By Peggy Mackenzie
A grassroots rally is forming to protest former Vice President Dick Cheney’s visit to West Virginia next Thursday. Cheney will address West Virginia’s political and economic elites as the keynote speaker at the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s annual business summit at The Greenbrier resort on Sept. 3.
The event is slated for Sept. 2-4 and will feature Cheney and his daughter, Liz Cheney, a former State Department assistant secretary during her father’s term in office. They will give a speech promoting a new book they wrote jointly – to be released Sept. 1- entitled: “Exceptional: Why the World Needs a Powerful America.”
“We have long aspired to have the nation’s leaders at our meeting,” said Chamber of Commerce President Steve Roberts. State Republican Party Chairman Conrad Lucas said he was excited to hear Cheney speak, particularly about energy issues and foreign policy.
Chris Regan, vice chairman of the state Democratic Party, was less enthused about Cheney’s visit, as quoted in an article by David Gutman in the Charleston Gazette.
“As the architect of America’s greatest foreign policy disaster in the last 50 years and part of the administration that brought the worst economic catastrophe since the Great Depression, I’m surprised that they [the Chamber of Commerce] would be interested to hear from him,” Regan said.
Cheney, one of the earliest and most consistent proponents of the Iraq War, is an outspoken defender of the interrogation programs carried out under his administration.
“I would do it again in a minute,” Cheney said after the Senate Intelligence Committee report was released last December, which documented sweeping use of torture by the CIA in the years after the September 11 attacks.
The Cheneys are scheduled to speak on the second day of the three-day summit. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin will speak on the first day, and a panel of all five members of West Virginia’s congressional delegation is scheduled to speak immediately before the Cheneys.
Also speaking at the event are the conservative economist Arthur Laffer, West Virginia University resident Gordon Gee, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, and the full slate of Republican leadership in the state legislature.
The protest group will meet up in front of The Greenbrier hotel entrance on Rte. 60 on Sept. 3, from noon to 2 p.m. The idea sprang from a Facebook page titled Protest Dick Cheney’s visit to West Virginia, where Cheney is referred to as “a well known war profiteer and consummate fracking polluter.”