“Addington’s legal argument yesterday has previously been rejected”

Posted on by Jesse Lee

The Washington Post prints an update on the question of the Vice President’s handling of classified information:

Cheney Aide Explains Stance on Classified Material
Michael Abramowitz, Washington Post – June 27, 2007

Vice President Cheney’s office offered its first public written explanation yesterday for its refusal to comply with an executive order regulating the handling of classified material, arguing that the order makes clear that the vice president is not subject to the oversight system it creates for federal agencies.

In a letter to Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), Cheney Chief of Staff David S. Addington wrote that the order treats the vice president the same as the president and distinguishes them both from “agencies” subject to the oversight provisions of the executive order.

Addington did not cite specific language in the executive order supporting this view, and a Cheney spokeswoman could not point to such language last night. But spokeswoman Lee Anne McBride said the intent of the order, as expressed by White House officials in recent days, was “not for the VP to be separated from the president on this reporting requirement.”

Addington did not repeat a separate argument that has been previously advanced by Cheney’s office: that it is not strictly an executive branch agency but also shares legislative functions because the vice president presides over the Senate. That argument has drawn ridicule in recent days from Democrats and on late-night television.

The argument has been offered previously:

Addington’s legal argument yesterday has previously been rejected by the director of the Archives’ Information Security Oversight Office, J. William Leonard. In a letter to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales in January, Leonard noted that the 2003 executive order includes only one explicit reference to the Office of the Vice President.

“This sole explicit reference for the purpose of exempting the OVP from a provision of the Order supports an interpretation that the rest of the Order does apply,” Leonard wrote. “Otherwise there would be no need for an exemption.”

Read the full letter from National Archives to Attorney General Gonzales (pdf), or see the relevant excerpt below:

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