9/12/2001: The Days After Cheney Became President – Part 21

The Rumsfeld Synopsis

(A serial book excerpt)

Previous installments: After Flight 93 crashes into the White House on 9/11/2001 killing President Bush as was originally planned, Dick Cheney, the Vice President, is made the leader of the country. He begins immediately to make changes.

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Rumsfeld took the news surprisingly well. His dismissal had been engineered so carefully that it came as no insult, although it was a bit embarrassing to the old man. But he knew that it was getting to be time to go out to pasture. He had worked hard enough in his life that he could now enjoy the fruits of his labor. He knew that with all the sudden changes in the world that a younger man was perhaps needed to take care of things. He guessed that Bolton had been chosen to push through any agenda Cheney wanted, something that Rumsfeld himself was getting too old to do.

He tried to let go of the politics but sometimes the politics would not let go of him and he often still showed up at Cheney’s desk, always as a welcome guest.

Cheney sat down heavy in his chair. Rumsfeld took the seat across from his desk. His mind drifted into repose. “We almost had it all. We had the whole country in our fist. Everyone was so afraid they would go along with whatever we said.” He lowered his voice, “It was almost as though 911 dropped the nation into our pocket. We were able to consolidate so much power so fast that it made even our heads spin.” He drifted off. “Now it’s lost. Had Bush not died it would have been easier. Then we could have pulled it off. No one would have dared our calls.”

Rumsfeld stood up, on hand in his pocket, the other emphasizing his words. “No one ever said this job would be easy. You want to rule the land, you have to do things carefully.”

“Every war is a lie, Dick. As Secretary of Defense you should have found that out. The Spanish American war started because William Randolph Hearst wanted a war. Suddenly the Maine blows up in Havana Harbor and we have an excuse to attack the Spanish. But, no one ever found out who or what really caused it to blow up. It could have been a mechanical incident.”

“What was the real reason for the Korean War? Was it to stave off Communist advancement? Or was it that tungsten was needed for jet aircraft engines and the mines in South Korea produced 97% of it?”

“War is an illusion. It is a game. The greatest of games. So now we have a war for oil. Nothing new. People will die. Boys who want to be hero soldiers will sign up to go and if they die or are wounded they have achieved what they wanted. That is the way that it is.”

Cheney for once was silent. He knew this to be true, but had never heard it spoken out loud before.
“Soldiers are just trained dogs, that is all they are. You take a guy, put him inside a walled camp for a couple months, control every aspect of his life, treat him like shit, cut him off from all his friends, family and relatives and you can make him crazy and angry enough to go kill anyone. Hell, we could get them convinced that Canada was a threat to us and we need to shoot everyone of them.”

“Whoever invented the game of chess knew how the game worked. There were the people in control of everything- the king and the queen. Then there were their lackeys- horsemen and rooks with enough brains and strength to get themselves into minor positions of power, but who would still lead men out into battle. Next came the bishops, the religious leaders who made the people feel that although they were given the lowest and roughest positions in life that they were still the glorious ones on the eyes of some overhead god and that there was something in this living for them; just hidden, but that would someday come to them. Then there were the multitudinous pawns- existing only to protect and provide to the pieces who stood behind them, human shields without ever realizing it. Pawns who you want to keep as dumb and ignorant as you can because they are a major part of what keeps you safe from those on the other side of the board who would like to have all that you have and will take it if you let them. And that taking could include your life.”

“What does it mean if a few more get killed or not. That is what they go in for. Anyone wanting to be a Marine wants to be a hero, even if they have to die for it. It’s beat into them. So why not use it? If they are that gung-ho then by God we’ll find some action for them somewhere. Somebody has to do it. And if they die or get hurt,” he lowers his voice at this “ then they got what they wanted- an everlasting glory.”

Cheney looked down at the ground before him. All the strength in his body could not have lifted his head at this time. “Not all of them want that…..” His voice trailed off.

Rumsfeld looked at him both surprised and humored. He half smiled through it in spite of himself. He took a moment to consider his words before he gave his answer. “Then they should be aware of what they are getting themselves into when they sign up. It ain’t no kindergarten. It is war. They aren’t being paid to play patty-cake. Those who are innocent need to toughen up. We don’t need Beetle Bailey’s over there.”

Cheney stood up and silently walked over to the window. He parted the gossamer curtain enough to get an unobstructed view out. On occasion a feeling came over him, a depression, a shutting down inwardly of all thinking and emotion that left only a strange void. Rumsfeld’s talk had triggered this in him. He liked and respected the old man, but right now the old codger made him want to puke. He knew he was right, but it still tightened a knot in his stomach.

Rumsfeld sensed his discomfort. “It is not easy medicine to take, but try doing without it. See where it gets you.”

That did it for Cheney. He wanted the old man out of his sight. He managed to keep his self restraint as he said, “Well, thank you for taking the time to come down here. I still got a few things to take care of I hate to send you out, but I really need to get to them.”

“No problem, Dick. No problem at all.” He waved his hands about in circles expressing his dislike of imposing. “I got things I need to do too.” He took his leave.

Cheney was glad to see him go. As the silence fell around him he realized that the old man had just injected him with his own special, subtle brand of revenge.


Cheney was intentionally keeping his press conferences few and far between. He did not care for the press and they, save for the Republicans who would probably support anyone up to Genghis Khan, were irritating termites eating away at the basis of his political machine as far as he was concerned. He felt that these meetings with the reporter boys were an intrusion into his life and his goals. His mind was already at work thinking of a way out of having them at all. With the present atmosphere of fear and hatred in America he just might succeed.

“Mr. President!”

“Yes, the man in the blue suit.”

“It has just been reported that Pat Tillman, a man who could have been a highly paid professional. football player who instead enlisted, was killed today on a battlefield in Afghanistan, possibly by his own men. What do you feel about that Sir?”

“Well, it is certainly a great and tragic thing when a soldier is killed in the line of duty. It is especially reprehensible when it is done by another American soldier. I will make sure that there is a full investigation into this incident and those responsible will be made to pay for it.”

“Yes, ABC News.”

“President Cheney, as a former Commander of the Armed Forces do you feel that this possible murder of one American soldier by another could be indicative of disgruntlement among the young men serving in the military under very trying conditions?”

“I am sure anyone serving overseas is undergoing some form of stress or another. Despite that there is no excuse for taking that stress out on a fellow soldier. And no, I do not feel that there is feelings of mutiny among our men in arms if that is what you are implying.”

“Do you feel that there could possibly resentment because this is not a necessary war?”

The hostility rose in Cheney’s voice and exited unchecked upon the crowd.

“Let me remind you that this IS a necessary war! We are fighting those insurgents who brought down the largest skyscrapers in the United States. We were attacked on American soil. Anyone serving in Iraq or Afghanistan is doing his country a great service. To suggest they aren’t is treasonous.”

“Sir, would you have served in these countries? The record shows that you avoided the draft.”
The rage ran through Cheney’s brain like a cannon shot.

“I have served my country in other ways! I served as The Secretary of Defense during the first Gulf War.”

“Mr. Cheney, you were a Secretary of Defense who himself has never worn the uniform of this countries soldiers. In fact, Sir, records say you successfully dodged the draft five times.”

“Do not lecture to me about what is proper and what is not! I don’t see any of you wearing uniforms! Someone has to be the one who calls the shots and I have chosen to be the one. I would like to see the lot of you get up here and decide what is best for a country of 350 million every day.” An electric silence followed. Cheney glowered at the reporters, his eyes black coals beneath a furrowed, violent brow.

“I believe that will be enough for this press conference for today, gentlemen.” he growled. “You may all leave now.”

There were many there who still had pressing questions to ask, but none did. They knew his famous temper and that it would do no good to continue on. They left quietly, a few daring to mutter between themselves.

Cheney exited the stage after it was certain they had all risen and were headed out.

Backstage he lost all semblance of his social mask that he wore Presidentially for the public.   “Wilson! Get me the name and some information on those two busybodies in the audience. I want to know who they are and some people to contact over them. They are never to be allowed into a press conference of mine again. Or anyone else’s for that matter!”

“Yes Sir. I’ll start working on that!”

“That is good. The more and quicker the better.”

To his assistant. “The gall of these jackasses! You invite them in and they spit in your face. These meetings with reporters is going to go through a few changes. The President of the United States doesn’t have to suffer assholes like that! Let them take their freedom of the press crap and hang themselves with it!”

He was out the door and into his limo in record time.


Back in the Lair, Cheney poured himself a Scotch and leaned back into his custom built easy chair, tilted it to the proper angle, then hit the massage button. The chair was his best friend in the lonely hide away, one that no one saw save him. Not even a cleaning woman was allowed in. No secretary, no General, no adviser had ever set foot inside, save a few technicians who serviced his apparatuses, of which there were plenty. This was still his favorite place to go. The White House still did not feel comfortable to him. This was home and where he could truly relax.

He hit the button for his MP3 player, soon mellow 50’s instrumentals added a soothing background to his world. He needed it. Nothing galled him so much as the damned nosy reporters. He could tell after the first three words out of their mouths if they were liberals. This was going to change now that he was President. He had seen what they did to Nixon while he was in his Cabinet. They tore at him from every direction possible. He would never be the fool that Nixon had been. He was already better than Tricky Dicky at behind the scenes dealing at the time he was there, and that was saying something. Had he sent a team out to scour someones office he would have made damn sure that they didn’t get caught.

Soon the alcohol, the subtle fingers of the chair and the music made their effect and he relaxed into that state of repose he needed more often now that he was the head honcho. The incident with the reporters was still with him, but he was more detached now, able to look at it with some distance. His mind drifted back to his days at the University in Madison Wisconsin. Madison was the Berkeley of the Midwest at that time. A lot of the kids there were like these reporters; know-it-all assholes, candy asses with long hair who had about as much practical value as a stick. Protesting, wearing outrageous clothes and living like cockroaches in their squalid apartments and homes. Back then he could blow them off, ignore them, but in this job he had them in his face. It was intolerable. Here he was, the leader of the most powerful nation on earth, and he was expected to put up with this sort of crap. He could image what Hussein or Putin would do. They would have the luxury of having them offed or at least disappear. That was something he could not do. But he would find someway of countering these insults to his prestige. An American way.

Cheney reached over, grabbed the phone and put a call through to Benny. “Sam, I want you to run this through the boys- for every fucking liberal newspaper baboon in the audience, I want a right wing plant who will go along with whatever I say and, even better, put up an argument with these snot nosed newspaper people who seem out to embarrass me every chance they get. Make sure they are smart and look smart. Get me some college boys in poly sci. Offer them some help with their tuition. Get them before my next big speech please. Run them by Rove and have him sharpen them up. Thanks Benny, I’m counting on you.”

Cheney hung the phone up slowly. That was already making him feel much, much better.


Bolton always wore a serious face. Today it was more serious than usual.

“Good day John. What is up?”

The voice came out of that face stitched with seriousness.

“The Red Chinese are going to move in on Taiwan.”

“Good God!”

“Yes! They must think the time is right. They must believe that we will not do anything.”

Cheney sat down. “Great, just great! As though there isn’t enough shit flying already!” he mused. “

Bolton spoke the thoughts before he himself thought them, “We’ve got two wars, civil unrest and a negative perspective to the rest of the world. We are in debt to them and are their largest consumer. They know damn well that they have us. We cannot afford another conflict.”

Cheney sighed and looked at his palms. “We are going to have to let them take Taiwan. We can’t afford to start a battle with them too. Taiwan doesn’t send us doodlely squat anymore. The Reds send us almost more than the rest of the world combined.”

“I think that is our only option.” Bolton concurred.” It won’t be a big loss to us financially, but we will be vilified by the Taiwanese both there and here. The rest of the world won’t think much of us either.”

Cheney tapped a pen on the desk. “We can’t be the world’s policeman. They are on their own.”

Bolton went on. “We need to be ready for repercussions. The battle will be quick and bloody. The Free Chinese are not going to give up without a fight. There will be a lot of carnage. But the Reds aren’t going to want to damage their prize too much. They will hit them hard and heavy in the beginning, then pause and give them time to reconsider. A greater problem might be for us here at home. With a good sized mixture of Chinese embedded in our population, there is every chance of major clashes between them. We could have a lot of unrest on our hands.”

Cheney thought for a moment. “What percent of our population is oriental?”

Bolton stopped for a moment and contemplated. “I think it is about 4 or 5%.”

“And a smaller proportion of that is Chinese.”

“That is correct.”

“I don’t think I am going to worry about a fraction of a percent busting each others heads in.”

Bolton just nodded in understanding.

“Most of these people are out on the West Coast, aren’t they?”

“Yes, most came over and settled there.”

“John, the West Coast is a long ways away. I don’t think I am going to lose any sleep over it.”

He paused in thought for a moment. “So the Commies are going to take the island back. “ He paused again. “They won’t want to stop there.”


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The complete book of 9/12/2001 is available from lulu.com under that exact title for $10.00 plus shipping. Now available as an e-book on lulu as well.

Roger Freed