By Jessica Loomes
Based on the historic Vice Presidency of Dick Cheney, the comedic film Vice follows the details of the power-hungry politicians rise to the Oval Office. During the 2000 presidential election, Republican and CEO of Halliburton Co, Dick Cheney, was approached by George W. Bush to be his running mate. Cheney’s resume includes some of the most prestigious positions in the White House, including Chief of Staff, House Minority Whip and Defence Secretary. When Bush wins the election, Cheney begins to use his power to reshape the ideas that rule the country and redefines how much power the president holds.
The controversial biopic is the leader going into this year’s Golden Globes, receiving over 6 Academy Nominations. The film is running for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress. The plot covers the civilian plane shootdown order during the 9-11 attacks and the pushing of the Iraq War, as well as Cheney’s intentions to justify torture.
When Cheney is officially declared Vice president, he carries out his plan for the White House: total oversight, including getting all intelligence briefings before Bush. Cheney’s work revolved around securing tax breaks for the wealthy and halting all environmental efforts. One of the most concerning points made by the film is Chenneys support for the Unitary Consecutive Theory. The theory is based on Article Two of the United States Constitution, which vests “the executive power” of the United States in the President — essentially stating that the president has the power to control the entire executive branch.
The film stands as a reminder for the horrific “Torture Memos” constructed by John Yoo during Bush’s early administration. The memos were written as requested by the CIA, who sought authority to conduct more aggressive interrogations that bordered on torture. This was prior to the terrorist attacks in 2001. They are represented in the film as strongly supported by Cheney – who was the one who approached Yoo in the film.
In more than 131 pages, John Yoo (a Korean American attorney and Bush Administration official), redefined the nature of torture. The memos made it a requirement to have medical monitoring of EITs during interrogations but failed to explain how they would provide a way to detect evidence of medical torture.
The defence against criminal liability stated that interrogators would not exceed severe physical or mental thresholds for torture, and even if they did, it would not be classified as torture unless these harms were the exact objectives of interrogators. Director Adam Mckay made Yoo’s stance clear in the film; if the US commits any act, it cannot be torture. Therefore, with the use of Yoo’s memos, the US continued with activities of torture “outside of its borders” in places such as Guantanamo Bay. Concerningly, these memos still reside within the government’s archives as official and approved documents.
Intelligence points to Al Qaeda (in Afghanistan) are responsible for the 9-11 attacks. Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney see this as an opportunity to bring up Saddam Hussein in Iraq. The film hints at Dick Cheney’s ties to the oil company ‘Halliburton’ and Iraq’s rich oil fields as an incentive for Cheney to push this narrative. He falsely claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and ties to Al Qaeda.
The link between Al Qaeda and Iraq is thrust upon Americans in a speech made by Colin Powell. The Iraq war is justified based off of a loose assumption that because Iraqi enemy, Zarqawi, had a meeting with Bin Laden, that this meeting confirmed Iraqis participation in the 9-11 terrorist attacks. A far reach for Bush and his administration. However, the film makes it clear that during the war, Cheney and Halliburton get sizable contracts for oil. Notably, Zarqawi, who has gained power because of the US making him a major celebrity, starts ISIS.
The film concludes with a chilling interview with Dick Cheney, questioning him on his practices, but he shows no remorse and claims he did what needed to be done in order to protect the American people. During the films ending credits; the film raises important points that Halliburton stock had risen to 500% during the Bush Administration and the Bush-Cheney White House claimed to have lost over 22 million official emails.