Thursday, August 16, 2007

Vice President Cheney aka Tricky Dick

Republican Politics, American Style
Published on August 16th 2007 in Metro Eireann By Charles Laffiteau

Last week I pointed to the extremely influential role Vice President Cheney has played in President Bush’s administration’s misguided and dangerous policies. Make no mistake, Cheney’s dangerous influence over the president’s policies have not been limited to the defence and foreign policy arenas.
Cheney has spent a long career shuttling between the public and private spheres and using both his intelligence and political influence to enrich himself and his allies at the expense of the average US citizen. His stints in public (government) service were always followed by financially lucrative years in a private sector which was very grateful for his service to their interests, while he was supposed to be serving the interests of the citizens of Wyoming and the United States. Unfortunately there are many other politicians in both the Democratic and Republican Parties who also make use of this same revolving door to enhance their personal wealth.
It should come as no surprise then that Cheney would also make sure that he had like minded people appointed by President Bush to positions throughout the federal government, not just in the defence and energy sectors Bush had already given him direct control over. In so doing Cheney was able to extend and exert his influence on behalf of the business special interests he was beholden to for the personal fortune he had amassed. He knew that only individuals who were as selfish and self centred as he was would be sufficiently motivated to ignore their obligations to the American people and serve the equally selfish business interests they were supposed to regulate.
Some of these individuals have since been identified by the news media and their transgressions in government service exposed for the entire world to see. But few of them have suffered any financial or judicial consequences for their actions. Most of them simply resigned their government positions and retuned to work for the same business interests they had favoured in their appointed government jobs, while supposedly serving the interests of American citizens.
Some of the worst offenders I have previously discussed in prior columns include Julie MacDonald who broke numerous federal rules, bullied and harassed government scientists and leaked confidential government information to industry lawyers and business interests in a concerted effort to help them circumvent or lobby against regulations designed to protect endangered species, during her 5 years as a special and deputy assistant in the US Fish and Wildlife Service. She is now making more money than she did as a Presidential government appointee as an employee of one of those special interests she aided while supposedly serving the American public.
Another example was Philip Cooney, who was an oil industry lobbyist before he became White House Chief of Staff for the Council on Environmental Quality. He was exposed by the news media and later admitted changing government reports to eliminate or downplay links between greenhouse gases caused by the burning of oil and global warming before he resigned to go to work for Exxon-Mobil in 2005. Needless to say, he is making a lot more money in his position at Exxon-Mobil than he previously made while supposedly serving the interests of the American people.
Not only have these individuals and others like them gotten away with such malfeasance without suffering any financial or judicial consequences, they are now reaping financial rewards for their trip through the revolving door of government and private sector employment. Unfortunately, there are hundreds more like them still working in federal agencies, who have not been exposed or whose actions the Bush administration chooses to ignore. Whoever said crime doesn’t pay? Indeed it appears that it does if one is able to obtain a Presidential appointment to a position of power and influence within the US federal government.
However if you are a political appointee of the current administration, who doesn’t perform your job in a politically partisan or ideologically acceptable manner, you are fired, just as a number of Republican US attorney’s found out in the past year. The fact that they were doing their jobs well and in accordance with federal guidelines for making prosecutorial decisions based on the law instead of partisan politics, means little or nothing to President Bush or Vice President Cheney. It should also be noted that the head of the Department of Justice (DOJ) these attorneys worked for, remains in his position as Attorney General despite calls by both Republicans and Democrats for him to resign or be fired for his role in politicizing the DOJ.
Finally, what better example of avoiding the consequences of ones actions exists than the case of Cheney’s former Chief of Staff Scooter Libby? Libby was prosecuted by an independent Republican US attorney and subsequently convicted by a jury of average American citizens for lying to the FBI and obstruction of justice. Libby committed these crimes in an unsuccessful attempt to cover-up the Vice President’s role in disclosing the identity of a covert CIA operative as part of a campaign to discredit one of Bush and Cheney’s Iraq war critics. Once Libby’s appeals of his convictions were denied and he was about to go to prison, President Bush commuted his prison sentence at the behest of Vice President Cheney. Do you think Bush will also wipe Libby’s conviction off the books with a Presidential pardon just before he leaves office in January of 2009? I do.
One has to wonder how Libby was able to afford to pay his high priced attorneys millions of dollars in fees and still have enough money left over to cut the Court a check for $250,000 to pay his fine and court costs, on his salary as a federal government employee. Was Libby simply a genius at both managing his money and then saving or investing it? I don’t think so.
Lest you think I am blaming President Bush and VP Cheney for everything, next week I will explore the role that the Republican led Congress played in this mess.