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David Addington: Where is Cheney's Architect of Secrecy?

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I've seen Mary Matalin in a photo on the cover of the Washington Post walking with Cheney the day after news hit that the Vice President shot his hunting acquaintance. Matalin's even been out in the press taking a few shots for Cheney.

Karl Rove is in the Cheney shooting stories. So is the President's Chief-of-Staff Andy Card.

And there are probably other White House aides-de-camp who are getting some nods in the press as the media tries to squeeze this story to its farthest possible end.

But one name is oddly missing -- completely (well, nearly). He's not mentioned in a single blog or news article on this story.

And that is Cheney's replacement for Scooter Libby as his Chief-of-Staff David Addington.

For the record, Tom DeFrank, Washington Bureau Chief for the New York Daily News, did reference David Addington's disdain for the press in a Charlie Rose Show segment on the Cheney shooting incident:

CHARLIE ROSE: How about the fact that "Scooter" Libby is not there? Is that a factor?

TOM DEFRANK: Well, I think so. David Addington, the new chief of staff, a very accomplished lawyer, a very hard liner, is basically even more disdainful of the press than many of the people around the vice president, and certainly more disdainful than, I`m told, than - than Cheney himself. And so you`re not going to have a chief of staff in there saying, "Chief, we`ve got to get this out. We`ve got to do something quickly." So for all of those reasons, I think, those - those -- those factors all kind of came together to create a perfect little political firestorm here.

I have been concerned that the shooting fiasco -- and the way that it has streteched out for days -- has helped the VP skate past the much more serious charge at hand that he has illegally promulgated leaks of classified national security information on numerous occasions.

My hunch is that David Addington has been lurking in the shadows -- busy at work -- preparing for the battles ahead regading the leak controversy, working to preserve the White House's prerogatives on warrantless wiretapping, rebuffing calls for any alterations in our detainee practices in Guantanamo, and just overall keeping the emergent Bush-Cheney monarchy in good shape.

It is useful to remind ourselves of Addington's objectives and tactics.

Here is a clip from this week's February 20th edition of Newsweek in a piece titled "Bush"s Bad Connection" by Mike Isikoff, Mark Hosenball and Evan Thomas:

The White House is likely to be defiant. Cheney's chief aide and counsel, David Addington, has advised his bosses that even if the intelligence committee votes to subpoena secret documents from the executive branch, the demand will not be upheld by the courts.

Cheney's attitude seems to be: bring it on. Last week the veep told cheering activists at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference that the White House intends to trumpet NSA wiretapping as a winning issue in the fall campaign. "With an important election coming up," said Che-ney, "people need to know just how we view the most critical questions of national security and how we propose to defend the nation."

The Washington Post's David Ignatius also offered a prescient profile of Addington in early January. In the piece he opened with:

Who is David Addington? The simple answer is that he's Vice President Cheney's former legal counsel and, since the indictment and resignation of Scooter Libby in October, Cheney's chief of staff.

But behind the scenes, the polite but implacable Addington has been a chief advocate for the interrogation and surveillance policies that have created a legal crisis for the Bush administration.

But the zinger line in Ignatius' piece is:

Friends and former colleagues describe Addington as a man who thrives on his invisibility. He lives in a modest house in Northern Virginia, takes the subway to work, and shuns the parties and perks of office.

He usually has the same simple meal every day -- a bowl of gazpacho soup. Though born in Washington, he styles himself as a "rugged Montana man" in the image of his boss, and he has a photo in his office of Cheney shooting a gun.

I have more on the way on Mr. Addington -- but for today, we'd like to ask some folks who are on the trail of Cheney to ask "Where is David Addington?"

This guy can't be permitted much time in the shadows -- and the Cheney quail-poaching distraction (that's what they call it when the upland game tax stamps aren't paid for) has probably helped strengthen Addington's hand in the battles ahead that DO matter.

Steven Clemons publishes the popular political blog, The Washington Note, and is both a frequent contributor to Huffington Post and editor of Bolton Watch.