The Evil Dick Cheney
June 22, 2002
By Jackson Thoreau
I have mixed feelings about attempts to impeach Dubya Bush. Sure, I want to see this liar/thief/hypocrite exposed as the traitor he is and driven from office as Nixon was, never again to utter a simplistic "dead or alive" comment in public again.
But then we'd be officially stuck with Dick Cheney as the main man in the White House, although many believe he already is. And that would be worse than having Bush in that position. My dream scenario would be a re-enactment of Watergate, where the vice president is forced to resign before the president follows suit. Add to that the resignation of Scalia, Ashcroft, and Rumsfeld, and I'd start believing that God does have more than a superficial effect on our political process. Thank you, Jesus, thank you, Lord.
Cheney's list of sins is as long as any Republican's transgressions. As CEO of Dallas-based Halliburton Co. from 1995 until 2000, Cheney did little about cleaning up asbestos in his buildings, leading to multimillion-dollar legal judgments against Halliburton. He presided over several rounds of job cuts, including of about 11,000 workers in 1999, a year that Halliburton showed a $438 million profit. Since those layoffs, Halliburton's profits rose, to $501 million in 2000 and $809 million in 2001.
Halliburton also raked in big bucks from dubious deals with Iraq under Cheney's tenure, according to the Washington Post and other sources. From 1997 through 2000, Cheney's Halliburton sold $73 million worth of oil equipment and services to Iraq through subsidiaries Dresser-Rand and Ingersoll Dresser Pump Co. to help rebuild Iraq's Gulf War-damaged infrastructure. That was more business than any other U.S. company, and Cheney later lied about his Iraqi connection to media types like Sam Donaldson. Talk about corporate hypocrisy - companies like Halliburton could make big profits on such oil deals, but human rights groups could not ship life-saving medicine to Iraqi children because of UN sanctions. And now, Cheney the Major League Hypocrite is standing in line to nuke Hussein after he profited - big time - from Iraq. Halliburton also did business with dictatorships that have committed human rights abuses, such as in Burma, Libya, and Iran. In fact, Houston-based Kellogg Brown & Root, a Halliburton subsidiary, was fined $3.8 million for exporting U.S. goods to Libya in violation of U.S. sanctions. Cheney did nothing to stop such fraud.
Brown & Root also had to pay a hefty fine after being accused of defrauding the U.S. military by submitting false claims for delivery orders between 1994 and 1998. Again, Cheney did nothing to stop such fraud. Halliburton was a corporate welfare hog under Cheney, obtaining at least $3.8 billion in federal contracts and taxpayer-insured loans, according to the Center for Public Integrity. All the while, Cheney blasted welfare mothers.
Then there is Halliburton's Enron-like accounting scheme under Cheney's watch. The dishonest accounting policies, adopted in 1998, were obviously designed to make it appear like Halliburton had more revenues than the firm did. Specifically, Halliburton labeled unresolved claims against some clients as revenue, even though the money was still disputed, including $234 million in 2001 and $89 million in 1998. And who was Halliburton's accountant? Andersen, of course, the same firm embroiled with Enron. Cheney was even featured in an Andersen video, saying "I get good advice, if you will, from their people based upon how we're doing business and how we're operating - over and above just the sort of normal by-the-books auditing arrangement." Sounds like a confession to me. Even with such phony accounting, Halliburton's stock nosedived below $10 in early 2002 after being as high as $49 last year. The stock has since gone up slightly. The SEC is investigating, but do you really expect anything to come of that?
There is a wide trail of lies told by Cheney. There is the Iraqi connection, the Enron ties, the India deal, the so on and so on. Cheney also lied about not living in Texas as late as November 2000 in apparent violation of the 12th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. He didn't sell his Dallas-area mansion to a major Republican donor until Nov. 30, 2000, according to deed records. I have been by that $2.7 million home several times since Cheney sold it and have never seen any evidence anyone occupies it. The owner, Dianne T. Cash, owns another million-dollar home in Highland Park, one of the wealthiest suburbs in the country. So, she needs two mansions in the same tiny suburb, huh? From Sept. 2000 until June 2001, Cash - an appropriate name for a Republican, right? - gave a whopping $229,433 to national Republican organizations, in addition to buying Cheney's house, according to federal records. Interestingly, she also gave $1,000 to Democrat Bill Bradley in 1999 - her only contribution to a Democrat since then. Was that a ploy to foil Gore? Surely, this staunch Republican did not embrace Bradley's proposals, which were more liberal than Gore's.
Another lie concerns another basic piece of public information with a paper trail: Cheney's Texas driver's license. Dick's license is still active but lists his address as 500 N. Akard Street in Dallas, which is where he worked at Halliburton, not his home on Euclid Avenue in Highland Park. Lynne Cheney's driver's license lists the same Akard address. Texas law requires residency addresses to be placed on licenses. Even someone as paranoid as billionaire H. Ross Perot - remember his weird reason for getting out of the 1992 presidential election because the Bush campaign supposedly planned to disrupt his daughter's wedding? - has his home address, not work address, on his Texas driver's license. Even Bush listed the Texas governor's mansion - which was where he lived and worked (er, goofed off) - on his license. Other high profile politicians - such as former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, who is running as a Democrat for U.S. Senate, and his Republican challenger, Attorney General John Cornyn - list their home addresses, not work. Why were both Cheneys allowed to be above the law, once again?
That is another pattern in Cheney's - and Bush's - life, getting perks most others do not. As a tyrant, Cheney expects preferential treatment. He thinks nothing of holding closed-door White House meetings with Enron executives to discuss public energy policies. He is surprised when some question why such public meetings are allowed to be private. He thinks nothing of using public tax money to fly to India to demand that they pay a private company, Enron, a loan. He is surprised when some accuse him of abusing his office.
Let me say it because most will not: Dick Cheney is evil. There is a bit of evil in most human beings, but in Cheney it is easy to spot, although most people don't have the guts to say it. I especially hate it when I see Cheney on some Sunday morning media show talking like he's an authority figure and no one has the guts to question him. Can't they see through his BS? Granted, it's not as easy to see through as Bush's, who gives new meaning to the word, "shallow."
That's not to say Bush and Cheney are stupid; on the contrary, they know how to use people and cleverly turn things to their advantage. Bush's father's CIA background is apparent; in the CIA, you are trained to lie, to twist, to show different faces. That's what spies do. That's why I cannot understand someone like The Nation's John Nichols, who wrote an excellent book called Jews for Buchanan: Did You Hear the One About the Theft of the American Presidency?, actually saying he thinks Bush is a decent, nice guy. Nichols, who said that during an interview earlier this year with Internet radio host Meria Heller, should know better. Bush is trained to be nice to the media, to project a nice-guy public image. It gets him votes. That's what he cares about. Same with Mr. Big Time, Cheney.
Bush's and Cheney's real personas are closer to the ones where they did the major-league-asshole-big-time routine on New York Times journalist Adam Clymer during the 2000 campaign. Remember, these are people who thought nothing of trashing their own - war vet John McCain - with a below-the-belt smear campaign in South Carolina. These are people who thought nothing of trashing the Constitution and people's voting rights in 2000. These are people who thought nothing of using the legal system to not count legal votes as they trashed anyone who used that same legal system to attempt to gain some justice. These are people who thought nothing of getting a federal court to intervene in a state matter as they called for the federal government to stay out of state matters. I could list more hypocrises here, but that's enough, for now.
Anyways, Cheney is smarter, more experienced, and more dangerous than Bush. He's known as the enforcer on Capitol Hill, with his office known as the torture chamber. There is a reason for those nicknames, and it's not something I would be proud of, but Cheney probably is. It's obvious Cheney really thinks Bush is a lightweight and deals more with Bush Sr., who is running more of this show than many think. Cheney's CIA connections are long, including with his private firms and Defense Department position. He knows how to put on his spy costume and routine as well as Bush, probably better. Cheney is evil, I tell you. There's no other way to put it, in my book.
The media, most of whose members are as intimidated by Cheney as the major Democratic politicians, just continues to protect Cheney. A mid-June Associated Press article on Lynne Cheney's return to Dallas to promote a children's book - well, isn't that special? - said only that she and Dick "lived in the Dallas suburb of Highland Park in the 1990s when he was the head of Halliburton Co., an oil field services company." No way, AP. The Cheneys lived there in 2000, too.
But it's good to see some in the mainstream media aren't quite as intimidated. In June, Business Week pointed out how the White House was "compromised at this juncture in history by its once-incestuous relationship with Enron. The recent revelations of aggressive accounting techniques at Halliburton, one of the world's largest providers of products and services to the energy industry, during Vice President Dick Cheney's tenure as CEO doesn't help either." That relatively mild criticism is about as strong as the mainstream media gets against Cheney.
I'm at a loss at what to do about confronting Cheney's evil. I'm not sure essays like this one accomplish much, beyond getting something off my chest and on the record. Congress does not have the guts to impeach Bush, much less Cheney. The mainstream media is too corporate-controlled these days to pull another 1970s Watergate, when the media was a real force, a force that compelled me to jump aboard the profession. How disillusioned can I be?
Jackson Thoreau is co-author of We Will Not Get Over It: Restoring a Legitimate White House. The 110,000-word electronic book can be downloaded here, here, or here. Thoreau can be emailed at email@example.com