As the pressure builds on Dick Cheney today, Senator John Kerry today wrote to David Addington, the Chief of Staff to Vice President Dick Cheney and asked for details about why Cheney believes that he is not subject to agency scrutiny? Addington recently claimed that Cheney does not consider himself part of the executive branch of government, according to National Archives officials. Instead Dick Cheney believes he’s a 4th branch of the U.S. government. Kerry, obviously outraged by Cheney’s claims said:
“It comes as no surprise that the ‘imperial president’ and his vice president are once again trying to dodge scrutiny with a ridiculous claim that Dick Cheney is not part of the executive branch of government. This is an unprecedented break with hundreds of years of history, and undermines the integrity of executive power and the Executive Order as an institution.”
The text of the letter to Addington is below:
June 25, 2007
David S. Addington
Chief of Staff
Office of the Vice President
Eisenhower Executive Office Building
Washington, DC 20501
Dear Mr. Addington,
I write today with concern over recent reports that the Vice President has self designated his position as part of neither the legislative branch nor the executive branch, and is therefore not accountable to the laws that govern either branch.
As you know, Vice President Cheney has refused to allow routine inspections or issue mandated reports on classified information as required by executive order 12958. The justification issued by the Vice President for violating this executive order is that he not in fact part of the executive branch and therefore is not subject to this mandate. This is an unprecedented break with hundreds of years of history and does not keep good faith with the hierarchy of government.
While I appreciate that the Vice President has authority as President of the Senate, this does not exclude him from the executive and its oversight. Claiming to be party to neither the legislative branch nor the executive branch only serves to evade a standing executive order and bring secrecy to the Office of the Vice President. It is my understanding that the Executive Order to comply with the Information Security Oversight Office of the National Archives pertains to any, “Entity within the executive branch that comes into the possession of classified information.”
Any classified information that came to the Vice President would have been through his executive function, not through his legislative role, and therefore subject to oversight and review by the National Archives. The Vice President has routinely operated as a member of the executive branch and all the benefits and responsibilities that comes with that position. To propose that all this time the Vice President did not believe he was functioning as a member of the executive branch is disingenuous.
In the interest of transparency I request the reasoning behind any claims that the Office of the Vice President does not fall under the executive branch. Additionally, given that the Office of the Vice President has not been issuing reports or allowing inspectors to verify any safeguards, I would like to know what steps the Office is taking to protect classified information. This is our nation’s most sensitive information and it is critical that it is kept protected which is why the Archives does this oversight.
Your attention to this matter is appreciated.
John F. Kerry