Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Cheney Continues to Duck and Dodge on Agency Scrutiny, Classified Documents

Yesterday, I reported here that John Kerry had written to David Addington, the Chief of Staff to Vice President Dick Cheney and asked for details as to "why Cheney believes that he is not subject to agency scrutiny?"

The Hill reports that Cheney’s office dismissed "Democratic claims" including Kerry's, "that Cheney is putting himself above the law because his office refused to grant access to an oversight agency that is tasked with reviewing how classified information is handled."

Constitutional issues in government are generally best left for discussion when unavoidable disputes arise in a specific context instead of in theoretical discussions,” Cheney’s chief of staff, David Addington, said in a letter to Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.).

Kerry had joined a growing chorus of Democrats who criticized Cheney’s refusal to submit to Executive Order 12958, signed by President Clinton and amended by President Bush in 2003. The order requires the National Archives’ Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO) to oversee executive agencies’ handling of classified documents.

According to House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Cheney ignored questions from Waxman and the National Archives in 2006. Still unwilling to submit its document classifications to oversight, Waxman said Cheney’s office responded in 2007 by seeking to abolish the ISOO.

A PDF copy of David Addington’s less than adequate response to Kerry is available here. Kerry said on Addington's response:

“This legalistic response raises more questions than it purports to answer. I am far from satisfied with the response from David Addington, and ask again for the Vice President’s office to plainly answer the question of whether he considers himself outside the realm of agency scrutiny, and what their office is doing to secure our nation’s most privileged information. The American people deserve to know the truth and are owed more than a ‘parse constitionally’ as the president’s spokesman said today.”

Kerry responded to Addington with a 2nd letter, the text of the letter is available on The Democratic Daily: Cheney Continues to Duck and Dodge on Agency Scrutiny, Classified Documents


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