WHEN GEORGE W Bush began looking for a running mate for his Republican Party ticket before the 2000 election, he chose Dick Cheney to head the selection committee. Cheney, a former Secretary of Defense in George HW Bush’s administration, and at that stage chair and chief executive of the Halliburton oil services company, approached half a dozen senior Republicans in May 2000 and persuaded them to nominate.
He then subjected them to a questionnaire that even by the standards of post-Watergate, character-obsessed American politics was extraordinarily intrusive. For a Top Secret clearance in the United States government, applicants must answer thirty questions; the Cheney form had six times as many. Security-clearance questionnaires allow people to withhold information about marital or grief counselling, but Cheney’s form sought details of any visit, for any reason, to a psychiatrist, therapist or counsellor. It sought details of any event or habit that might leave the applicant ‘vulnerable to blackmail or coercion’.
Already a subscriber? Sign in here