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The Veep

The WP this weekend started a multipart series on Vice President Dick Cheney and his role -- his large role -- in the Bush administration.

Here is how Slate.com's Today's Papers reported on the story yesterday:

The Washington Post leads with a looming teacher shortage, but devotes the majority of its front page to the first installment in a series examining Dick Cheney's "largely hidden and little-understood role in crafting policies for the War on Terror, the economy and the environment."...

In 2001, shortly after Dick Cheney took the oath of office, Dan Quayle tried to explain to him that vice presidents don't really do much. As Quayle recalls, Cheney smirked and explained that he had "a different understanding with the president." Indeed, he did. The WP notes that from the start, Cheney has had an unprecedented mandate to play a role in whatever areas of the administration he chooses. In this report, the Post goes behind the scenes and explains how Cheney's secretive maneuvering allowed him to guide the administration's policies in the war on terror. Most striking is how potential dissenters are left out of the loop. For example, as Cheney's small cadre of legal experts was drafting plans for a domestic surveillance program, they bypassed the ranking national security lawyer in the White House (as well as Congress).

And then this morning, Slate.com has this:

The WP devotes most of its above-the-fold space to the second part in its series about Vice President Dick Cheney and today focuses on his role in creating the administration's policies on how detainees can be treated during interrogations. It's hardly surprising to say that Cheney was a key advocate for the creation of a policy that disavowed torture but allowed for cruel treatment and gave Bush the power to make exceptions. But the Post's Barton Gellman and Jo Becker paint such a detailed picture of a vice president so determined to get his way, even if it meant going behind the back of other administration officials, which could surprise even the most hardened conspiracy theorist. By detailing the vice president's role, the Post also manages to shed new light on how the administration decided on the new interrogation rules and how many continue to be used today "out of public view." It's long, but definitely worth a read.

Two items that Slate noted:

Online the WP publishes readers' comments directly below the Cheney piece. Someone named Sheri Rogers asks a particularly pertinent question: "What do we have to do to get the press to do a better job of critical reporting when it's happening instead of six-and-a-half years later?" (To its credit, the Post has broken or moved along a number of stories on the administration's more secretive programs.)

And then this delicious little item:

TP's Top Five List…The top five most secretive things about Dick Cheney from the WP lead:

5. "In the usual business of interagency consultation, proposals and information flow into the vice president's office from around the government, but high-ranking White House officials said in interviews that almost nothing flows out."

4. "Man-size Mosler safes, used elsewhere in government for classified secrets, store the workaday business of the office of the vice president."

3. "Even talking points for reporters are sometimes stamped 'Treated As: Top Secret/SCI.' "

2. "Cheney declines to disclose the names or even the size of his staff, generally releases no public calendar and ordered the Secret Service to destroy his visitor logs." (Three in one!)

1. "His general counsel has asserted that 'the vice presidency is a unique office that is neither a part of the executive branch nor a part of the legislative branch,' and is therefore exempt from rules governing either."

Posted by Christopher Dorobek on Jun 25, 2007 at 12:16 PM


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