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Former Cheney chief of staff can't find a job
John Byrne
Published: Monday March 9, 2009


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Prominent Bush Administration officials who helped the former president propagate dubious legal opinions justifying the alleged torture of US prisoners continue to be punished by prospective employers.

While those who left before their so-called torture opinions came to light have managed to snag positions in the private sector, those who began their search afterward are still looking for jobs. Including the chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney.

David Addington, perhaps the most prominent member of Cheney's inner circle after Scooter Libby -- Cheney's top staffer until he was indicted on perjury charges in the CIA leak case -- Addington is seen as one of the chief architects of Bush's "torture doctrine."

In a July 2006 New Yorker piece, veteran reporter Jane Mayer put Addington at the core of controversial Bush policies -- and sketchy Administration attempts to avoid constitutional law.

Addington played "a central role in shaping the Administration's legal strategy for the war on terror," Mayer wrote. "Known as the New Paradigm, this strategy rests on a reading of the Constitution that few legal scholars share—namely, that the President, as Commander-in-Chief, has the authority to disregard virtually all previously known legal boundaries, if national security demands it.

"Under this framework, statutes prohibiting torture, secret detention, and warrantless surveillance have been set aside. A former high-ranking Administration lawyer who worked extensively on national-security issues said that the Administration's legal positions were, to a remarkable degree, 'all Addington.' Another lawyer, Richard L. Shiffrin, who until 2003 was the Pentagon's deputy general counsel for intelligence, said that Addington was 'an unopposable force.'"

In the same article, former Secretary of State Colin Powell was quoted as saying, "He doesn't care about the Constitution."

Powell saw Addington as being at the center of the Bush Administration's warrantless wiretapping program, which most legal scholars argue should have gone through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court.

Addington isn't the only senior Bush official who can't find a job.

Alberto Gonzales, Bush's onetime Attorney General, is also looking for work. Gonzales resigned after revelations that his department had fired US Attorneys for apparent political reasons.

Gonzales, who approved a 2002 memo that gave CIA interrogators the government's blessing to conduct techniques previously to be torture, told the Wall Street Journal last month that he was “one of the many casualties of the war on terror.”

Gonzales also chaired meetings on the issue.

Ex-Pentagon general counsel William Heyes also couldn't find a job for nearly a year after leaving office, and eventually took a post with Chevron, the Times said.

Others, who left before details of their participation in the Administration's attempts to justify torture, had better luck. John Yoo, a Bush lawyer, returned to his tenured professorship at Berkeley Law School in 2003; his ex-boss at the Justice Department was confirmed to a federal appeals court seat -- for life -- the same year.

An estimated 70 percent of former Bush officials who are looking for full-time work still haven't found new jobs, according to an article published in February by the Wall St. Journal.

"That 'is much, much worse' than when Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton left the White House," Carlos M. Gutierrez, who served as Bush's commerce secretary, told the paper.

For many, the traditional refuge of conservative think tanks in Washington, D.C. has become a Fort Knox, with almost no positions available, and certainly not for lower-rung Bush officials.

The think tanks "lack interest in hiring high-profile Republicans when Democrats control the White House and Congress," said the Journal. "Mr. Bush's low approval ratings at the end of his term don't help, said Leonard Pfeiffer IV, a Washington recruiter for nonprofits."

"A handful of Bush cabinet officers have accepted academic appointments," the paper said. "Former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson joined Johns Hopkins University's Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies as a fellow. Condoleezza Rice, previously secretary of state, resumed her Stanford University roles as a political-science professor and senior fellow at its Hoover Institution think tank."


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