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Thursday, June 21, 2007
By Steven L. Taylor

Via The Blotter: Cheney Power Grab: Says White House Rules Don’t Apply to Him

Vice President Dick Cheney has asserted his office is not a part of the executive branch of the U.S. government, and therefore not bound by a presidential order governing the protection of classified information by government agencies, according to a new letter from Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., to Cheney.

Bill Leonard, head of the government’s Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO), told Waxman’s staff that Cheney’s office has refused to provide his staff with details regarding classified documents or submit to a routine inspection as required by presidential order, according to Waxman.

[...]

For the first two years of the George W. Bush administration, Cheney’s office complied with a presidential order that requires officials to report statistics on the number of documents it classifies and declassifies.

Since 2003, however, Cheney’s office has refused to submit the data to ISOO. And when ISOO inspectors tried in 2004 to schedule a routine inspection of the vice president’s offices, they were rebuffed, Waxman’s letter claims.

Other White House offices, including the National Security Council, did not object to similar inspections, according to Waxman.

The assertion that the veep’s office is not part of the executive branch is perhaps the most absurd thing that I have heard in some time. Yes, the VP has some legislative duties, but the notion that that office is not part of the executive branch is insane. One would allow that the first mention of the Vice President in the Constitution is in regards to the veep’s role as president of the Senate, however, the obvious raison d’être for the office is to be, for lack of a more elegant description, back-up equipment for the chief executive office.

Further, Cheney asserted executive privilege when seeking not to share information about his meetings of his Energy Task Force with the Congress. I guess now that the VP’s office is part of the legislative branch by its own assertion, it will be turning those records over to the leadership of the Senate forthwith.

Here is a link of a PDF of the letter from the Director of the Information Security Oversight Office, J. William Leonard to the AG asking for an opinion on the legal status of the VP’s office in regards to the President’s order that reports about the classification/declassification of documents.

This is utterly amazing.

It would seem that based on the VP’s position on the Energy Task Force and now on this matter, that the Vice President’s Office is accountable to no one because when the legislative branch demands information it can assert executive privilege and when the executive branch demands compliance, it can assert that it isn’t an entity in the executive branch.

That’s just peachy.

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15 Responses to “The Office of the Vice President Does not Consider itself an “entity within the executive branch””

  1. Cheney says, I’m my own Branch « Exposing The Neo-Right Says:

    [...] Other Bloggers:Balloon Juice, Threat Level, Thought Theater, Sisyphus Shrugged, Blast Off!, Liberty Street, Secrecy News, Shakesville, The Mahablog, War and Piece, Donklephant, All Spin Zone, On Deadline, Obsidian Wings, Macsmind, Cliff Schecter, Salon, Hullabaloo, The Moderate Voice and The American Street, Scholars and Rogues, The Democratic Daily, PoliBlog (TM), The Agonist, Truthdig, AMERICAblog and TIME: Swampland, A Spork in the Drawer, Associated Press, Crooks and Liars, Think Progress, The Carpetbagger Report, Washington Monthly, Democratic Underground …, SteveAudio and The Huffington Post, Balkinization and Done With Mirrors [...]

  2. Ratoe Says:

    This is utterly amazing.

    This seems to be par for the course–It seems to be further evidence of Bush and his cronies’ complete contempt for the Constitution and the rule of law.

    This case is especially troubling given the fact that national security is at stake. The Information Security Oversight Office is in charge of making sure that classified information is properly protected. Cheney is essentially admitting that this information is compromised.

    This seems like a pretty clear cause for demanding his resignation.

  3. B. Minich Says:

    Wow . . . that’s a new understanding civics. Was the Constitution amended, and I wasn’t notified?

    Seriously, this is ridiculous. Can we please get rid of Cheney? Please?

  4. Don Dukeman Says:

    Why do our elected officials continually put up with Cheney and Bush’s contempt. When things start to go wrong with our pesent administration they point the finger at the presious administration. It seems as though there has been enough to get the Bush Administration impeached and brought up on criminal charges. This includes Bush, Cheney, Rove and teh rest of the moron’s running this country. I will admit that most of the politicial go to Washington honest and it doesn’t take long for them to fall right in with the rest of the crooks.
    Does the draft dodging Cheney have that much to hide? We are having our soldiers slaughtered in Iraq for oil. War was declared by an administration ran by individuals that did everything to avoid there service to this country. Let Cheney send his lesbian kid to Iraq and the Bush twins can also go along for the ride.

  5. Outside The Beltway | OTB Says:

    Cheney Claims He’s Not Part of Executive Branch

    Yesterday afternoon, Justin Rood broke the strange story of Dick Cheney’s claim of Vice Presidential immunity from executive orders.
    Vice President Dick Cheney has asserted his office is not a part of the executive branch of the U.S. government, …

  6. Steve Plunk Says:

    It seems this requirement is not constitutionally required or statutorial required but a presidential directive. Given that, I would then assume it is the President’s perogative to enforce it. If he chooses not to then I hardly see it as an afront to our democracy and constitution.

    Previous comments refer to violations of the constitution and vitriol concerning Cheney’s daughter. Come on, put some thought into it and come up with some good ideas, not the old tired nonsense.

    The first clue to this being blown out of proportion is the source, Henry Waxman. It’s Waxman’s claim about the Vice President not being part of the executive branch.

    We also see that the Director of the Information Security Oversight Office is still seeking legal advice. Until this is worked through I would withhold such extreme criticism.

  7. White House Backs Cheney: Defends Veep On Secrets Exemption » The Moderate Voice Says:

    [...] I guess what we have here is something historians call a “Constitutional Mexican toss up” which will be decided by the courts long after the deaths of the parties involved. –Political scientist Dr. Steven Taylor: The assertion that the veep’s office is not part of the executive branch is perhaps the most absurd thing that I have heard in some time. Yes, the VP has some legislative duties, but the notion that that office is not part of the executive branch is insane. One would allow that the first mention of the Vice President in the Constitution is in regards to the veep’s role as president of the Senate, however, the obvious raison d’être for the office is to be, for lack of a more elegant description, back-up equipment for the chief executive office. [...]

  8. The Lord Of Darkness Says:

    [...] Other bloggers weigh in — courtesy, in part, to MemeOrandum’s blog roundup (thanks to MemeOrandum for selecting this as a Featured Post, by the way): The Carpetbagger Report; Liberal Values; The Newshoggers; The Gavel; Think Progress; The Impolitic; CREW; The Left Coaster; Drudge Retort; PoliBlog [...]

  9. ts Says:

    If this is so amazing, how do you explain this from a 2004 GPO document – http://www.gpoaccess.gov/plumbook/2004/p226_appendix5.pdf

    Was in the car listening to Neal Boortz this morning, and he listed a series of texts on the Constitution, all of which asserted that the Office of the Vice-President is not part of the Executive Branch. So it seems that the common understanding may be incorrect.

  10. Dick Cheney: A Branch to Himself « Michael P.F. van der Galiën Says:

    [...] Dr. Stephen Taylor writes: “the assertion that the veep’s office is not part of the executive branch is perhaps the most absurd thing that I have heard in some time.” Dr. James Joyner nuances: Now, because of separation of powers, the president could not enforce an Executive Order requiring Members of Congress or the Supreme Court to submit to these protocols. That could be accomplished only by passage of a law or by the agreement of those branches. But Cheney, despite being the head of a legislative house, is not a Senator. So, of course, he has to comply with Executive Orders, unless the president specifically exempts him. [...]

  11. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:

    The most bizarre part of all of this is that it was never necessary for Cheney’s office to make this assertion in the first place: all he needed was for the President to amend the order in question.

    And ts, Boortz is wrong: the Constitution does not explicitly say any such thing. It does, however, note that the VP has certain legislative-branch duties. We knew that. However, that isn’t the issue.

    Those seeking to defends Cheney have to find a way to explain how he can both assert executive privilege and claim that he isn’t fully part of that branch.

  12. ts Says:

    Dr. Taylor –

    I never said that Boortz claimed the Constitution stated that the OVP was not part of the Executive Branch, but rather that a series of well respected texts on the Constitution stated that OVP was not, a claim bolstered by the GPO link provided in my previous post.

    The issue with regard to executive privilege gets a little murky. If the VP was acting upon the request of the President to provide him (the Pres) with information, he may be able to make the claim that Executive Privilege applies without sacrificing a claim of Constitutional separation from the Executive Branch.

    The problem here seems to be a conflation of the legal and the political, and a willingness to assume that they are one and the same. Politically, Cheney’s claim is problematic for the administration. Legally, there may be a legitimate foundation for the claim. It is certainly not the cut and dried answer that so many claim. The simple fact that OVP is funded by the Senate’s budget should create a question in people’s minds as to the legal status of the office.

  13. PoliBlog ™: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » On the Fourth Branch Says:

    [...] This piece from Dana Milbank’s piece in WaPo inspired me to read Dana Perino’s entire press briefing from yesterday–much of which dealt with Vice President Cheney’s rather novel argument about his office’s status in the structure of the federal government. [...]

  14. White House Backs Cheney: Defends Veep On Secrets Exemption · Articles Says:

    [...] –Political scientist Dr. Steven Taylor: The assertion that the veep’s office is not part of the executive branch is perhaps the most absurd thing that I have heard in some time. Yes, the VP has some legislative duties, but the notion that that office is not part of the executive branch is insane. One would allow that the first mention of the Vice President in the Constitution is in regards to the veep’s role as president of the Senate, however, the obvious raison d’être for the office is to be, for lack of a more elegant description, back-up equipment for the chief executive office. [...]

  15. White House Backs Cheney: Defends Veep On Secrets Exemption · New York Articles Says:

    [...] I guess what we have here is something historians call a “Constitutional Mexican toss up” which will be decided by the courts long after the deaths of the parties involved. –Political scientist Dr. Steven Taylor: The assertion that the veep’s office is not part of the executive branch is perhaps the most absurd thing that I have heard in some time. Yes, the VP has some legislative duties, but the notion that that office is not part of the executive branch is insane. One would allow that the first mention of the Vice President in the Constitution is in regards to the veep’s role as president of the Senate, however, the obvious raison d’être for the office is to be, for lack of a more elegant description, back-up equipment for the chief executive office. [...]


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