After Scooter Libby, former Chief of Staff to Cheney, was sentenced for leaking classified information, one would think VP Cheney would welcome the oversight since his Office has been so willfully careless.
CHENEY has refused to comply with an executive order governing the handling of classified information for the past four years and recently tried to abolish the office that sought to enforce those rules, according to documents released by a congressional committee yesterday.
Since 2003, the vice president's staff has not cooperated with an office at the National Archives and Records Administration charged with making sure the executive branch protects classified information. Cheney aides have not filed reports on their possession of classified data and at one point blocked an inspection of their office. After the Archives office pressed the matter, the documents say, Cheney's staff this year proposed eliminating it...
The standoff disclosed yesterday stems from an executive order establishing a uniform, government-wide system for safeguarding classified information. The order was first signed by President Bill Clinton in 1995 and was updated and reissued by President Bush in 2003. Under the order, an "entity within the executive branch that comes into the possession of classified information" must report annually how much it is keeping secret.
Vice President Cheney's office hasn't complied with an executive order on classified data since 2003...
In 2004, the National Archives and Records Administration Information Security Oversight Office, a 25-member agency responsible for securing classified information, decided to conduct an on-site inspection of Cheney's office to see how sensitive material was handled. The vice president's staff, according to a letter Waxman sent Cheney, blocked the inspection.
After the Chicago Tribune reported last year that Cheney failed to report classification data, the Federation of American Scientists filed a complaint. J. William Leonard, director of the Archives' oversight office, sent two letters to Cheney's chief of staff, David S. Addington, requesting compliance with the executive order but received no replies. Leonard then wrote Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales in January asking him to render a legal ruling on whether the vice president is violating the order. Gonzales has not replied.
In an interview yesterday, Steven Aftergood, who directs the federation's Project on Governmental Secrecy, said the dispute concerns "a very narrow bit of information" but indicated a broader disregard for following the same rules observed by the rest of the executive branch. "By refusing to comply with these trivial instructions, the vice president undermines the integrity of the executive order," he said. "If it can be violated with impunity on a trivial point, then it can also be violated on more important matters."
Leonard may have angered Cheney's office with his persistence. The administration is conducting a review of the executive order, and Leonard told Waxman's staff that Cheney aides proposed amending the order in a bid to abolish the Archives oversight office and explicitly exempt the vice president from its requirements. The elimination of the office has been rejected, Waxman said.
Leonard did not return phone messages yesterday. Susan Cooper, a spokeswoman for the National Archives, said: "In carrying out the responsibilities of the National Archives Information Security Oversight Office, we will continue to be responsive to the concerns of all governmental parties." Cheney's press office refused to comment on the changes proposed for the executive order.