Cheney in Dispute on Oversight of His Office
For four years, Vice President Dick Cheney has resisted routine oversight of his office’s handling of classified information, and when the office in charge of overseeing classification in the executive branch objected, the vice president’s office suggested that the oversight office be shut down, according to documents released today by a Democratic congressman.A unique entity?
The oversight office, a unit of the National Archives, appealed the issue to the Justice Department, which has not yet ruled on the matter.
The effort by Mr. Cheney to shut down the oversight office was disclosed by Representative Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California and chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Mr. Waxman, who has played a leading role in the stepped-up efforts by Democrats since they took control of Congress to investigate the Bush administration, outlined the matter in an eight-page letter sent today to the vice president and posted, along with other documentation, on the committee’s Web site.
But starting in 2003, the vice president’s office began refusing to supply the information. In 2004, it blocked an on-site inspection by Mr. Leonard’s office, routinely carried out across the government and intended to check whether documents were being properly labeled and safely stored.So is Mr Rivkin correct? Over at Balkinization Sandy Levinson has this to say:
Mr. Addington did not reply in writing to Mr. Leonard’s letters, according to officials familiar with their exchanges. But Mr. Addington stated in conversations that the vice president’s office was not an “entity within the executive branch” because, under the Constitution, the vice president also plays a role in the legislative branch, as president of the Senate, able to cast a vote in the event of a tie....
In January, Mr. Leonard wrote to Attorney General Alberto R. ["Fredo"] Gonzales asking that he resolve the question. A Justice Department spokesman, Erik Ablin, said tonight, “This matter is currently under review in the department.”
Whatever the ultimate ruling, according to Mr. Waxman’s letter, the vice president’s office has already carried out “possible retaliation” against the Information Security Oversight Office.
As part of an inter-agency review of Executive Order 12958, Mr. Cheney’s office proposed eliminating appeals to the attorney general — precisely the avenue Mr. Leonard was taking. According to Mr. Waxman’s investigation, the vice president’s staff also proposed abolishing altogether the Information Security Oversight Office....
The vice president’s office has stopped providing information for the “Plum Book,” a Congressional publication listing federal political appointees. It has asserted “exclusive control” over Secret Service records of visitors to Mr. Cheney’s residence, preventing their disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act....
David B. Rivkin, a Washington lawyer who served in Justice Department and White House posts in earlier Republican administrations, said Mr. Cheney had a valid point about the unusual status of the office he holds.
“The office of the vice president really is unique,” Mr. Rivkin said. “It’s not an agency. It’s an extension of the vice president himself.”
Let me suggest that if there's any plausibility at all to Mr. Rivkin's argument, then he has identified yet another deficiency in our Constitution, for which the most obvious remedy is abolishing an office that for much of our history has been useless (assuming that the office was filled at all, as it has not been for a total of approximately 45 years) and now has emerged as a true menace to the republic, both literally and figuratively.The right side of the blogosphere has been surprisingly quite on this. I have to wonder how quite they would have been if it was Al Gore making such claims. Or perhaps they don't like the idea of Vice President Bill Richardson claiming the same power.
Over at The Moderate Voice Shaun Mullen thinks he has an explanation for Dick Cheney's erratic behavior.
The veep’s seeming craziness may have a simple explanation: He isn’t getting enough oxygen to his brain as a result of an astounding number of medical problems.Of course this doesn't explain the insanity of his supporters.
Cheney is badly damaged goods and is alive because numerous medical procedures. These include a defibrillator implantation because of atherosclerosis stemming from high cholesterol and obesity, four heart attacks, one of which led to a coronary stent and another to a coronary bypass, an angioplasty because of unstable angina, congestive heart failure, a tube prosthesis because of knee aneurysms, an inability to stay awake (see photo) and breathlessness. He takes a suite of powerful medications, including one to control gout.
I continue the rant over at The Gun Toting Liberal