where he was in the meantime, as the third and fourth hijacked planes streaked toward the nation’s capital, no one seemed to know. Both he and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld were desperately needed: with the president away in Florida, they were the only two now authorized by military protocol to order the shooting down of the attacking commercial planes with civilian passengers aboard. But Rumsfeld was also missing. Cheney’s second major failure, and in this case Bush’s as well, was in ignoring the CIA, the FBI and counterterrorism chief Richard A. Clarke’s, warnings that a catastrophe such as 9/11 could happen at any time.

The first failures were that the Boston FAA flight controllers who violated protocol by not notifying the military and requesting Air Force assistance when the first hijacking, of AA 11, occurred at 8:19 that morning, according to the final report of the 9/11 Commission, which investigated the events leading up to and including 9/11. Nor, apparently, did the Cleveland or Indianapolis FAA controllers inform the military of the course changes of both the second and third planes, AA 77 and UA 93. Those were alarming occurrences indicating a catastrophic system failure, and the FAA should have asked for immediate military assistance; the 9 /11 commission report suggested they had not.⁵ As a result of these and other failures, AA 77 was able to reach Washington, swoop low right through what one would have expected to be a swarm of Air Force jet fighters. But it was never made clear precisely how long they were delayed before they were able to scramble and take to the sky. In any case, AA 77 was able to penetrate the center of the largest national defense system in the world without a shot being fired.

After the second World Trade Center Tower was hit, at 9:03, the entire world, including the vice president, seemed to realize that the United States was under terrorist attack.⁶ Cheney said he was lifted right off his feet by Secret Service and carried to the bunker. But the 9/11 Commission, which investigated the attacks, concluded that he did not arrive until fifty-five minutes later.⁷ Why? Where was he? No one then seemed to know. Now we do know, thanks in large part to Jane Mayer’s reporting for The New Yorker and her book, The Dark Side,⁸ which will be treated in detail in chapter 5: 9/11 The Cheney Version. As for Rumsfeld, Brigadier General W. Montague Winfield of the Pentagon’s command center said, For thirty minutes we couldn’t find him."

During this critical time the emergency-operations bunker was without its acting commander-in-chief of the military or its secretary of defense to direct the defense of the nation at the height of the new wave of attacks. And White House counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke had warned Cheney that more attacks should be expected. During his and Rumsfeld’s absence, at 9:38, AA 77 crashed into the Pentagon. Perhaps

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