It’s a little weird that an organization representing the legal community invited a war criminal to keynote their convention earlier this week. Add to his war record the fact that as vice-president, Dick Cheney consistently demonized lawyers, the invitation seems “curiouser and curiouser.”
In an effort to snag big names to headline their confabs, organizations don’t spend enough time thinking it through. The Wyoming Bar Association should have asked what a speech by Cheney could contribute to the success of their convention. The answer is not much other than unneeded controversy.
When accepting the 2004 Republican Party vice-presidential nomination, Cheney pontificated about what he called “junk lawsuits.” During the 2000 vice-presidential debate, Cheney proposed capping noneconomic damages, and limiting fees that trial attorneys receive.
Bob Kraft, a Dallas attorney satirized Cheney’s campaign against lawyers in his February 15, 2006 blog: “Impatient with stalled efforts to close the courts to litigants, the Bush Administration literally fired the first shot in its groundbreaking "No Lawyer Left Standing" initiative. Vice-President Cheney, hunting on a private ranch near Kingsville, Texas, bagged an impressive buck (Harry Whittington). Under the new program, hunters may take one white shoe in-house lawyer or three outside lawyers daily. There is no limit for trial lawyers. ‘We’ve just got to thin the herd,’ said the Vice-President. ‘We’ve tried tort reform and caps on damages, but people are still suing.’ Cheney added.”
Funny? Yes! But Cheney’s efforts to shield his beloved Halliburton from asbestos related lawsuits weren’t so funny. In April of 2003, the Texas Observer cited “the so-called ‘Dick Cheney’ amendment, which would make it easier for companies to elude asbestos lawsuits. If the Cheney amendment is enacted, Halliburton wouldn’t have to pay the $4 billion settlement, or any other asbestos damages, and victims would be flat out of luck.”
Just the mention of the name “Halliburton” conjures up images of Cheney’s role in the tragic war in Iraq. Make no mistake about it. ISIS is the spawn of the Cheney decision to invade that country. What is happening today is the obvious and predictable result of the biggest foreign policy blunder in American history.
While George W. Bush busies himself writing books and painting pictures, Dick Cheney uses his retirement years to revise history. The Wyoming State Bar convention is just another stop on his road show. His purpose in attending their convention was obvious in the material he provided the Bar to publicize his speech.
His official biography includes an attack on President Obama, a claim that he and Bush left the world in good shape, and that Obama’s policies have “led to a reversal of the made on the war on terror in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan.” Call him delusional.
His administration ignored reports of “patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.” (Presidential Daily Briefing August 6, 2001). Then Cheney converted 9/11 into a pretext to invade Iraq.
Lie by lie, Cheney built a case for war. Later it became clear that contrary to Cheney’s saber-rattling there were no weapons of mass destruction, Al Qaeda was not then operating in Iraq, American soldiers were not welcomed as liberators, and that the only beneficiary of the war was Halliburton. Years later a Republican congressman, Walter Jones, asked Colin Powell’s former chief of staff about the manipulation of intelligence. "How could the professionals see what was happening and nobody speak out?"
Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson responded, "The vice president."
Cheney may or may not have been “Commander-in-chief” but he was “Manipulator-in-chief.” Cheney ripped-up the Constitution as he oversaw the creation of “Black Sites,” i.e. offshore prisons where suspects were held indeterminately without charges and subjected to "enhanced interrogations.”
Dick Cheney should have a forum to explain his role in the Iraq disaster but not at a convention. He should be in the witness box being cross-examined by a prosecutor seeking a conviction for his war crimes.