But inevitably it is Cheney’s role in what he himself called “the dark side” of Bush’s administration that is the axis on which “The World” spins. Selected as Bush’s running mate mainly to give the ticket some foreign-policy heft (Cheney served Bush’s father as secretary of defense), he quickly took over the administration’s dirty work after the Sept. 11 attacks. “We’re going to spend time in the shadows in the intelligence world,” he warned the nation. “A lot of what needs to be done will have to be done quietly without any discussion.”
Wiretapping, waterboarding, warrantless detention at Guantanamo Bay: Cheney championed them all. He has neither regrets nor apologies today. “Are you going to trade the lives of a number of people because you want to preserve your honor? Or are you going to do your job, do what’s required?” he retorts to Cutler’s questions about civil liberties. “First and foremost, you’re responsible to safeguard the United States of America and its citizens. That’s not a close call for me.”
Cheney’s belief that the worst-case scenario justifies the means evolved (or, depending on your perspective, devolved) into what became known as the One Percent Doctrine, which held that if there were even a 1 percent chance that terrorists or rogue states were developing weapons of mass destruction for use against the United States, the White House had to treat it as a certainty.
The ultimate expression of the One Percent Doctrine was the invasion of Iraq, though in the run-up to the war, Cheney insisted that the probability of an existential threat to America was about 100 times that great. “There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction” and planned to use them to corner the world oil market and blackmail the United States, he said at the time.