Where was Dick Cheney? In the days following the
devastation wrought by hurricane Katrina, the Vice President of
the United States became the invisible man.
The vice president’s job is to succeed the president
in case of death, impeachment or resignation, and to preside over
the Senate. He also attends the funerals of world leaders not
deemed important enough to merit the attention and time of the
President. The Veep is certainly on hand for post hurricane photo-ops
showing distraught survivors and destroyed homes.
Not only was Cheney AWOL, but the corporate media
rarely made note of his absence. Millions of Americans asked one
another, “Where is Cheney?” but the New York Times, the Washington
Post and CNN never thought to address the issue that the rest
of us discussed on our own.
When Cheney finally reappeared, his more than weeklong
absence was still a media unmentionable. It was left to ordinary
citizens to ask where he was as the indifference and ineptitude
of his colleagues magnified an already enormous tragedy.
In recognition of that lack of information, here
is a multiple-choice quiz designed to help solve the mystery.
What did Dick Cheney do during the hurricane Katrina
a. Nabbed yet another no bid contract for Halliburton
b. Planned nuclear war against Iran
c. Helped John Bolton destroy the United Nations
d. Reminded Judith Miller to keep quiet
e. Stole the wages of workers in the Gulf
f. Had a heart attack and/or knee aneurism
All of these responses may be true, and only some
may be true. We will never know and therein lies a huge problem
for our country. It is an understatement to say that the Bushmen
operate without transparency. They will tell us what they want,
when they want, if they want.
The Vice President is the champion of administration
secrecy. Despite his history of serious health problems he has
never released all of his medical records to the press. In June
of this year he paid a visit to the Vail Valley Medical Center
under the name “Dr. Hoffman.” He allegedly went to see an orthopedic
surgeon about an old knee injury. That sounds more probable now
than it did at the time, but there were also rumors that he had
on the same day. If the vice president uses an alias like a fugitive
from justice or a reclusive celebrity, tales of a secret EKG are
bound to follow.
Cheney is not only secretive about his personal
health, but also about government affairs that concern everyone
in this country. He was CEO of the Halliburton Corporation, the
recipient of billions of dollars in taxpayer money for the so-called
reconstruction of Iraq. Despite getting huge amounts of cash,
Halliburton and other war profiteers have been unable to keep
the lights on or the water running in Baghdad.
Not only does Cheney make sure that his people get
paid, he has made sure that he gets paid too. Despite his claims
of having no financial interest in Halliburton he continues to
receive $150,000 per year in “deferred salary” while also maintaining
433,333 unexercised stock
The New Orleans levees had barely broken when Halliburton
subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root scored yet another federal
contract and got its hands on more of our money. The story was
that it wasn’t really a new contract, just part of an existing
contract with the
navy. The defense seems to be that it was old corruption,
not new corruption.
After getting more money for crony capitalism reconstruction,
the second item on the agenda was to make sure that workers got
very little of it. Bush suspended the Davis-Bacon
Act, which mandates that prevailing wages apply in public
works projects. Leave it to the Bushmen to take money from desperate
people when they need it the most.
Just as there is nothing new under the sun, there
is nothing new going on with Halliburton. Bunnatine Greenhouse
experienced first hand what happens to anyone who notices the
Halliburton elephant in the room.
Ms. Greenhouse was Chief Contracting Officer at
the Army Corps of Engineers, its highest ranking civilian. She
was highly regarded at that agency until she blew the whistle
on Halliburton’s no bid corruption in Iraq. When she began to
ask questions about questionable contracts the inevitable harassment
began. She filed complaints of race and gender discrimination
and continued to tell the truth. At a congressional hearing she
testified that Halliburton exhibited “the most blatant and improper
contract abuse I have witnessed during the course of my professional
Greenhouse suddenly received unfavorable performance
reviews and was demoted. Punishment of whistle blowers has the
intended effect of dissuading anyone with similar ideas from ever
speaking up. When Halliburton’s corruption in the Gulf Coast becomes
a mirror image of its Iraq activities, few will be willing to
share Ms. Greenhouse’s experience.
Perhaps it isn’t necessary to know where Cheney
was in late August and early September. Whatever his location
we know exactly what he was doing. He made sure that the business
of using government as a private sector cash cow went on as usual.
He made sure that while he and his friends got paid, the rest
of us got nothing but the shaft.
Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears
weekly in BC. Ms. Kimberley is
a freelance writer living in New York City. She can be reached
via e-Mail at email@example.com.
You can read more of Ms. Kimberley's writings at freedomrider.blogspot.com.