America has had Vice Presidents who have been notable for their conduct in office. Take Vice President Aaron Burr who killed Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton in a duel in 1804. Then there is Richard Johnson, Vice President under Van Buren, who brought his slave and mistress with him to Washington to act as his hostess. It was Spiro Agnew, Vice President to Richard Nixon, who was sent to prison for income tax violations and took bribes in the White House. Now we have Vice President Dick Cheney.
Mr. Cheney became CEO of infamous Halliburton in 1995 and stayed in that position five years. During that time the corporation doubled its government contracts to an enormous $2.3 Billion dollars. In 2002 alone, he collected compensation of $36 million from Halliburton. Even now, he retains a financial interest in the company, but maintains it is in a blind trust. While running Halliburton, he was described as someone who would put aside his personal views whenever it was inconvenient from a business standpoint. For example, Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi hired a Halliburton subsidiary for millions of dollars of contracts and when discovered was fined for violating U.S. sanctions against Lybia. Halliburton through subsidiaries had millions of dollars in contracts with Iraq in spite of U.S. sanctions against the country under Saddam. Halliburton is under investigation for Enron style bookkeeping during the time Cheney was CEO by the Securities and Exchange Commission. In typical Dick Cheney fashion, as CEO of Halliburton, Mr. Cheney was an advocate of doing business with Saddam, but as Vice President, switched to becoming an advocate of invasion.
After becoming Vice President, Mr. Cheney continued to operate in the same way. For example, he said in a radio interview that he saw nothing wrong with torture by water boarding to get information from prisoners. We have learned about his role in the Plame matter involved in the trial of Scooter Libby. He also is at the center of the controversy over the Bush energy plan. It was discovered that major contributors from energy giants such as Kenneth Lay CEO of Enron participated in private sessions with Cheney about the plan and that the task force met secretly with other major contributors in formulating the plan. There was evidence the plan had been revised to favor Halliburton as well as a coal company who had contributed almost a million dollars to the Bush campaign. But, Cheney claimed executive privilege and refused to disclose any information about the issue. After the collapse of Enron Cheney continued to refuse to pull back the curtain of secrecy and maintained executive privilege even though the plan was seen as a gift to the energy industry. Nor has he and the Bush administration been bashful about favoring Halliburton and its subsidiaries in millions of dollars of contracts in Iraq even in the face of waste of taxpayer money and blatant corruption.
His statements tell us a lot about his arrogance in his obsessive belief he is always right irrespective of what Congress or the public think. Take his 2003 statement about Iraq "My belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators." Or his 2005 claim "I think they’re in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency." He told a United States Senator, Patrick Leahy who questioned Halliburton’s profiteering in Iraq, while they were on the floor of the Senate: "Go f*ck yourself." He’s made it clear that President Bush (substitute Dick Cheney) will not be influenced by anyone’s questioning the Iraq plan of sending more troops. In fact, in typical Cheney fashion he made a personal attack on those who are critical of the administration’s Iraq policies: "Any attempts to block Bush’s efforts would undermine the troops" and went on to make the astonishing claim that Iraq was "an outstanding success" during a CNN interview. As to critics his rebuttal was "Well, I’m the vice president and they’re not."
Vice President Dick Cheney is a psychological study. Mureen Down, a nationally syndicated columnist and frequent administration critic, has said it well. She has written that "Delusional is far too mild a word to describe dick Cheney. Delusional doesn’t begin to capture the profound, transcendental one-flew-over daftness of the man." Others have seen him as increasingly resembling Captain Queeq in The Caine Mutiny – delusional, out of touch with reality and in a state of denial about the facts. Here’s a man who had the power of a CEO of fortune 500 corporation ignoring international law and human rights around the world. He became financially so wealthy as to have financial independence. As vice president he secretly assumed the role of the power behind the throne – an emperor in Wizard of Oz ("Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain"), with the arrogance that comes with money and power. The fact is, he just doesn’t give a damn about the views of Congress, the American public or anyone other then his own. His attitude has contributed to the loss of many lives in the pursuit of his vision of the war in Iraq. He has contributed to a harmful and devastating relationship between big business and government. This administration has given free reign to those in pursuit of money over all other considerations of environment, societal good and ethical behavior. Arrogance, money and power – a lethal combination in a democracy.