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Paul Rolly: Dick Cheney and me, what a pair
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

I met former Vice President Dick Cheney when he was a Wyoming congressman in the 1980s and I was an officer for the Utah Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. We were on a panel at an SPJ conference in Denver.

The discussion centered on the government's need for secrecy versus the public's right to know.

While there were four people on the panel, including a couple of academics, the discussion quickly devolved into a debate between Cheney and me because we were the most passionate for opposite sides of the issue: Cheney for government secrecy in the interest of national security; me for disclosure, honoring the idea of the public's right to know what their government is doing.

My own bias may have been the factor behind my belief I had won the debate. But the fact that Cheney refused to shake my hand when we were finished told me I at least had gotten under his skin.

I bring this up because he struck me at the time as one of the most anti-press politicians I had ever met. His famous lip snarl indicated absolute disdain whenever I spoke of freedom of the press and the media's obligation to report what government was doing. Cheney also cut his political teeth as a White House staff assistant in the Nixon administration, famous for its enemies list, including many journalists

I find it amusing that Cheney and other like-minded politicians on the right are so apoplectic about the three scandals currently plaguing the Obama administration: Benghazi, the IRS audits of tax-exempt tea party groups and the intrusion into Associated Press communications to try and find the leak of an undercover anti-terrorist operation.

Cheney has been most vocal about the information coming from officials in the Obama administration after the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed by terrorists.

Cheney, speaking to Fox News, of course, said the president lied to cover up his administration's failure to protect its diplomats.

This is the same Cheney who helped disseminate the lie that Iraq was amassing weapons of mass destruction in order to justify starting a disastrous war.

It's also the same Cheney whose close associates revealed the identity of a covert CIA operative to punish her husband for writing an opinion piece questioning the administration's claims about Iraq's operations.

Others in the loyal opposition to the Obama regime are outraged about the government's interference in the news gathering of a major media organization. The sort of thing Cheney was defending when he was on that panel with me.

I'm outraged, too. But since when are tea party minions like Reps. Michelle Bachmann, R-Minn., and Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, on the side of an aggressive press, or what Sarah Palin calls "the lame-stream media."

Now Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch is angry that the IRS may have targeted the Freedom Path PAC to see if it qualified for tax exempt status.

The more serious question for me, though, is why does that PAC get to be tax exempt when it raised at least $570,000 for attack ads against anyone who might challenge Hatch — and its donors are kept secret?

prolly@sltrib.com

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