"Dick Cheney is the single worst blight on American democracy in the history of the nation. He is a plague, a pestilence, a cancer chewing away at the body politic for over thirty years. Like a virus, he cannot be reasoned with or placated. He can only be (politically) eradicated." -- Max Black, June 2007

"Dick Cheney exercises all the power of the presidency. That's has never happened. Ever." -- Bruce Fein, former assistant attorney general under Ronald Reagan, quoted by Lou Dubose and Jake Bernstein

"You dealt with him carefully. You did not want to be on Dick Cheney's blacklist. And a lot of people were." -- a former House representative

"Cheney and Bush have a very different view of the presidency that the president has the powers of a king and you are never allowed to ask questions about the king." -- Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch


Dick Cheney has, for over thirty years, done his level best to transform America from a representative democratic republic, with a balance between the three branches of government, into a tyranny run by an all-powerful president and a small coterie of advisors, sycophants, and corporate cronies. Though Cheney served in the House of Representatives for ten years, as a member of the executive branch -- under Nixon, Ford, and both Bushes -- he has displayed a consistent and deep-seated contempt for the legislative branch. He has a similar contempt for the judiciary, as evident in his repeated -- and largely successful -- attempts to either steamroll or sidestep the numerous investigations and inquiries that have been made into the Bush/Cheney administration. He is an enthusiastic advocate of torture, and views the Geneva Conventions -- indeed, virtually all international treaties and agreements -- with scorn. He has little use for the concept of foreign relations, and is one of the prime architects of the Bush administration's bullying, petulantly aggressive approach to its dealings with other nations.

Cheney will, of course, deny this. But, as I was always told in Sunday school, you judge someone on their actions, not on their words. The reader is invited to read this page, and the material contained in the other pages of this site, and judge for him- or herself.

This page does not attempt to tie all the incorporated information about Cheney into one comprehensive package. Instead, this page contains information and observations about Cheney that don't fit into the timeline structure of the site. As with all of the pages in the They Said It section, it is a supplement only.

The primary source for the material on this page is Vice, the exhaustive political biography of Cheney by authors and investigative reporters Lou Dubose and Jake Bernstein. There is no such thing as a completely objective biography, and Dubose and Bernstein make no such claims. Though Dubose and Bernstein are proud liberals/progressives and write from that viewpoint, their book is exhaustively sourced, and their observations and conclusions are drawn as much from conservative viewpoints -- including many former and current colleagues of Cheney -- as from outside "liberal" viewpoints, if not more so. It is a fine book, and includes far more material than is excerpted in this and other pages of this site. Other information comes from the Wikipedia article on Cheney.

The Nixon years 1969-1975

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Cheney as Ford's chief of staff 1975-1977

Authors Lou Dubose and Jake Bernstein write, "Without doubt the biggest trophy Cheney and Rumsfeld put on their wall during this period was that of the head of Vice President Nelson Rockefeller." Cheney saw Rockefeller, a moderate Republican, as a political liability, and made sure that Rockefeller's influence was strictly constrained. Rockefeller was chosen as Ford's vice president more because of his stature in the party than for his ideology. Both Cheney and his political mentor, Donald Rumsfeld, who preceded Cheney as Ford's chief of staff before giving over the position to Cheney when he moved to become Secretary of Defense, loathed Rockefeller's New Deal vision of government and his preference for balanced budgets over tax cuts. Cheney wanted the far more extremist Ronald Reagan, not Rockefeller, as Ford's vice president.

Ford did want Rockefeller's participation in domestic policy, and appointed him head of the Domestic Council, which caused a conflict with Rumsfeld and Cheney. The two persuaded Ford to veto large economic initiatives coming out of Congress, much to Rockefeller's chagrin. Cheney also warned Ford not to let Rockefeller get too much credit for "drafting the agenda of 1976." Specifically, Cheney wanted Rockefeller cut out of economic and energy policy-making. Those two areas were the Ford administration's primary foci, what with runaway inflation and oil embargoes crippling the American economy. Most of Rockefeller's policy ideas never made it to Ford's desk -- Rumsfeld, and later Cheney, would simply make them disappear. "They were two little throat slitters," recalls one journalist who knew both of them well. Interestingly, considering his tremendous power as vice president in 2001 and beyond, Cheney argued that the office of the vice president should by its nature have little influence within any administration. Obviously, Cheney's feelings on the position were based on who occupied the slot and not on any political principle. Then-Ford administration official James Cannon will say of Cheney as vice president, "Cheney is now doing what he and Rumsfeld blocked Rockefeller from doing -- influencing policy." -- Lou Dubose and Jake Bernstein

Cheney, Wyoming's only representative in Congress 1979-1989

In November 1978, Cheney won the race to represent Wyoming in the House of Representatives, overcoming both a heart attack and his Democratic opponent, Bill Bagley. Cheney, already a rising star in Republican politics, used a fictitious grassroots organization, "Cardiacs for Cheney," to overcome concerns about his health and win the sympathy of Wyoming voters. He also benefited from huge political contributions from out-of-state organizations, much of them from Republican lobbying firms in Washington. Bagley tried, without success, to portray Cheney as a Washington insider who will not properly represent Wyoming's interests.

Cheney arrived in Congress as a GOP celebrity. As Ford's former chief of staff, and with connections to the Washington power structure (many through his mentor Donald Rumsfeld), Cheney quickly began moving up in the GOP's power structure. By 1981, he became chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, which gave him influence over the entire Republican Conference. Tellingly, in light of later events when Cheney became vice president, Cheney outmanuevers House rival Trent Lott so thoroughly that Lott instead runs (successfully) for the Senate. (When Lott lost his Senate position as Majority Leader in 2003 over racist remarks surrounding Senate colleague Strom Thurmond, Cheney let Lott sink instead of using his influence to bail him out.)

Cheney's partisanship, already well developed, is honed by years of Republicans being treated badly by the Democratic majority. "[W]e treated them like sh*t," one Democratic House staffer later recalled. "They didn't matter." But Cheney never openly associated with the reactionary firebrands who fell in behind Newt Gingrich. Instead, Cheney worked both sides of the Republican street, staying close to the party's moderates as well as keeping close to Gingrich's "hard-right putschists plotting to take over." -- Lou Dubose and Jake Bernstein

In 1983, Cheney took part in a "codel," a Congressional delegation, to Moscow to discuss detente and the nuclear standoff with senior Soviet official Sergei Akhromeyev. Akhromeyev stunned the American delegation with an offer to reopen discussions of mutual weapons cuts in Europe, and a one-year ban on testing the Soviet SS24 missile. In return, he asks the US to refrain from testing the new MX "Peacekeeper" mobile nuclear missile. Democratic congressman Thomas Downey was excited about the proposal, but Cheney shut it down flat, even denying Akhromeyev ever made such an offer. "Cheney did not want to allow the Russians to appear to be in any way reasonable," Downey later recalled. "He doesn't believe in negotiations. He's completely rigid, states his position and concedes nothing. There would be no negotiations when his position was 'my way or the highway.'" Downey, who liked and respected Cheney even though they disagreed on virtually everything, asked Cheney, "You can't expect them to accept all our terms? You can't expect them to surrender?" Cheney's answer: "Yes, I can." Downey recalled one chilling visit to Red Square with Cheney during the trip, where Downey, impressed with what he recalled as a "spectacular night," asked what Cheney was thinking. "He said, 'I think we're standing on Ground Zero.'" To Cheney's way of thinking, there were only two possibilities -- complete capitulation by the Soviets, or nuclear war. -- Lou Dubose and Jake Bernstein

Bush I's Secretary of Defense 1989-1993

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CEO of Halliburton 1995-2000

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Vice President 2001-2008

In the four years he was Colin Powell's chief of staff, Larry Wilkerson, an expert on bureaucratic structure and power management, learned who was in charge at the White House. It wasn't George W. Bush.

Cheney has amassed the largest, most powerful, and most secretive vice-presidential staff in American history. He set up his own "shadow" National Security Councl staff, an unprecedented action by a vice president. Cheney's staff reads all of the e-mail traffic from "in, out, and between" Bush's own NSC staff, says Wilkerson. Yet Bush's staff isn't allowed to read the communications to and from Cheney's staff. "Members of the president's staff sometime walk from office to office to avoid Cheney's people monitoring their discussions," Wilkerson says. "Or they use the phone."

When Cheney was secretary of defense in 1989 for the elder Bush, the White House staff kept Cheney somewhat in line. No one on the younger Bush's staff is willing to take on that role. "If someone did, Cheney's staff would devour that person," authors Lou Dubose and Jake Bernstein write in 2006. A former White House staffer concurs. "Bush's staff is terrified of Cheney's people," he says. Cheney not only packed his own staff with loyalists, he packed Bush's staff, too. Deputy NSC director Stephen Hadley, who succeeded his former boss Condoleezza Rice to head the National Security Council, and former NSC Middle East representative Zalmay Khalilzad, now the ambassador to Iraq, have long histories of working with Cheney, as does former deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz. Cheney made sure his people were well-represented on Bush's staff, and ensured that his staff always attended meetings on foreign policy issues. -- Lou Dubose and Jake Bernstein