We will, in fact, be greeted as liberators

Cheney claims a non-executive privilege He asserts he’s exempt from showing an agency how his office keeps secrets because he’s not fully part of the administration

For the last four years, Vice President Dick Cheney has made the controversial claim that his office is not fully part of the Bush administration in order to exempt it from a presidential order regulating federal agencies’ handling of classified national security information, officials said Thursday.

[ ]….One Cheney staffer familiar with the matter said Thursday that the vice president has not complied with the order because his office has dual functions: It is part of the executive branch — the Bush administration — but also part of the legislative branch, given Cheney’s position as president of the Senate.

As such, the vice president’s office has no legal obligation to abide by the order because it only applies to the executive branch, said the Cheney staffer, who was not authorized to publicly discuss the inner workings of the office and requested anonymity.

Cheney’s position is articulated in the 2004 edition of an annual government directory of senior officials known as the Plum Book:

“The vice presidency is a unique office that is neither a part of the executive branch nor a part of the legislative branch, but is attached by the Constitution to the latter. The vice presidency performs functions in both the legislative branch … and in the executive branch.”

The Constitution, at least the last time I checked only recognized three branches of government. Dick has either decided on his own initiative or as an expedient shield that he does not belong to any of those three branches. Has Dick decided that he constitutes a fourth branch ( credit of first use of the term to Atrios or The Carpetbagger as far as I can tell) of government or is it more likely that depending on the latest scandal that he belongs to that branch of government which best provides cover for whatever the Whitehouse is trying to hide this week or a way of side stepping the law. Oversight Committee on the Vice President and Classified Information

Executive Order 12958, which President Bush has amended and endorsed, directs the National Archives to oversee a uniform system for protecting classified information. A key component of the executive order directs the Information Security Oversight Office within the National Archives to inspect federal agencies and White House offices to ensure compliance with the security procedures required by the President. Acting under the authority of the President’s executive order, the National Archives sought to conduct an on-site inspection of the Office of the Vice President in 2004.

The National Archives has informed the Committee that your office intervened to block the inspection. According to a letter that the National Archives sent to your staff in June 2006, you asserted that the Office of the Vice President is not an “entity within the executive branch” and hence is not subject to presidential executive orders.

Judging by the letter from Cheney’s office he is not subject to or bound by Executive Orders from the President of the United States nor is he obligated to respond Congress. How convenient that he feels in some ways he is part of the legislature and yet in others is part of the executive. His Senate roll is well defined and rather narrow, he may preside as President of the Senate, but frequently doesn’t and a president pro temp is appointed in his place and the VP may vote only to break tie votes. Even if we were to assume that Dick Cheney has developed a sudden capacity for sincerity, honestly and a here to fore unknown depth of knowledge about the law, believes that his office and staff compose a a special branch of government he has some explaining to do as to what criteria he applies to determine which branch he belongs. Historically Cheney has taken full advantage of his office as axillary executive according to how he has rationalized his behavior to the courts and to Congress, White House officials had debate before deciding to call visitor records confidential

Over the past year, lawyers for President George W. Bush and Cheney have directed the Secret Service to maintain the confidentiality of visitor entry and exit logs, declaring them to be presidential records, exempt from a law requiring their disclosure to whoever asks to see them.

If Cheney is not part of the executive, then at least his visitor log records would not be subject to even a spurious claim of executive privilege. Cheney lawyer told Secret Service to “eliminate data” on visitors to VP residence

A lawyer for Vice President Dick Cheney told the Secret Service in September to eliminate data on who visited Cheney at his official residence, a newly disclosed letter states.

The Sept. 13, 2006, letter from Cheney’s lawyer says logs for Cheney’s residence on the grounds of the Naval Observatory are subject to the A lawyer for Vice President Dick Cheney told the Secret Service in September to eliminate data on who visited Cheney at his official residence, a newly disclosed letter states.

The Sept. 13, 2006, letter from Cheney’s lawyer says logs for Cheney’s residence on the grounds of the Naval Observatory are subject to the Presidential Records Act.

Cheney hides behind the Presidential Records Act in 2006, yet when asked about how Cheney could justify not cooperating with the National Archives or fulfilling the vice-president’s obligations under Executive Order 12958 he suddenly belongs to some shadowy branch of government which Dick Cheney and only Dick Cheney knows what rules apply and when.
Remember Cheney’s infamous Energy Task Force and the request for documents by the conservative Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club. At first Cheney and the Whitehouse wouldn’t claim executive privilege, most likely because they wanted to avoid a show down on exactly what is covered by executive privilege, Cheney Task Force Loses Place To Hide

Justice Department lawyers had argued that the White House should not be forced to consider invoking the doctrine, as they have argued that the suit should be dismissed altogether on a variety of grounds. But the appeals court said it could not intervene in the lower court in midcase. As long as the task force refused to claim executive privilege, its separation of powers claim was “hypothetical,” the court wrote.

Another example of why saying that life is like high school is an exaggeration, life is really more like junior high. The Whitehouse by invoking “a variety of grounds” was invoking privilege without invoking it. The court forced their hand. They could have just let in a little sunshine, but instead Cheney did invoke privilege, National Briefing Washington: Appeal Sought On Energy Documents

The Bush administration told a federal appeals court that it would ask the Supreme Court to review a decision that requires Vice President Dick Cheney to give the Sierra Club documents from his task force on energy. Last week, the full United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit let stand a panel’s decision that the government had no basis to ask the appeals court to block a lower court’s ruling that called for disclosure of information. Mr. Cheney has invoked executive privilege in keeping the documents secret.

Court: Cheney can keep secret who was on energy task force

Bush administration lawyers had argued that it was unconstitutional to force the president or the vice president to disclose whom they met with in private. The justices agreed in part, saying the appeals court had failed to consider the “weighty separation of powers issue” raised by the lawsuit.

Cheney couldn’t have invoked privileges unless he believed that he had them and he could not have had any “separation of powers issues” if he belonged to the legislative branch of government. “Executive privledge” as a concept isn’t itself in the Constitution, but has become the phrase used by administrations to describe what they feel is encroachment on executive powers by Congress. The only way that Cheney can justify his behavior is to assert that he constitutes a never before recognized or Constitutionally acknowledges branch of government. “The vice presidency is a unique office that is neither a part of the executive branch nor a part of the legislative branch, but is attached by the Constitution to the latter.” If this or any vice-president does not have to answer to the president (executive orders) and doesn’t have to answer to Congress or the courts then he doesn’t have to answer to anyone. Cheney has shown the American people in a series of scandals time and again his contempt for the rule of law. Now in one blinding show of hubris he has put his contempt for democracy, American values and bizarre views of governance on grand display. For that we all owe him our gratitude, as one of the imminent Republican icons Cheney has inadvertently shown a bright light on modern conservatism’s dark delusional underside.

“We will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.” – Dick Cheney

update: White House Defends Cheney’s Refusal of Oversight

Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) said he plans to propose next week, as part of a spending bill for executive operations, a measure to place a hold on funds for Cheney’s office and official home until he clarifies to which branch of the government he belongs. Emanuel acknowledged that the proposal is just a stunt, but he said that if Cheney is not part of the executive branch, he should not receive its funds. “As we say in Chicago, follow the money,” he said.

This game that Cheney is playing and according to this article Bush is backing is dangerous stuff. If Cheney is not part of the executive he should not be provided with a Whitehouse office, staff or funds period until either he acknowledges that he is part of the executive or he takes the matter immediately to the Supreme Court to decide. Like Bush’s unconstitutional use of signing statements the idea to play out the clock for the next eighteen months they are in office. The Stall, Hide and Never be Held Accountable Administration all at taxpayers expense.