This story originally appeared at Truthdig. Robert Scheer is the author of The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street (Nation Books). Scheduling note: beginning next week, Robert Scheer’s column will appear on Thursdays instead of Wednesdays.
Behold this unctuous knave, a disgrace to his nation as few before him, yet boasting unvarnished virtue. The deceit of Dick Cheney is indeed of Shakespearean proportions, as evidenced in his new memoir. For the former vice president, lying comes so easily that one must assume he takes the pursuit of truth to be nothing more than a reckless indulgence.
Here is a man who, more than anyone else in the Bush administration, trafficked in the campaign of deceit that caused tens of thousands to die, wasted trillions of dollars in resources and indelibly sullied the legacy of this nation through the practice of torture, which Cheney defends to this day. Still this villain claims that, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the horrid methods he endorsed were a necessary response to the threat of Osama bin Laden. How convenient to ignore that it was Barack Obama, a resolutely anti-torture president, who made good on the promise of Cheney and the previous administration to take down the Al Qaeda leader.
Not to mention that bin Laden was killed in his hiding place in Pakistan, a nation that the Bush administration had befriended after 9/11 by lifting the sanctions previously imposed in retaliation for Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, a program connected with the proliferation of nuclear weapons know-how and the sale of nuclear material to North Korea, Libya and Iran.
Pakistan joined with only two other nations, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, in granting diplomatic recognition to the Taliban government that provided a safe haven for Al Qaeda as bin Laden orchestrated the 9/11 attack. But instead of focusing on the source of the problem, Cheney led the effort to overthrow Saddam Hussein, who had ruthlessly hounded any Al Qaeda operatives who dared function in Iraq.
You don’t have to slog too deeply through Dick Cheney’s advertisement for himself to grasp not only the wicked cynicism of the man but also how shallow are his perceptions. He recalls his college years in the 1960s, when he was a draft-deferred young Republican during America’s murderous adventure in Vietnam—in which more than 3 million Indochinese and 59,000 Americans were killed—as a time of career advancement through strategic Washington appointments.
The war that left Martin Luther King Jr. condemning his own government as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today” is condemned in Cheney’s memoir only for the reactive violence that he attributes to anti-war student protesters. We are told, in a reminiscence of his days as a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin, that “in May 1969, students threw rocks and bottles at police trying to shut down a party on Mifflin Street,” but there is nothing of napalmed Vietnamese or US troops in body bags.