Dick Cheney Was “At The Core Of Some Of The Darkest Activities In This Country Over The Last Four Years”

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Vice President Dick Cheney accepted his party’s nomination to run for a second term yesterday. We take a look at the Vice President’s history with journalists Pratap Chatterjee of Corpwatch and John Nichols of The Nation, author of Dick the Man Who is President. [includes rush transcript]

Vice President Dick Cheney accepted his party’s nomination to run for a second term yesterday at the Republican convention in New York.

In his speech, Cheney led the convention’s most stinging assault against Democrat John Kerry, depicting him as a weak and indecisive leader who was unfit to be commander in chief. President Bush will give his acceptance speech today, kicking off a two-month race to the Nov. 2 election that polls show is essentially a dead heat.

Cheney’s speech, which was broadcast in prime-time, gave Americans their closest look in years at a key figure in the Bush administration who normally shuns the limelight.

Cheney took to the podium yesterday to give the final the address of the night.

  • Vice President Dick Cheney, speaking on at the Republican National Convention, September 2, 2004.
  • John Nichols, The Nation Magazine and the Madison Capital Times. His new book is called “Dick the Man Who is President.”
  • Pratap Chatterjee, managing director of

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Vice President Cheney took to the podium to give the final address of the night.

DICK CHENEY: The president’s opponent is an experienced senator. He speaks often of his service in Vietnam and we honor him for it. But there is also a record of more than three decades since. And on the question of America’s role in the world, the differences between Senator Kerry and president Bush are the sharpest and the stakes for the country are the highest. History has shown that a strong and purposeful America is vital to preserving freedom and keeping us safe. Yet, time and again, Senator Kerry has made the wrong call on national security. Senator Kerry began his political career by saying he would like to see our troops deployed only at the directive of the United Nations. During the 1980’s, senator Kerry opposed Ronald Reagan’s major defense initiatives that brought victory in the Cold War. In 1991, when Saddam Hussein occupied Kuwait and stood poised to dominate the Persian Gulf, senator Kerry voted against Operation Desert Storm. Even in this post-9/11 period, senator Kerry doesn’t appear to understand how the world has changed. He talks about leading a more sensitive war on terror. As though al Qaeda will be impressed with our softer side. He declared that the democratic convention that he will forcefully defend America after we have been attacked. My fellow Americans, we have already been attacked. We are faced with an enemy who seeks the deadliest of weapons to use against us and we cannot wait until the next attack. We must do everything we can to prevent it. And that includes the use of military force. Senator Kerry denounces American action when other countries don’t approve, as if the whole object of our foreign policy were to please a few persistent critics. But in fact, the global war on terror, as in Afghanistan and Iraq, President Bush has brought many allies to our side. But as the president has made very clear, there is a difference between leading a coalition of many nations and submitting to the objections of a few. George W. Bush will never seek a permission slip to defend the American people.

AMY GOODMAN: Vice President Dick Cheney speaking last night accepting the nomination for vice president for a second term. Delivering perhaps the convention’s most stinging assault on democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. We are joined in the studio by two people who have followed Dick Cheney’s career and the companies he’s been affiliated with. We are joined by the senior editor of the Capitol Times as well as Nation magazine reporter John Nichols. He has a new book which is called Dick the Man Who is the President. And Pratap Chatterjee managing director of

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, John, your reaction to Vice President Cheney’s speech and, tell us a little bit about him and what you found in your research on your book.

JOHN NICHOLS: Well, my first reaction to Vice President Cheney’s speech fits for Zell Miller, as well. This is probably the last time, in our lifetimes that we will see two speaker, one after another. The first of whom began his career as an American segregationist, opposing integration in the south. The second of whom highlighted his career in Congress as being one of the few people who voted consistently to keep Nelson Mandela in jail. A remarkable signal. In most countries in the world, people with that sort of track record wouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the amount of power that these gentlemen have. Did you Dick Cheney’s speech was a classic Dick Cheney speech. I mean there was always the joke of if you watch him closely, maybe this time the lizard will actually come out when he opens his mouth. But, the reality is that he went back to his core themes. And it’s important to note those. He was mostly talking about foreign policy. He’s obsessed with foreign policy. His two big messages were, there will be no break in unilateralism. This country will be hard core committed to a unilateral vision of how it operates in the world—no permission slips from any other countries. And two, a passionate defense of presidential war making. It’s important to remember this is the guy who was central to the defense of Ronald Reagan during the Iran contra process. He’s the one who wrote the dissenting opinion that essentially shot down any possibility of an impeachment of Ronald Reagan for Iran contra. Dick Cheney has been at the core of some of the darkest activities in this country over the last four years. The man who began in the Nixon white house, key player in the Ford white house. Went to congress and was Reagan’s key defender on the far right. Somebody that Newt Gingrich said it much more conservative than me. Someone who in the national journal checked the voting record found he was a little to the right of Jesse Helms. This is our vice president. And people ought to watch him closely because George Bush will give a compassionate conservative speech tonight. But if you want it see what will happen in the next four years, go back and list tone what Cheney said last night because that’s the blueprint for the next four years and noted, that just as in 2,000, he mentioned countries that the united states might have to deal with. In this case, Iran and North Korea.

AMY GOODMAN: John, just a quick question. You were at the youth convention yesterday, the Republican Youth Convention with the twins.

JOHN NICHOLS: I wasn’t actually attending the convention, but —

AMY GOODMAN: You were covering it and protesters came in from Act Up. What actually happened to them?

JOHN NICHOLS: Well, it’s an interesting thing. They got into the hall and, you know, I signed up and got in, they were wearing street clothes. Right when Andy Card spoke, their goal was to get a message through directly to the administration. So when, after Jenny and Barbara Bush introduced Andy Card, they pulled off their street shirts, had white t-shirts saying “Bush Lies.” Held up small signs and they began blowing whistles and yelling. It was a quick, effective protest. They were set upon by the young republicans who really moved in quickly holding up signs to sort of cover what was happening. A number of the delegates were, you know, certainly jostling, pushing. It was a pretty scary situation. This is one of the few time whereas the entry of the secret service and the police might actually have been to the advantage of the protesters because those Young Republicans were angry. I think they saw them as junior league Michael Moores and they were all over them. And, you know, there’s been some reports that the protesters attacked delegates. Everything I have seen from the film afterwards, reports, people were actually down there said there was no attack on the delegates. These were very direct, traditional protesters who wanted to get a message out.

AMY GOODMAN: Pratap Chatterjee, you have been following Dick Cheney for quite a while and particularly looking at Halliburton through Corpwatch and your reporting on corporations. Talk about what you think is the most significant here.

PRATAP CHATTERJEE: Well I think in listening to the speech and reading it later, he’s a deeply paranoid man. As John said, obsessed with foreign policy and always has been. He’s a self-licking ice cream cone yesterday. I thought it was a great image. This is somebody who, you know, he fights the war that he himself would have never fought. He spends taxes but never paid his own taxes. And—

AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean by that?

PRATAP CHATTERJEE: He currently gets as much money from Halliburton in salary as he does, that we pay him, as vice president. So he gets $198,000 as vice president. He gets between $170,000 and $200,000 a year from Halliburton. The reason is, he deferred his salary so he could take advantage of a tax cut. So he’s willing to—he’s currently the Congressional Research Service found that he was actually, had a conflict of interest because he was still receiving money from a company as vice president. And when he was the head of this company, Halliburton, I mean he either lied all the time or he was delusional and was doing a bad job. This is a man who said he didn’t know creative accounting was taking place.

JOHN NICHOLS: I don’t mean to intervene, but who actually cut the video for Arthur Anderson saying they taught me accounting tricks I could never have thought of.

PRATAP CHATTERJEE: Exactly. So, either he’s delusional or he’s lying. He said he didn’t know about asbestos liability in the year 2000 when we have known about this for 20 years and it cost the company billions of dollars.

AMY GOODMAN: After they bought Dresser Industries.

PRATAP CHATTERJEE: He didn’t know about the activities in Iraq. He said categorically we are not doing business in Iraq. When presented with the evidence, he said well we didn’t know about it.

AMY GOODMAN: He was the head of the company.

PRATAP CHATTERJEE: He was the chief executive officer at the time when they were doing business in Iraq.

JUAN GONZALEZ: The Halliburton issue has been out there now. Many Americans know about it, but to what degree has it become, in the minds of many Americans, the scandal that many of us think it is?

PRATAP CHATTERJEE: I think, well, there’s a quote I want to read to you guys. He didn’t have a problem the quote basically is about Halliburton’s war profiteering in Vietnam. The quote is why this huge contract has not been audit San Diego beyond me. The potential for profiteering under such a contract is substantial. The speaker, the young member of the House of Representatives by the name of Donald Rumsfeld in 1966. This is a company that has been attacked correctly for its war profiteering. It couldn’t produce $120 million worth of receipts, exactly the same story today. This is a company that has had contracts upwards that they should never have gotten. Dick Cheney is a man who is put in charge of selecting a vice president himself. Halliburton was asked to design a contract and guided themselves.

JOHN NICHOLS: If I could just add on this, this is an important fact.

AMY GOODMAN: We have 10 seconds.

JOHN NICHOLS: And that is that it was Dick Cheney who, as secretary of defense, had Kellogg Brown and Root write the plan for privatization of war. What you are seeing in Iraq today is a direct result of what Dick Cheney did as Secretary of Defense back in 1991 and 1992.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you both very much for being with us. John Nichols, Nation Magazine and The Madison Capital Times. His new book is called Dick the Man Who is President.

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