watchers and historians have called Dick Cheney one of the most
influential and powerful vice presidents in U.S. history. Cheney
helped install several of his past associates to senior-level
posts, including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Deputy Defense
Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, and Lewis Libby as his chief of staff.
unlike most vice presidents, has been known to meet with President
Bush several times a day and participate regularly in senior-level
meetings on foreign and defense affairs. He also headed the president's
special task force on energy policy, which developed plans to
increase domestic energy production and reduce U.S. reliance on
foreign oil supplies.
Just a few
months into the term, Cheney, 60, again reported experiencing
chest pains, and underwent a balloon angioplasty procedure. Health
concerns continue to dog the vice president, but he maintains
he's as fit as ever, as demonstrated by his active hobbies of
fly-fishing and bird hunting.
On Sept. 11,
2001, after the two hijacked planes slammed into the World Twin
Towers in New York, Cheney was immediately evacuated into the
President's Emergency Operations Center, the secure shelter underneath
the White House, refusing Secret Service recommendations that
he evacuate to a safer location.
underground bunker, Cheney commanded the initial U.S. response
to terrorism, including recommending the shoot-down of hijacked
American Flight 93 that crashed in Pennsylvania, while communicating
with President Bush, aloft on Air Force One.
Bush declared a war against terrorism and the United States launched
a military strike against Afghanistan, Cheney and other senior
officials worked to craft a national security strategy to better
confront global terrorism. Those efforts culminated in the National
Security Strategy of November 2002, with its new doctrine of preemption,
which stated that the United States "will not hesitate to
act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self-defense
by acting preemptively against such terrorists, to prevent them
from doing harm against our people and our country."
Under this framework, Cheney and other Bush administration officials
in 2002 began warning that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein represented
a serious and immediate threat to U.S. security.
In an August
2002 speech at a Veterans of Foreign Wars meeting, Cheney argued
for a preemptive war against Iraq, with or without support from
the international community, to prevent Saddam from using weapons
of mass destruction (WMDs) against the United States and its allies.
stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons
of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to
use against our friends, against our allies, and against us. ...
Deliverable weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a terror
network, or a murderous dictator, or the two working together,
constitutes as grave a threat as can be imagined. The risks of
inaction are far greater than the risk of action," Cheney
argued that the United Nations' efforts in Iraq were a failure,
stating in a NewsHour interview on Sept. 9, 2002: "[T]ime
is not on our side. Eventually the international community has
to come to grips with the fact that this is a growing threat and
all the efforts to date to deal with it diplomatically and through
the U.N. have failed."
Liz Harper, Online NewsHour