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Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency


A Near-Meltdown

As the election season got underway in early 2004, a secret battle over the legality of warrantless domestic surveillance brought the Bush administration to the brink of a mass exodus from the Justice Department and FBI. A guide to who knew and did what about the surveillance program:

[Photo of Dick Cheney]

Dick Cheney

The vice president, conceived and supervised the domestic surveillance program. He kept President Bush out of the loop on the legal crisis until it was nearly too late.

[Photo of David S. Addington]

David S. Addington

Counsel to Vice President Cheney, fought against any concession to the Justice Department's legal concerns.

[Photo of Alberto Gonzales]

Alberto Gonzales

White House counsel, made highly misleading claims about the surveillance program to key members of Congress.

[Photo of Andrew H. Card, Jr.]

Andrew H. Card, Jr.

White House chief of staff, worked with Gonzales, Cheney and Addington to quash dissent at Justice — without informing Bush.

[Photo of Joel Brenner]

Joel Brenner

Inspector general of the National Security Agency, tried to keep his agency on the straight and narrow but had no access to key paperwork.

[Photo of Vito Potenza]

Vito Potenza

NSA acting general counsel, was barred from reviewing the surveillance program's basic legal documents.

[Photo of Michael V. Hayden]

Michael V. Hayden

NSA director, feared legal liability for himself and his agency after the Justice Department ruled the domestic surveillance illegal.

[Photo of Robert S. Mueller III]

Robert S. Mueller III

FBI director, stood with Comey against Addington and Cheney. "This is a rule-of-law question, and the answer is at Justice," he told Bush.

[Photo of John C. Yoo]

John C. Yoo

A lawyer in the Justice Department's Office of Legal counsel, crafted legal authority for warrantless domestic surveillance during the program's first 18 months.

[Photo of Jack Goldsmith]

Jack L. Goldsmith

Chief of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, ruled that the surveillance program was illegal and set the stage for a showdown with Bush.

[Photo of James B. Comey]

James B. Comey

Deputy attorney general, took command at Justice when Attorney General John D. Ashcroft fell ill and subsequently told Bush that he had been misled.

[Photo of John Ashcroft]

John Ashcroft

Attorney general, certified the surveillance program and later regretted doing so.

[Photo of Frances Fragos Townsend]

Frances Fragos Townsend

Deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism, warned her boss about the brewing rebellion at Justice.

[Photo of Condoleezza Rice]

Condoleezza Rice

National security adviser, passed Townsend's warning to Bush. Less than two hours later, Bush faced a painful dilemma.

[Photo of George W. Bush]

George W. Bush

The president, discovered his peril at the very last moment and veered sharply away from Cheney's course.

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