Dick Cheney's 4th Branch of Government
In accordance with a Presidential Executive Order, vice President Dick Cheney initially provided a list of documents that it had classified and declassified to the president. But since the year the US invaded Iraq, he has not done so. When questioned recently, his spokesperson said it is because the vice presidency is not part of the executive branch. What?
The Information Security Oversight Office, by way of executive order, has the responsibility to oversee which documents have been classified and declassified in any particular year. Vice President Cheney's office provided this information up until 2002. When questioned recently, an administration official said the rule didn't apply to Cheney's office.
Administration officials say Cheney's office is exempt from the executive order, since it has both executive branch and legislative functions. Per the US Constitution, the vice president serves as president of the Senate, and may vote to break ties in that chamber.
On June 22, White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino said the executive order didn't intend Cheney's office to be treated as an administration agency.
"He's not exempt from following the laws of the United States," said Ms. Perino. "He's exempt just from this reporting requirement in this particular executive order."
So what branch does he belong to, the execulegislative?
Interestingly, the executive order was amended on March 28, 2003, as the US forces marched toward Baghdad. It now indeed refers to "agencies" of the executive department. This document shows the concerns of the US House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The document indicates, among other things, that President Bush in 2001 issued an executive order allowing vice presidents to keep their records secret.
Cheney is creating a lot of his own problems. How can he claim that he's essentially not part of the executive branch? When a court witness "takes the fifth" (fifth amendment to the Constitution), it's usually because he's as guilty as the day is long. Cheney's actions are very similar. I wonder what Cheney has to hide?
The most incriminating part of this is that for the first two years of the Bush administration, Cheney's office dutifully submitted the required documentation. Then the Iraq war happened.
I personally would like to have the vice president indicate what has been classified and declassified in that time. Under normal circumstances, that wouldn't be a very difficult task.