Dick Cheney’s Dangerous Son-In-Law

DICK CHENEY’S DANGEROUS SON-IN-LAW….Dick Cheney, as we all know, is willing to go to almost any lengths to prosecute the war on terror. But there’s one step that, for Cheney, is a bridge too far: regulation of the chemical industry, a network of absurdly vulnerable time bombs scattered across the country just waiting for the attention of an enterprising young al-Qaeda zealot.

For two years after 9/11 the point man for inaction on chemical plant security was the ultimate member of the clan of Cheney loyalists scattered throughout the Bush adminstration: his son-in-law, Philip Perry. The chemical industry loved him. But Perry left government service in 2003 to return to his lucrative private legal practice, and in 2005 New Jersey’s governor decided to regulate his state’s chemical plants himself.

This was a problem: the only way to stop New Jersey was for the federal government to preempt state law. But the only way for that to happen was for the federal government to actually pass a law. Re-enter Philip Perry, who went looking for a solution:

He would find it in a DHS appropriations bill in the Senate, to which had been attached an obscure amendment giving the DHS short-term regulatory authority over chemical security. Perry reworked the language and helped to get it added to the spending bill in a conference committee. Under the new amendment, the DHS would have nominal authority to regulate the chemical industry but also have its hands tied where required. For example, the DHS would be barred from requiring any specific security measures, and citizens would be prohibited from suing to enforce the law.

Best of all for industry, while the bill didn’t mention giving the DHS preemption authority, it didn’t bar it, either, leaving a modicum of wiggle room on the subject. In other words, if Perry was sufficiently brazen, he could claim for the DHS the power to nullify the chemical regulations in New Jersey.

He was sufficiently brazen.

Read the whole thing. The story is from Art Levine, and it’s called “Dick Cheney’s Dangerous Son-in-Law.”