He's barely known outside Washington's corridors of power, but David Addington is the most powerful man you've never heard of. Here's why:
"Angels." In recent months, the battle over executive power has pitted Addington and Cheney against Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican who spearheaded an amendment banning the use of torture or cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment of detainees. The administration wanted McCain to include presidential discretion to shield interrogators from prosecution and immunity for officials who approved acts of abuse. Cheney's office was deeply engaged in pushing the changes--and in trying to scotch the McCain legislation. "It was coming from Addington," says Horton, "time and time again."
Bush threatened to veto the McCain legislation, and Cheney personally joined the fray, urging Republican senators to exempt the CIA from the provisions. In the end, Bush's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, met with McCain to negotiate a compromise when it became clear that McCain had rolled up veto-proof majorities in the House and Senate.
The McCain amendment requires the government to set out uniform standards for detainee interrogations in an updated field manual. The manual was last revised after the 1992 Gulf War and ceased to have legal force in 2002. A new manual has not been reissued. "Addington has been the principal reason there has been no manual," Horton says. "It's his refusal to accept Geneva Conventions on any terms. We know this for a fact."
As legal scholars continue to examine the government's 9/11 policies, David Addington's singular presence looms larger than ever. What is unclear, at this juncture anyway, is how history will regard him: as a legal path setter who devised innovative means to help a president defeat an unconventional enemy or as a dangerous advocate who, in pushing the envelope legally to help prosecute the war on terrorism, set U.S. foreign policy, and America's image in the world, back by decades. Even his toughest critics in the administration say Addington believes utterly that he is acting in good faith. "He thinks he's on the side of the angels," says a former Justice Department official. "And that's what makes it so scary."
With research assistance from the U.S. News library