A Man With A Vision

Last evening I sat in Boston’s Old South Meeting House, where the cradle of dissent and free speech rocked this country.  The shades of Sam Adams, John Hancock, Phyllis Wheatley and others cast shadows over visitors and urge them to listen and to speak. Although I have passed by the Meeting House many times, I had not been inside until yesterday.

I shivered to think at what risk, at what peril and at what price the dissenters of that time incurred in order to speak truth to power and to question the inherent right of King George to infringe upon their freedom, their liberty and their right to self-governance.

Charlie Savage was leading a lecture and discussion of his new book, Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy.

Charlie spoke to his pursuit of the history and mystery of the presidential signing statements, the recalcitrance of the current crop of presidential candidates to speak to what they believe about inherent and concentrated executive power, and what they intend to do about it and with it if elected to office.

But he also spoke about the genesis of the unitary executive idea, and all roads lead to Cheney. 

Savage took a leave of absence from the Boston Globe and went on the road to track the historical underpinnings of the notion of inherent executive power.  Without giving too much away, the first key trigger seems to have been Cheney’s frustration at Congress’ reining in and constricting presidential power in the aftermath of Nixon’s resignation.

Savage visited the Ford presidential library, and there stored in boxes marked “the Cheney files” was Cheney’s articulated vision of the unitary executive and inherent executive power. Every position that Cheney had as a government appointee and during his time as a House representative in the 1980s from that time on included well-crafted revisions and honing of that vision. Cheney never veered from it, and when he served as George HW Bush’s Secretary of Defense, he chafed at any diffusion of power beyond the president’s.

So when Savage began to speak to the roll-out of the deliberate, transparent (yes – Cheney has never hidden this agenda) and well-planned amassing of presidential power via the use of presidential signing statements (GWB has issued more of them than all of the rest of the US presidents combined), blatant court challenges to presidential executive power, and the position of viewing the legislative branch as a weak advisory one, something began to gel for me.

Charlie cited the known instance of Cheney beginning to launch the intense agenda of unitary executive power on 9/25/2001. Charlie described this, and he documents it broadly, as a well-planned campaign, and not merely as a post 9/11 reaction.

PNAC spelled out the military part of the vision based on this:


In broad terms, we saw the project as building upon the defense strategy outlined by the Cheney Defense Department in the waning days of the Bush Administration.  The Defense Policy Guidance (DPG) drafted in the early months of 1992 provided a blueprint for maintaining U.S. preeminence, precluding the rise of a great power rival, and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests.

ESTABLISH FOUR CORE MISSIONS for U.S. military forces:
• defend the American homeland;
• fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars;
• perform the “constabulary” duties associated with shaping the security environment in critical regions;
• transform U.S. forces to exploit the “revolution in military affairs;”
To carry out these core missions, we need to provide sufficient force and budgetary allocations. In particular, the United States must:
MAINTAIN NUCLEAR STRATEGIC SUPERIORITY, basing the U.S. nuclear deterrent upon a
global, nuclear net assessment that weighs the full range of current and emerging threats, not merely the U.S.-Russia balance.
RESTORE THE PERSONNEL STRENGTH of today’s force to roughly the levels anticipated in the “Base Force” outlined by the Bush Administration, an increase in active-duty strength from 1.4 million to 1.6 million.
REPOSITION U.S. FORCES to respond to 21st century strategic realities by shifting permanently-based forces to Southeast Europe and Southeast Asia, and by changing naval deployment patterns to reflect growing U.S. strategic concerns in East Asia.
MODERNIZE CURRENT U.S. FORCES SELECTIVELY, proceeding with the F-22 program while increasing purchases of lift, electronic support and other aircraft; expanding submarine and surface combatant fleets; purchasing Comanche helicopters and medium-weight ground vehicles for the Army, and the V-22 Osprey “tilt-rotor” aircraft for the Marine Corps.
CANCEL “ROADBLOCK” PROGRAMS such as the Joint Strike Fighter, CVX aircraft carrier, and Crusader howitzer system that would absorb exorbitant amounts of Pentagon funding while providing limited improvements to current capabilities. Savings from these canceled programs should be used to spur the process of military transformation.
DEVELOP AND DEPLOY GLOBAL MISSILE DEFENSES to defend the American homeland and
American allies, and to provide a secure basis for U.S. power projection around the world.
the way for the creation of a new military service – U.S. Space Forces – with the mission of space control.
EXPLOIT THE “REVOLUTION IN MILITARY AFFAIRS” to insure the long-term superiority of U.S. conventional forces. Establish a two-stage transformation process which
• maximizes the value of current weapons systems through the application of advanced technologies, and,
• produces more profound improvements in military capabilities, encourages competition between single services and joint-service experimentation efforts.
INCREASE DEFENSE SPENDING gradually to a minimum level of 3.5 to 3.8 percent of gross domestic product, adding $15 billion to $20 billion to total defense spending annually.

This means that the planning for it had to have occurred well before 9/11/2001. It also infers that in order for it to gain traction with the minimum of resistance from the public, the traditional media and Congress, it needed to have a trigger event. A planned and deliberate trigger event.


Nowhere else in the presidential agenda has there been a compelling reason to use unitary executive power other than as a crisis, short term response to a national catastrophe.

It couldn’t be sold to Americans any other way.

Yet Savage’s research clearly demonstrates that this very successful campaign of amassing and concentrating presidential power was planned by Cheney, that he recruited PNAC associates and deliberately placed them in key functions and positions, and that he “rolled out” a new product in September of 2001 in the form of having Bush’s message become “national security” complete with fascist symbolism – lapel flags, flag waving, yellow ribbons, questioning dissent as unpatriotic, intimidating the press, using the Republican party as the funding device, deliberately and systematically placing partisan hacks in governmental agencies and undermining their utility and effectiveness, undermining social safety functions, undermining infrastructure, using the military to pre-emptively war with a non-aggressive country in order to control oil, etc.

And 9/11 could be accomplished if you knew that someone was determined to attack, you kept apprised of the developments but quashed all investigations, you greased the wheels to make sure that the “terrorists” had all of the resources they needed either directly (access to flight training, access to boarding aircraft) or indirectly (Carlyle Group money laundering, control over target security {Neil Bush in the WTC}.

Up until this point, I couldn’t believe that the attack on 9/11 had a US governmental component.  But now I’m convinced that it was a combination of letting it happen and facilitating it with either a known date or a small window of time.

I’d like to know out of curiosity what the president’s schedule had originally been for the week before and the days immediately after 9/11. I believe that Cheney knew and directed the resources in order to assure that the attacks had maximal impact. And I also understand why the plane hit the Pentagon and not the WH or the Capitol.  The Pentagon was the scariest symbol for the military and it was a literal phallic symbol of screwing the military.  Cheney and Rumsfeld knew that.

I think he sold the plan to Bush by luring him with the idea that Bush would be able to “really be the decider” and “protect” the security. Bush was confused on 9/11. He was being directed by Cheney. And without him, he waited for instruction in the Florida classroom, and then later, as Air Force One flew aimlessly, before Cheney instructed him to stay out of Washington.

But I digress.  The point is that Cheney has, for thirty years, worked on his major opus of concentrating presidential power, of creating an executive branch accountable to no one, and his vision has largely been fulfilled with remarkably little resistance and obstruction along the way.

A man with a vision – and now, you are living in it.


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  1. Call for it here.

  2. Up until this point, I couldn’t believe that the attack on 9/11 had a US governmental component.  But now I’m convinced that it was a combination of letting it happen and facilitating it with either a known date or a small window of time.

    • Turkana on October 5, 2007 at 8:57 pm

    WALSH: No. And if it was an inside job, look – they can’t gets the lights on in Baghdad; they can’t clean up after Katrina. [laughter] I just don’t believe that they could have pulled off 9/11. [applause] [cheers] It’s beyond them.

    sept 8, 2006

  3. Musing on Turkana’s comment about Cheney/Bush being incompetent, and this may be the dog that didn’t bark component.

    By rational, liberal and progressive standards – those which follow the Constitution, Cheney and Bush appear to be incompetent.

    But in reading Cheney’s vision of unbridled, concentrated and full inherent executive branch power, he’s met or exceeded ALL of his stated goals.  That’s pretty damn competent.

    So it’s important to investigate and analyze Cheney’s “competence and effectiveness” based on his performance in meeting his own stated mission, vision and objectives.

    And it’s also important to identify how those deviate from evidence of supporting, upholding and defending the Constitution.

    However Cheney does it, he’s clearly the “brains” and planning and execution behind George W Bush. Whether he “allows” Bush to own any of his own agenda, I don’t know.  I would guess that on issues which Cheney doesn’t care about – say healthcare – he probably gives Bush free rein – and hence you get the emergency room comment and the veto of SCHIP.

    But on anything that has to do with the advancement of inherent and concentrated executive power, I would look for a Cheney money and blood trail.

    • Twank on October 6, 2007 at 1:58 am

    Let’s see now.  Almost Friday evening, a gooooood blast of Gallo Hearty Burgandy, Olbermann is on in a few minutes, and I’ve got a few “pearls of wisdom”.  Ready?

    “Unitary executive” = “dictator” (OUR dictator, NOT YOURS)

    Got it folks?

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