With recent revelations, it may be useful to revisit the famous Cheney “dark side” quote (widely available on the Internet). The following is from Reining in the Imperial Presidency: Lessons and Recommendations Relating to the Presidency of George W. Bush, January 2009, pp. 75-76, a report prepared at the direction of Rep. John Conyers, Jr., Chairman of the US House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary:
[BEGIN QUOTE] A few days after the 9/11 attacks [on 16 September 2001], Vice President Dick Cheney appeared on [NBC's] Meet the Press, where he was interviewed by Tim Russert. One part of the interview went as follows:
Mr. Russert: When Osama bin Laden took responsibility for blowing up the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, U.S. embassies, several hundred died, the United States launched 60 tomahawk missiles into his training sites in Afghanistan. It only emboldened him. It only inspired him and seemed even to increase his recruitment. Is it safe to say that that kind of response is not something we’re considering, in that kind of minute magnitude?
Mr. Cheney: I’m going to be careful here, Tim, because I – clearly it would be inappropriate for me to talk about operational matters, specific options or the kinds of activities we might undertake going forward. We do, indeed, though, have, obviously, the world’s finest military. They’ve got a broad range of capabilities. And they may well be given missions in connection with this overall task and strategy.
We also have to work, though, sort of the dark side, if you will. We’ve got to spend time in the shadows in the intelligence world. A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion, using sources and methods that are available to our intelligence agencies, if we’re going to be successful. That’s the world these folks operate in, and so it’s going to be vital for us to use any means at our disposal, basically, to achieve our objective. (Emphasis in original.)
For years, it was not clear what the “dark side” consisted of, what was meant by the “shadows of the intelligence world,” and what were the “sources and methods” that the Vice President considered to be “available to our intelligence agencies” that were among the “any means at our disposal.” Over time, however, at least some of the facts have emerged. The Administration engaged in a series of unilateral actions at the direction of the President through his subordinates in connection with detention, interrogation, and intelligence collection that were characterized by the assertion of unreviewable executive power and the rejection of congressional and judicial limitations on this power. [END QUOTE]
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