Born in Lincoln, Nebraska
, Cheney grew up there and later in Casper, Wyoming
He attended Yale
and then the University of Wyoming
, at the latter of which he earned a BA
and an MA
in Political Science
. He began his political career as an intern for Congressman William A. Steiger
, eventually working his way into the White House
during the Nixon
administrations. He served as White House chief of staff
from 1975 to 1977. In 1978, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives
, and represented Wyoming's at-large congressional district
from 1979–1989, briefly serving as House minority whip
in 1989. He was selected as Secretary of Defense
during the presidency of George H. W. Bush
, and held the position for most of Bush's term from 1989–1993.
During his time there, he oversaw 1991's Operation Desert Storm
, among other actions. Out of office during the Clinton administration
, he was the chairman and CEO of Halliburton Company
Early life and education
Cheney was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, the son of Marjorie Lorraine (née Dickey) and Richard Herbert Cheney. He is of predominantly English, as well as Welsh
, Irish, and French Huguenot ancestry. 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.
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 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. Upon graduation, Cheney was eligible for the draft, but at the time, the Selective Service System
was not inducting married men.
On October 6, 1965, the draft was expanded to include married men without children; Cheney's first daughter, Elizabeth
, was born 9 months and two days later.
Cheney's fifth and final deferment granted him "3-A" status, a "hardship" deferment available to men with dependents. In January 1967, Cheney turned 26 and was no longer eligible for the draft.
White House Chief of Staff Donald Rumsfeld
(left) and his assistant Cheney (right) meet with President Gerald Ford
at the White House, April 1975
In 1966 Cheney dropped out of the doctoral program at the University of Wisconsin to work as staff aide for Gov. Warren Knowles
Early White House appointments
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 to 1970.
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 to 1973, and Deputy Assistant to the president from 1974 to 1975. As deputy assistant, Cheney suggested several options in a memo to Rumsfeld, including use of the US Justice Department
, that the Ford administration
could use to limit damage from an article, published by The New York Times
, in which investigative reporter Seymour Hersh
reported that Navy submarines had tapped into Soviet undersea communications as part of a highly classified program, Operation Ivy Bells
U.S. House of Representatives (1979–1989)
Cheney supported Bob Michel
's (R-IL) bid to become Republican Minority Leader.
In April 1980, Cheney endorsed Governor Ronald Reagan
for president, becoming one of Reagan's earliest supporters.
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."
The federal building in Casper
, a regional center of the fossil fuel
industry, is named the Dick Cheney Federal Building.
Secretary of Defense (1989–1993)
Secretary Cheney with President Bush, 1991
Secretary of Defense Cheney delivering a speech before the launch of destroyer USS Arleigh Burke
Cheney has said his time at the Pentagon was the most rewarding period of his public service career, calling it "the one that stands out." In 2014, Cheney recounted that when he met with President George H. W. Bush
to accept the offer, he passed a painting in the private residence entitled The Peacemakers,
which depicted President Lincoln, General Grant, and William Tecumseh Sherman
. "My great-grandfather had served under William Tecumseh Sherman throughout the war," Cheney said, "and it occurred to me as I was in the room as I walked in to talk to the President about becoming Secretary of Defense, I wondered what he would have thought that his great-grandson would someday be in the White House with the President talking about taking over the reins of the U.S. military."
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 the Reagan Administration
'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 Avenger II
Naval attack aircraft, the B-2
stealth bomber, the V-22 Osprey
, 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
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.
Notwithstanding the overall reduction in military spending, Cheney directed the development of a Pentagon plan to ensure U.S. military dominance in the post-Cold War era.
Political climate and agenda
Cheney publicly expressed concern that nations such as Iraq
, 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 persuaded the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
to allow bases for U.S. ground troops and war planes in the nation. This was an important element of the success of the Gulf War
, as well as a lightning-rod for Islamists
, such as Osama bin Laden
, who opposed having non-Muslim armies near their holy sites.
Using economic sanctions
and political pressure, the United States mounted a campaign to drive Panamanian
ruler General Manuel Antonio Noriega
from power after he fell from favor.
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
, but in December, after soldiers of the Panamanian army
killed a U.S. serviceman, the United States invasion of Panama began under Cheney's direction. The stated reason for the invasion was to seize Noriega to face drug charges in the United States, protect U.S. lives and property, and restore Panamanian civil liberties
Although the mission was controversial,
U.S. forces achieved control of Panama and Endara assumed the presidency; Noriega was convicted and imprisoned on racketeering
and drug trafficking charges in April 1992.
Secretary of Defense Cheney during a press conference on the Gulf War
Iraqi invasion of Kuwait
U.S. and world reaction
Cheney and Schwarzkopf oversaw planning for what would become a full-scale U.S. military operation. According to General Colin Powell
, Cheney "had become a glutton for information, with an appetite we could barely satisfy. He spent hours in the National Military Command Center
peppering my staff with questions."
Shortly after the Iraqi invasion, Cheney made the first of several visits to Saudi Arabia where King Fahd
requested U.S. military assistance. The United Nations took action as well, passing a series of resolutions condemning Iraq's invasion of Kuwait; the UN Security Council
authorized "all means necessary" to eject Iraq from Kuwait, and demanded that the country withdraw its forces by January 15, 1991.
By then, the United States had a force of about 500,000 stationed in Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf
. Other nations, including Britain, Canada, France, Italy, Syria
, and Egypt
, contributed troops, and other allies, most notably Germany and Japan, agreed to provide financial support for the coalition effort, named Operation Desert Shield
On January 12, 1991, Congress authorized Bush to use military force to enforce Iraq's compliance with UN resolutions on Kuwait.
The first phase of Operation Desert Storm
, which began on January 17, 1991, was an air offensive to secure air superiority and attack Iraqi forces, targeting key Iraqi command and control centers, including the cities of Baghdad
. Cheney turned most other Department of Defense matters over to Deputy Secretary Atwood and briefed Congress during the air and ground phases of the war.
He flew with Powell to the region to review and finalize the ground war plans.
After an air offensive of more than five weeks, Coalition
forces launched the ground war on February 24. Within 100 hours, Iraqi forces had been routed from Kuwait and Schwarzkopf reported that the basic objective – expelling Iraqi forces from Kuwait – had been met on February 27.
After consultation with Cheney and other members of his national security team, Bush declared a suspension of hostilities.
On working with this national security team, Cheney has said, "there have been five Republican presidents since Eisenhower. I worked for four of them and worked closely with a fifth – the Reagan years when I was part of the House leadership. The best national security team I ever saw was that one. The least friction, the most cooperation, the highest degree of trust among the principals, especially."
A total of 147 U.S. military personnel died in combat, and another 236 died as a result of accidents or other causes.
Iraq agreed to a formal truce on March 3, and a permanent cease-fire on April 6.
There was subsequent debate about whether Coalition forces should have driven as far as Baghdad to oust Saddam Hussein from power. Bush agreed that the decision to end the ground war when they did was correct, but the debate persisted as Hussein remained in power and rebuilt his military forces.
Arguably the most significant debate concerned whether U.S. and Coalition forces had left Iraq too soon.
In an April 15, 1994 interview with C-SPAN, Cheney was asked if the U.S.-led Coalition forces should have moved into Baghdad. Cheney replied that occupying and attempting to take over the country would have been a "bad idea" and would have led to a "quagmire", explaining that:
Because if we'd gone to Baghdad we would have been all alone. There wouldn't have been anybody else with us. There would have been a U.S. occupation of Iraq. None of the Arab forces that were willing to fight with us in Kuwait were willing to invade Iraq. Once you got to Iraq and took it over, took down Saddam Hussein's government, then what are you going to put in its place? That's a very volatile part of the world, and if you take down the central government of Iraq, you could very easily end up seeing pieces of Iraq fly off: part of it, the Syrians would like to have to the west, part of it – eastern Iraq – the Iranians would like to claim, they fought over it for eight years. In the north you've got the Kurds, and if the Kurds spin loose and join with the Kurds in Turkey, then you threaten the territorial integrity of Turkey. It's a quagmire if you go that far and try to take over Iraq. The other thing was casualties. Everyone was impressed with the fact we were able to do our job with as few casualties as we had. But for the 146 Americans killed in action, and for their families – it wasn't a cheap war. And the question for the president, in terms of whether or not we went on to Baghdad, took additional casualties in an effort to get Saddam Hussein, was how many additional dead Americans is Saddam worth? Our judgment was, not very many, and I think we got it right.
Cheney regarded the Gulf War as an example of the kind of regional problem the United States was likely to continue to face in the future.
We're always going to have to be involved [in the Middle East]. Maybe it's part of our national character, you know we like to have these problems nice and neatly wrapped up, put a ribbon around it. You deploy a force, you win the war and the problem goes away. But it doesn't work that way in the Middle East. It never has, and isn't likely to in my lifetime.
Private sector career
Cheney's record as CEO was subject to some dispute among Wall Street
analysts. A 1998 merger between Halliburton and Dresser Industries
attracted the criticism of some Dresser executives for Halliburton's lack of accounting transparency.
Halliburton shareholders pursued a class-action lawsuit
alleging that the corporation artificially inflated its stock price during this period, though Cheney was not named as an individual defendant
in the suit. In June 2011, the United States Supreme Court
reversed a lower court ruling and allowed the case to continue in litigation.
Cheney was named in a December 2010 corruption complaint filed by the Nigerian government against Halliburton, which the company settled for $250 million
During Cheney's term, Halliburton changed its accounting practices regarding revenue realization of disputed costs on major construction projects.
Cheney resigned as CEO of Halliburton on July 25, 2000. As vice president, he argued that this step, along with establishing a trust and other actions, removed any conflict of interest
Cheney's net worth, estimated to be between $19 million and $86 million,
is largely derived from his post at Halliburton.
His 2006 gross joint income with his wife was nearly $8.82 million.
2000 presidential election
In early 2000, while serving as the CEO of Halliburton, Cheney headed then-Governor of Texas 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.
A few months before the election Cheney put his home in Dallas up for sale and changed his drivers' license and voter registration back to Wyoming. This change was necessary to allow Texas' presidential electors to vote for both Bush and Cheney without contravening the Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution
, which forbids electors from voting for "an inhabitant of the same state with themselves"
for both president and vice president.
Cheney campaigned against Al Gore
's running mate, Joseph Lieberman
, in the 2000 presidential election. 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 Wolfowitz
named to replace George Tenet
as director of the Central Intelligence Agency
Vice President (2001–2009)
Vice President Cheney watching the initial 9/11 attack
Following the September 11, 2001 attacks
, Cheney remained physically apart from Bush for security reasons. For a period, Cheney stayed at a variety of undisclosed locations, out of public view.
Cheney later revealed in his memoir In My Time
that these "undisclosed locations" included his official vice presidential residence, his home in Wyoming, and Camp David
He also utilized a heavy security detail, employing a motorcade of 12 to 18 government vehicles for his daily commute from the vice presidential residence at the U.S. Naval Observatory
to the White House.
Following 9/11, Cheney was instrumental in providing a primary justification for a renewed war against Iraq. Cheney helped shape Bush's approach to the "War on Terror
", making numerous public statements alleging Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction
and making several personal visits to CIA headquarters, where he questioned mid-level agency analysts on their conclusions.
Cheney continued to allege links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda
, even though President Bush received a classified President's Daily Brief on September 21, 2001, indicating the U.S. intelligence community had no evidence linking Saddam Hussein to the September 11 attacks and that "there was scant credible evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties with Al Qaeda."
Furthermore, in 2004, the 9/11 Commission
concluded that there was no "collaborative relationship" between Iraq and al-Qaeda.
By 2014, Cheney continued to misleadingly claim that Saddam "had a 10-year relationship with al Qaeda."
Following the US 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 US 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]."
In a March 24, 2008, extended interview conducted in Ankara, Turkey, with ABC News correspondent Martha Raddatz
on the fifth anniversary of the original U.S. military assault on Iraq, Cheney responded to a question about public opinion polls showing that Americans had lost confidence in the war by simply replying "So?"
This remark prompted widespread criticism, including from former Oklahoma
Republican Congressman Mickey Edwards
, a long-time personal friend of Cheney.
On the morning of July 21, 2007, Cheney once again served as acting president, from 7:16 am to 9:21 am. 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.
After his term began in 2001, Cheney was occasionally asked if he was interested in the Republican nomination for the 2008 elections. However, he always maintained that he wished to retire upon the expiration of his term and he did not run in the 2008 presidential primaries. The Republicans nominated Arizona Senator John McCain
Disclosure of documents
Cheney (far right) with former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and President Bush
Cheney was a prominent member of the National Energy Policy Development Group (NEPDG),
commonly known as the Energy Task Force
, composed of energy industry representatives, including several Enron
executives. After the Enron scandal
, the Bush administration was accused of improper political and business ties. In July 2003, the Supreme Court
ruled that the US Department of Commerce
must disclose NEPDG documents, containing references to companies that had made agreements with the previous Iraqi government to extract Iraq's petroleum.
Beginning in 2003, Cheney's staff opted not to file required reports with the National Archives and Records Administration
office charged with assuring that the executive branch protects classified information, nor did it allow inspection of its record keeping.
Cheney refused to release the documents, citing his executive privilege to deny congressional information requests.
Media outlets such as Time
magazine and CBS News
questioned whether Cheney had created a "fourth branch of government" that was not subject to any laws.
A group of historians and open-government advocates filed a lawsuit in the US District Court for the District of Columbia
, asking the court to declare that Cheney's vice-presidential records are covered by the Presidential Records Act of 1978
and cannot be destroyed, taken or withheld from the public without proper review.
CIA leak scandal
Handwritten note above Joe Wilson
's editorial by Cheney referring to the covert agent before the leak took place
On October 18, 2005, The Washington Post
reported that the vice president's office was central to the investigation of the Valerie Plame
CIA leak scandal, for Cheney's former chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby
, was one of the figures under investigation.
Libby resigned his positions as Cheney's chief of staff and assistant on national security affairs later in the month after he was indicted
In February 2006, The National Journal
reported that Libby had stated before a grand jury
that his superiors, including Cheney, had authorized him to disclose classified information to the press regarding intelligence on Iraq's weapons.
That September, Richard Armitage
, former Deputy Secretary of State, publicly announced that he was the source of the revelation of Plame's status. Armitage said he was not a part of a conspiracy to reveal Plame's identity and did not know whether one existed.
On March 6, 2007, Libby was convicted on four felony
counts for obstruction of justice, perjury
, and making false statements to federal investigators.
In his closing arguments, independent prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald
said that there was "a cloud over the vice president",
an apparent reference to Cheney's interview with FBI agents investigating the case, which was made public in 2009.
Cheney lobbied President George W. Bush vigorously and unsuccessfully to grant Libby a full presidential pardon
up to the day of Barack Obama's inauguration, likening Libby to a "soldier on the battlefield".
Libby was subsequently pardoned by President Donald Trump
in April 2018.
On February 27, 2007, at about 10 am, a suicide bomber killed 23 people and wounded 20 more outside Bagram Airfield
during a visit by Cheney. The Taliban
claimed responsibility for the attack and declared that Cheney was its intended target. They also claimed that Osama bin Laden
supervised the operation.
The bomb went off outside the front gate while Cheney was inside the base and half a mile away. He reported hearing the blast, saying "I heard a loud boom... The Secret Service came in and told me there had been an attack on the main gate."
The purpose of Cheney's visit to the region had been to press Pakistan for a united front against the Taliban.
Pope Benedict XVI
, Vice President Dick Cheney and Mrs. Lynne Cheney at a farewell ceremony for the Pope at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.
Cheney has been characterized as the most powerful and influential Vice President in history.
Both supporters and critics of Cheney regard him as a shrewd and knowledgeable politician who knows the functions and intricacies of the federal government. A sign of Cheney's active policy-making role was then-House Speaker Dennis Hastert
's provision of an office near the House floor for Cheney
in addition to his office in the West Wing
his ceremonial office in the Old Executive Office Building,
and his Senate offices (one in the Dirksen Senate Office Building
and another off the floor of the Senate).
In June 2007, The Washington Post
summarized Cheney's vice presidency in a Pulitzer Prize
four-part series, based in part on interviews with former administration officials. The articles characterized Cheney not as a "shadow" president, but as someone who usually has the last words of counsel to the president on policies, which in many cases would reshape the powers of the presidency. When former Vice President Dan Quayle
suggested to Cheney that the office was largely ceremonial, Cheney reportedly replied, "I have a different understanding with the president." The articles described Cheney as having a secretive approach to the tools of government, indicated by the use of his own security classification and three man-sized safes in his offices.
The articles described Cheney's influence on decisions pertaining to detention of suspected terrorists and the legal limits that apply to their questioning, especially what constitutes torture
. U.S. Army
Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson
, who served as Colin Powell's chief of staff when he was both Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
at the same time Cheney was Secretary of Defense, and then later when Powell was Secretary of State
, stated in an in-depth interview that Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld
established an alternative program to interrogate post-9/11 detainees because of their mutual distrust of CIA
The Washington Post articles, principally written by Barton Gellman
, further characterized Cheney as having the strongest influence within the administration in shaping budget and tax policy in a manner that assures "conservative orthodoxy."
They also highlighted Cheney's behind-the-scenes influence on the Bush administration's environmental policy
to ease pollution controls for power plants, facilitate the disposal of nuclear waste, open access to federal timber resources, and avoid federal constraints on greenhouse gas emissions
, among other issues. The articles characterized his approach to policy formulation as favoring business over the environment.
In June 2008, Cheney allegedly attempted to block efforts by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
to strike a controversial US compromise deal with North Korea
over the communist state's nuclear program.
In July 2008, a former Environmental Protection Agency
official stated publicly that Cheney's office had pushed significantly for large-scale deletions from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
report on the health effects of global warming
"fearing the presentation by a leading health official might make it harder to avoid regulating greenhouse gases."
In October, when the report appeared with six pages cut from the testimony, the White House stated that the changes were made due to concerns regarding the accuracy of the science. However, according to the former senior adviser on climate change to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson
, Cheney's office was directly responsible for nearly half of the original testimony being deleted.
Post–vice presidency (2009–present) The Washington Post
reported in 2008 that Cheney purchased a home in McLean, Virginia
, part of the Washington
suburbs, which he was to tear down for a replacement structure. He also maintains homes in Wyoming and on Maryland's Eastern Shore.
Cheney speaking at CPAC
in February 2011
In July 2012, Cheney used his Wyoming home to host a private fund-raiser for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney
, which netted over $4 million in contributions from attendees for Romney's campaign.
Cheney maintained a visible public profile after leaving office,
being especially critical of Obama administration
policies on national security.
In May 2009, Cheney spoke of his support for same-sex marriage
, becoming one of the most prominent Republican politicians to do so. Speaking to the National Press Club
, Cheney stated: "People ought to be free to enter into any kind of union they wish, any kind of arrangement they wish. I do believe, historically, the way marriage has been regulated is at a state level. It's always been a state issue, and I think that's the way it ought to be handled today."
In 2012, Cheney reportedly encouraged several Maryland state legislators to vote to legalize same-sex marriage in that state.
Although, by custom, a former vice president unofficially receives six months of protection from the United States Secret Service
, President Obama reportedly extended the protection period for Cheney.
On July 11, 2009, CIA Director Leon Panetta
told the Senate and House intelligence committees that the CIA withheld information about a secret counter-terrorism program from Congress for eight years on direct orders from Cheney. Intelligence and Congressional officials have said the unidentified program did not involve the CIA interrogation program
and did not involve domestic intelligence activities. They have said the program was started by the counter-terrorism center at the CIA shortly after the attacks of September 11, 2001, but never became fully operational, involving planning and some training that took place off and on from 2001 until this year. The Wall Street Journal
reported, citing former intelligence officials familiar with the matter, that the program was an attempt to carry out a 2001 presidential authorization to capture or kill al Qaeda
Cheney has said that the Tea Party Movement
is a "positive influence on the Republican Party" and that "I think it's much better to have that kind of turmoil and change in the Republican Party than it would be to have it outside."
Cheney attending his daughter Liz's ceremonial congressional swearing-in ceremony in January 2017
Views on President Obama
On December 29, 2009, four days after the attempted bombing of an international passenger flight from the Netherlands to United States
, Cheney criticized Obama: "[We] are at war and when President Obama pretends we aren't, it makes us less safe. ... Why doesn't he want to admit we're at war? It doesn't fit with the view of the world he brought with him to the Oval Office. It doesn't fit with what seems to be the goal of his presidency – social transformation – the restructuring of American society."
In response, White House Communications DirectorDan Pfeiffer
wrote on the official White House blog
the following day, "[I]t is telling that Vice President Cheney and others seem to be more focused on criticizing the Administration than condemning the attackers. Unfortunately too many are engaged in the typical Washington game of pointing fingers and making political hay, instead of working together to find solutions to make our country safer."
During a February 14, 2010 appearance on ABC
's This Week
, Cheney reiterated his criticism of the Obama administration
's policies for handling suspected terrorists, criticizing the "mindset" of treating "terror attacks against the United States as criminal acts as opposed to acts of war".
In a May 2, 2011, interview with ABC News, Cheney praised the Obama administration for the covert military operation in Pakistan that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden
In 2014, during an interview with Sean Hannity
, he called Barack Obama
a "weak President" after Obama announced his plans to pull forces out of Afghanistan.
Cheney in 2012, promoting his book
Exceptional: Why the World Needs a Powerful America
Views on President Trump
He criticized the Trump administration
during a forum at the American Enterprise Institute
alongside Vice President Mike Pence
in March 2019. Questioning his successor on Trump's commitment to NATO
and tendency to announce policy decisions on Twitter
before consulting senior staff members, Cheney went on to opine, "It seems, at times, as though your administration’s approach has more in common with Obama’s foreign policy than traditional Republican foreign policy."
Public perception and legacy
Cheney's early public opinion polls were more favorable than unfavorable, reaching his peak approval rating in the wake of the September 11 attacks
at 68 percent.
However, polling numbers for both him and the president gradually declined in their second terms,
with Cheney reaching his lowest point shortly before leaving office at 13 percent.
Cheney's Gallup poll
figures are mostly consistent with those from other polls:
- April 2001 – 63% approval, 21% disapproval
- January 2002 – 68% approval, 18% disapproval
- January 2004 – 56% approval, 36% disapproval
- January 2005 – 50% approval, 40% disapproval
- January 2006 – 41% approval, 46% disapproval
- July 2007 – 30% approval, 60% disapproval
- March 2009 – 30% approval, 63% disapproval
In April 2007, Cheney was awarded an honorary doctorate
of public service by Brigham Young University
, where he delivered the commencement address.
His selection as commencement speaker was controversial. The college board of trustees issued a statement explaining that the invitation should be viewed "as one extended to someone holding the high office of vice president of the United States rather than to a partisan political figure".
BYU permitted a protest to occur so long as it did not "make personal attacks against Cheney, attack (the) BYU administration, the church
or the First Presidency
Cheney has been cited as the most powerful vice president in American history.
Cheney has been compared to Darth Vader
, a characterization originated by his critics, but which was later adopted humorously by Cheney himself as well as by members of his family and staff.
In Jon Meacham
's book Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush
, published in November 2015, the 41st president, although also laudatory of Cheney, is in part critical of the former vice president, whom Bush describes as "having his own empire" and "very hard-line."
In popular culture
- In Eminem's 2002 single "Without Me", where the lines "I know that you got a job, Ms. Cheney / But your husband's heart problem's complicating" refer to his health problems.
- In The Day After Tomorrow, the character Raymond Becker (played by Kenneth Welsh) is intended to be a criticism of Dick Cheney.
- In W. (2008), a biographical drama film directed by Oliver Stone, he is portrayed by Richard Dreyfuss.
- In War Dogs (2016 film) where the line "God bless Dick Cheney's America" refers to his support of American military presence in Iraq.
- In Who Is America? (2018), a political satire series, Sacha Baron Cohen pranked Cheney into signing a makeshift waterboard kit.
- In Vice (2018), a biographical comedy-drama film written and directed by Adam McKay, Cheney is portrayed by Christian Bale, for which the latter won a Golden Globe and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor. During an interview by Emmerson Sykes of the ACLU program, At Liberty, on January 31, 2019, McKay discussed the movie at length, his motivation to create the film, and the basis for his choices about portraying many aspects of Cheney's life in the film.
- In Mrs. America (2020), a historical drama television miniseries produced by FX, Cheney is portrayed by Andrew Hodwitz.
On September 24, 2005, Cheney underwent a six-hour endo-vascular
procedure to repair popliteal artery aneurysms
bilaterally, a catheter
treatment technique used in the artery behind each knee.
The condition was discovered at a regular physical in July, and was not life-threatening.
Cheney was hospitalized for tests after experiencing shortness of breath five months later. In late April 2006, an ultrasound
revealed that the clot was smaller.
On July 12, 2008, Cheney underwent a cardiological
exam; doctors reported that his heartbeat was normal for a 67-year-old man with a history of heart problems. As part of his annual checkup, he was administered an electrocardiogram
and radiological imaging
of the stents placed in the arteries behind his knees in 2005. Doctors said that Cheney had not experienced any recurrence of atrial fibrillation and that his special pacemaker had neither detected nor treated any arrhythmia
On October 15, 2008, Cheney returned to the hospital briefly to treat a minor irregularity.
On February 22, 2010, Cheney was admitted to George Washington University Hospital
after experiencing chest pains. A spokesperson later said Cheney had experienced a mild heart attack after doctors had run tests.
On June 25, 2010, Cheney was admitted to George Washington University Hospital after reporting discomfort.
On March 24, 2012, Cheney underwent a seven-hour heart transplant
procedure at Inova Fairfax Hospital
in Woodburn, Virginia
. He had been on a waiting list for more than 20 months before receiving the heart from an anonymous donor.
Cheney's principal cardiologist, Dr. Jonathan Reiner, advised his patient that "it would not be unreasonable for an otherwise healthy 71-year-old man to expect to live another 10 years" with a transplant, saying in a family-authorized interview that he considered Cheney to be otherwise healthy.
On February 11, 2006, Dick Cheney accidentally shot Harry Whittington
, a 78-year-old Texasattorney
, while participating in a quail
hunt at Armstrong ranch in Kenedy County, Texas
agents and medical aides, who were traveling with Cheney, came to Whittington's assistance and treated his birdshot wounds to his right cheek, neck, and chest. An ambulance standing by for the Vice President took Whittington to nearby Kingsville
before he was flown by helicopter to Corpus Christi Memorial Hospital
. On February 14, 2006, Whittington had a non-fatal heart attack
and atrial fibrillation
due to at least one lead-shot pellet lodged in or near his heart.
Because of the small size of the birdshot pellets, doctors decided to leave up to 30 pieces of the pellets lodged in his body rather than try to remove them.
The Secret Service stated that they notified the Sheriff about one hour after the shooting. Kenedy County Sheriff Ramone Salinas III stated that he first heard of the shooting at about 5:30 pm.
The next day, ranch owner Katharine Armstrong informed the Corpus Christi Caller-Times
of the shooting.
Cheney had a televised interview with MSNBC
News about the shooting on February 15. Both Cheney and Whittington have called the incident an accident. Early reports indicated that Cheney and Whittington were friends and that the injuries were minor. Whittington has since told The Washington Post
that he and Cheney were not close friends but acquaintances. When asked if Cheney had apologized, Whittington declined to answer.
The sheriff's office released a report on the shooting on February 16, 2006, and witness statements on February 22, indicating that the shooting occurred on a clear sunny day, and Whittington was shot from 30 or 40 yards (40 m) away while searching for a downed bird. Armstrong, the ranch owner, claimed that all in the hunting party were wearing blaze-orange safety gear and none had been drinking.
However, Cheney has acknowledged that he had one beer four or five hours prior to the shooting.
Although Kenedy County Sheriff's Office documents support the official story by Cheney and his party, re-creations of the incident produced by George Gongora and John Metz of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times indicated that the actual shooting distance was closer than the 30 yards claimed.
The incident hurt Cheney's popularity standing in the polls.
According to polls on February 27, 2006, two weeks after the accident, Dick Cheney's approval rating had dropped 5 percentage points to 18%.
The incident became the subject of a number of jokes and satire.
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ˈtʃiːni/ CHEE-nee, the pronunciation used by his family. After moving east he adopted the pronunciation /
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Last edited on 13 May 2021, at 14:48
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