Think Progress has a great piece on the new book by Boston Globe reporter Charlie Savage: Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy.
In Takeover, Savage “reveals that Cheney has been on a thirty-year quest to implement his views of unfettered executive power.”
For example, when it was revealed in 2005 that the Bush administration had been illegally spying on Americans, Cheney responded: “If you want to understand why this program is legal…go back and read my Iran-Contra report.” In that report — authored in 1987 — Cheney and aide David Addington defended President Reagan by claiming it was “unconstitutional for Congress to pass laws intruding” on the “commander in chief.”
Decades later, Bush’s legal team used their first meeting in January 2001 — nine months before 9/11 — to map out a plan to expand presidential authority. According to Savage, who appeared on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal this morning, Cheney was looking for a moment to “seize” power in the weeks before 9/11:
We are going to expand presidential power in any way we can. This was discussed in January 2001 at the first meeting of the White House legal team after the inauguration, long before 9/11. If an opportunity arises to expand presidential prerogatives, you will seize it.