It is axiomatic by now: when someone leaves government service,
especially from a high-profile position, they write a book. They all do
it, sometimes more than once. Richard Nixon is the main example of one
who produced a multi-volume apologia; by the time he went into the
ground, he'd penned enough books to fill a wide shelf.
was similarly prolific, which leads one to wonder about the relationship
between criminal activities and the printed page. Nixon was chased from
office after a series of crimes that, at the time, had no precedent,
and Kissinger is still so infamous that he cannot travel abroad for fear
of arrest. Both wrote enough books to take up half the political
science section of any local bookstore, perhaps in the vain attempt to
explain away the lasting damage their actions did to the republic.
Speaking of damaging the republic, Dick Cheney has a book out. I'm sure
you've heard about it by now; he laid the groundwork for its release by
claiming the contents would cause heads to explode in Washington,
causing a lot of people who should know better by now to say, "Ooooh,
this should be good." It isn't, at all, but I must confess that my head
did come very close to launching itself off my shoulders...not because
of what's in the book, but because I have to deal with the rancid
reality of a free and un-convicted Dick Cheney appearing in the public
eye once again.
If there were any justice to be found in this deranged country, Dick
Cheney would have penned his pestiferous, self-serving little memoir by
the light of a bare bulb inside the cell of a federal prison. If there
were any justice to be found, Mr. Cheney would be forced to contend with
the "Son of Sam Law," which, according to World Law Direct,
"refers to a type of law designed to keep criminals from profiting from
their crimes, often by selling their stories to publishers. Such laws
often authorize the state to seize money earned from such a deal and use
it to compensate the criminal's victims."
The Son of Sam, a.k.a. David Berkowitz, killed six people and wounded
several others during his notorious summer-long shooting spree in New
York. Berkowitz is an absolute piker compared to Dick Cheney, whose
actions directly caused deaths and injuries that number in the hundreds
of thousands. The deaths he is responsible for are ongoing to this day,
If there were any justice to be found, whatever profits he
earns from his book would be spread out between the families of dead and
wounded soldiers whom he lied into war in Iraq, between the families of
dead and wounded Iraqi civilians, and between Americans like Valerie
Plame, who along with numerous other intelligence figures, had their
lives bulldozed by Cheney's eight-year rampage through our system of
It would hardly amount to a pittance paid to each injured party - there
are so many to account for! - but it would be a kind of justice all the
same, for nary a dime of profit would line Dick Cheney's
Alas, the generations to come will be forced to reckon with one of the
great and lasting failures of the Obama administration: the simple,
unbelievable fact of Dick Cheney's continued freedom. He and his ilk
committed enough brazen crimes to keep a brace of federal prosecutors
busy for the next twenty-five years, and yet Mr. Cheney remains
unmolested by the system of law he so vigorously disdained.
Wikileaks, not only has the Obama administration failed to seek a
reckoning with Cheney, they worked vigorously behind the scenes to
ensure that no such reckoning will ever come to pass.
And so we have Dick, and his book, and yet another hard lesson on the
absence of justice. He'll make a few bucks off the thing, which he can
bank next to the obscene millions he gained through his nefarious
Halliburton war profiteering. He was still getting paid by Halliburton
while in office.
Remember that? They called it a "deferred retirement
benefit," an annual check with six zeroes to the left of the decimal,
and all the while Cheney was steering your tax dollars into
Halliburton's coffers with a blizzard of bald-faced lies about weapons
of mass destruction in Iraq.
There is so much to remember about Dick Cheney's time in office. There
was the Office of Special Plans, which he created to formulate the most
effective lies possible about Iraq, WMD, and connections to September
There was the torture in Abu Ghraib and elsewhere, which he referred
to as "the dark side" and which he championed with great vigor. There
was his dismissal of lawfully-issued congressional subpoenas, and his
dedication to the idea of a "Unitary Executive" which is beholden to
nothing and no one.
There was his broad plan to spy on millions of
Americans without a warrant, which he wanted to continue even after the
whole thing was declared to be illegal. There was (and remains) the
program of indefinite detention without due process of law, which was
his baby, and there was the coddling of known criminal and double-agent
Ahmed Chalabi, who was his pal.
There was all this, and so much more besides, but one incident stands
out in my mind above all else. It was only an accent in the symphony of
wrongdoing Cheney directed from his office, and was barely noticed at
the time, but I will never forget it.
It was a simple thing, really: the National Archives, by dint of two
different federal laws, annually collects the official papers of the
Executive Branch for the edification of future historians, researchers
and government officials. It is a by-rote requirement, one small cog in
the wheelworks of government, but not this time.
Dick Cheney said no. No, you cannot have any papers from the office of
the Vice President, and for one reason: the office of the Vice
President, because I say so, is not part of the Executive Branch.
It deserves to be written twice: Dick Cheney actually claimed, with his
bare face hanging out to all the world, that the office of the Vice
President is not part of the Executive Branch. The unmitigated gall
required to utter such a claim, especially after so much talk about the
"Unitary Executive," is unparalleled in modern American history.
There, right there, is everything you need to know about the man. Dick
Cheney is the ultimate American terrorist, one who not only lacks
respect for American law and government, but who spent his eight years
in office actively working to destroy and dismember the functions of
He tore the place up, deliberately and with intent,
because he hated the law and the government it supported, and we will be
a long time recovering from his deeds. He is directly and personally
responsible for thousands of deaths and injuries. If this is not
terrorism in the raw, then the word has no meaning.
Dick Cheney has blood on his hands, but will remain free for the
foreseeable future because the administration that replaced his lacks
the honor, integrity and intestinal fortitude to address what he has
done. Until such a reckoning is at hand, all I can do is remind Mr.
Cheney, and anyone who will listen, of another fact of law that, God
willing, will be brought to bear against him someday.
There is no statute of limitations on murder, and murder is exactly what he did. (X)
William Rivers Pitt is an editor and columnist at Truthout.org. He is also a
New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: "War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know" and "The Greatest Sedition Is Silence" and "House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation." He lives and works in Boston. This article appears in Truthout and is reprinted here with permission.