June 21st, 2007
02:50 PM ET
10 years ago

Cheney accused of effort to abolish oversight panel

Cheney is accused of trying to abolish an oversight office.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Vice President Cheney's office circumvented the system for overseeing classified documents and then moved to abolish the National Archives' office challenging its actions, House Oversight Committee Chairman Henry Waxman said Thursday.

According to letters released by the committee, the vice president's office said it was not an "entity within the executive branch" and was therefore exempt from rules established in a presidential order for the National Archives to oversee classified information.

"Your decision to exempt your office from the president's order is problematic because it could place national security at risk," Waxman, D-California, wrote in a letter to Cheney that the committee released.

After receiving repeated requests to comply by the oversight office at the National Archives, and a follow-up request to Attorney General Gonzales asking that he help resolve the matter, Cheney's office instead retaliated, recommending the National Archives office be disbanded, the Waxman letter said.

William Leonard, head of the National Archives office in question, told the Oversight Committee that Cheney's team attempted to get a provision in the presidential order - which is currently being revised - that would have prevented the National Archives from appealing to the attorney general.

"Mr. Leonard also said that your office proposed a more drastic change," Waxman wrote in his letter to Cheney. "According to Mr. Leonard, your office urged the inter-agency committee considering revisions to the executive order to abolish the Information Security Oversight Office."

Waxman said that the vice president's office then tried to get the revised order to exclude the office of the Vice President.

Cheney's office would neither confirm nor deny it tried to abolish the National Archives office.

"We are confident that we are conducting the office properly under the law," said Megan McGinn, deputy press secretary for Cheney, when asked about the Waxman letter.

The executive order - intended to maintain the integrity of classified documents - was established by President Clinton and revised by President Bush in 2003. It is being revised again.

The 2003 version directed the National Archives' Information Security Oversight Office to oversee a program of education and supervision of classified document protection and maintenance. According to Waxman, the office has worked with different White House groups, including the National Security Council.

But when the National Archives' office attempted to visit Cheney's team in 2004, it was prevented from doing so by Cheney's staff, Waxman wrote in the letter. The office had complied with the order in 2001 and 2002, but started refusing to do so in 2003.

In 2006, William Leonard, director of the Information Security Office, wrote to Cheney's chief of staff, David Addington, to contest the office's refusal to comply and was told that the vice president's office "does not believe it is included in the definition of 'agency' as set forth in the order," nor is it an "entity within the executive branch that comes into the possession of classified information," according to letters released Thursday by Waxman's committee.

In a letter to Gonzales requesting intervention on the matter, Leonard questioned the rationale presented by the vice president office.

"If the (office of the vice president) is not considered an entity within the executive branch, I am concerned that it could impede access to classified information by the OVP staff, in that such access would be considered a disclosure outside the executive branch," Leonard wrote last January.

The vice president's office has been criticized for being secretive before. In 2001, the office refused to divulge the names of energy executives who had consulted with Cheney on U.S. energy policy.

The decision was challenged and upheld by the courts. The U.S. Supreme Court referred the case back to a lower court.

- CNN Washington Bureau Director of Coverage Adam Levine

Filed under: Dick Cheney
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Debra, South Plainfield, NJ

    Well, what a shock! Dickie boy circumventing scrutiny of highly important docs. When will America impeach these pesky boys in the whitehouse, and set America free? Or should we just bend at their every whim, like we have been doing? When will the American voter wake up and cry out for their impeachments? Here is my cry!!!!!!!!!!!1

    June 21, 2007 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  2. Angela, Cleveland, Ohio

    Here is my cry!!!!! Hear us all! Dennis Kucinich may very well be on the path to our salvation. Where oh where does he think he is that his records and work are not the peoples' records and work. He is supposed to be working for us and we should know what he is doing and god help us has done.

    June 21, 2007 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  3. Phil, Austin Texas

    I'll add my cry to that as well.

    June 21, 2007 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  4. James, Huntsville Alabama

    It's long overdue for impeachment proceedings. If he wants to be excluded from the executive branch, then he cannot cite executive priviledge. Therefore, all his work is open for public review.

    June 21, 2007 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |

    He has to be remove from office...


    June 21, 2007 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  6. Senaio del Ware - Margarita Island, Southern Carribbean (US Citizen)

    The man is Bush´s boss. What the hell can we expect. These two bastards come from the same ilk.
    They come from a long line of getting thier way and so many heavies protecting them. Can we believe they would be so shameless, if they didn´t have a litany of protection. Constitution and law applies to the street fodder of America´s streets. Your name is appropriately taken down by the same media that asks your opinion, directly fed to NSA computers.
    Opinions directly at variance will mysteriously follow you by strange happenstance in personal business required at federal agencies.

    June 21, 2007 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  7. ron hillister mo.

    if the vice presidents office does not want to give information to the national archives section, it can be for only one reason, must be trying to hide something, is he and his office the little boy trying to hide a cookie behind his back!

    June 21, 2007 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  8. David Daniel, Tupelo, MS

    Sunned. Shocked. Gasping for air. Cheney not wanting to operate in public? Surely not. Not our self-righteous V.P.

    June 21, 2007 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  9. Susan, Fort Pierce, Florida

    I will add my cry to the cacophony of angry rage that I hear from American citizens all across this country. Our Constitution is in tatters because of Bush, Cheney, and the rest of the fascists Neanderthals in this administration. God only knows how much additional damage they will do in the year and a half they have left! If this country survives I swear I will never vote Republican again unless they get rid of all the neo-cons and so called “Christian” fascists that have taken over the party.

    June 21, 2007 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  10. Bill W, Coatesville, PA

    Since when is the office of Vice President of the United States "not part of the Executive Branch"????????? Who does the Vice President think becomes the president if the standing president dies or is incapacitiated?

    Maybe Dick Cheney needs to go back to school and take the same basic government class they teach 4th graders. But since most Americans probably can't tell you what the 3 brances of the US government are and what they do, he'll probably get away with that outrageous statement.

    June 21, 2007 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  11. Bill W, Coatesville, PA


    Official information and services from the U.S. government.

    The three branches of U.S. government—legislative, judicial, and executive—carry out governmental power and functions.

    Executive Branch
    The executive branch of the government is responsible for enforcing the laws of the land. The president, vice president, department heads (cabinet members), and heads of independent agencies carry out this mission.

    Judicial Branch
    Courts decide arguments about the meaning of laws and how they are applied. They also decide if laws violate the Constitution—this is known as judicial review, and it is how federal courts provide checks and balances on the legislative and executive branches.

    Legislative Branch
    Article I of the Constitution establishes the legislative or law making branch of government. It has a two-branch Congress—the Senate and the House of Representatives—and agencies that support Congress.

    June 21, 2007 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  12. mike chicago il

    The secret society is using a public office to do what ever they damn well please. Blame no one but ourselves dear Americans. They used, abused, deceived, lied, frightened and back handed us into allowing them to do so. We stand here today in stunned amazement on just how gullible we are. The best we can hope for in that the next year in a half seems to go by quickly.

    June 21, 2007 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  13. Richard P.,Vancouver,Wa

    Dick needs to GO...OUT!OUT!OUT!

    June 21, 2007 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  14. Tom Smith, PO Box 244, Volga, SD 57071

    If I have counted correctly this will make the 835th time Cheney has proved to be a crook and 834 times noboby did anything about it. What is everybody looking at? (I suppose I will be punished for saying this...time will tell)

    June 21, 2007 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  15. Anonymous


    June 21, 2007 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  16. K. Dougherty, Syracuse, NY

    Impeach this lying, self-serving, evil bastard. He makes Spiro Agnew look like a piker by comparison.

    June 21, 2007 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  17. Michael Slough, King George, Va

    Chaney needs to be impeeched for being stupid. He's part of the Executive Branch and that's all he needs to focus on. He works for the American voters not his self serving wishes.

    June 22, 2007 07:01 am at 7:01 am |
  18. Brian, Decatur, GA

    One more example of Dick Cheney's contempt for the rule of law and open government. He needs to be impeached!!

    June 22, 2007 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  19. Mary, Beaver, PA

    Impeach? Yeah, and let's make sure we throw the Constitution-hating bums out! The Republicans impeached Clinton for lying about consensual sexual misconduct with a bimbo. In the Clinton years, neo-con talk radio was all about Clinton's abuse of the Constitution and how terrible that was. Now that the neo-con Republicans have Bush II in office, the Constitution is suddenly irrelevant to them. Where is the media? Everyday in 1998 we were subjected to the stupidity and irrelevance of the stained blue dress. Where are the American people on abuse of Executive powers? Let's just face it: To most of the American public, the Constitution means nothing! That's why they have the government that they deserve.

    Bring back our Republic. Treasure our Constitution.

    June 22, 2007 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  20. Rose Cicero: Windsor, Ct.

    "A Little Cheney Ditty":

    There is no fox in the henhouse.
    No monster under the bed.
    No wolf to huff and blow down the door.
    "There is a cancer..." again instead.

    June 23, 2007 02:14 am at 2:14 am |
  21. Betsy, Wilkes-Barre, PA

    And why is this not your top story on cnn.com? It boggles the mind what this administration does...and doesn't do...and how the media decides if these acts are worthy of our attention.

    June 23, 2007 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  22. PSK Lakeside, AZ

    Please tell me, someone- what happened to that "checks & balances" portion of our government? How on earth can this current administration lie, cheat, cover-up and heaven knows WHAT else- and walk away every time with little more than a dip in their approval ratings? (Oh, that's right, the proof seems to be unobtainable, hmmm?) Do we not have the right to stand up, every one of us, and end this travesty....stop "bending over" as one writer stated? Every elected official should look in the mirror daily to remind themselves that they are supposed to be an example of good citizenship. I suppose they must find this quite humorous- us "little" people, thinking we have a vote.

    June 23, 2007 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  23. Eric, Edinburg, Texas

    Secrets within the Bush Administration, attempting to disolve the national archives, sounds like actions the government of Iran, Venezuela, or North Korea would take.

    June 23, 2007 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  24. Mary Duffy, Rochester, MN

    Thank you Mary from PA!!! They impeached Bill for lying about having an affair with that bimbo – day after day we had to hear the sordid details on the news – and yet Cheney, dubya and the rest of the cronies have made this such a secretive government where they are above the law – it makes Nixon's presidency look like an open book.


    Then we can start proceedings on Dubya

    June 25, 2007 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |