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David Addington

In office
2005 – 2009
Vice President Dick Cheney
Preceded by Scooter Libby
Succeeded by Ron Klain

Born January 22, 1957
Alma mater Georgetown University B.S.F.S.
Duke Law School J.D.

David Spears Addington (b. January 22, 1957, Washington, D.C.), was legal counsel (2001–2005) and chief of staff (2005–2009) to former Vice President Dick Cheney .[1] During 21 years of federal service, Addington has worked at the CIA, the Reagan White House, the Department of Defense, four congressional committees, and the Cheney Office of the Vice President.[2] He was appointed to replace I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby Jr. as Cheney's chief of staff upon Libby's resignation when Libby was indicted on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice on October 28, 2005.[3] Addington was described by U.S. News & World Report as "the most powerful man you've never heard of."[4]



Addington is the son of Eleanore and the late Jerry Addington, a retired brigadier general and West Point graduate.[5] He is married to Cynthia Mary Addington; the couple have three children. Previously, Addington had been married to Linda Werling, whom he met while the two were both attending Duke University.[6]

Education and career

Addington graduated from Sandia High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1974. He was admitted to United States Naval Academy at Annapolis and attended beginning in Fall 1974, but did not graduate. He is a graduate of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University (B.S.F.S., summa cum laude) and holds a J.D. (with honors) from Duke University School of Law.[7] He was admitted to the bar in 1981.

Addington was an assistant general counsel for the Central Intelligence Agency from 1981 to 1984.[8] From 1984 to 1987 he was counsel for the House committees on intelligence and foreign affairs. He served as a staff attorney on the joint U.S. House-Senate committee investigation of the Iran-Contra scandal as an assistant to Congressman Bill Broomfield (R-MI). Although books and news articles have said that he was one of the principal authors of a controversial minority report issued at the conclusion of the joint committee's investigation,[9] Addington had left the committee's service before the minority report was written and had no role in it.[10]

Addington was also a special assistant for legislative affairs to President Ronald Reagan for one year in 1987, before becoming Reagan's deputy assistant. From 1989 to 1992, Addington served as special assistant to Cheney who was then the Secretary of Defense, before being appointed by President George H. W. Bush and confirmed by the Senate as the Department of Defense's general counsel in 1992.[11] In 1993 and 1994, Addington was the Republican staff director of the Senate Intelligence Committee. In 1994 and 1995, he headed a political action committee, the Alliance for American Leadership, set up to support Republican candidates for public office, such as Cheney.

From 1995 to 2001, he worked in private practice, for law firms Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz and Holland & Knight, and the American Trucking Association.[12]

Vice President's office

As Counsel to the Vice President, Addington's duties involved protecting the legal interests of the institution of the Vice Presidency. As Chief of Staff, he supervised the Vice President's staff. In both roles, Addington also provided advice to the White House staff. As Counsel, Addington is known for his focus on the constitutional independence of the Vice Presidency, including in the context of federal lawsuits to prevent incursions into the inner workings of the Office of the Vice President by the Government Accountability Office and private organizations.[13] After he began working for Vice President Cheney, Addington was very influential in many different areas of policy. He provided advice and drafted memoranda on many of the most controversial policies of the Bush administration.[4] Addington's influence strongly reflects his hawkish views on U.S. foreign policy, a position he had apparently already committed to as a teenager during the late phase of the Vietnam War in the early 1970s.[14] Addington testified that he applied three filters in formulating advice on the War on Terror: (i) comply with the Constitution, (ii) within the law, maximize the President's options, and (iii) ensure legal protection of military and intelligence personnel engaged in counterterrorism activities.[15]

Addington has consistently advocated that under the Constitution, the President has substantial and expansive powers as commander-in-chief during wartime.[16] He is the legal force behind over 750 signing statements that President George W. Bush issued when signing bills passed by Congress, expanding the practice relative to other Presidents.[17][18] Charlie Savage, the former national legal affairs writer for The Boston Globe who won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on signing statements, quotes former associate White House counsel Brad Berenson saying that Addington "would dive into a 200-page bill like it was a four-course meal" as he crafted the statements.[19][20]

Press reports have alleged that Addington helped to shape an August 2002 opinion from the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) that said torture might be justified in some cases,[21] although a senior official with firsthand knowledge of the matter has stated that the notion that Addington "had a hand in drafting Justice Department legal opinions in the war on terrorism" is "so erroneous as to be laughable."[22] Press reports also state that Addington reportedly took a leading role in pressing for the use of harsh interrogation methods when a delegation of top Bush administration attorneys traveled to the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in September 2002 to observe operations there,[23], although Addington has contradicted this in sworn testimony.[24] In congressional testimony, Addington has emphasized that "people out in the field, particularly the folks at the CIA, would not have engaged in their conduct and the head of the CIA would not have ordered them to engage in that conduct without knowing that the Attorney General of the United States or his authorized designee, which is what OLC is, has said this is lawful and they relied on that." [25] The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a narrative concerning the Office of Legal Counsel opinions on interrogations on April 17, 2009.[26]

Some press reports indicate that Addington advocated scaling back the authority of lawyers in the uniformed services; Addington in fact advocated merely that the civilian general counsels of the military departments be recognized as the chief legal officers of those departments.[27]

Shortly after September 26, 2002, a Gulfstream jet carrying Addington, Alberto Gonzales, John Rizzo, William Haynes II, two Justice Department lawyers, Alice S. Fisher and Patrick F. Philbin, and the Office of Legal Counsel's Jack Goldsmith flew to Camp Delta to view the facility that held enemy combatants, including Mohammed al-Kahtani, then to Charleston, South Carolina to view the facility that held enemy combatants, including Jose Padilla, and finally to Norfolk, Virginia, where they briefly viewed an enemy combatant on a videoscreen display.[28][29]

In November 2006, the German government received a complaint seeking the prosecution of Addington and 15 other current and former U.S. government officials for alleged war crimes.[30] The German Prosecutor General at the Federal Supreme Court declined to initiate proceedings on the complaint.[31]

According to Harvard Law School professor Jack Goldsmith, the head of the Office of Legal Counsel from 2003 to 2004, Addington once said that "we're one bomb away from getting rid of that obnoxious court," referring to the secret United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which oversees clandestine wiretapping. [32] Goldsmith also noted that Addington was speaking sarcastically at the time.[33] Washington Post reporter Barton Gellman writes that Addington was the author of the controlling legal and technical documents for the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program, typing the documents on a Tempest-shielded computer across from his desk in room 268 of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and storing them in a vault in his office.[34]

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell is alleged to have remarked in private, regarding who was responsible for the NSA wiretapping of U.S. citizens without a warrant: "It's Addington," and further, that "he doesn't care about the Constitution." [35] when speaking with friends at a Washington Redskins game. Jack Goldsmith has written that if Powell indeed made this remark, "he was wrong," as Addington and Cheney "seemed to care passionately about the Constitution as they understood it."[36] Further, it is alleged, at least during Cheney's term as Secretary of Defense from 1989-93, that Addington and Cheney were deeply and eagerly interested in the U.S. Continuity of Operations Plan [37] (CO-OP), to be used in the event of a nuclear attack on the U.S. (and first partially implemented after 9/11/01). This plan is alleged to provide "enduring Constitutional government" under a "paramount unitary executive" with "cooperation from" Congress and the several Courts. This deep and eager interest in the CO-OP was reported by the New Yorker[38] to extend to drills where Cheney spent his nights in a bunker, perhaps that "secure undisclosed location" which he was said to occupy following 9/11. Apparently Addington has taken this interest to the point where "For years, Addington has carried a copy of the U.S. Constitution in his pocket; taped onto the back are photocopies of extra statutes that detail the legal procedures for Presidential succession in times of national emergency..."[39] perhaps, even a national emergency that involves the CO-OP. Given that the Vice President is first in the line of succession in the event of a Presidential death, whether due to disaster or natural causes,[40], it is common for advisers to the Vice President to be familiar with such matters.

Although press reports state that Addington consistently advocated the expansion of presidential powers and the unitary executive theory, a nearly absolute deference to the executive branch from Congress and the judiciary, Addington has stated that he intends the term "unitary executive" to refer to the provision of the Constitution that vests all "executive Power" in "a President" rather than in multiple officials or Congress.[41] In a June 26, 2007 letter to Senator John Kerry, Addington asserted that by virtue of Executive Order 12958 as amended in 2003, the Office of the Vice President was exempt from oversight by the National Archives' Information Security Oversight Office for its handling of classified materials,[42] which President George W. Bush confirmed to be the correct interpretation of his revised order.[43] He had previously pushed for elimination of a presidentially-mandated position (as opposed to at the option of the Archivist) of director of the oversight office after a dispute over oversight of classified information.[44] The story was broken after the Chicago Tribune noticed an asterisk in an ISOO report "that it contained no information from OVP". Although a federal district judge initially ordered Addington to submit to a deposition in a lawsuit filed to protect Cheney's vice-presidential records from potential destruction under the provisions of the Presidential Records Act of 1978,[45] [46] the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overruled the federal district judge and held that Addington did not have to submit to the deposition.[47]

Addington, along with other officials, was mentioned by title in I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby Jr.'s indictment for five felony charges related to the Plame affair, regarding the leak of the identity of a CIA officer,[48], and he testified at the Libby trial.[49] A PBS Frontline documentary "Cheney's Law" broadcast on October 16, 2007 detailed Addington's key role in Bush administration policy making, and noted that he declined to be interviewed regarding his thoughts on the limits of executive privilege.[50]

On June 26, 2008, Addington appeared to testify under subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee along with former Justice Department attorney John Yoo in a contentious hearing on detainee treatment, interrogation methods and the extent of executive branch authority.[51][52][53]video

Spanish charges considered

In March 2009 Baltasar Garzón, a Spanish judge who has considered international war crimes charges against other high-profile figures, considered whether to allow charges made by Gonzalo Boye, a convicted MIR/ETA terrorist collaborator,[54] to be laid against Addington and five other former officials of the George W. Bush Presidency.[55] Judge Garzon did not dismiss the complaint, but instead ordered the complaint assigned by lottery to another judge, who will then decide whether to pursue the complaint or not.[56] Spanish Attorney General Candido Conde-Pumpido "strongly criticized" the proceedings, labeling them a legal "artifice."[57] Pumpido recommended against prosecution due to lack of material responsibility on the part of the American officials.[58]


The Vice Presidential records created or obtained by David S. Addington during his service as Counsel to the Vice President and Chief of Staff to the Vice President from 2001 to 2009 are preserved and maintained by the Archivist of the United States at the National Archives under the law.[59]


  1. ^ Dreyfuss, Robert (2006-04-17). "Vice Squad". The American Prospect. Retrieved 2008-06-29.  
  2. ^ Statement by the Vice President, Office of the Vice President (October 31, 2005) (announcement of Addington's appointment to be Chief of Staff to the Vice President).
  3. ^ Keith Olbermann (November 4, 2005). "Cheney's new chief of staff controversial". MSNBC.  
  4. ^ a b Chitra Ragavan (May 29, 2006). "Cheney's Guy". U.S. News and World Report.  
  5. ^ Letter from Washington: The Hidden Power: The New Yorker
  6. ^ Letter from Washington: The Hidden Power: The New Yorker
  7. ^ Statement by President Reagan, April 18, 1988 (announcement of Addington's appointment as Deputy Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs).
  8. ^ Blumenthal, Sidney (2007). "The sad decline of Michael Mukasey". Retrieved 2007-11-01.  
  9. ^ Mr. Cheney's Minority Report by Sean Wilentz, July 9, 2007, New York Times.
  10. ^ U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, Hearing on "From the Department of Justice to Guantanamo Bay: Administration Lawyers and Administration Interrogation Rules (Part III)," Serial No. 110-189, 110th Cong., 2d Sess., (June 26, 2008), p. 7.
  11. ^ Charlie Savage (2006-11-26). "Hail to the chief: Dick Cheney's mission to expand - or 'restore' - the powers of the presidency". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2008-02-26.  
  12. ^ Murray Waas; Paul Singer (October 30, 2005). "Addington's Role In Cheney's Office Draws Fresh Attention". National Journal.  
  13. ^ Walker v. Cheney, 230 F. Supp. 2d 51 (D.D.C. 2002) (GAO); Cheney v. U.S. District Court, 542 U.S. 367 (2004) and In re Cheney, 406 F.3d 723 (D.C. Cir. 2005) (Judicial Watch); In re Richard B. Cheney, Vice President, No. 08-5412 (D.C. Cir. 2008) (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington).
  14. ^ Jane Mayer, "The Hidden Power", The New Yorker, July 3, 2006.
  15. ^ U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, Hearing on "From the Department of Justice to Guantanamo Bay: Administration Lawyers and Administration Interrogation Rules (Part III)," Serial No. 110-189, 110th Cong., 2d Sess., (June 26, 2008), p. 47.
  16. ^ Dana Milbank (2004-10-11). "In Cheney's Shadow, Counsel Pushes the Conservative Cause". The Washington Post.  
  17. ^ Statement of Deputy Assistant Attorney General Michelle Boardman before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Presidential Signing Statements, (June 27, 2006)
  18. ^ Presidential Memorandum to Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies on Presidential Signing Statements, (March 9, 2009).
  19. ^ Emily Brazelon (2007-11-18). "All the President’s Powers". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-11-18.  
  20. ^ Robin Lindley (2008-01-07). "The Return of the Imperial Presidency: An Interview with Charlie Savage". History News Network. Retrieved 2008-02-13.  
  21. ^ Douglas Jehl; Tim Golden (November 2, 2005). "In Cheney's New Chief, a Bureaucratic Master". New York Times.  
  22. ^ Yoo, J., War by Other Means (New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2006), pp. 33, 169.
  23. ^ Phillipe Sands (May 2008). "The Green Light". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2008-06-16.  
  24. ^ U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, Hearing on "From the Department of Justice to Guantanamo Bay: Administration Lawyers and Administration Interrogation Rules (Part III)," Serial No. 110-189, 110th Cong., 2d Sess., (June 26, 2008), pp. 56-57.
  25. ^ U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, Hearing on "From the Department of Justice to Guantanamo Bay: Administration Lawyers and Administration Interrogation Rules (Part III)," Serial No. 110-189, 110th Cong., 2d Sess., (June 26, 2008), p. 79.
  26. ^ Letter from Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr. to Senator John. D. Rockefeller IV of the SSCI forwarding declassified narrative, (April 17, 2009).
  27. ^ Nominations Before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Second Session, 102d Congress, Committee on Armed Services (Hearing on nomination of David S. Addington to be General Counsel of the Department of Defense), (July 1, 1992), pp. 322-329.
  28. ^ Mayer, Jane, "The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals", 2008. p. 199.
  29. ^ Jack Goldsmith, The Terror Presidency: Law and Judgment Inside the Bush Administration, pp. 100-01.
  30. ^ "German War Crimes Complaint Against Donald Rumsfeld, et al.". Center for Constitutional Rights.,-et-al.. Retrieved 2008-10-03.  
  31. ^ Prosecutor General at the Federal Supreme Court, Re: Criminal Complaint against Donald Rumsfeld et al., 3 ARP 156/06-2, (April 5, 2007).
  32. ^ Jeffrey Rosen (2007-09-07). "Conscience of a Conservative". The New York Times.  
  33. ^ Goldsmith, Jack. The Terror Presidency. New York: W.W. Norton (2007), p. 181.
  34. ^ Barton Gelman (2008-09-14). "Conflict Over Spying Led White House to Brink". The Washington Post.  
  35. ^ Jane Mayer (2006-06-03). "The Hidden Power". The New Yorker. p. 1. Retrieved 2008-06-27.  
  36. ^ Goldsmith, Jack. The Terror Presidency. New York: W.W. Norton (2007), p. 88.
  37. ^ Jane Mayer (2006-06-03). "The Hidden Power". The New Yorker. p. 5. Retrieved 2008-06-27.  
  38. ^ (ibid, p.5)
  39. ^ (ibid, p. 1)
  40. ^ Twenty-Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; Presidential Succession Act, 3 U.S.C. 19)
  41. ^ U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, Hearing on "From the Department of Justice to Guantanamo Bay: Administration Lawyers and Administration Interrogation Rules (Part III)," Serial No. 110-189, 110th Cong., 2d Sess., (June 26, 2008), p. 44-45.
  42. ^ Addington and the Question of Intent, in Secrecy News, published by the Federation of American Scientists, June 28, 2007.
  43. ^ Letter from Fred F. Fielding, Counsel to the President, to Senator Sam Brownback, (July 12, 2007).
  44. ^ Michael Isikoff (2007-12-24). "Challenging Cheney". Newsweek. Retrieved 2008-02-25.  
  45. ^ "Emergency Petition for a Writ of Mandamus" (PDF). United States District Court for the District of Columbia. 2008-09-30.  
  46. ^ "Plaintiff's Opposition to Emergency Petition for a Writ of Mandamus" (PDF). United States District Court for the District of Columbia. 2008-10-01.  
  47. ^ In re Richard B. Cheney, Vice President, No. 08-5412 (D.C. Cir. 2008).
  48. ^ Daniel Klaidman; Stuart Taylor, Jr., and Evan Thomas (February 6, 2006). "Palace Revolt". Newsweek.  
  49. ^ Waas, M., ed., The United States v. I. Lewis Libby, New York: Union Square Press (2007), pp. 174-195.
  50. ^ "Cheney's Law". Public Broadcasting System. 2007-10-16. Retrieved 2007-11-07.  
  51. ^ Dan Eggen (2008-06-27). "Bush Policy Authors Defend Their Actions". The Washington Post.  
  52. ^ Scott Shane (2008-06-27). "Two Testify on Memo Spelling Out Interrogation". The New York Times.  
  53. ^ Dana Milbank (2008-06-27). "When Anonymity Fails, Be Nasty, Brutish and Short". The Washington Post.  
  54. ^ McCarthy, Andrew C., Spain's Universal Jurisdiction Power Play, National Review (March 31, 2009)
  55. ^ "Spain may decide Guantanamo probe this week". Reuters. 2009-03-28. Retrieved 2009-03-29.   mirror
  56. ^ Spanish Judge Keeps Guantanamo Probe Alive, (April 7, 2009).
  57. ^ Spain's Attorney General Opposes Prosecutions of 6 Bush Officials on Allowing Torture, April 16, 2009
  58. ^ Spain Attorney General Against Guantanamo Probe, (April 16, 2009).
  59. ^ 44 U.S.C. 2207

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby Jr.
Chief of Staff to the Vice President of the United States
Succeeded by
Ronald Klain


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