Addington’s Bullshit Has Been Called Already

Brian Zick

Michael Abramowitz for WaPo reports: Addington’s legal argument yesterday has previously been rejected by the director of the Archives’ Information Security Oversight Office, J. William Leonard. In a letter to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales in January, Leonard noted that the 2003 executive order includes only one explicit reference to the Office of the Vice President.“This sole explicit reference for the purpose of exempting the OVP from a provision of the Order supports an interpretation that the rest of the Order does apply,” Leonard wrote. “Otherwise there would be no need for an exemption.” Jesse Lee at The Gavel has posted a portion of text from the letter sent by William Leonard of the National Archives to Attorney General Gonzales: AnalysisConsistency in application: An interpretation that the OVP is not subject to the reporting provisions of the Order is fairly recent, in that up until 2002, the OVP did submit annual reports to this office.Plain text reading: There are several explicit references in the Order to the constitutional position of Vice President that confer specific authorities and exemptions upon the individual encumbering that position. There is but a single explicit reference to the government entity (the OVP) which serves the Vice President. This sole explicit reference for the purpose of exempting the OVP from a provision of the Order supports an interpretation that the rest of the Order does apply, to include the Order's definition of an "agency," otherwise there would be no need for an exemption.Policy Implications: If the OVP is not considered an entity within the executive branch, I am concerned that this could impede access to classified information by OVP staff, in that such access would be considered a disclosure outside the executive branch. While I recognize that OVP staff may, at times, be supporting the VIce President's performance of legislative duties, I believe that most, if not all, disclosures of classified information to OVP staff by other agencies and entities within the executive branch are regarded by those agencies as disclosures within the executive branch in that they occur in support of the Vice President's performance of executive duties.ConclusionI believe that OVP staff, when they are supporting the Vice President in the performance of executive duties, are an entity within the executive branch that comes into possession of classified information and are thus, for purposes of the Order, an agency. As such. it is entirely appropriate that security and classification activity by OVP staff in supporting the Vice President's performance of executive duties be reportable to this office in accordance with §5.2(b)(4) and 5.4(d)(8) of the Order as well as §2001.81 of the Directive. I also believe it is appropriate to affirm that all provisions of the Order apply to the staff of the OVP when they are acting in support of the Vice President's performance of executive duties. Absent such affirmation, I would recommend that the Order be revised to clarify the extent to whgich it pertains to the staff of the OVP.

Support this work

Reader donations, many as small as just $5, are what fund the work of writers like this—and keep our content free and accessible to everyone. If you support this work, will chip in to help fund it?

It only takes a minute to donate. Click here to make a tax-deductible donation.

Subscribe and Save 66%

Less than $1.67 an issue