How One Decision Drove Bush, Cheney Apart

The pardon of 'Scooter' Libby was apparently the last straw

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 13, 2013 8:05 AM CDT

(Newser) – In the final days of George W. Bush's presidency, Dick Cheney lobbied the president and lobbied him hard—for the pardon of Lewis "Scooter" Libby. President Bush dreaded facing Cheney about it, and once he did, their relationship would never be the same, reports Peter Baker in the New York Times Magazine. To recap, Cheney was angry that his former chief of staff had been found guilty of lying in the "Plamegate" affair. The press had outed Valerie Plame as a CIA agent in 2003, ruining her intelligence career. But had officials leaked her identity to retaliate against her husband for criticizing Bush over the Iraq war?

Libby claimed that a journalist had told him about Plame. (We now know that Colin Powell's deputy Richard Armitage leaked it, but that's another story.) When Bush told Cheney face-to-face that Libby's conviction was just, the VP snapped: "You are leaving a good man wounded on the field of battle." The stinging remark punctuated a tense second term, in which Bush had grown cool with Cheney over his hawkish ideas. Even now, they rarely see each other, and Cheney seems to harbor a grudge, saying that Libby's conviction "was wrong, and the president had it within his power to fix it, and he chose not to. ... It was a huge disappointment for me." Click for Baker's full article, which details the complex relationship.

Vice President Dick Cheney looks on as President Bush speaks to reporters in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Sept. 15, 2008.
Vice President Dick Cheney looks on as President Bush speaks to reporters in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Sept. 15, 2008.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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