To personally circumvene

Vice-President Dick Cheney was personally responsible for American policies that subjected terrorist suspects to cruelty and denied them the right to a fair trial. [link]

Vice-President Cheney went behind the backs of the secretary of state, Colin Powell, and the national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, to deny foreign terrorist suspects access to a court.

In a private dinner with President Bush, Mr Cheney presented him with an order written by his own lawyer, David Addington, denying suspects a civilian trial or a court martial and ordering that they could be confined indefinitely without charge.

Within an hour of the meal, the document had been signed by the president, having been whisked straight to his desk on Vice-President Cheney’s orders, without being seen by senior White House staff. Miss Rice was described as “incensed” and when Mr Powell learnt of the decision from television news he snapped: “What the hell just happened?”

Mr Cheney then ordered his legal team secretly to draw up orders for intelligence agencies to intercept letters, telephone calls and electronic communications to and from America, without a warrant – something forbidden by federal law since 1978.

He personally commissioned legal opinions that would maintain a ban on torture but permit “cruel, inhuman or degrading” interrogation methods.

Mr Cheney is accused of continuing to try to bypass international law.

The revelations paint a picture of a man obsessed by secrecy and the accumulation of power.