Richard Bruce "Dick" Cheney (born January 30, 1941) served as the 46th Vice President of the United States from 2001 to 2009 in the administration of George W. Bush. Cheney was raised in Casper, Wyoming. He began his political career as an intern for Congressman William A. Steiger, eventually working his way into the White House during the Ford administration, where he served as White House Chief of Staff. In 1978, Cheney was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Wyoming; he was reelected five times, eventually becoming House Minority Whip. Cheney was selected to be the Secretary of Defense during the presidency of George H. W. Bush, holding the position for the majority of Bush's term. During this time, Cheney oversaw the 1991 Operation Desert Storm, among other actions. Out of office during the Clinton presidency, Cheney was chairman and CEO of Halliburton Company from 1995 to 2000. Cheney joined the presidential campaign of George W. Bush in 2000, who selected him as his running mate. After becoming Vice President, Cheney remained a very public and controversial figure.
Early life and educationEdit
Cheney was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, the son of Marjorie Lorraine (née Dickey) and Richard Herbert Cheney. He is of predominantly English, Irish and Welsh ancestry. Although not a direct descendant, he is collaterally related to Benjamin Pierce Cheney (1815-1895), the early American expressman. He attended Calvert Elementary School before his family moved to Casper, Wyoming, where he attended Natrona County High School. His father was a soil conservation agent for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and his mother was a softball star in the 1930s; Cheney was one of three children. He attended Yale University, but, as he stated, "[he] flunked out." Among the influential teachers from his days in New Haven was Professor H. Bradford Westerfield, whom Cheney repeatedly credited with having helped to shape his approach to foreign policy. He later attended the University of Wyoming where he earned both a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts in political science. He subsequently started, but did not finish, doctoral studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In November 1962, at the age of 21, Cheney was convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI). He was arrested for DWI again the following year. Cheney said that the arrests made him "think about where I was and where I was headed. I was headed down a bad road if I continued on that course." In 1964, he married Lynne Vincent, his high school sweetheart, whom he had met at age 14. When Cheney became eligible for the draft, during the Vietnam War, he was a supporter of the U.S. involvement in the war but did not serve in the military. Instead, he applied for and received five draft deferments. In 1989, The Washington Post writer George C. Wilson interviewed Cheney as the next Secretary of Defense; when asked about his deferments, Cheney reportedly said, "I had other priorities in the '60s than military service." Cheney testified during his confirmation hearings in 1989 that he received deferments to finish a college career that lasted six years rather than four, owing to sub par academic performance and the need to work to pay for his education. Initially, he was not called up because the Selective Service System was only taking older men. When he became eligible for the draft, he applied for four deferments in sequence. He applied for his fifth exemption on January 19, 1966, when his wife was about 10 weeks pregnant. He was granted 3-A status, the "hardship" exemption, which excluded men with children or dependent parents. In January 1967, Cheney turned 26 and was no longer eligible for the draft.
Early White House appointmentsEdit
Cheney's political career began in 1969, as an intern for Congressman William A. Steiger during the Richard Nixon Administration. He then joined the staff of Donald Rumsfeld, who was then Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity from 1969–70. He held several positions in the years that followed: White House Staff Assistant in 1971, Assistant Director of the Cost of Living Council from 1971–73, and Deputy Assistant to the president from 1974–1975. It was in this position that Cheney suggested in a memo to Rumsfeld that the Ford White House should use the Justice Department in a variety of legally questionable ways to exact retribution for an article published by The New York Times investigative reporter Seymour Hersh. Cheney was Assistant to the President under Gerald Ford. When Rumsfeld was named Secretary of Defense, Cheney became White House Chief of Staff, succeeding Rumsfeld. He later was campaign manager for Ford's 1976 presidential campaign as well.
In 1978, Cheney was elected to represent Wyoming in the U.S. House of Representatives and succeed retiring Congressman Teno Roncalio, having defeated his Democratic opponent, Bill Bailey. Cheney was reelected five times, serving until 1989. He was Chairman of the Republican Policy Committee from 1981 to 1987 when he was elected Chairman of the House Republican Conference. The following year, he was elected House Minority Whip. Votes Among the many votes he cast during his tenure in the House, he voted in 1979 with the majority against making Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday a national holiday, but then voted with the majority in 1983 when the measure passed He voted against the creation of the U.S. Department of Education, citing his concern over budget deficits and expansion of the federal government, and claiming that the Department was an encroachment on states' rights. He voted against funding Head Start, but reversed his position in 2000. In 1986, after President Ronald Reagan vetoed a bill to impose economic sanctions on South Africa for its policy of apartheid, Cheney was one of 83 Representatives to vote against overriding Reagan's veto. In later years, he articulated his opposition to unilateral sanctions against many different countries, stating "they almost never work" and that in that case they might have ended up hurting the people instead. In 1986, Cheney, along with 145 Republicans and 31 Democrats, voted against a non-binding Congressional resolution calling on the South African government to release Nelson Mandela from prison, after the Democrats defeated proposed amendments that would have required Mandela to renounce violence sponsored by the African National Congress (ANC) and requiring it to oust the communist faction from its leadership; the resolution was defeated. Appearing on CNN, Cheney addressed criticism for this, saying he opposed the resolution because the ANC "at the time was viewed as a terrorist organization and had a number of interests that were fundamentally inimical to the United States." Cheney also served as ranking minority member of the Congressional committee investigating the Iran-Contra affair.He promoted Wyoming's petroleum and coal businesses as well, and as a result, the federal building in Casper, a regional center of the oil and coal industry, is named the "Dick Cheney Federal Building." House Minority Whip In December 1988, the House Republicans elected Cheney as Minority Whip, the second spot under the Minority Leader. He served for two and a half months before he was appointed Secretary of Defense instead of former Texas Senator John G. Tower, whose nomination had been rejected by the Senate in March 1989.
Secretary of DefenseEdit
President George H. W. Bush nominated Cheney for the office of Secretary of Defense immediately after the U.S. Senate failed to confirm John Tower for that position. The senate confirmed Cheney by a vote of 92 to 0 and he served in that office from March 1989 to January 1993. He directed the United States invasion of Panama and Operation Desert Storm in the Middle East. In 1991 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bush.
Cheney worked closely with Pete Williams, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, and Paul Wolfowitz, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, from the beginning of his tenure. He focused primarily on external matters, and left most internal Pentagon management to Deputy Secretary of Defense Donald J. Atwood, Jr.
Cheney's most immediate issue as Secretary of Defense was the Department of Defense budget. Cheney deemed it appropriate to cut the budget and downsize the military, following President Ronald Reagan's peacetime defense buildup at the height of the Cold War. As part of the fiscal year 1990 budget, Cheney assessed the requests from each of the branches of the armed services for such expensive programs as the B-2 stealth bomber, the V-22 Osprey tilt-wing helicopter, the Aegis destroyer and the MX missile, totaling approximately $4.5 billion in light of changed world politics. Cheney opposed the V-22 program, which Congress had already appropriated funds for, and initially refused to issue contracts for it before relenting. When the 1990 Budget came before Congress in the summer of 1989, it settled on a figure between the Administration's request and the House Armed Services Committee's recommendation.
In subsequent years under Cheney, the proposed and adopted budgets followed patterns similar to that of 1990. Early in 1991, he unveiled a plan to reduce military strength by the mid-1990s to 1.6 million, compared with 2.2 million when he entered office. Cheney's 1993 defense budget was reduced from 1992, omitting programs that Congress had directed the Department of Defense to buy weapons that it did not want, and omitting unrequested reserve forces. Over his four years as Secretary of Defense, Cheney downsized the military and his budgets showed negative real growth, despite pressures to acquire weapon systems advocated by Congress. The Department of Defense's total obligational authority in current dollars declined from $291 billion to $270 billion. Total military personnel strength decreased by 19 percent, from about 2.2 million in 1989 to about 1.8 million in 1993. Political climate and agenda Cheney publicly expressed concern that nations such as Iraq, Iran, and North Korea, could acquire nuclear components after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The end of the Cold War, the fall of the Soviet Union, and the disintegration of the Warsaw Pact obliged the first Bush Administration to reevaluate the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO's) purpose and makeup. Cheney believed that NATO should remain the foundation of European security relationships and that it would remain important to the United States in the long term; he urged the alliance to lend more assistance to the new democracies in Eastern Europe Cheney's views on NATO reflected his skepticism about prospects for peaceful social development in the former Eastern Bloc countries, where he saw a high potential for political uncertainty and instability. He felt that the Bush Administration was too optimistic in supporting Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev and his successor, Russian President Boris Yeltsin. Cheney worked to maintain strong ties between the United States and its European allies Cheney persuaded the Saudi Arabian leaders to allow bases of American ground troops and war planes in the nation, which became an important element of the success of the Gulf War. International situations Using economic sanctions and political pressure, the United States mounted a campaign to drive Panamanian ruler General Manuel Antonio Noriega from power. In May 1989, after Guillermo Endara had been duly elected President of Panama, Noriega nullified the election outcome, drawing intensified pressure. In October, Noriega suppressed a military coup attempt, but in December, after his defense forces shot a U.S. serviceman, 24,000 U.S. troops invaded Panama under Cheney's direction. The stated reason for the invasion was to seize Noriega to face drug charges in the United States, protect American lives and property, and restore Panamanian civil liberties. Although the mission was controversial, American forces achieved control and Endara assumed the Presidency; Noriega was convicted and imprisoned on racketeering and drug trafficking charges in April 1992.
In 1991, the Somali Civil War drew the world's attention. In August 1992, the United States began to provide humanitarian assistance, primarily food, through a military airlift. At President Bush's direction, Cheney dispatched the first of 26,000 U.S. troops to Somalia as part of the Unified Task Force (UNITAF), designed to provide security and food relief. Cheney's successors as Secretary of Defense, Les Aspin and William J. Perry, had to contend with both the Bosnian and Somali issues. Iraqi invasion of Kuwait Cheney would face a big challenge in the Persian Gulf, on August 1, 1990, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein sent invading forces into neighboring Kuwait, a small oil-rich country long claimed by Iraq. An estimated 140,000 Iraqi troops quickly took control of Kuwait City and moved on to the Saudi Arabia/Kuwait border. The United States had already begun to develop contingency plans for defense of Saudi Arabia by the U.S. Central Command, headed by General Norman Schwarzkopf.
Vice President Cheney with General LaPorte during his visit to Yongsan Garrison, 2003 In early 2000, while serving as the CEO of Halliburton, Cheney headed George W. Bush's vice-presidential search committee. On July 25, after reviewing Cheney's findings, Bush surprised some pundits by asking Cheney himself to join the Republican ticket. Halliburton reportedly reached agreement on July 20 to allow Cheney to retire, with a package estimated at $20 million. Cheney campaigned against Al Gore's running mate, Joseph Lieberman, in the 2000 presidential election. Cheney, who had been typecast as being "aloof" during most of the campaign, was remarkably lively during his visit to Chicago, where he rode the L, danced the polka, served attendees kielbasa with stuffed cabbage and addressed a cheering crowd. While the election was undecided, the Bush-Cheney team was not eligible for public funding to plan a transition to a new administration. So, Cheney opened a privately funded transition office in Washington. This office worked to identify candidates for all important positions in the cabinet. According to Craig Unger, Cheney advocated Donald Rumsfeld for the post of Secretary of Defense to counter the influence of Colin Powell at the State Department, and tried unsuccessfully to have Paul D. Wolfowitz named to replace George Tenet as director of the CIA. First term Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, Cheney remained physically apart from Bush for security reasons. For a period, Cheney stayed at an "undisclosed location" (Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania), out of public view. On the morning of June 29, 2002, Cheney served as Acting President of the United States under the terms of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, while Bush was undergoing a colonoscopy. Cheney acted as President from 11:09 UTC that day until Bush resumed the powers of the presidency at 13:24 UTC.
War on TerrorismEdit
Since 9/11, Cheney has helped shape Bush's approach to the War on Terrorism. Despite contrary claims from The Pentagon, Cheney continued to assert a connection between Al-Qaeda and Iraq prior to the Iraq War in several public speeches, drawing criticism from some members of the intelligence community and leading Democrats. He also made numerous public statements regarding Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, and made repeated personal visits to CIA headquarters, where he questioned mid-level agency analysts on their WMD conclusions. Following the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Cheney remained steadfast in his support of the war, stating that it would be an "enormous success story", and made many visits to the country. He often criticized war critics, calling them “opportunists” who were peddling “cynical and pernicious falsehoods” to gain political advantage while U.S. soldiers died in Iraq. In response, Senator John Kerry asserted, “It is hard to name a government official with less credibility on Iraq [than Cheney]."
Bush and Cheney were re-elected in the 2004 presidential election, running against John Kerry and his running mate, John Edwards. During the election, the pregnancy of his daughter Mary and her sexual orientation as a lesbian became a source of public attention for Cheney in light of the same-sex marriage debate. Cheney's former chief legal counsel, David Addington, is currently his chief of staff. John P. Hannah serves as his national security adviser. Until his resignation in 2005, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Jr. served in both roles. On the morning of July 21, 2007, Cheney once again served as Acting President for about two and a half hours. Bush transferred the power of the presidency prior to undergoing a medical procedure, requiring sedation, and later resumed his powers and duties that same day. Since 2001, when asked if he is interested in the Republican presidential nomination, Cheney has said he wishes to retire to private life after his term as Vice President expires.