Nightmare on Cheney Street

movies usually follow the same script. The monster - whether
genetically modified, abused as a child, or flown in from Alpha
Centauri - picks off the frightened teenagers one by one. After many
thrills and chills, the hero drives a stake through the heart of the
beast. Finally, just as we're finishing off the last of our popcorn in
relief, the not-quite-dead monster makes one last attempt to dispatch
the hero. It fails, but not before we've dumped popcorn all over our

Wes Craven decided to make a horror movie out of the last year of U.S.
politics, he would definitely cast Dick Cheney as the monster that
can't be silenced. The former vice president is Leatherface, Jason, and
Freddie Krueger all rolled into one: lawless, methodical, and
unpredictable with firearms. He's had more sequels than Chucky: White
House chief of staff, House minority whip, secretary of Defense, CEO of
Halliburton, vice president, and now rogue pundit.

In the last presidential elections, the voters repudiated the Cheney legacy. But like Glenn Close in her final scene in Fatal Attraction,
Cheney's not yet down for the count. As the various TV appearances and
his speech last week at the conservative think tank American Enterprise
Institute (AEI) suggest, he's still got some fight in him.

Frankly, Barton Gellman's book Angler
should have KO'd the man politically. Here's a guy who not only
stage-managed the vice-presidential search for George W. Bush and then
took the position himself, but also extracted confidential information
during the search process that he subsequently used against his
potential adversaries. Here's a guy who assembled the crack legal team
(or was it a legal team on crack?) that provided the constitutional
argument for expanding executive power, upending domestic and
international law, and justifying torture. Here's a guy who created a
real secret team inside the Bush administration that bypassed the State
Department, Congress, and all normal procedures.

yet, like Nixon emerging from the grave of Watergate, Cheney has sought
to rebuild his reputation as the national security conscience of his
party. "On the question of so-called torture, we don't do torture," he argued
in a December interview on ABC. "We never have." He defended the
intelligence data that the administration cooked in order to persuade
the country to go to war against Iraq. He declared the "global war on
terror" still on and Guantanamo still indispensable.

But last week, he went further. At AEI, he attackedThe New York Times
for uncovering his secret surveillance program that collected untold
amount of information about U.S. citizens and should have outraged
every privacy-minded conservative in the country. He argued that
"enhanced interrogation techniques" provided critical information that
prevented the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. He warned the
Obama administration of closing Guantanamo and bringing terrorists
"inside the United States" as though President Barack Obama were about
to release them on the streets of New York. It was a speech, to quote
Cheney himself, that reeked of "recklessness cloaked in righteousness."

AEI speech, like Cheney's performance as vice president, was rife with
misstatements and calculated distortions. As journalists Jonathan S.
Landay and Warren P. Strobel point out,
the CIA inspector general, FBI director, and director of national
intelligence all concur that there is no proof that the information
gained through torture thwarted any attacks. The Abu Ghraib abuses were
not, as Cheney claimed, the result of a few sadistic guards but the
result of orders from top administration officials. Most of those
detained in Guantanamo haven't been "ruthless enemies of this country"
but innocent people or low-level combatants without any valuable

you don't believe journalists - because you think, as Cheney implies,
they don't have the best interests of the country at heart - consider
the perspective of the chief U.S. interrogator in Iraq, Matthew
Alexander. "Torture and abuse became Al Qaida's number one recruiting
tool and cost us American lives," Alexander writes.
"Our greatest success in this conflict was achieved without torture or
abuse. My interrogation team found Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, the former
leader of Al Qaida in Iraq and murderer of tens of thousands. We did
this using relationship-building approaches and non-coercive law
enforcement techniques."

course, Dick Cheney has never been particularly interested in the
truth. He wants to achieve his goals. And it appears that he's having
some effect.

rallying the conservative forces and putting pressure on invertebrate
Democrats, Cheney has influenced national policy. The Senate refused to
appropriate money for the closure of Guantanamo and the transfer of the
prisoners held there. Obama has refused to support a truth commission.
More ominously, the Obama administration is now working out its own
policy of "preventive detention" - indefinitely holding people that
can't be charged and tried in U.S. courts - that violates fundamental
American legal principles. In his speech
at the National Archives last week, Obama defended his important
departures from Bush-era policy (end of torture, closure of Guantanamo)
but also showed the influence of Cheney in his emphasis on war, "taking
the fight to the extremists," and military commissions.

Liberal commentators have generally been enthusiastic about Obama's caution. Just check out The Washington Post's liberal stable: David Broder praised Obama and Cheney for both opposing a truth commission; "Obama has mostly called it right," observes Ruth Marcus; and E.J. Dionne, Jr. is delighted
at the resurrection of Cold War liberalism. Cheney makes Obama look
good. But he also pulls the president further to the right.

isn't just fighting for his principles. He's fighting for his career
and those of the team that bent the Constitution to their will. No one
expects that the villains in horror movies will observe Marquess of Queensberry
rules. The same applies to the former vice president. Expect more
down-and-dirty fighting from Dick Cheney. This is one nightmare from
which we haven't quite woken up.

Nightmare on Kim Jong Il Street

Korea can't let a U.S. holiday go by without offering its own form of
celebration. In 2006, Pyongyang launched a rocket on July 4. This year,
on Memorial Day, it decided to test a second nuclear weapon. Or, at
least, that's what the seismic data suggests. The first test three years ago was widely held to be a dud. This one might not have been much better.

or not, the United States has to come up with a response. Foreign
Policy In Focus contributors Brent Choi and Joowoon Jung argue in A More Expensive Bill for North Korea
that the Obama administration should wield a bigger stick and dangle a
larger carrot. It should offer to send a high-level envoy to Pyongyang.
And it should threaten to redeploy nuclear weapons in South Korea. In North Korea and Malign Neglect,
I argue that ignoring North Korea hasn't worked in the past. The Obama
administration should instead embark on an authentic policy of
engagement as the only way to disempower North Korean hardliners and
promote a more sensible agenda in Pyongyang.

Nukes or nice? Follow our debate in Strategic Dialogue: North Korea.

Nightmare on Recession Street

horror movie that most people are facing these days is joblessness,
foreclosure, and poverty. Will China save the global economy by using
its own economic growth to pull the world out of recession?

FPIF columnist Walden Bello is skeptical. In Will China Save the World from Depression?,
he points out that Beijing is sponsoring a stimulus package that,
proportional to its economy, is larger than Washington's. Much of that
money is going to the countryside. "A significant portion of Beijing's
stimulus package is destined for infrastructure and social spending in
the rural areas," Bello writes. "The government is allocating 20
billion yuan ($3 billion) in subsidies to help rural residents buy
televisions, refrigerators, and other electrical appliances." But this
isn't enough. "Even if Beijing throws in another hundred billion
dollars, the stimulus package is not likely to counteract in any
significant way the depressive impact of a 25-year policy of
sacrificing the countryside for export-oriented urban-based industrial
growth," Bello concludes.

change isn't helping matters. The poorest countries in the world will
face the near-term consequences of global warming. The UN has created a
fund to help these countries make the necessary changes now to deal
with this problem. The fund only has about 10% of the funds needed to
pay for the first round of changes.

United States, as the world's richest country and its biggest emitter
of greenhouse gasses, didn't pledge a single cent to this fund over the
last eight years under President George W. Bush," writes FPIF
contributor Saleemul Huq in Bridging the Climate Gap.
"This has left a significant credibility deficit for the United States
that Obama and Congress need to address if they wish the United States
to claim a leadership role at the global level on climate change."

could the money come from? What about the Pentagon? The problem is, the
Obama administration is proposing to increase military spending.
"Wasting taxpayer money on dangerous, unnecessary, expensive military
projects is more of an imposition on our grandchildren than spending
money on health care or green energy - especially when the weapons
programs don't work properly. The Government Accountability Office has
documented massive Pentagon waste. Why is Congress unconcerned?" asks
FPIF contributor Steve Cobble in Conservative Hypocrisy on Military Spending.

of waste, how about that World Bank? FPIF contributor Bea Edwards
reports on the lack of safeguards against corruption at the Bank and
what we can do about it in World Bank Corruption.

Final Nightmares

President Binyamin Netanyahu recently dropped in for a White House
visit. The Obama administration has demanded that Israel stop building
settlements, but Netanyahu is pressing forward on building homes in
existing settlements.

real nightmare scenario in U.S.-Israeli relations is Iran, though.
"Netanyahu campaigned on and has continued to escalate his rhetoric
threatening military force against Iran, sometimes framing it in the
context of 'what Israel will have to do if the United States does not
prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon,'" writes FPIF contributor
Phyllis Bennis in Netanyahu Visits the White House.
"Netanyahu demands that the United States agree either to attack Iran
if Obama's potential nuclear diplomacy doesn't work, or agree to
support an Israeli attack on Iran"

meanwhile, is gearing up for an election next month. Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad is going for a second term, a nightmare possibility in
itself. But he faces stiff competition from a couple of moderates. "A
reformist comeback would certainly substitute confrontational tactics
and volatile rhetoric with moderation and reason," writes FPIF
contributor Bernd Kaussler in Iran's Next Leadership?
"Although the nuclear position will not shift, the United States will
likely be able to engage constructively with a reformist government in
Iran. But such a government will also have to deal with a hostile
conservative parliament, and may have trouble delivering on the key
issues needed internally in order to secure and maintain dialogue with
the United States."

contributor Andre Vltchek recently visited a nightmare: the Kibati
refugee camp in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He sends us a Postcard from...Goma that details the horrifying conditions.

And finally, FPIF contributor Tiffany Williams reviews a new book
on yet another nightmarish condition: slavery in the United States.
"Although the United States abolished slavery officially in 1865, it
has never ended in practice," she writes. "In 2009, slaves work in the
homes of diplomats in Maryland and in the tomato fields of Southwest
Florida. 'There has never been a single day in our America, from its
discovery and birth right up to the moment you are reading this
sentence, without slavery,' write renowned human trafficking expert
Kevin Bales and respected historian Ron Soodalter in their new book The Slave Next Door."


Barton Gellman, Angler (Penguin, 2008);

ABC News, "Cheney Defends Hard Line Tactics," December 16, 2008;

Fox News, "Text of Dick Cheney's National Security Speech at AEI," May 21, 2009;

Jonathan S. Landay and Warren P. Strobel, "Cheney's Speech Ignored Some Inconvenient Truths," McClatchy, May 21, 2009;

Matthew Alexander, "Former Senior Investigator in Iraq Dissects Cheney's Lies and Distortions," The Huffington Post, May 24, 2009;

The Washington Post, "Obama on National Security and American Values," May 21, 2009;

David Broder, "A Worthy Debate," The Washington Post, May 24, 2009;

Ruth Marcus, "Obama's 'None of the Above' Terror Policy," The Washington Post, May 24, 2009;

E. J. Dionne, Jr., "Obama's Center-Left Two-Step," The Washington Post, May 25, 2009;

The Marquess of Queensberry Rules;

Thom Shanker and William Broad, "Seismic Readings Appear to Point to a Small Nuclear Test," The New York Times, May 26, 2009;

Brent Choi and Joowoon Jung, "A More Expensive Bill for North Korea," Foreign Policy In Focus (; Washington should consider a bigger stick and a bigger carrot.

John Feffer, "North Korea and Malign Neglect," Foreign Policy In Focus and Asia Chronicle (; The Obama administration needs to abandon its default position and seriously engage North Korea.

Brent Choi, Joowoon Jung, and John Feffer, "Strategic Dialogue: North Korea," Foreign Policy In Focus (; What's the proper response to North Korea's actions?

Walden Bello, "Can China Save the World from Depression?" Foreign Policy In Focus (; China's stimulus package is not likely to bail out either the Chinese peasants or the global economy.

Saleemul Huq, "Bridging the Climate Gap," Foreign Policy In Focus (; The United States must help poor countries deal with the impact of climate change.

Steve Cobble, "Conservative Hypocrisy on Military Spending," Asheville Citizen-Times (; It's time to apply "pay as you go" spending to the military budget.

Bea Edwards, "World Bank Corruption," Foreign Policy In Focus (; The Bank's management tried to stifle an internal report that found that its funds are vulnerable to theft and diversion.

Phyllis Bennis, "Netanyahu Visits the White House," Foreign Policy In Focus (;
Meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Obama has the chance to
make good on real change in U.S. policy in the Middle East.

Bernd Kaussler, "Iran's Next Leadership?" Foreign Policy In Focus (;
In their upcoming presidential elections, Iranians will make a choice
that will have profound implications on their country's relationship
with the United States and the world.

Andre Vltchek, "Postcard from...Goma," Foreign Policy in Focus (; The international community has promised assistance to refugees in Congo. But not much has reached them.

Williams, "Review: The Slave Next Door," Foreign Policy In Focus
(; Slavery may have ended officially
in the United States in 1865, but it has continued in practice to this
very day.

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