Initially, the Vice President’s counsel had resisted making Addington available, but the lawyer agreed to come in response to a subpoena. Fiercely loyal to the Vice President, for whom he had served as a legal adviser, Addington often had been dubbed Cheney’s alter ego or Cheney’s Cheney. He was the point man in developing the legal rationale for the administration’s controversial policies after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
His fingerprints were said to be on the legal analysis that justified secret presidential actions, from eavesdropping on US citizens without court approval to sanctioning harsh treatment of detainees captured in the so-called war on terror.
Because of his reputation as a hard-driving advocate as well as his proclivity to eviscerate those who raised questions about his—and Cheney’s—expansive view of the powers of the President after 9/11, it was no surprise that Addington’s appearance provoked interest. His power-behind-the-throne image was summed up by an unnamed former White House official who described Addington to U.S. News as “the most powerful person no one has never heard of.”
Addington’s appearance before the Judiciary subcommittee was notable for another reason: He routinely eschewed the spotlight or anything else that brought scrutiny to himself. While many Washington movers and shakers covet media attention, Addington had little use for it.
His performance at the hearing reinforced his image as all too willing to use an acerbic style to make his case. Sticking it to members of Congress wasn’t exactly a selling point to prospective employers when, six months later, at the end of the Bush administration, Addington found himself looking for work.
Next: A man with a glowing resume—and lots of baggage