Henry Ain’t Buying Cheney’s Claim to Being a Fourth Branch of Government

Brian Zick

Jesse Lee at The Gavel reports: The Oversight Committee has learned that over the objections of the National Archives, Vice President Cheney exempted his office from the presidential order that establishes government-wide procedures for safeguarding classified national security information. The Vice President asserts that his office is not an “entity within the executive branch.”As described in a letter from Chairman Waxman to the Vice President, the National Archives protested the Vice President’s position in letters written in June 2006 and August 2006. When these letters were ignored, the National Archives wrote to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in January 2007 to seek a resolution of the impasse. The Vice President’s staff responded by seeking to abolish the agency within the Archives that is responsible for implementing the President’s executive order.In his letter to the Vice President, Chairman Waxman writes: “I question both the legality and wisdom of your actions. … t would appear particularly irresponsible to give an office with your history of security breaches an exemption from the safeguards that apply to all other executive branch officials.” PDF files at the link for: • Letter from National Archives to the Attorney General • Second Letter from National Archives to the Vice President’s Office • First Letter from National Archives to the Vice President’s Office • Fact Sheet on the Vice President’s Efforts to Avoid Oversight and AccountabilityFrom Waxman's letter to Cheney: Your decision to exempt your office from the President’s order is problematic because it could place national security secrets at risk. It is also hard to understand given the history of security breaches involving officials in your office. (…) I question both the legality and the wisdom of your actions. In May 2006, an official in your office pled guilty to passing classified information to individuals in the Philippines. In March 2007, your former chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, was convicted of perjury, obstruction of justice, and false statements for denying his role in disclosing the identity of a covert CIA agent. In July 2003, you reportedly instructed Mr. Libby to disclose information from a National Intelligence Estimate to Judith Miller, a former New York Times reporter. This record does not inspire confidence in how your office handles the nation’s most sensitive security information. Indeed, it would appear particularly irresponsible to give an office with your history of security breaches an exemption from the safeguards that apply to all other executive branch officials.

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