In 2004, George W. Bush received the presidential nomination at the Republican Party Convention held on this day at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Conspiciously absent from the convention floor was Richard B. Cheney, the outgoing Vice President. Ironically, Cheney's non-selection was entirely due to a bitter dispute over Article II (Executive Power) of the US Constitution, drafted in 1787 by none other than James Madison himself - the "Father of the Consitution".
Cheney UnboundConsidering himself to be accountable only to history, Cheney had adopted a "relentless" approach to the restoration of the executive powers of the Presidency, having watched Congress sharply diminish them during his first tenure in the White House in the mid nineteen seventies. Many felt that these powers had already been rolled back during the Reagan years when the legacy of Watergate and Presidential abuse of powers had begun to retreat in the popular memory. And yet the "Global War on Terror" (or "GeeTer" as Cheney called it) provided an opportunity to diminish the powers of Congressional oversight even further. Cheney seized the opportunity, going so far as to seek extralegal means to conduct warrantless domestic surveillance by the U.S. National Security Agency, ironically the very same tactic adopted by his former patron, Richard M. Nixon. Jack Goldsmith, the United States Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice, would later describe these experiences in his famous book called "The Terror Presidency".
"If you rule that way, the blood of the hundred thousand people who die in the next attack will be on your hands" ~ threat from David Addington, Cheney's Legal Counsel to Jack GoldsmithBy late 2003 the Department of Justice started to threaten withholding their counter-signature from the rolling forty-five day order necessary to authorize the continuation surveillance programme. When Acting Attorney General John Comey refused to counter-sign in March 2004, Cheney adopted a series of intimidatory tactics, most shockingly ordering Andrew Card and Albert Gonzalez to visit his critically ill boss John Ashcroft in hospital to gain his signature instead. Unfazed, Cheney illegally replaced Comey's signature with Gonzalez on the executive order not even bothering to inform the President of the legal dispute in the Administration. A mirror image of the "Saturday Night Massacre" now occurred, when Richard Nixon ordered the executive dismissal of independent special prosecutor Archibald Cox, and the resignations of Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus on October 20, 1973 during the Watergate scandal. The entire top management of the Department of Justice resigned in protest en masse, an outcome George W. Bush was only able to reverse by agreeing to drop Cheney from the 2004 ticket.