In an effort to prove that psychology I was talking about, I'd like to show you
the following news item.
June 21, 2007 9:39 p.m. PT
Cheney: Office not part of executive branch
Assertion made as part of data battle
By JULIA MALONE
COX NEWS SERVICE
WASHINGTON -- Dick Cheney, who has wielded extraordinary executive power as he transformed the image of the vice presidency, is asserting that his
office is not actually part of the executive branch.
In a simmering dispute with the National Archives that heated up Thursday, Cheney has long maintained that he does not have to comply with an
executive order on safeguarding classified information because, in fact, his office is part of the legislature.
Further, Cheney's office tried to abolish the oversight agency involved, according to a Democratic congressman.
Cheney, whose single constitutional duty is to serve as president of the Senate, holds that the vice president's office is not an "entity within the
executive branch" and therefore not subject to annual reporting or periodic on-site inspections under the 1995 executive order, which was updated
four years ago by President Bush.
The vice president has been refusing to cooperate with the National Archives office assigned to oversee the handling of classified data since 2003.
"We are confident that we are conducting the office properly under the law," vice presidential spokeswoman Lea Anne McBride said.
Democrats, to be sure, took the opposite view. House Oversight Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, in a letter posted on the Internet Thursday, told
Cheney it was "irresponsible" to reject security oversight.
"Your office may have the worst record in the executive branch for safeguarding classified information," the California Democrat wrote.
He cited the conviction of former top Cheney aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby for lying in the investigation into who leaked the identity of a CIA
Waxman said Cheney's office, in a move that "could be construed as retaliation," had tried to abolish the Information Security Oversight Office,
the division of the National Archives set up to enforce safeguards for classified information in executive agencies.
Waxman said the oversight office head, William Leonard, told congressional investigators that the vice president's staff had not succeeded.
The National Archives appealed its case for oversight of Cheney's classified information practices to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales last January.
Gonzales has not responded.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., when asked about Cheney's claim to be part of the legislative branch, quipped: "I always thought that he
was president of this administration."
Constitutional experts were startled at the notion that the vice presidency isn't in the executive branch.
"The vice president is saying he doesn't have to follow the orders of the president," said Garrett Epps, a law professor at the University of
Oregon. "That's a very interesting proposition."
Epps said the lines have not been drawn that clearly: "The vice president spans, in some ways, the branches of government."
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino brushed off questions about what branch of the government the vice president resides in, saying she doesn't know
enough about the issue.
Susan Low Bloch, a constitutional professor at Georgetown University Law Center, called Cheney's position a "novel claim." Although most people
think of vice presidents as executive officials, she added that it's really "a bit of a hybrid" role.
As vice president, Cheney receives his paycheck from the U.S. Senate, which also pays the salaries of much of his staff. However, he also sits in
Cabinet meetings and has an office at the White House.
Cheney's lawyers have used his role as adviser to the president to fend off a lawsuit seeking the names of energy executives who advised him on an
energy task force.
Paul Orfanedes, who heads litigation for Judicial Watch, a non-partisan group that joined in the lawsuit, said the vice president's claim "seems
Disingenuous? Nobody takes a fight like this out in to the open unless they are very sure they'll win.