I really shouldn't be surprised by now - I'm mean honestly. - but this latest revelation coming out of Henry Waxman's commitee that Vice President Dick Cheney has quite literally refused to abide by a Presidential Executive Order regarding the handling of sensitive National Security Information is truly stunning.
And what's really amazing is the reasoning they've provided. Ya see, it's simply the fact that the Vice President's Office - Isn't Part of the Executive Branch - and hence isn't subject to such Executive Orders from the guy down the hall - y'know what's his name - the non-Vice dude.
This particular claim - that the OVP isn't part of the executive - actually isn't a surpise, because I've heard of Cheney making it before. The theory goes that since the Vice President is also a voting member of The Senate - literally it's President - he exists in the unique position of being in two branches of government at the same time.
So it would naturally follow that he isn't beholden to the rules of either branch then right?
Yeah, ok - sure. That makes perfect sense On The Bizarro Planet!
Regardless of the excuses, what does this mean in practical terms? Well, here's what Paris Hilton's Congressman, Mr. Waxman has to say about it.
Executive Order 12958, "Classified National Security Information," was first issued by President Clinton in 1995. President Bush amended the executive order in March 2003. As amended by President Bush, the executive order prescribes a uniform system for classifying, safeguarding, and declassifying national security information.
The executive order gives important responsibilities to the Information Security Oversight Office within the National Archives. This office was created in 1978 by Executive Order 12065, "National Security Information," issued by President Carter. Under the Bush executive order, the National Archives, acting through the Information Security Oversight Office, is directed to ensure agency compliance with classified information safeguards by issuing directives to agencies; developing and monitoring security education programs; receiving and responding to reports of security violations; and acting on complaints about the program’s implementation. In addition, the executive order and its implementing directive require executive branch agencies to provide data to the Archives about their classification and declassification activities, which the Archives then compiles to produce annual reports for the President.
The point here is that there are proceedures for classifying and declassifying data. From my own experience working a dozen years for a defense contractor in a classified environment with a Top Secret Clearance with Special Access - I know first hand that violating these procedures can send you on a one-way trip to Leavenworth for Life, because that's exactly what happened to a former co-worker of mine at Northrop named Cavanaugh. He got two - count 'em - TWO Life Sentences. Period. End of story. Bye bye.
Shorter version of Waxman from Thinkprogress.
– Since 2003, Cheney’s office has failed to provide data on its classification and declassification activities as required by Executive Order 12958, which President Bush has amended and endorsed.
– In 2004, Cheney’s office specifically intervened to block an on-site inspection by the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO), which is a requirement of the executive order.
The amendment that Bush issued to the executive order - which was done right as the Iraq War began - was to grant the Vice President the authority to classify and declassify national security information in the exact same manner used by the President himself. Hm, ironic no?
The ISOO is essentially the watchdog, their job is to ensure that the system for classifying and declassifying isn't abused.
I mean, it's not like the President would ever use over classification to hide vital information from the public and the congress such as the fact that the Aluminum Tubes story most likely bogus (According to both the State and Energy Depts in the 2002 Iraq NIE), or that he would use classification to shutdown the OPR investigation into the NSA Warrantless Wiretaping, or that the Vice President's Office would Out a Covert CIA Operative to cover up their lies and bullshit or anything.
Nah, that would never happen.
Unless you listen to Waxman.
Your office may have the worst record in the executive branch for safeguarding classified information. As Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald established, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, your former Chief of Staff, leaked the identity of a covert CIA operative to several reporters in June 2003. Mr. Libby was convicted in March of perjury, obstruction of justice, and false statements for lying to a grand jury and to FBI agents in order to conceal his role in the leaking of this information.
The prosecution of Mr. Libby also revealed that you apparently misused the declassification process for political reasons. In July 2003, you reportedly instructed Mr. Libby to leak to the media portions of an October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate regarding Saddam Hussein’s purported efforts to develop nuclear weapons. Your selective declassification of this information was apparently made outside the formal declassification process and done as part of a damage-control effort you undertook to defend the Administration’s rationale for going to war in Iraq.
In a separate incident, Leandro Aragoncillo, a former aide in your office, pleaded guilty in May 2006 to passing classified information to plotters allegedly trying to overthrow Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Mr. Aragoncillo reportedly disclosed numerous secret and top secret documents to Philippine officials over several years while working in your office.
Given this record, serious questions can be raised about both the legality and the advisability of exempting your office from the rules that apply to all other executive branch officials.
They've gone to the Attorney General, as is authorized by the relevant EO's, asking him to get the Vice President to comply with the President.
(Is it just me or is it totally surreal to actually type those words?)
And you can just be rest assured that Gonzo got right on that.
Yeah, uh huh... any minute now after he's done "Saving the Kids" and covering his own well exposed Behind.
Anyway, apparently because of the letter to Fredo - ole Shooter is kinda pissed. He now says that the Presidential Executive Order should be amended again so that the ISOO and the National Archives no longer have the option of appealing disputes to the AG.
Isn't it great that whenever you get caught in the midst of
Treason, uh Completely Fucking Up on matters of National Security er...a minor clerical error where you forgot that Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden really aren't the same guy, that you can just send a paper airplane over to the stuttering goober in weird round office down the hall and have him change the rules of the game for you?
(But wait - I thought Cheney wasn't in the "Executive Branch" and if he's not - does that also mean that executive priveledge doesn't apply to him?)
Man, it's must be Good to be The Veep!
"I love my people... I love my people...PULL!"
(Peasant goes flying through the air screaming!)
"Oh, Piss boy -- don't forget to wait for the shake"