Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Democrats Spank Cheney on Secrecy

Even though Cheney proclaimed executive privilege in the Energy Task Force fiasco, he is now claiming that because the Constitution recognizes him as President of the Senate, he is some sort of legislative-executive branch hybrid and thus is exempt from oversight by the National Archives’ Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO). Democrats aren't going to let him get away with it.

The Hill reports that Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, who chairs the Appropriations subcommittee on financial services and general government (which writes the executive-branch spending bill that funds the vice president’s budget), is seriously considering joining House efforts to eliminate funds for Cheney's office if he does not begin to comply with the '95 executive order at issue. Durbin’s subcommittee is slated to mark up its spending bill just after July 4th recess. The House will take up its version of the bill this week, and Democratic Caucus Chairman Rep. Rahm Emanuel is vowing a floor push to strike all $4.4 million of the vice president’s budget. Specifically, the Hill explains that his amendment, to be debated Wednesday, "would put Cheney’s executive-branch funding on hold until a determination is made by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, on whether Cheney is a member of the executive or legislative branch."

Sen. Charles Schumer, the third-ranking Democrat in the Senate, also called for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to withdraw from the Department of Justice’s debate over whether Cheney can ignore the rules on safeguarding classified data.

The clash over classification opens a new front for Democrats in their ongoing oversight battle with the administration. Gonzales got involved in January, when the little-known Information Security Oversight Office, a unit of the National Archives, asked the DoJ’s Office of Legal Counsel to review whether Cheney was subject to the executive order.

But when Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy, requested DoJ documents on the Cheney question this month, the agency told him none were available—strongly suggesting that no work has been done to resolve Cheney’s role.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Henry Waxman, wrote to the White House Tuesday, saying that he has received evidence that several requirements for protecting classified information have been “flaunted.” From The Hill:

In his letter, the chairman says that unannounced inspections of West Wing offices by the White House’s own internal security agency, the White House Security Office, have been blocked, while the White House Security Office never investigated security breaches reported by Secret Service or CIA agents. Furthermore, White House aide Karl Rove had his security clearance renewed in late 2006, contrary to guidelines issued by President Bush. And managers of the White House Security Office have “ignored basic security procedures,” according to security officers.

Waxman wrote his letter in reaction to White House spokeswoman Dana Perino’s statement that the White House was generally following rules and regulations on the handling of classified information — notwithstanding some disputed oversight issues with the National Archives’ Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO).

Waxman also wrote in Tuesday’s letter that repeated interview requests with White House security officials have not been answered and that if none are scheduled soon, he will recommend issuing subpoenas at the committee’s next business meeting on Thursday.


UPDATE: The Daily Show has a great segment on the topic:

1 comment:

Nat-Wu said...

Cheney is either insane or has no regard for the law, the Constitution, and the American people. Then again, he could be insane and still have no respect for law, the Constitution, and the American people.

That is an absolutely hilarious clip from the Daily Show, but it does an incredible job of pointing out the ridiculousness of Cheney's position.