Is Washington ready for Dick Cheney's explosive memoir?

Cheney dishes on his health, the Sept. 11 attacks, a secret resignation letter, and the mistakes of George Tenet, Colin Powell, and Condoleezza Rice.

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    Dick Cheney himself promises that there will be “heads exploding all over Washington,” when his memoir hits stores next Tuesday.
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This is no sweet-talking, people-pleasing, fence-mending, post-White House memoir.

Come on, this is Dick Cheney we’re talking about.

Like the man himself, “In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir,” pulls no punches. Cheney himself promised there would be “heads exploding all over Washington,” when his new book hits stores next Tuesday, August 30.

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The 46th vice president, one of the few VPs who inspires so much controversy, has plenty of contentious material to write about and he doesn’t hold back.

His memoir deals with his health, the Sept. 11 attacks, a secret resignation letter, and his thoughts on several stakeholders in the Bush administration.

Among the revelations is that Cheney, who suffered four heart attacks before becoming vice president, had prepared a secret resignation letter, locked away in a safe, that only Bush and a staffer knew about.

“I did it because I was concerned that – for a couple of reasons,’’ he said in an interview on NBC’s “Today Show.” “One was my own health situation. The possibility that I might have a heart attack or a stroke that would be incapacitating. And there is no mechanism for getting rid of a vice president who can’t function.’’

And he didn’t have kind words for at least three of his colleagues: George Tenet, Colin Powell, and Condoleezza Rice.

In the book, Cheney argues former Secretary of State Rice was naïve for trying to reach a nuclear weapons agreement with North Korea and that the concessions she delivered to Kim Jong Il were wrong. He called her advice on the issue “utterly misleading.”

In the book, Cheney was also extremely critical of anyone who stood in the way of the president’s Iraq war plan, which he still says was the right decision. He chided Rice for clashing with White House advisors on the tone of the president’s speeches on Iraq. And he attacked former Secretary of State Powell for expressing doubts about the war, a move he said undermined the president. After the 2004 election, Cheney wrote, he saw to it that Powell was removed from the cabinet.

In contrast, Cheney praises the president as “in charge, strong, and resolute,” though he also notes several times when they butted heads, as when Cheney urged Bush to bomb Syria over a possible Syrian nuclear reactor. Bush instead applied diplomatic pressure.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Cheney is unapologetic in the memoir about several of the most controversial policies of the Bush administration. He stood by the use of waterboarding as merely “tough negotiations.”

“I would strongly support using it again if we had a high value detainee and that was the only way we could get him to talk,’’ he said.

Cheney’s book hits bookstores next week on Tuesday. Half of Washington, we imagine, is holding its breath.

According to Politico, a source close to Cheney told the Drudge Report, “This is not an apology tour. It’s the book of a proud conservative. He’s not looking to kiss and make up with the New York Times set, or for that matter, some of his former Bush administration colleagues.”

We don’t doubt the exploding heads.

Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.

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