No Comment — June 22, 2007, 1:04 am

Cheney’s National Security State

Writing in his masterwork Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft in 1922, Max Weber showed that the “bureaucratic class” (Beamtentum) manipulated state secrets in order to undermine democratic institutions. By wielding security classifications, they could claim an information monopoly and render the parliament impotent. Weber later revealed that he was thinking in particular of the General Staff and their political machinations in the last years of World War I. Germany had been turned into all but a military dictatorship, and Weber’s study showed, correctly, that the claims of state secrecy were the single most effective tactic used to destroy the nascent Wilhelmine parliamentary democracy. Now, Max Weber never met Dick Cheney, but Cheney is just the man he had in mind; he is for America today what Ludendorff was in the third Oberste Heeresleitung in 1918. We all know what security classifications mean to Dick Cheney. You invoke them to keep your lurid dealings with oil executives, defense contractors and foreign potentates out of public sight. But then when you have a political adversary in the crosshairs, security classifications count for nothing. And today we learn just how literally true this is. Scott Shane in today’s New York Times:

For four years, Vice President Dick Cheney has resisted routine oversight of his office’s handling of classified information, and when the office in charge of overseeing classification in the executive branch objected, the vice president’s office suggested that the oversight office be shut down, according to documents released today by a Democratic congressman. The oversight office, a unit of the National Archives, appealed the issue to the Justice Department, which has not yet ruled on the matter.

Now isn’t that interesting? Note that, according to highly placed sources, an internal debate on the torture issue now raging at the highest echelons of government, there are two big torture advocates – Dick Cheney and Alberto Gonzales. Similarly, on the question of surrendering documents in connection with congressional subpoenas, guess who is in favor of withholding them until hell freezes over? You got it.

And now get this. Why does Cheney believe he’s not subject to the rule? The answer is that Cheney and his legal eagle David Addington – the torture lawyer to top all torture lawyers – have concluded that the office of the Vice President does not belong to the Executive Branch. To this, Rahm Emanuel has just the right response: fine, pack your bags and move out of the White House.

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

Conversation August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm

Lincoln’s Party

Sidney Blumenthal on the origins of the Republican Party, the fallout from Clinton’s emails, and his new biography of Abraham Lincoln

Conversation March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm

Burn Pits

Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.

Context, No Comment August 28, 2015, 12:16 pm

Beltway Secrecy

In five easy lessons

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

December 2016

Prose by Any Other Name

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The New Red Scare

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Separated at Birth

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Priest in the Trees

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Lightness

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

With Child

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
With Child·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"She glanced across the waiting room at a television playing a birth-control ad and laughed darkly. 'Jesus, Lord, it would be so nice if someone just pushed me down a flight of stairs.'"
Photograph (detail) by Lara Shipley
Article
Swat Team·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"As we shall see, for the sort of people who write and edit the opinion pages of the Post, there was something deeply threatening about Sanders and his political views."
Illustration (detail) by John Ritter
Article
Escape from The Caliphate·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"When Matti invited me on a tour of the neighborhood, I asked about security. 'The message has already been passed to ISIS that you’re here,' he said. 'But don’t worry. I guarantee I could bring even you in and out of the Islamic State.'"
Photograph (detail) by Alice Martins
Article
In This One·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"She glanced across the waiting room at a television playing a birth-control ad and laughed darkly. 'Jesus, Lord, it would be so nice if someone just pushed me down a flight of stairs.'"
Illustration (detail) by Shonagh Rae
Article
“Don’t Touch My Medicare!”·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"Medicare’s popularity, however, comes with almost no understanding of what the program is and how it works."
Illustration (detail) by Nate Kitch

Rank of Richard Nixon masks among the top U.S. costumer’s best-selling political masks over the last five years:

1

A small meteorite injured an adolescent German.

It was reported that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called Trump to discuss issues relating to women and families, and Trump handed the phone to his daughter.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Who Goes Nazi?

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

By

"It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many times—in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis."

Subscribe Today