The Vice President is arguing that his office is not in the executive branch of government? And then for him to abolish the agency that was putting pressure on him to follow the law shows that he's gone too far...
Oh, no. He'll go much farther than this.....and you know there has to be a reason for this other than his love of secrecy.
Why, in 2003, did Vice President Cheney suddenly become so dead-set against reporting how his office handled government secrets? Cheney's refusal to abide by reporting requirements that apply to everyone else in the Bush administration -- and the audacity of his excuse, that because he is also president of the Senate, his office is not really within the executive branch -- led to a bunch of unflattering front-page headlines this morning.
But let's assume there's a method to his madness. Perhaps Cheney is rejecting this oversight because he doesn't want people to know what he and his aides have been doing with classified information. Or perhaps he believes in principle that he shouldn't be subject to constraints that apply to others in the executive branch. Maybe both. I'm betting on both.
In his March 31, 2006:...Investigative reporter Murray Waas has developed a compelling case that the use and abuse of classified information has been key to the White House's success not only in contriving a bogus case for war in
Iraq, but in keeping charges of deception from becoming a major issue in the 2004 election -- and, arguably, to this day. Time and time again, in a strategy that most likely owes its existence to Cheney, the White House has selectively leaked or declassified secret intelligence findings that served its political agenda -- while aggressively asserting the need to keep secret the information that would tend to discredit it.
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Also, starting in early 2003, Bush granted Cheney broad new powers to personally classify and declassify material, as I wrote in my Feb. 17, 2006 column. Bush's move, ironically, came in the very same order that Cheney is now in part resisting.....
And let's not forget the elephant in the room. As Josh Meyer writes in the Los Angeles Times today: "According to documents released Thursday by a House committee, Cheney's staff has blocked efforts by the National
Archives' Information Security Oversight Office to enforce a key component of the presidential order: a mandatory on-site inspection of the vice president's office. At least one of those inspections would have come at a particularly delicate time -- when Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, and other aides were under criminal
investigation for their suspected roles in leaking the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame."
Finally there's the question of whether Cheney is trying to make a broader point here. The vice president, along with his longtime legal adviser David S. Addington, are widely viewed as the guiding forces behind the Bush administration's expansion of executive power, in an attempt to roll back post-Watergate limits on the presidency. Cheney is also hands-down the most powerful vice president in
history. So wouldn't it be in character for him and his top aides to maneuver to establish the vice presidency as a uniquely powerful and unconstrained force?