Former Vice President Dick Cheney’s new memoir-In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir, released today- has renewed the well-documented feuds that plagued former President George W. Bush’s initial national security team.
Early reviews of the memoirs say Cheney has some harsh words for many of his former colleagues, including both of Bush’s Secretaries of State Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice. Both of the Secretaries of State were considered moderates during their tenures in that position, often leaving them at odds the more Hawkish members of Bush’s national security team including Vice President Cheney. Powell-along with his Deputy and best friend Richard Armitage- were reported to be widely skeptical of the wisdom of attacking Iraq.
A New York Times’review of Cheney’s memoirs, for instance, says the Vice President acknowledges encouraging President Bush to accept Powell’s resignation in 2004. The same review says that Cheney took issue with Powell for the latter’s alleged tendency to voice opposition with the President’s decisions “by criticizing administration policy to people outside the government.”
In typical fashion, Cheney has not shied away from embracing these characterizations. In a recent interview with “Dateline,” the former Vice President predicted “there are gonna be heads exploding all over Washington,’’ referring to the impact his book would have.
On Sunday Colin Powell took to the airwaves to hit back at Cheney. On CBS’ “Face the Nation” Powell had some harsh words for his former colleague of two administrations (Powell served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the George H.W. Bush administration when Cheney was Secretary of Defense) calling Cheney’s remarks “cheap shots”.
“My head isn’t exploding and I haven’t noticed any other head is exploding in Washington, DC, and the explosive part of the book. And when Mister Cheney says its explosive but what I have read in the newspapers and seen on television, it’s essentially a rehash of the events of seven or eight years ago,” Powell said in response to a question from “Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer.
Powell then added, “What really sort of got my attention was this way in which he characterized it, it’s going to cause heads to explode. That’s quite a visual and in fact, the kind of headline I would expect to come out a gossip column, that’s the kind of headline you might see one of the super market tabloids write. It was not the kind of headline I would have expected to come from a former Vice President of the United States of America.” The former Secretary of State also denies Cheney’s allegations that he vented his frustrations with administration policy to people outside the government.
Cheney’s memoirs also reveal that he drafted a resignation letter early in the administration, which he told an aide to give to the President in case he suffered a heart attack and became incapacitated. The former Vice President also writes in the book that he urged the President to attack a suspected nuclear reactor site in Syria in 2007, but the President sided with other members of the administration who opposed the idea. Israel eventually destroyed the reactor during an airstrike in September 2007.
Overall the initial reviews of the books suggest that Cheney will simply confirm what is already widely known about his role in the administration; for example, that he usually took hawkish positions on national security issues and that his influence in the administration was greatly reduced in the last few years.
With the release of his memoir today, Cheney joins a long list of senior Bush administration officials who have published books about their time in the administration including: White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, Commander of U.S. Central Command (in charge of Middle East) Gen. Tommy Franks, political operative Karl Rove, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, CIA Director George Tenet, and the President himself. Condoleezza Rice is set to publish her own memoirs on November 1st of this year, tentatively titled No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washington.