So, the Vice President exempted himself from an executive order on the handling of classified materials. To rationalize the decision, Dick Cheney and the White House want people to believe that the Vice President is not part of the executive branch of government. No one, anywhere, is buying it.
Yesterday, Cheney’s lawyers rolled out Absurd Rationalization #2.
Vice President Cheney’s office offered its first public written explanation yesterday for its refusal to comply with an executive order regulating the handling of classified material, arguing that the order makes clear that the vice president is not subject to the oversight system it creates for federal agencies.
In a letter to Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), Cheney Chief of Staff David S. Addington wrote that the order treats the vice president the same as the president and distinguishes them both from “agencies” subject to the oversight provisions of the executive order.
Addington did not cite specific language in the executive order supporting this view, and a Cheney spokeswoman could not point to such language last night.
This need not be complicated. Sec. 6.1(b) of the executive order explicitly states that it applies to any “‘Executive agency…any ‘Military department’…and any other entity within the executive branch that comes into the possession of classified information.” To exempt Cheney, the White House to argue that he a) doesn’t have access to classified information; or b) is not an entity within the executive branch. Those are the only two options.
Yesterday, Addington tried to create a new option, insisting that the E.O. had a provision that doesn’t exist. Maybe it was written in disappearing ink? Maybe you need special 3-D glasses to read these hidden provisions? Please.