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Friday, June 22, 2007

Cheney reclassifies self to avoid disclosure

Vice President Dick Cheney has made a career of avoiding public scrutiny in his time in the Bush Administration. His privacy-seeking has ranged from hiding his person in "undisclosed locations" after September 11 to hiding the list of executives involved in energy policy discussions in 2002 to scrapping any efforts by the Secret Service to keep visitor records to his private residence.

Now the Vice President is claiming that he's not subject to rules governing the safeguarding of national security information because "he's not part of the executive branch." Arguing that his only constitutional role is the President of the Senate, Cheney claims that his office is exempt from the executive order requiring all executive agencies and offices to comply.

The irony is that Cheney's got an impressive history of scurrying from public scrutiny and record-keeping, all justified under the guise of "executive privilege." Here's some samples from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform:
Exempting the Office of the Vice President from the Executive Order on Classified National Security Information. Over the objections of the National Archives, Vice President Cheney exempted his office from Executive Order 12958, which establishes a uniform, government-wide system for safeguarding classified information. In response to the protests of the National Archives, the staff of the Vice President proposed abolishing the office within the Archives that is in charge of implementing the executive order.

Blocking GAO 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.

Concealing Privately-Funded Travel. 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.3

Withholding Information about Vice Presidential Staff. 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.

Concealing Information about Visitors to the Vice President’s Residence. 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.5 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.

Allowing Former Vice Presidents to Assert Privilege Over Documents. 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.
And as the latest scandal involving use of Republican National Committee email addresses for official business unfolds, it's clear that the safest thing for America is to impeach Cheney.

1 comment:

LaPopessa said...

I'm no legal scholar, but I can't even begin to see an argument in there that holds water. And Mr. president of the Senate wasn't elected as that, but as VP. His "other duties as assigned" shouldn't be a shield against enforcing congressional oversight.