On Sunday, Vice President Cheney made the astounding claim that if the President does anything during wartime to protect the country, it is legal — echoing Richard Nixon. Yesterday, Cheney biographer Barton Gellman told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that Cheney’s claim is actually “more radical” than Nixon’s because Cheney said it while serving in office:
It’s actually I think more radical than what Nixon said, because Nixon never enunciated that as policy during his administration and neither did his Office of Legal Counsel in the Justice Department. And this administration, they did. Cheney was asked, doesn’t Congress have any say here? He said, Congress can pass statutes, but he said, we don’t have to obey them — we don’t need no stinkin’ statutes.
Gellman also disputed Cheney’s claim that members of Congress who were briefed on Bush’s illegal surveillance program wholeheartedly endorsed it. “Now, I talked to four people who were in that meeting…and all of them dispute that that’s the way it happened,” he said.