Vice President Dick Cheney, more than any one man, freed President Bush to aggressively fight the “war on terror.” With a small coterie of allies, Cheney supplied the rationale and political muscle to drive far-reaching legal changes through the White House, Justice Department and Pentagon.
Sept. 11, 2001: Terrorists attack the Pentagon and World Trade Center. Before the day is out, Cheney joins in planning the legal strategy for the fight against terrorism.
Sept. 18: Congress passes the authorization to use military force, drafted by White House and Justice Department lawyers who are led by Cheney’s general counsel, David S. Addington.
Sept. 25: John C. Yoo, deputy chief of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel, with guidance from Addington, finishes drafting the memorandum on what will be known as the Terrorist Surveillance Program.
Oct. 7: United States begins airstrikes in Afghanistan.
Oct. 25: Leaders of the House and Senate intelligence committees are called to the White House. Cheney, not President Bush, briefs them on the surveillance program.
Nov. 6: Yoo writes an opinion for the Office of Legal Counsel that says Bush does not need approval from Congress or the federal courts to try detainees before military commissions.
Nov. 10: Attorney General John D. Ashcroft brings his objections to Yoo’s memo to the White House. He meets with Cheney instead of Bush.
Nov. 13: Cheney brings what will become the “Presidential Order for Detention, Treatment, and Trial of Certain Non-Citizens in the War Against Terrorism” to a lunch with the president, bypassing interagency and White House staff review.
Nov. 14: Cheney speaks to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, saying that “terrorists do not deserve to be treated as prisoners of war.”
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