Cheney claims he's not part of the executive branch
Cheney Power Grab: Says White House Rules Don't Apply
June 21, 2007 12:57 PM
Justin Rood Reports:
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.
In pointed letters released today by Waxman, ISOO's
Leonard twice questioned Cheney's office on its
assertion it was exempt from the rules. He received no
reply, but the vice president later tried to get rid
of Leonard's office entirely, according to Waxman.
Leonard did not immediately respond to requests for
In a statement e-mailed to the Blotter on ABCNews.com,
Cheney spokeswoman Megan McGinn said, "We are
confident that we are conducting the office properly
under the law.
As director of the tiny, 25-person Information
Security Oversight Office, Leonard is responsible for
keeping track of the nation's secrets and making sure
they are properly protected.
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
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
Other White House offices, including the National
Security Council, did not object to similar
inspections, according to Waxman.
"Serious questions can be raised about both the
legality and advisability of exempting your office
from the rules that apply to all other executive
branch officials," Waxman said in his letter to the
vice president, and asked him to explain why he felt
the rules didn't apply to him and his staff and how he
was protecting classified information in his office.
Former Cheney aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was
recently convicted on several counts of perjury and
obstruction of justice stemming from the leak of the
identity of former covert CIA officer Valerie Plame,
Waxman noted, and in 2006, former Cheney aide Leandro
Aragoncillo pleaded guilty to sharing classified U.S.
documents with foreign nationals. Aragoncillo also
worked under former Democratic Vice President Al Gore,
who complied with ISOO's requests.