Saturday, February 10, 2007

Dick Cheney, Omnipotent God-King

The Office of the Vice President is refusing to cooperate with a government directory which lists government employees. Federal agencies have to comply by listing staffers in the "Plum Book" directory, but Dick Cheney’s office claimed an exemption for itself, arguing that the “Vice Presidency is a unique office that is neither a part of the executive branch nor a part of the legislative branch.”

In other words, employees of the three branches of the federal government have to give staff lists for the Plum Book, but the Office of the Vice President apparently believes it’s not part any of the three branches. At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, it’s one of those horrifying arguments that makes me worry about the integrity of our constitutional system.

And now it turns out that Cheney has extended his Crazy-Ass Theory of Vice-Presidential God-King Power:

An important legal ruling is pending over Vice President Cheney’s refusal to disclose statistics on document classification and declassification activity. The Information Security Oversight Office, which is responsible for the policy and oversight of the government’s security classification system, has asked Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to direct Cheney’s office to disclose these statistics.

Cheney’s office provided the information until 2002 but then stopped doing so, J. William Leonard, the director of ISOO, told U.S. News. At issue is whether the office of the vice president is an executive branch entity when it comes to supporting the activities of the president and the vice president. The reporting requirements for disclosing classification and declassification activity fall under a presidential executive order.

“Basically the definition says that any entity of the executive branch that comes into possession of classified information is covered by the reporting requirements,” says Leonard. “I have my understanding of what the executive order requires, and I’m going to the attorney general to ascertain if my reading of the executive order is correct.”

However, Megan McGinn, Cheney’s deputy press secretary, says the vice president’s office is exempt.

“This matter has been thoroughly reviewed,” McGinn told U.S. News, “and it has been determined that reporting requirements do not apply to the office of the vice president, which has both legislative and executive functions.”
Y'know, back in 2000 Bush ran for President on the theory that it was okay that he was a moron because if elected, he'd surround himself with great people who could do the job.

Now, six long, failed years later, we see that far from surrounding himself with competence, he hired Dick Cheney and a bunch of Dick's pals (like Rumsfeld!). Now we see the results: the Vice-President has set himself apart as some kind of Fourth branch of the American government. It’s legislative, it’s executive, it’s accountable to no one... it’s the Super Branch that over-rides all others.

Dick Cheney is our God-King.

In this particular case, the executive branch is required to disclose statistics on document classification and declassification activity to the Information Security Oversight Office. It’s about accountability and oversight, two words that seem to send shivers down Cheney’s spine. The OVP’s creative constitutional interpretation leads it to a convenient conclusion, keeping secret their efforts to keep things secret. Or, more accurately, how much stuff they keep secret.

I used to think that the idea of Dick Cheney being one pretzel-choking away from having his finger on the nuclear button was scary. What's scarier is that now we desperately NEED a pretzel-choking in order to force Cheney out into the open on his scary extra-legal bullshit. If he was PRESIDENT instead of Secret President, he wouldn't be able to get away with ANY of the bullshit that he's been getting away with (30% job approvals, for example).

God, Please, just ONE pretzel.