Monday, May 29, 2006

addington, enron, torture, plame

in his illustrious career as cheney's lawyer, david addington doubtless was involved in the secrecy surrounding the VP's infamous energy task force.

The task force's stealthy operation reflects Cheney's distaste for publicity. Following news reports about the private nature of the energy deliberations, congressional Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Government Reform Committee requested information about the groups the task force met with. Cheney's counsel, David Addington, rebuffed the request, arguing there was no legal requirement to comply. ("Power politics Energy crisis can leave a presidency in the dark," The Seattle Times, May 17, 2001, Pg. A3.)

e.j. dionne spotted this in a wapo editorial five years ago:

At the request of congressional Democrats, the General Accounting Office demanded this week that the vice president turn over material on how the administration developed its energy policy and who helped it make its decisions.

Up to now, the administration has argued that doing so would get in the way of internal deliberations and violate executive privilege. In a letter written May 16, David Addington, counsel to the vice president, wrote: "It appears that the GAO may intend to intrude into the heart of executive deliberations, including deliberations among the president, the vice president, members of the president's Cabinet, and the president's immediate assistants, which the law protects to ensure the candor in executive deliberations necessary to effective government." ("What's Cheney Hiding?", July 20, 2001, Pg. A31.)

(dionne's column also pulls out this gem, all the more ironic now given who now sits at the white house press secretary's desk: "Tony Snow, the conservative commentator, wrote in a 1994 column: 'If the Clinton administration comes to an unhappy end, the president's political epitaph will read: Secrecy did him in.' Snow argued that the president 'wants to cook up deals, issue orders and take credit -- without interruptions by voters or journalists.' Now that's an interesting thought to ponder in 2001." even more so in 2006!)

of course, when henry waxman as minority leader on the house committee on government reform was trying to investigate enron's roll in cheney's energy task force, addington balked. all the correspondence can be found here and here. a january 3, 2002 letter from addington to waxman revealed that now-convicted criminal ken lay met with dick cheney and the energy task force a total of six times, addington was there to deflect:

In an indication of just how much political influence Enron Chief Executive Ken Lay wielded at the Bush White House, Cheney attorney David Addington said his boss met with Lay for about half an hour April 17.

That was at a time when Cheney was busy crafting the administration's national energy strategy and California regulators were battling with Enron and other independent power producers over that state's electricity woes.

"They discussed energy policy matters, including the energy crisis in California, and did not discuss information concerning the financial position of the Enron Corporation," Addington wrote in a letter to Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., dated Jan. 3 and released by Waxman's office Tuesday.(David Ivanovich, "VP, aides met 6 times with Enron," The Houston Chronicle, January 09, 2002, Pg. 01.)

strikes me that, now that lay has been found a convicted criminal, this might all be worth looking into again.

of course this is not the only white house scandal that this guy has a hand in. there's the question of his role in drafting the torture memo, which has been hinted at here and there but has generally gone under-explored. according to dana priest, "David S. Addington, Cheney's counsel, also weighed in with remarks during at least one meeting he held with Justice lawyers involved with writing the opinion. He was particularly concerned, sources said, that the opinion include a clear-cut section on the president's authority." ("CIA Puts Harsh Tactics On Hold," The Washington Post, June 27, 2004 Sunday, A01.)

there's the valerie plame CIA leak scandal, which he's got his hands in all the way up to fingering the president as the one who authorized the leak: "Mr. Libby testified that he was unsure of his authority to reveal the information before he met Ms. Miller, so he spoke with David Addington, then a lawyer for Mr. Cheney whom Mr. Libby regarded as an expert on national security law. 'Mr. Addington opined that presidential authorization to publicly disclose a document amounted to declassification of the document,' the filing by Mr. Fitzgerald said." (David Johnston and David, E. Sanger, "Cheney's Aide Says President Approved Leak," NYTimes, April 7, 2009, Page 1.)

there's also a curious reference to addington in a boston globe article discussing the CIA's involvement in afghanistan, implying that the VP's office was trying to keep an eye on george tenet and leading me to wonder if this continued on into the bogus case for war in iraq. "Vice President Dick Cheney has advanced his special counsel, David Addington, for the position of CIA general counsel. One official said it was a signal that Cheney wanted to keep close tabs on Tenet." (John Donnelly, "Fighting Terror in the Military Campaign: CIA Takes on Major New Military Role in Afghan War," The Boston Globe, January 20, 2002, Pg. A1.)

here's a pretty extensive backgrounder on addington by dana milbank ("In Cheney's Shadow, Counsel Pushes the Conservative Cause," The Washington Post, October 11, 2004).

and an NYTimes maureen dowd op-ed piece reprinted at

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