Very good piece at WSJ’s Opinion Journal today. Well worth the read!
Dick Cheney sat transfixed by the images on the small television screen in the corner of his West Wing office. Smoke poured out of a gaping hole in the World Trade Center’s North Tower. John McConnell, the vice president’s chief speechwriter, sat next to him and said nothing.
Then, a second plane appeared on the right-hand side of the screen, banked slightly to the left, and plunged into the South Tower. “Did you see that?” Mr. Cheney asked his aide.
A little more than an hour later, Mr. Cheney was seated below the presidential seal at a long conference table in the Presidential Emergency Operations Center, better known as the bunker. When an aide told Mr. Cheney that another passenger airplane was rapidly approaching the White House, the vice president gave the order to shoot it down. The young man was so surprised at Mr. Cheney’s immediate response that he asked again. Mr. Cheney reiterated the order. Thinking that Mr. Cheney must have misunderstood the question, the military aide asked him a third time.
The vice president responded evenly. “I said yes.”
These early moments and all that followed from them will define Mr. Cheney’s vice presidency. He was aggressive in those first moments of the war on terror and has been ever since.
I wish he wasn’t behind the scenes so much. He is so good at getting to the point on the battle we face today.
Remember the pwnage…err….debate of John Edwards back in 2004?
Remember his “Meet the Press” interview shortly after 9/11 which the NY times called a “Command performance”
If national security is your number one issue in this country (Which I think it is), then we owe a bit of gratitude to this man.
The policies he has advocated have been controversial. But they have also been effective. Consider the procedures put in place to extract information from hardcore terrorists. Mr. Cheney did not dream up these interrogation methods, but when intelligence officials insisted that they would work, the vice president championed them in internal White House debates and on Capitol Hill. Former CIA Director George Tenet–a Clinton-era appointee and certainly no Cheney fan–was asked about the value of those interrogation programs in a recent television appearance. His response, ignored by virtually everyone in the media, was extraordinary.
“Here’s what I would say to you, to the Congress, to the American people, to the president of the United States: I know that this program has saved lives. I know we’ve disrupted plots. . . . I know this program alone is worth more than the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency put together, have been able to tell us.”
To many, the threats [of terrorism] no longer seem urgent. Critics speak of “the so-called war on terror,” and accuse the administration of exaggerating the threats. Zbigniew Brzezinski, a leading indicator of Democratic conventional wisdom, recently argued that the “culture of fear” created in response to the 9/11 attacks has done more damage than the attacks themselves. But Mr. Cheney has not moved on. He still awakens each day asking the same questions he asked on Sept. 12, 2001.