The big news in Washington the past couple of days has been Vice President Dick Cheney's assertion that his office is, in fact, a unique fourth branch of government, not subject to the rules and laws that govern either the Executive or the Legislative branches.
Despite the audacity and absurdity of the assertion, it is not really surprising. As this LA Times editorial notes, Cheney has always exempted himself from the invasions of privacy to which he and the president have subjected the rest of America.
In this particular case, it is actually a presidential Executive Order he is violating - one originally put in place by President Clinton, and revised in 2003 by President Bush. The executive order calls for all members of the Executive branch who handle classified information to be subjected to oversight by the National Archives, including the office of the vice president. But Cheney's office hasn't followed those rules since the order was revised by Bush. And yesterday, Bush said it was ok.
There should be a lot more uproar in Washington about this than there currently is. The LA Times editorial is one of the few in the highest circulating newspapers today expressing outrage over this. I hope we see more tomorrow.
The LA Times highlights some of Cheney's lawbreaking, and you can't help but wonder why there isn't more support for impeaching Cheney in Congress:
The vice president's office has been operating in stunning secrecy for six years. For example, according to Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles), Cheney refuses to follow an executive branch ethics rule requiring him and his employees to disclose travel paid for by special interests. In fact, he won't even disclose who some of his employees are — though the salaries of these political appointees are paid for by public funds. Contrary to White House practice, the vice president's residence won't release the names of those who come to visit. Cheney has even succeeded in getting President Bush to give him the power to prevent the release of vice presidential papers after Cheney leaves office.
It's a shocking list, isn't it? And there are more examples, too. What reckless behavior.