Cheney's Law [home page]

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photo of cheney and ford, the whitehouse and vp cheney being sworn in

What are your thoughts on this report about the battle over the power of the presidency and Bush and Cheney's new way of looking at the Constitution?


Your presentation appeared to me to be accurate and complete. I found that I fully share Cheney's view of the law and the necessities surrounding our constitutional rules for preventing nuclear (or WMD) terrorism and fighting asymmetrical wars. Among other protections of our human rights is the fact that if Cheney goes to far, the next president can scale back executive power to the level Cheney's critics may prefer.

John Gelles
Ventura, California


Saw "Cheney's Law" last night. Perhaps it was a necessary piece to do, but you guys usually try to show both sides --- or perhaps you did - when you showed Sen. Lehey (Vt.). I don't know of anyone in Washington that takes that fool seriously. Cheney is a serious man. I don't always agree with neo-cons, but at least this guy cares about things other than himself. I am a Dem, but we sure know how to pick spineless political hacks with no integrity. Perhaps Obama can pull it off. Interesting piece anyway.

Rick Lauterbach
Fort Myers, Florida


You've GOT to get this message out on a bigger stage. American cannot afford to have her Constitution ignored, altered and circumvented by crafty lawyers doing the President and VPs personal bidding again.

In the current campaign, the mantra for "change" seems trite, but in light of what this brilliant documentary uncovers it is exactly what America needs right now. The GOP has lost its moral compass, and Dick Cheney and David Addington have thumbed their noses at us for far too long. Disgraceful is all I can say to them.

Ken Hunter
Murfreesboro, TN


It is very sad that in Huntsville, AL a programming of such a quality and informative journalistic research is delegated to the wee hours of the morning (1:30 AM) when most people are full sleep.

To the point, Why did Congress impeached Clinton for behaving like a mainstream American -Oh my! He had an affair! And yet, when the future of our Country is at real stake by the unconstitutional behavior of President Bush and his cabinet and staff we don't do anything.

When I came to this Country 12 years ago as an immigrant, America was a modern and vibrant society and I was the first to advocate to others the goodness of it.

Now, a citizen, I am appalling of the disregard that most people have for politics, how little critical thinking is displayed on the public, how most folks don't question authoritarian and rogue leaders and therefore how little attention is paid by the media on the transcendental issues of this great nation. ...

Huntsville, Al


My wife and I are currently reading Eric Lane and Michael Oreskes's new book, The Genius of America: How the Constitution Saved Our Country and Why It Can Again. The Bush/Cheney approach to making government more efficient through a strong executive epitomizes how neither one of them understands what the Founding Fathers intended. The book states, "But the fault, to paraphrase Cassius, is not in the government (or at least not only in the government). The government is doing what the framers designed it to do when a divided country 'accepts no compromise.' It is waiting for compromise to seem more palatable than political warfare (Introduction, p. 16)."

Bush and Cheney don't want to be hamstrung by Congress, so they simply try to bypass it. They are convinced they are right about how to handle the affairs of state, and are unwilling to compromise with those who disagree. Hence we have this stalemate. But the Constitution provides a remedy - impeachment and removal from office, if enough members of Congress agree that that is the appropriate course. Bush and Cheney can also be prosecuted for crimes they can be proven to have committed once they leave office, assuming one or more U.S. Attorneys have the stomach to pursue the issue.

I don't see Dick Cheney as evil, or even necessarily as the sole architect of this disgraceful administration we have. I just think he is terribly misguided, and I appreciate Frontline's informative expose' of his views and his activities. We will not correct this mess unless enough people understand how serious it is, and Congress and the next president will have to have the stomach to clean house, or the people will have to be informed and angry enough to force them to.

Mark Jackson
Springfield, Illinois


Dear Staff of Frontline,

Cheney's Law was a magnificent piece of journalism.

Whichever view you take, it forced you to think deeply about how well our government has been designed by our forefathers. As Russia slides back away from democracy, and Pakistan and Iraq have tough choices regarding just how democratically representative they want to be, we can rest assured that the balance of power will always be tested, debated, and when needed checked here in the US.

It is more than anecdotal that President Clinton was taken through impeachment hearings over lying to Congress about sexual relations which were none of Congress' business in the first place, but President Bush amd Vice President Cheney have not even come close to being taken through the same process. Why? At our core, we as a nation know that the determination of the current Executive Branch is what makes us feel most secure in a time of insecurity. If Congress REALLY had a problem with what the Executive is doing, impeachment proceedings would have commenced, but then Congress knows its limits too.

I can't wait for the primaries to end, and this debate to reemerge on the national stage.

God Bless America (even those seculars who are appalled by this statement)Matthew Tangeman

Matthew Tangeman
Columbus, OH


Congratulations! I never particularly liked Dick Cheney - until your Program persuaded me that he has been one of our principal (principled) bulwarks against terrorism. Had he yielded to the Specter (pun intended) of exalting so-called "civil liberties" over security, we would almost certainly have seen body bags and smoldering wreckage within our borders!Sincerely,Paul N. Wenger

Paul Wenger
West hartford, CT


So Cheney is channeling the the ghosts of Nixon, J. Edgar Hoover, and Joe McCarthy. And Scooter Libby, David Addington, Alberto Gonzales and John Yoo are his Roy Cohns. These are among the least balanced and most dangerous Americans to ever amass power. Their consuming interest is to control the President, all of us, the press, the Congress and the Courts and up to now, they have largely succeeded. Since Cheney believes there are no limitations to his power under the Constitution one may reasonably conclude that he believes he is also above other accepted norms of human morality. I honestly believe that Cheney and his enablers are a clearer and more present danger to the American Idea than Al Qaeda ever has been. Can America and the Constitution survive them? Well public disgrace did wonders for some on the above list. We fervently hope that history will treat the rest of them with the same respect they accorded the least of their prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Short of organ failure.

Richard Goldberg
Montclair, NJ


Once again you've confused me with "the details" (not "the facts").

The whole story is very simple. Congress gave the President authority to use all "necessary and appropriate force" to combat terror. What you illustrated was just a political battle between ideologies.

Cheyey is not doing anything illegal. If he's breaking the law, take him to court. If his behavior isn't covered by legislation, create laws to cover it. When these happens the system works.

You've just proven that there are a lot of frustrated Bush haters out there.

One more thing, do you think Hillary will rescind "the authority to use military force".

Steve vogel
doylestown, pa


Wow, another great presentation by Frontline. I watch this series almost religiously so I can be enlightened by how unbiased journalism is produced and packaged.

Let's see. Journalists from the NY Times, Washington Post, The New Yorker and the Boston Globe were gathered to give their totally unbiased view on the administration. What? Were the press hounds from the USA Today, Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle not available for the pile-on? This show was like a filmed version of the Chris Matthews Show. NBC may want their concept back Frontline. Hard to believe not a single reporter from the Wall Street Journal, National Review or Washington Times could make the cut on this show in order to give some balance to us viewers?

Let's be clear here, the show was entertaining but after all the wasted hours and wasted tax dollars spent by our fine congressional body, nobody in the administration has been charged with a crime or committed to jail time related to administrative powers. Nobody. When will Frontline spend their and my resources on producing a show which shines the bright light of criticism on our current congress and its obsession to conduct one hearing after another for political posturing instead of actually legislating? It shouldn't be too hard to research; Frontline could dust off an old copy of The Crucible for starters. I won't hold my breath.

Mike G
Chicago, IL


Regarding 'signing statements' and 'Unitary Executive Theory' what questions should we be asking our Presidential Candidates in the upcoming elections?

Mark Levine
Overland Park, Kansas


PBS and Frontline, you are my heros. I am an ex-marine, and just like the President and Vice-President, I took an oath to uphold the constitution, and I would take a bullet to protect it. This behavior is a slap in the face to everyone who serves. The Vice President is a disgrace to this nation. The balance of power must never be compromised. I hope we can come together for real change.

Ron Anderson
St. Petersburg, Florida


It's reasonable to believe that the presidents actions in wartime should be expanded. But what this program exposes is nothing less than complete disregard for our congress and our system of justice. When the war is over for what else will these unchecked powers be used for, whether by this president or another. Without checks and balances we are not a democracy.

David B
Portland, OR


Perhaps the most troubling aspect of Cheney's Law (and today's lack of rational discourse allowing it) is our willingness to cling so fast to views that are at best under-informed. Who but PBS could force this liberal to contemplate Ashcroft as a balanced man of morals?

J Andrew
New Rochelle, NY


The program is terrific and I intend to use it in my government class and have my students determine if Mr. Cheney is right or wrong. They will be impacted by his actions for years to come...

For those people who do not know the actual meaning of the word "liberal" and use it to condemn programs or ideas, I recommend a look in the dictionary where one can find this, " from prejudice or bigotry; tolerant...favorable to or in accord with concepts of maximum individual freedom possible, esp. as guaranteed by law and secured by governmental protection of civil or tolerant, esp. free of or not bound by traditional or conventional ideas, values, etc..." I always tell my students that a mind is like a parachute, it only functions when open. Does this mean we should never look for positive change? Is this a bad thing? If so, I pity people without the capacity for a thing called vision.

Cynthia Tun
Watertown, CT


When people like John Ashcroft and Goldsmith (not exactly uber liberals) so vehemetly criticize Cheney and the Bush Administration for its behavior, it should give conservatives a moment of pause to think whether their unrelenting support for this moronic persident is really worth it. Cheney et al's ability to sink below any standards of human decency is only matched by their sheer stupidity in forcing the US to take pressure off the Taliban and Bin Laden to wage their little Jihad in Iraq.

digitalcntrl __
Fairfax, VA


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posted october 16, 2007

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