For three decades, Vice President Dick Cheney has been a major force behind the scenes in Washington, working to expand the power of the presidency and operate with unprecedented levels of secrecy. Now, Frontline examines this controversial figure in its newest documentary Cheney’s Law.
Cheney and his lawyer David Addington worked to interpret Executive Power in an expansive way after 9/11, granting President George W. Bush the ability to detain, interrogate, torture, wiretap and spy — all without congressional approval or judicial review. This sparked a battle between Cheney’s interpretation of the Constitution and those who opposed it at the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC).
John Yoo was at the heart of this controversy at OLC as he wrote memos authorizing the president’s extraordinary authority on matters related to terrorism and national security. Opposing him were former Justice Department attorney Marty Lederman and former Assistant Attorney General Jack L Goldsmith. In his most extensive television interview since leaving the Justice Department, Goldsmith describes how shocked he was when he first learned about these secret government operations and their implications for civil liberties.
The documentary is a compelling look into one of the most important legal issues facing our country today: how much power should be given to an executive office? It is an issue that affects us all, so we urge you to watch Cheney’s Law to uncover more information about this contentious topic.