On September 17, the School of Law’s Center on Law and Security (CLS) hosted Washington Post special projects reporter and CLS Fellow Barton Gellman for a discussion of his new book Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency. On one of the first stops on his nationwide book tour, Gellman fielded questions about the vice president’s legal and political maneuvering from New York Times Supreme Court Correspondent Adam Liptak and members of the audience.
Expanded from a Pulitzer Prize-winning series in the Post by Gellman and his colleague Jo Becker, Angler describes the unprecedented influence Vice President Dick Cheney had on the Bush administration’s agenda. The Cheney that Gellman depicts is a master tactician who relies on secrecy and extralegal channels to implement a hardline conservative ideology.
At the prompting of Liptak, Gellman described his uncovering of a narrowly avoided exodus of approximately two dozen Justice Department lawyers and others over the domestic wiretapping program. According to Gellman, Cheney, the program’s architect, had kept the Department’s concerns from Bush until the day before the officials intended to resign. If Bush had not defied Cheney and made the requested modifications to the program, Gellman speculates that the resignations could have resulted in a “Watergate moment” and cost the president his second term.
Watch the complete video coverage from the event (1hr, 23min):