Cheney Needs A Civics Lesson

Ken AshfordBush & Co.Leave a Comment


Executive Order 12958, amended and endorsed by Bush, requires the National Archives to oversee a uniform system within the executive branch for protecting classified information.  Under that order, the Information Security Oversight Office of the National Archives is charged with the task of inspecting federal agencies and the White House with making sure that safeguards regarding classisfied information are taking place.

As part of that process, the Oversight Office knocked on the door of the Vice President’s Office, back in 2004.  They were sent away.


Because according to the Office of the Vice President, the Vice President is "not an entity with the executive branch" of government.

What a completely moronic statement.  The Vice President is only second in line to the keys to the kingdom.  What branch of government is his office in?  The legislative branch?  The judicial branch?  No!  It’s a branch unto itself, FREE AT LAST from constitutional oppression and nasty things like, oh, you know, laws.*

And if he’s NOT part of the executive branch, does this mean Cheney and his staff cannot claim executive privilege?  Ever?

The Vice President’s office’s refusal to comply with the executive order and the National Archives’s request prompted the National Archives to file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office. But the Justice Department has not followed up on the Archives’s request.

And when the Information Security Oversight Office went to the Justice Dapartment, what did Cheney do?  He tried to eliminating the agency’s existence!!

Waxman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has the details and documents.  He is urging the White House not to pursue this:

I question both the legality and the wisdom of your actions. In May 2006, an official in your office pled guilty to passing classified information to individuals in the Philippines. In March 2007, your former chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, was convicted of perjury, obstruction of justice, and false statements for denying his role in disclosing the identity of a covert CIA agent. In July 2003, you reportedly instructed Mr. Libby to disclose information from a National Intelligence Estimate to Judith Miller, a former New York Times reporter. This record does not inspire confidence in how your office handles the nation’s most sensitive security information. Indeed, it would appear particularly irresponsible to give an office with your history of security breaches an exemption from the safeguards that apply to all other executive branch officials.

This isn’t the first time Cheney and his office have tried to avoid government oversight:

  • In 2001, Vice President Cheney headed a task force to develop a national energy policy. After GAO sought to learn the identity of the energy industry officials with whom the Vice President’s task force met, Vice President Cheney sued the Comptroller General to prevent GAO from conducting oversight of his office.
  • Vice President Cheney has refused to comply with an executive branch ethics law requiring him and his employees to disclose travel paid for by special interests.
  • Every four years, Congress prints the "Plum Book," listing the names and titles of all federal political appointees. In 2004, the Office of the Vice President, for the first time, refused to provide any information for inclusion in the book.
  • The Vice President has asserted "exclusive control" over any documents created by the United States Secret Service regarding visitors to the Vice President’s residence. This has the effect of preventing information about who is meeting with the Vice President from being disclosed to the public under the Freedom of Information Act.
  • An Executive Order issued by President Bush in November 2001 provided the Vice President with the authority to conceal his activities long after he leaves office. Executive Order 13233 took the unprecedented step of authorizing former Vice Presidents to assert privilege over their own vice presidential records, preventing them from being released publicly.

Essentially, the Vice President’s Office is the black hole within which the Bush Administration itself can conduct busines without accountability and oversight.

*  While it is true that the Vice President has powers that are within the legislative branch (i.e. braking ties in the Senate), his office clearly falls within the Executive Branch, as the government itself acknowledges.