By Kurtis Bright
Rockefeller Commission documents show then-White House aide Richard Cheney heavily edited the commission’s report over objections of commission staff.
Dick Cheney has not engendered much admiration during his time in public life as a snarling, bile-spewing politico, aka America’s Undertaker, aka Vice-President Big-Time (the name given him by George W. Bush) aka Darth Cheney (a nickname the former vice president is said to enjoy) has long been known as a secretive, ruthless operatchnik who would make Machiavelli blush at the brazenness of his machinations.
During the build-up to the Iraq debacle, Cheney was known to have illegally severely restricted access to information, not only that which was released to the press and the public, but also among his own staff, Congress, and even, according to some reports, to the very President himself.
In 1975, Gerald Ford commissioned the then-Vice President Nelson Rockefeller to investigate CIA abuses, including illegal domestic activity and brutal mind control experiments involving drugs, torture, electrical implantation in victim’s brains and worse. Newly released documents from the National Security Archive on the 1975 Rockefeller Commission show that then-White House staffer Dick Cheney single-handedly redacted some 86 pages from the document. The Commission Report originally included a section dealing with ways the agency was illegally conducting assassinations abroad as well as illegal domestic spying, sabotage and more.
Aide Cheney suppressed the section (without higher authorization?) The suppressed documents include Cheney’s handwritten notes, other White House staffer notes warning of the consequences of holding back so much volatile but important information, and strategies for spinning the release of the neutered document.
The supposedly independent commission remained publicly silent about the deletion of a huge section of their work, although there is evidence that lawyers and public-relations people working for the commission warned the White House of the dangers of stripping the commission of its independence in this way.
The root of our current inhuman justification of drone strikes against civilians lies in the CIA activities of the 1950s and 1960s including mind control, MKULTRA, torture, assassination, domestic spying and a host of other crimes. Without these archives, who would have guessed that Mr. Secrecy himself would have had such a direct influence on the deadly policies of the government today?
Of course, the more you know about Cheney, the less surprising it is.
In a 2007 quote from then-vice president Cheney, he foreshadowed the current controversy:
“I’m told researchers like to come and dig through my files,” Cheney said, “to see if anything interesting turns up. I want to wish them luck — (laughter) — but the files are pretty thin. I learned early on that if you don’t want your memos to get you in trouble some day, just don’t write any.”
How differently might the US and the world have turned out if the members of the Rockefeller Commission had stood up to a then very junior White House staffer who scrubbed the hard truths from their report.
How different would the Middle East – and the world – be someone had stood for truth about the illegal activities of an out of control Agency and brushed aside the protection of young Darth Cheney.