The indictment today of Scooter Libby marks the beginning of the end of one of the most bold and cutthroat rises to power in American history. Dick Cheney was a former congressman from Wyoming, former Secretary of Defense and finally CEO of Halliburton. Not bad for a guy who flunked out of Yale. Twice. Then one night he gets a call that he had been waiting for all his life. His old boss George senior asks him to pick a vice-presidential candidate to run behind his inexperienced son. We know that Dick wanted to be President himself because he actually ran for that office in 1996 but dropped out before the first primary when he realized that someone of his dull looks and anti-charisma didn't stand a chance. This second time around he must have understood that by hiding behind a glib, telegenic heir to an important political family he could have all the power of the Presidency without that pesky problem of people actually having to like him. So instead of suggesting a VP who might actually help carry an important region or state, Cheney convinced the Bushes to go with him, a guy from a state with a whopping three electoral votes. (Read Dick, by John Nichols to learn more.)
It was a match made in some sort of heaven. One guy burned to have the power of the Presidency, while the other guy just wanted to play one on TV.
This isn't (just) liberal ravings here. Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neil and Colin Powell's former Chief of Staff Larry Wilkerson both have gone public with how hands-off Bush governs. In fact when he did try to actually be the President and for once make a decision for himself what did he do? He chose Harriet Miers.
So once in office Cheney looks around the world and what does he see? Does he want to beat the Democrats into insignificance like Karl Rove and Tom Delay? Not particularly. Does he have some utopian ideal of stabilizing and democratizing the globe like Paul Wolfowitz? Are you kidding? As CEO of Halliburton he lobbied Congress to ease sanctions against Lybia, Syria and even Iran. No, once handed the keys to the kingdom this guy looked around the world and saw money.
Remember his first significant act in office? He presided over a secretive, closed-door energy task force. Bush's biggest donor Ken Lay was there. And what was on the table? Talk of conservation to buy us more time before oil reserves dry up? Aggressive investment in new technologies to free us of our dependence on foreign oil? Nope. According to Judicial Watch what were on the table were maps. Maps of Saudi and UAE oil fields and also a map of a country over which we, at that time, had no control -- Iraq. That was in March of 2001. We all know what happened next. In the days after 9/11 people like former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke and Prime Minister Tony Blair were shocked to hear Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld talking about Iraq when none of the hijackers came from that country. Just as Cheney saw a golden opportunity for himself in being picked to pick Bush's VP, he saw 9/11 as opportunity dripping with oil. Hiding behind a national tragedy he could mobilize the strongest army in the history of the world to do his corporate bidding.
We know this to be true because of the rush to war. No one, not the CIA, the State Department, or any foreign intelligence outfit thought that Iraq's threat was imminent. They all thought there was a threat because Saddam kept saying there was one, but no one thought that it was less than years away. The United States with the help of our little buddy Great Britain, rushed into war without the backing of any other major nations because Dick Cheney didn't want to have to share the spoils of war with them. And you can't spell "spoil" without "oil."
With Libby's indictment caring Americans can now press for the whole truth to come out. Cheney and his White House Iraq Group lied us into war then viciously went after anyone like Ambassador Wilson who dared get in their way. They almost got away with it. Almost.
Republicans keep saying that Democrats looked at the same intelligence briefings they did when they overwhelmingly voted to go to war. That is true. They all saw the same books, but what this indictment should bring to light next, is that those books had been cooked.