Cheney blinks?

His chief of staff says he's dropping the legislative-executive argument -- but that he's exempt from an executive order on classified documents.

By Tim Grieve
June 27, 2007 6:23PM (UTC)
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Did Rahm Emanuel's threat to cut off executive branch funding for the Office of the Vice President actually work? We don't know, but it appears that something did.

In a response to an inquiry from Sen. John Kerry, Dick Cheney's chief of staff indicates that the vice president will no longer rely on the argument that his office is part of the legislative branch rather than the executive branch in seeking to avoid compliance with an executive order on the protection of classified information.


"Constitutional issues in government are generally best left for discussion when unavoidable disputes arise in a specific context instead of in theoretical discussions," David Addington tells Kerry. "Given that the executive order treats the vice president like the president rather than like an 'agency,' it is not necessary in these circumstances to address the subject of any alternative reasoning, based on the law and history of the legislative functions of the vice presidency and the more modern executive functions of the vice presidency, to reach the same conclusion that the vice presidency is not an 'agency' with respect to which [the Information Security Oversight Office] has a role."

A translation and three questions:

Translation: Even though we're not using the legislative vs. executive argument anymore, we still think the executive order doesn't require anything of us.


Question No. 1: What, exactly, are "the more modern executive functions of the vice presidency"?

Question No. 2: Any chance that this "more modern" period began on, say, Jan. 20, 2001?

Question No. 3: While we realize that this argument may cut the other way, in what legal sense, exactly, does the "more modern executive functions of the vice presidency" trump "the law and history of the legislative functions of the vice presidency"?

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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