Dick Cheney | WAMC

Dick Cheney

Even now, after more than fifteen years, it is hard to see the invasion of Iraq through the cool, considered gaze of history. Most of the major players in that decision are still with us, and few are not haunted by it.

New York Times contributor and author Robert Draper talked to most of the key officials involved to revisit their roles, among them Powell, Armitage, Rice, Wolfowitz, Feith, Tenet, Bremer, Fleischer; he interviewed dozens who worked in the Departments of State, Defense, the National Security Council and the intelligence community, as well reporters who fumbled or challenged the story at the time.

The result is his new book, "To Start a War: How the Bush Administration Took America Into Iraq," is a psychologically complex and page-turning account: it includes a set of obsessed actors who gamed the process relentlessly as well as a group of patriotic men and women who, in the wake of the nightmare of 9/11, pursued that most elusive of dreams: finding peace through war.

What do Dick Cheney and Rahm Emanuel have in common? Aside from polarizing personalities, both served as chief of staff to the president of the United States -- as did Donald Rumsfeld, Leon Panetta, and a relative handful of others. The chiefs of staff, often referred to as "the gatekeepers," wield tremendous power in Washington and beyond; they decide who is allowed to see the president, negotiate with Congress to push POTUS's agenda, and -- most crucially -- enjoy unparalleled access to the leader of the free world. Each chief can make or break an administration, and each president reveals himself by the chief he picks. 

Through extensive, intimate interviews with all seventeen living chiefs and two former presidents, award-winning journalist and producer Chris Whipple pulls back the curtain on this unique fraternity in his book, The Gatekeepers.

John Nixon, the former CIA analyst who conducted the first prolonged interrogation of Saddam Hussein after his capture by U.S. forces, speaks publicly for the first time about this historic episode in his new book: Debriefing the President: The Interrogation Of Saddam Hussein.

Nixon offers not only an intimate and personal portrait of the Iraqi dictator, but new revelations about what he learned from Saddam and in his subsequent briefings of President George W. Bush and top administration officials—including Vice President Dick Cheney, CIA Director George Tenet, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. 

Nixon also provides fresh, deeply informed perspectives on why U.S. policies in Iraq and the broader Middle East have failed so badly, and why the CIA and other parts of our intelligence establishment urgently require major reform. 

WAMC's Dr. Alan Chartock discusses the 2015 federal spending bill, Cuba's liberalization, and Former Vice President Dick Cheney on the newly released torture report.

    In Days Of Fire: Bush And Cheney In The White House, Peter Baker, Chief White House Correspondent for The New York Times, takes us on a gripping and intimate journey through the eight years of the Bush and Cheney administration in a tour-de-force narrative of a dramatic and controversial presidency.