The List

Dick Cheney's 'head-exploding' memoir: 6 revelations

The man who was arguably the most powerful vice president in U.S. history shakes up Washington with a pugnacious, unapologetic look back

Former Vice President Dick Cheney is about to unveil his long-anticipated autobiography, In My Time, a blunt assessment of his eight years as George W. Bush's second-in-command. Cheney, who predicts the book will have "heads exploding all over Washington," offered a few advance details to NBC in a Dateline interview set to air next week, timed to the book's release. In the meantime, here are six of the most compelling revelations:

1. Cheney wanted to bomb Syria in 2007
The former vice president's tale of how he urged Bush to bomb a suspected Syrian nuclear reactor site in June 2007 is "remarkable," says James Joyner at Outside the Beltway. Cheney says Bush was still stinging from bad intelligence on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Bush asked, "'Does anyone here agree with the vice president?' Not a single hand went up around the room," Cheney tells NBC. Bush rejected Cheney's advice. Israel bombed the site a few months later.

2. He kept a resignation letter locked in a safe
One of the memoir's biggest bombshells, says Adam Gabbatt at Britain's Guardian, is that Cheney, among history's most powerful vice presidents, was "never more than an envelope away from quitting." He wrote a resignation letter, dated March 28, 2001, and kept it in a safe. Cheney has a history of heart trouble, and he instructed aides to deliver the letter to Bush if he was incapacitated by a heart attack or stroke. The often controversial Cheney actually offered to resign so he wouldn't be a liability in Bush's 2004 reelection bid, but Bush urged him to stick around.

3. The Bush camp was furious at Gore on election night
"Who retracts a concession?" Cheney writes, according to Politico, referring to Al Gore's back-and-forth on election night 2000. Cheney says that, when he worked with Gerald Ford's re-election team in the tight 1976 race against Jimmy Carter, "we had decided to sleep on it" before deciding whether to concede. If the Gore campaign had been a "professional" operation, he writes, "they would have realized how close the vote was and wouldn't have conceded in the first place. But to concede and then take it back was amateur hour."

4. Cheney wasn't always a fan of Condoleezza Rice
Cheney bluntly discusses several conflicts within the Bush administration. At one point, he considered Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice naive for thinking she could forge a nuclear weapons agreement with North Korea by making concessions to the country's volatile leader, Kim Jong Il. And Rice wasn't the only secretary of state with whom Cheney clashed: He tried to get Colin Powell booted from the Cabinet after the 2004 election for expressing doubts about the Iraq war to White House outsiders. 

5. He still believes in waterboarding
Cheney makes no apologies for the Bush administration's most controversial policies, including the waterboarding of suspected terrorists, says Tim Mak at Politico. Cheney calls the technique nothing more than a tool for "tough interrogations" — not torture. He says he's happy that President Obama didn't close the Guantanamo Bay prison for terror suspects, and that waterboarding still could prove useful today. "I would strongly support using it again," Cheney says, "if we had a high value detainee and that was the only way we could get him to talk."

6. Cheney dreams of the simple life
In the epilogue, Cheney writes that he was unconscious for weeks after his 2010 heart surgery, and had a vivid, extended dream of living in an Italian villa, "pacing the stone paths to get coffee and newspapers."

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