Leave aside the gravity of the charges against David Addington. Just check out his attitude toward the elected congressmen and congresswomen in yesterday's hearings. The total contempt for democratic processes, for the most legitimate of questions in the face of proof that war crimes have been committed: it tells you a lot about the arrogance at the heart of the Cheney operation:

David Addington was there under subpoena. And he wasn't happy about it.

Could the president ever be justified in breaking the law? "I'm not going to answer a legal opinion on every imaginable set of facts any human being could think of," Addington growled. Did he consult Congress when interpreting torture laws? "That's irrelevant," he barked. Would it be legal to torture a detainee's child? "I'm not here to render legal advice to your committee," he snarled. "You do have attorneys of your own."

He had the grace of Gollum as he quarreled with his questioners.

Gollum? He's Sauron, mate. That kind of arrogance lay behind the decision to secretly authorize torture against the law, to pack the US Attorneys with partisan cronies, to out undercover agents, to spin critical WMD data to suit an already fixed policy, and to use a national crisis to force through contentious, divisive and self-defeating expansions of executive power. It's a vision of government as an elected four year despotism, answerable only to itself. Whatever else happens, we must not let this type of thinking back into the government any time soon.

(Photo: David Addington, Chief of Staff and former counsel to Vice President Dick Cheney, by Melissa Golden/Getty Images)

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to