Hail to the Shadow Chief

I assume most of you have seen the first two articles in the Washington Post’s four-part series on Cheney by now. If not, set aside a little time and read them. Everything you figured was happening was, and then some. Ignore the nonsense about Cheney not really being a shadow president, nosiree — it reads, as others have noted, as something tacked on later by some clumsy editor, and is pretty much disproven by the articles themselves. As Digby notes:

I know that I sound like a character in an Oliver Stone movie, (“one pristine bullet? That dog don’t hunt!” ) but I have never been sanguine about the fact that all the big money boyz and all the power brokers in the GOP traipsed down to Austin to meet that grinning moron and came away thinking he was the right choice to run the most powerful nation on earth. It makes far more sense to me that they wanted to install Cheney from the beginning (remember the energy task force?) and they needed an empty suit with a winning personality to actually run for the office. Maybe it really was a quiet coup, who knows?

And the big surprise: who would have imagined John Ashcroft to be the (conditional) hero of the story, trying to keep some basic shred of the Constitution intact?

And then there’s this:

The vice president’s lawyer advocated what was considered the memo’s most radical claim: that the president may authorize any interrogation method, even if it crosses the line into torture. U.S. and treaty laws forbidding any person to “commit torture,” that passage stated, “do not apply” to the commander in chief, because Congress “may no more regulate the President’s ability to detain and interrogate enemy combatants than it may regulate his ability to direct troop movements on the battlefield.”

That same day, Aug. 1, 2002, Yoo signed off on a second secret opinion, the contents of which have never been made public. According to a source with direct knowledge, that opinion approved as lawful a long list of interrogation techniques proposed by the CIA — including waterboarding, a form of near-drowning that the U.S. government has prosecuted as a war crime since at least 1901. The opinion drew the line against one request: threatening to bury a prisoner alive.

They have some standards, after all…