Those include the justification to invade Iraq in 2003, a judgment he blames on CIA failures, and the lack of support for his urging that the United States strike a Syrian nuclear reactor site in 2007. Israel ended up doing so despite recommendations from then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that it “choose the path of diplomacy,” which Cheney correctly predicted the Israelis would reject.
Although he praises Bush for his leadership and many of his decisions, Cheney said he warned him that nominating White House counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court would be “a tough sell.” Bush eventually withdrew the nomination amid questions about her qualifications to serve on the high court.
“The president later said he was sorry he had put his friend through such a meat grinder,” Cheney writes in “In My Time,” a copy of which The Washington Post obtained on Thursday.
Cheney's “personal and political memoir,” as he describes it, confirms the central role he played in the eight tumultuous years of the previous administration. He notes that “from the transition onward, there were media stories that I was somehow in charge,” echoing accounts of his time in office that portray him as one of the nation’s most powerful vice presidents.
“They weren’t true,” Cheney quickly adds. “And stepping out too publicly would only have fed them.”
But at times he belies that statement with details that suggest Bush relied on his opinion. For example, Cheney writes that he received his daily intelligence briefing at 6:30 a.m., then attended the president's briefing a few hours later.
“If I was traveling or at an undisclosed location, the president would often be briefed in the White House Situation Room, so I could join by secure videoconference,” Cheney writes.
Cheney also recalls Bush, then the governor of Texas, bringing him a cup of coffee in his room at the governor’s mansion in Austin where in February 1999 he was meeting with the emerging campaign team. He calls it the “highest-ranking room service I've ever had.”
Later, Bush asked Cheney to lead his vice presidential search. Cheney writes that “it is harder to find a good vice presidential candidate than you might think,” adding that “everyone has negatives.”
Sen. Connie Mack (Fla.) told Cheney that he did not want to be considered, and Cheney discloses that Donald H. Rumsfeld, who would later become Bush’s defense secretary, was briefly on the list of possibilities. Finally, Bush turned to him.
“He said to me more than once, ‘Dick, you're the solution to my problem,’ ” he writes.
Mindful of his weak heart, Cheney left a signed resignation letter with David Addington, his general counsel, to be given to Bush if he were ever incapacitated.