Cheney tried to persuade President Bush to bomb Syria

Combative vice-president's memoirs detail his battles with his colleagues

Washington

In a combative and score-settling new book, former vice-president Dick Cheney reveals how he unsuccessfully tried to persuade his boss George W Bush to bomb a suspected Syrian nuclear site, and takes sharp aim at his "moderate" rivals of the time, Condoleezza Rice and in particular her predecessor as Secretary of State, Colin Powell.

In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir, to be published next week, has long been keenly awaited, and the man regarded as the arch-conservative in the Bush inner circle does not disappoint. "There will be heads exploding all over Washington," Mr Cheney told NBC in an interview of which excerpts were released yesterday. For once, the hype may not be far off the mark.

For the most part the book confirms the public perception of Mr Cheney when he held office between 2001 and 2009 – of one of the most influential vice-presidents in US history, secretive and sibylline, whose already conservative views were only hardened by the trauma of 9/11.

But the Syrian episode also bears out the widespread evidence that his sway diminished in Mr Bush's second term, as the administration adopted a more multilateral approach to global issues, and the problems left by the 2003 Iraq invasion, of which MrCheney was arguably the most fervent advocate in the administration, became all but intractable.

"I again made the case for USmilitary action against the reactor,"Mr Cheney writes of a June 2007 White House meeting on the issue. "But I was a lone voice. After I finished, the President asked, 'Does anyone here agree with the Vice-President?' Not a single hand went up around the room." In the event, the site was destroyed three months later by Israeli warplanes. In the book, of which leaked extracts appeared in The New York Times yesterday, Mr Cheney does not hide his disagreements with Mr Bush. He also confirms that, well aware of his unpopularity, he offered his resignation on several occasions before the 2004 election. But each time the President rejected them.

In the NBC interview, Mr Cheney denies that his frankness will upset the former president – not least by the credence it might lend to claims that in the first Bush term at least he, rather than his titular boss, called the shots. "I didn't set out to embarrass the President or not embarrass the President," Mr Cheney insisted; there were "many places [in the book] where I say some very fine things about George Bush. And believe every word of it."

The same however cannot be said of his remarks about Ms Rice and General Powell. The former he castigates for her naivety in dealing with North Korea. Indeed in a chapter entitled "Setback", Mr Cheney is scathing about the State Department and the "utterly misleading" advice it gave on some foreign policy issues, especially in the second Bush term. But the fiercest barbs are reserved for Colin Powell, whose State Department was often in undeclared war with Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon and the Vice-President's office during the run-up to the Iraq war.

In Mr Cheney's eyes, General Powell's biggest sin was disloyalty, writing that "it was as though he thought the proper way to express his views was by criticising administration policy to people outside the government". Mr Powell's forced resignation in December 2004, the book drily notes, "was for the best".

Since leaving office Mr Cheney has popped up intermittently, mainly on the right-wing speaking circuit, and usually with trenchant criticism of President Barack Obama. His long history of heart disease has also continued. He has become noticeably gaunter and thinner, and in 2010 suffered congestive heart failure that forced him to be fitted with a special pump.

In his memoir, Mr Cheney reveals that he wrote a letter of resignation dated 28 March 2001, instructing an aide to give it to Mr Bush should he ever be incapacitated by a stroke or heart attack while in office.

Polls favour Perry

Rick Perry has taken a double-digit lead over Mitt Romney in the Republican presidential nomination race in two polls released on Wednesday night.

Although it is less than two weeks since he formally entered the race, 29 per cent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said Mr Perry would most likely be their choice to oppose President Obama in 2012, according to a Gallup poll. Romney had been first in most nationwide opinion polls. Gallup said 17 per cent of respondents favoured Romney, when asked to rate the field of candidates. Texas Congressman Ron Paul was third, on 13 per cent, and Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann came fourth, with 10 per cent. reuters

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test