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In Cheney’s Shadow

In response to:

Cheney: The Fatal Touch from the October 5, 2006 issue

To the Editors:

In “Cheney: The Fatal Touch” [NYR, October 5] Joan Didion wrongly names David S. Addington as the author of the “minority views” section of the 1987 Report of the Congressional Committees Investigating the Iran-Contra Affair. The report was written for Cheney by Michael Malbin, a political scientist whom Cheney had appointed to the Iran-contra committee staff. (Addington was not on the staff.) Malbin and Cheney had long known each other; Malbin later assisted Cheney on an essay, “Congressional Overreaching in Foreign Policy,” for an American Enterprise Institute conference. Malbin himself earlier this year confirmed for me that he was the minority report’s author.

Paul Starobin

Staff correspondent, National Journal

Contributing editor, Atlantic Monthly

Washington, D.C.

Joan Didion replies:

I appreciate the correction offered by Mr. Starobin. Michael J. Malbin is listed on page 432 of the 1987 Report of the Congressional Committees Investigating the Iran-Contra Affair as “Minority Editor/Writer,” which would seem to confirm that he was the author of record. It is incorrect to say, however, that David S. Addington was not on the staff. The same page of the report confirms that he was on the staff, one of six associates representing minority members of the House select committee, on which the ranking Republican was Cheney. Cheney was also the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, for which Addington had been a lawyer since 1984.

It was during this period, according to both Dana Milbank (“In Cheney’s Shadow, Counsel Pushes the Conservative Cause,” The Washington Post, October 11, 2004) and David Ignatius (“Cheney’s Cheney,” The Washington Post, January 6, 2006), that the relationship between Addington and Cheney formed. According to Jane Mayer in The New Yorker (“The Hidden Power,” July 3, 2006), Addington, “who had become an expert in intelligence law,” did contribute to the minority report.

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