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Monday, November 07, 2005

Open Conflict in the Bush Administration

Cheney Fights for Detainee Policy
As Pressure Mounts to Limit Handling Of Terror Suspects, He Holds Hard-Line

By Dana Priest and Robin Wright
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, November 7, 2005; Page A01

Over the past year, Vice President Cheney has waged an intense and largely unpublicized campaign to stop Congress, the Pentagon and the State Department from imposing more restrictive rules on the handling of terrorist suspects, according to defense, state, intelligence and congressional officials.


In recent months, Cheney has been the force against adding safeguards to the Defense Department's rules on treatment of military prisoners, putting him at odds with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and acting Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon R. England. On a trip to Canada last month, Rice interrupted a packed itinerary to hold a secure video-teleconference with Cheney on detainee policy to make sure no decisions were made without her input.

Just last week, Cheney showed up at a Republican senatorial luncheon to lobby lawmakers for a CIA exemption to an amendment by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) that would ban torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners. The exemption would cover the CIA's covert "black sites" in several Eastern European democracies and other countries where key al Qaeda captives are being kept.

Cheney spokesman Steve Schmidt declined to comment on the vice president's interventions or to elaborate on his positions. "The vice president's views are certainly reflected in the administration's policy," he said.

So the Secretary of State and the Vice President are taking their disagreement to the press. Notice, by the way, that Schmidt did not say that Cheney is following administration policy. He frankly said that he expects the administration to follow Cheney.

Dana Priest and Robin Wright write "A fundamental question lies at the heart of these disagreements: Four years into the fight, what is the most effective way to wage the campaign against terrorism?" I would ask another fundamental question. Where the hell is the President ?

Here you have Cheney's spokesman saying everyone but Cheney is not following administration policy. Isn't that normally set by the President not the Vice President ?

The whole article discusses a furious (and appalling) debate about whether the US, which does not torture, should allow the CIA to uhm torture people. Any opinion that Mr Bush might have on the issue, assuming he has considered it in between bike rides, is unmentioned. Neither side claims to speak for the president. I have never read about such a debate within an administration. It's like a supreme court justice not bothering to claim to be interpreting the constitution.

The message to me is that the Bush presidency is over and the executive branch is effectively leaderless. It's time to impeach Cheney then Bush (better be in that order). One is a monster and the other is AWOL again.

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