What drives Addington is a belief that the president’s wartime powers are, essentially, unfettered, argues Rep. Jane Harman, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee who has attended highly classified briefings with him on detention and surveillance issues. “He believes that in time of war, there is total authority for the president to waive any rules to carry out his objectives. Those views have extremely dangerous implications.” Harman’s efforts to negotiate compromises with Addington on interrogation issues were rebuffed, she says, by his insistence that “it’s dangerous to tie the president’s hands in any way.”
Friends and former colleagues describe Addington as a man who thrives on his invisibility. He lives in a modest house in Northern Virginia, takes the subway to work, and shuns the parties and perks of office. He usually has the same simple meal every day — a bowl of gazpacho soup. Though born in Washington, he styles himself as a “rugged Montana man” in the image of his boss, and he has a photo in his office of Cheney shooting a gun.
Addington’s role has been the hard man — the ideological enforcer. Most mornings during the first term, he would join the staff meeting in the White House counsel’s office — and take potshots at anyone he regarded as insufficiently committed to the president’s agenda. “It was very surprising if anyone took a position more conservative than David, and this was a very conservative office,” recalls one former colleague. “He was the hardest of the hard-core.”