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Summary Article: Cheney, Dick from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

US Republican politician, vice-president 2001–09. He was the youngest-ever chief of staff 1975–77 under President Gerald Ford, a member of Congress 1979–89, and defense secretary 1989–93 under President George H W Bush. He was selected in 2000 as the running-mate of Bush's son, George W Bush, to bring experience in federal matters and foreign policy to the electoral ticket. He became a powerful, ‘hands-on’ vice-president, taking an active role in cabinet meetings and policy formation, extending beyond defence matters to tax and environmental policy. After the September 11th al-Qaeda attacks on the USA in 2001, he played a key role in developing and coordinating the war on terror response. He was a strong supporter of the US-led war against Iraq which began in 2003 after he had made many public statements alleging that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Despite the failure to find WMD and the disorder and insurgency that followed the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, Cheney remained a steadfast supporter of the intervention and of strict treatment of suspected terrorists.

A right-wing ‘Reagan conservative’ with personal ties to the Bush family, Cheney had a congressional record of support for large tax cuts, school prayer, the Strategic Defense Initiative, and military funding of the Contras in Nicaragua. He voted against the Equal Rights Amendment, a seven-day waiting period for handgun purchases, federally funded abortions, and sanctions against South Africa's apartheid government. During his period as defense secretary, he oversaw a 25% reduction in the number of military personnel, an invasion of Panama (‘Operation Just Cause’, in 1989) to overthrow General Manuel Noriega, and he helped put together the international military coalition, ‘Operation Desert Storm’, against Iraqi president Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War of 1991.

Born in Lincoln, Nebraska, into a Methodist family, Cheney moved with his family at an early age to Wyoming. He dropped out of Yale University during his second year, but, after working two years on power lines in the Midwest, graduated in 1966 in political science from the University of Wyoming. From 1969 he held junior posts in the Nixon and Ford administrations. Between 1995 and 2000 he was chief executive officer of Halliburton Co., a Texas-based construction and engineering company that services the oil industry.

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