Wednesday, April 1, 2009
If you think Dick Cheney is gone and forgotten, think again.
Like an loose cancer cell that escaped from its original site, only to take hold elsewhere and wreck havoc on the patient’s body, Dick Cheney remains very much a shadowy presence inside the new Obama administration.
In an appearance on NPR’s Fresh Air, radio host Terri Gross asked investigative journalist Seymour “Sy” Hersh if he continues to investigate the Bush administration. Hersh answered yes, but implied that many people are still afraid to comment on Cheney.
TERRI GROSS: “Are you saying that you think Vice President Cheney is still having a chilling effect on people who might otherwise be coming forward?”
SEYMOUR HERSH: “I’ll make it worse. I think he’s put people left. He’s put people back. They call it a stay behind. It’s sort of an intelligence term of art. When you leave a country and, you know, you’ve driven out the, you know, you’ve lost the war. You leave people behind. It’s a stay behind that you can continue to contacts with, to do sabotage, whatever you want to do. Cheney’s left a stay behind. He’s got people in a lot of agencies that still tell him what’s going on. Particularly in defense, obviously. Also in the NSA, there’s still people that talk to him. He still knows what’s going on. Can he still control policy up to a point? Probably up to a point, a minor point. But he’s still there. He’s still a presence.”
The notion that Cheney would seed the government with loyal operatives is not new and it certainly isn’t surprising. As Hersh noted in his discussion with Gross, Cheney has “been around forever” and “understands bureaucracy much better” than almost anyone in government.
In 2006, Robert Dreyfuss reported for The American Prospect that when Cheney assembled the staff for Bush administration back in 2001, he put together a “corps of hard-line acolytes” that served “as his eyes and ears” in the Federal bureaucracy. Former officials called them “Dick Cheney’s spies.”
If President Obama is serious about “moving forward,” as he frequently likes to say, it is incumbent on him to begin the process of ruthlessly cleaning house and this starts by removing Robert Gates from the job of Defense Secretary. Gates has decades-old ties, to not only to the CIA and George Herbert Walk Bush, but to Dick Cheney, as well.