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By Geoff Metcalf

June 25, 2007

�A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.� --Dwight D. Eisenhower

Vice President Dick Cheney's office has refused to cooperate with an agency that oversees classified documents�then allegedly tried to abolish the office when it challenged the actions.

When this latest brouhaha erupted, I first thought it was an Internet hoax. Someone at the sometimes brilliant satirical 'Onion' [Read] must have conceived a method for transposing url links and we were all getting scammed.

But wait...truth IS stranger than fiction. Notwithstanding overwhelming historic empirical evidence to the contrary, and compelling legal arguments to the converse, the Veep really is trying to claim the office of the Vice President is not part of the Executive Branch? Huh? Now that is chutzpah that would make even Hillary blush.

Samuel Beckett, Eugine Ionessco, and other absurdist playwrights are applauding Vice President Dick Cheney's rewrite of 'Waiting for Godot'.

Come on Dick, you can't have it both ways no matter how hard you growl. If the Office of the Vice President is not (as Cheney claims) a component part of the executive branch, there are significant consequences. For one thing, it would mean Cheney doesn't get to claim executive privilege. Whoops! In fact once upon a time he went all the way to the Supreme Court asserting executive privilege to withhold the identities of his energy task force.

I lack credentials or enough hubris to argue legal minutiae but I do recall the Constitution established three co-equal branches of government: Executive, Judicial and Legislature. If I missed a constitutional amendment establishing another nebulous shadow branch which gets to cherry pick rights, procedures, and whim someone please advise me.

Cheney has functioned as a virtual symbiot of the President (although some could argue the reverse is true). His refusal to comply with the presidential order regulating the handling of classified data exceeds even the lofty standards for arrogance we have been conditioned to accept as routine. Cheney's presumption of some unique divine right is a liberal democrat�s erotic dream. Even Al Gore didn�t �invent� such impudence.

The absurdity of the situation is compounded by the shock and awe that I find myself actually agreeing with the L.A. Times [Read] and Henry Waxman (hopefully only proof that even a broken clock is right twice a day).

The smarmy (albeit creative) argument of the President's symbiot is that his is "a unique office". He claims his role as President of the Senate separates him from the Executive Branch. I'm not buying it.

  • The Vice President is funded and housed by the Executive Branch
  • He travels on Air Force Two (Executive Branch)
  • He has Secret Service protection (Executive Branch)
  • He has claimed Executive Privilege for him and his staff.

He can't have it both ways.

Executive branch offices are required to give the Information Security Oversight Office at the archives data on how much material they classify and declassify. Cheney�s office provided the information in 2001 and 2002, and then stopped. Why? What changed?

Cheney�s office claims it doesn�t have to comply with the order because it is not an �agency� or �entity� within the executive branch. Reportedly, they actually did so with a straight face? Despite the reality challenge of such a claim, if the OVP is not within the executive branch�where does it fit in the constitutional order of government? And by the way, I guess it is really a question of just what �is� is�or is not�

According to Dana Perino, White House deputy press secretary, it�s clear that the president�s executive order never intended for the vice president�s office to be treated as an �agency.� Oh yeah? To whom is it clear? If the intent was to exclude only the OVP, then the executive order should have included that unique precedent setting exemption.

Steve Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists� government secrecy project, said the executive order defines �agency� as any executive agency, military department and �any other entity within the executive branch that comes into the possession of classified information.� Gosh, THAT sounds pretty clear�to a normal cognitive adult.

Sadly, President Bush has been revealed as an enabler of Shakespearean proportions. His legacy may well be his victimization by the neocons who were supposed to be his salvation. The tragedy is that unlike Rep. Ron Paul, or even Barry Goldwater or Ronald Reagan, the neocon cabal were never true believes in the principles of conservatism but only their misguided abuse of power under the color of authority.

Unless the president intends to conclude his term with approval ratings in the single digits, now is the time to assert himself and order Cheney to comply.

John Adams once observed, �Abuse of words has been the great instrument of sophistry and chicanery, of party, faction, and division of society.�

� 2007 Geoff Metcalf - All Rights Reserved

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"Geoff Metcalf is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host for TALK AMERICA and a veteran media performer. He has had an eclectic professional background covering a wide spectrum of radio, television, magazine, and newspapers. A former Green Beret and retired Army officer he is in great demand as a speaker. Visit Geoff's

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Vice President Dick Cheney's office has refused to cooperate with an agency that oversees classified documents�then allegedly tried to abolish the office when it challenged the actions.