Dick Cheney's secret resignation letter

We got our hands on it, or a reasonable facsimile

By Alex Pareene

Published August 25, 2011 12:30PM (EDT)

Former Vice President Dick Cheney reveals in his new memoir that in March of 2001, he wrote a secret letter of resignation, to be used in the event that he was unable to fulfill his duties. He wrote the letter, he tells NBC, because "there is no mechanism for getting rid of a vice president who can’t function," and Cheney had a history of heart attacks. He locked the letter in a safe, and told only the president and one trusted aide about its existence. No one has ever seen the letter -- until now.

Salon.com's War Room Secret Vice Presidential Correspondence Recovery Team tracked down the letter by following an elaborate series of clues Cheney placed around Washington, D.C. We reveal the contents of Cheney's secret letter of resignation below:

The Office of the Vice President
March 15, 2001

Dear Mr. President:

If you're reading this, it means one of the following things has happened:

  • I've had a debilitating heart attack and am unable to function.
  • I'm on the lam, likely somewhere in South America, because they finally found out about the incident in 1973.
  • I became irradiated at a secret energy task force meeting and have grown to 10 times my original size, losing, in the process, my very humanity.
  • I went to Mexico with Lynne and "pulled a William S. Burroughs."
  • I'm locked in my man-size safe.

And so I voluntarily and of my own accord hereby tender my resignation from the Office of the Vice President of the United States, effective immediately ... on the following conditions:

  • Check the man-size safe.
  • Don't you dare replace me with that sonuvabitch Hagel.
  • In fact, just replace me with David Addington.

There's nothing I regret more than leaving you, Mr. President, without the sage counsel of your trusted vice president, besides the 1973 thing, but America must move forward in what I am assuming is a time of great national grief at my untimely departure from office. I know you'll do fine in my absence, but there are some things you should know.

The key to the Resolute Desk's top-right drawer is in the kitchen behind Barney's food. Torture is legal. If America is attacked by terrorists, Saddam Hussein is responsible. Pat Leahy can go fuck himself. Colin Powell is wrong about whatever he just advised you to do. So is Condi, probably. And Ashcroft, unless he was talking about porn or something. There's nothing the American government can do that the private sector -- specifically the Halliburton portion of the private sector -- can't do better and more efficiently. If you really really want to wiretap someone you probably don't need a warrant. If you ever get stuck writing a state of the union, just say something about a manned mission to Mars. Make sure the Justice Department is only hiring and retaining good conservative U.S. attorneys. Don't try to use the coffee machine in the Cabinet Room. It doesn't work right and also you're the president, you shouldn't be making your own coffee.

I think that about sums up all the possible advice I would've given you had I remained capable of fulfilling my duties for the entirety of your time in office. (Did I mention that torture is legal?)

One last, personal note: There's no doubt in my mind that you'll be remembered as one of the best, most effective presidents America's ever known, but just in case it looks like there is some doubt of that, try to make sure everything is as fucked up as possible on your way out of office. The American people, in their infinite wisdom, will pretty much forget it was your fault within six months of the next poor bastard taking over.


Richard Cheney

P.S. If you find the time, have someone shoot Harry Whittington in the face. He knows what he did.

Alex Pareene

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at apareene@salon.com and follow him on Twitter @pareene

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