Cheney to address top secret conservative policy group
An ultra-secret conservative group -- so secret that members don't even use the group's name in communications -- will feature Vice President Dick Cheney as a speaker at a meeting in Utah today.
"Cheney will address the fall meeting of the Council for National Policy, a group whose self-described mission is to promote 'a free-enterprise system, a strong national defense and support for traditional Western values," according to the Salt Lake City Tribune.
Founded in 1981 by Tim LaHaye, the co-author of the popular post-apocalyptic Christian-themed Left Behind books, the group holds confidential meetings three times a year attended by a small but powerful cadre of top conservatives.
"The media should not know when or where we meet or who takes part in our programs, before of after a meeting," one of the group's rules reads, according to a New York Times profile of the organization in 2004.
"The membership list is 'strictly confidential," said the Times. "Guests may attend 'only with the unanimous approval of the executive committee."
"In e-mail messages to one another," the paper continued, "members are instructed not to refer to the organization by name, to protect against leaks."
"We do not lobby Congress, support candidates, or issue public policy statements on controversial issues," the group states on its website. Members "meet to share the best information available on national and world problems, know one another on a personal basis, and collaborate in achieving their shared goals."
"Czech Republic President Václav Klaus is also expected to address the Council for National Policy's meeting in downtown Salt Lake City," the Tribune reports, adding that GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney will also be in Utah, but did not respond to the paper about whether or not he would be attending the meeting.
"Many current and former members politely said they would prefer not to speak on the organization's behalf," ABC's Marc Ambinder said in an earlier behind-the-scenes piece focusing on the group. "Those who did respond to telephone and e-mail messages declined to talk about their interest in the organization. More than a dozen did not respond at all."
Cheney's speech and other events of his trip, which coincides with a fundraising swing through West, is closed to the public and the press, according to the Tribune.