I mentioned this below, but it is worth discussing this a bit more fully. In the Gellman and Becker piece on Dick Cheney today, Tim Flanigan is mentioned as someone at the DOJ taking the Vice President’s side of legal interpretation. Scarecrow pointed out this particular passage as illustrative of Flanigan’s relationship with the Cheney position:
Over the next 12 months, Congress and the Supreme Court imposed many of the restrictions that Cheney had squelched.”
The irony with the Cheney crowd pushing the envelope on presidential power is that the president has now ended up with lesser powers than he would have had if they had made less extravagant, monarchical claims,” said Bruce Fein, an associate deputy attorney general under President Ronald Reagan. Flanigan, a founding member of that crowd, said he still believes that Addington and Yoo were right in their “application of generally accepted constitutional principles.” But he acknowledged that many battles ended badly. “The Supreme Court,” Flanigan said, “decided to change the rules.” Even so, Cheney’s losses were not always as they appeared. (emphasis mine)
Yep, it’s all the mean Supreme Court’s fault that they wanted the Vice President’s minions and everyone else across the government to follow the laws as they are written, including longstanding principles of due process. Shocking, that. I picked up some reporting that Jane did on Mr. Flanigan from the early days of the Fitzgerald investigation, and I wanted to amplify something. From Jane:
A lot was made about the resignation of James Comey this week, Fitzgerald’s boss and the one who purportedly assigned him to Plame in the first place. It didn’t help matters when it was announced that BushCo. put forward former Tyco attorney Timothy Flanigan to take his place this week. It looked like the justice department was trying to ease Comey out and put in someone who would be more amenable to firing Fitzgerald off the Plame case, which — at this point in time — it seems they could conceivably do.
But Comey announced his resignation in March of this year; he’d had his eye on the AG job, and when that went to Abu Gonzales it was well known that he would probably return to the private sector where he could make some serious bank. It hit the headlines because the Senate Judiciary Committee interviewed Flanigan this week, and Arlen Specter (R-PA) announced that the dude made him queasy. It probably wasn’t the news a lot of folks thought it was.
At that time, all signs were pointing to Rove, because he was going in and out of the grand jury along with all of his various minions (like Susan Ralston) as though it were a revolving testimonial door. But, in hindsight, the Flanigan maneuver was more likely an attempt to keep Dick safe, not Rove. In which case, the Comey delegation of Fitzgerald supervisory authority to Margolis was even more of an FU than we originally thought.
Because through the Libby indictment and subsequent trial, a whole lot of Cheney’s soft underbelly of media manipulation, manufactured story plants, intelligence cherry-picking and subsequent planting for media dissemination, and all sorts of other juicy bits and pieces got exposed. And, for a man as obsessed with keeping his secrets as Dick Cheney is, that had to hurt.
Sitting here thinking about that this morning makes me smile. Sometimes, it’s the little things…
Sure brings the whole shrieking Comstock and Matalin media blitz in the op-ed pages of late into a much crisper focus — because it is still, just as it always has been, about protecting Dick Cheney’s secrets. Except now, with the little dribbles that have already come out, people have realized that they were manipulated, had and used for Dick Cheney’s own power-consolidating machinations…and so people are starting to talk, even people close to Dick Cheney who previously would have been too afraid to do so.
And once it starts, it’s awfully hard to bottle all that pent-up frustration and that need for payback, isn’t it? You don’t rise to the top without stepping on an awful lot of people the way that Dick Cheney operates. And, at the moment, he’s more of a liability than he is an asset to the long-term health of the Republican party. Especially when you consider that 2008 is fast approaching. Whatever Michael Gerson may say about Cheney being “principled,” as Rick Perlstein said yesterday when we were on Sam Seder’s show, that’s just conservative code for “authoritarian.” And there should be no running away or throwing Dick in front of an oncoming bus for the good of the GOP’s future, because they have propped him and his policies up every step of the way. The Republican party allowed Dick Cheney’s rise to unfettered, manipulative power broker in the White House and in the party — they can damn well face the consequences for his actions right along with him as well.
(Photo of the Mosler safe doors at The Greenbrier via The Brookings Institution.)
UPDATE: Comment of the day from Diane: “I can picture Dick sitting at his desk, pen in hand, writing in the margins of the WaPo.”