Democrats say Cheney secrecy stand arrogant
Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune and The Associated Press
Published June 25, 2007
WASHINGTON -- Democratic senators on Sunday chided Vice President Dick Cheney for declaring his office exempt from sections of a presidential order involving matters of national security. Republicans, more cautiously, said the matter deserves review.
At issue is a requirement that executive branch offices provide data on how much material they classify and declassify. That information is to be provided to the Information Security Oversight Office at the National Archives.
The White House contends that Cheney is complying properly. It says the presidential order was not intended to treat the vice president's office as an executive branch "agency," and therefore Cheney's office is exempt from the reporting requirement.
"The vice president is saying he's above the law, and the fact of the matter is, legal scholars are going to say this is preposterous," said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) called Cheney's move "the height of arrogance." She said it may not be a bad idea -- as some other Democrats have suggested -- that money for Cheney's office be withheld until he decides whether or not he is in the executive branch.
But Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) countered that conflicts over jurisdictional bounds are not unusual. "Let the courts decide if there's something wrong here," he said.
Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales was asked in January to resolve the legal dispute, but he has not yet given an opinion.
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is investigating the matter.
"I think there are some legal interpretations. We have to look at those," said Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas).
Wyden and Hutchison spoke on CNN's "Late Edition." Feinstein and Lott appeared on "Fox News Sunday."