The man behind Dick Cheney's unusual influence in the Bush Administration got a big US News & World Reports article about him: David Addington. He's the driving force behind the "unitary executive" policy that runs like cancer through this organization, and it's his hand that has been guiding the signing statements Bush uses to remold or set aside over 750 laws passed by Congress. And US News hints at more:
The effort to discredit a former ambassador who publicly dismissed the Niger claim as baseless, by disclosing the name of his wife, a covert CIA officer? Addington was right in the middle of that, too, though he has not been accused of wrongdoing.Not yet, anyway. Fitzmas may yet hinge on driving a wedge between this man and Dick Cheney, and that looks very unlikely...
In January 2001, he became Cheney's legal counsel and, according to former Solicitor General Theodore Olson, the vice president's "eyes, ears, and voice." Cheney implicitly trusts Addington on judgment calls because they are, in the words of adviser Matalin, "the same kind of person--Addington was always the first among equals when the vice president sought advice. And he has always been the final voice and analysis on what we were discussing." Cheney and his aide are so close, says Nancy Dorn, an Addington colleague from the Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush years, that they "hardly even have to communicate with words."Addington is up to his eyeballs in the Valerie Plame affair.
Addington, his colleagues say, is modest, courtly, and family oriented. He commutes to the White House by Metro when he could easily command a government car, usually eats at the staff table at the White House mess, and spends weekends cheering at his daughters' soccer games. "There are a lot of transactional people in Washington," says Matalin. "He's not one of them. He's a good soul."
According to critics, the reason Addington is such an effective bureaucratic infighter is that he's an intellectual bully. "David can be less than civilized," one official says. "He can be extremely unpleasant." Others say it's because Addington is a superb lawyer and a skilled debater who arms himself with a mind-numbing command of the facts and the law. Still others attribute Addington's power to the outsize influence of Cheney. "Addington does a very good job," says a former justice official who has observed him, "of harnessing the power of the vice president."
But it's a subtle kind of harnessing. Addington, according to current and former colleagues, rarely if ever invokes Cheney's name. An administration official says that it's sometimes unclear whether Addington is even consulting the vice president. But Cheney is always the elephant in the room. "People perceive that this is the real power center," says attorney Scott Horton, who has written two major studies on interrogation of terrorism suspects for the New York City Bar Association, "and if you cross them, they will destroy you."