Bush Now Exempts Himself and Cheney from Executive Order Everyone Else Must Obey

Brian Zick

Josh Meyer for the LA Times reports: The White House said Friday that, like Vice President Dick Cheney's office, President Bush's office is not allowing an independent federal watchdog to oversee its handling of classified national security information.An executive order that Bush issued in March 2003 — amending an existing order — requires all government agencies that are part of the executive branch to submit to oversight. Although it doesn't specifically say so, Bush's order was not meant to apply to the vice president's office or the president's office, a White House spokesman said. (…) As a result, the National Archives has been unable to review how much information the president's and vice president's offices are classifying and declassifying. And the security oversight office cannot inspect the president and vice president's executive offices to determine whether safeguards are in place to protect the classified information they handle and to properly declassify information when required.Those two offices have access to the most highly classified information, including intelligence on terrorists and unfriendly foreign countries.Waxman and J. William Leonard, director of the Information Security Oversight Office, have argued that the order clearly applies to all executive branch agencies, including the offices of the vice president and the president. (…) "If the president and the vice president don't take their own rules seriously, who else should?" said Tom Blanton, director of the National Security Archive, a nongovernmental research institute at George Washington University in Washington that lobbies for open government."If they get a blank check, it's a recipe for disaster. I can't think of a quicker way to break down the credibility of the entire security-classification system."Blanton noted that the White House had acknowledged that a substantial number of in-house e-mails had disappeared in recent years, at a time when investigators wanted to review them for possible evidence of inappropriate leaks of classified information."If there are all these great safeguards in place, then where are the e-mails?" Blanton asked. via Think Progress.

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