Cheney's records lost to history

A federal judge ruled that former veep has wide discretion in choosing which records of his time in office to preserve.

By Gabriel Winant

Published January 20, 2009 9:51PM (EST)

It was nice to think that when Dick Cheney wheeled away today snarling, Big Jeffrey Lebowski-like, we wouldn't be hearing about him again too soon. Oh well.

A federal judge ruled yesterday that the former vice president can deal with records of his term in office however he pleases. "Congress drastically limited the scope of outside inquiries related to the vice president's handling of his own records during his term in office," wrote Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly.

The relevant law, the Presidential Records Act, assumes that presidents and vice presidents will comply in good faith with the law, said Judge Kollar-Kotelly, and that it was not proven that Cheney had unlawfully decided not to preserve certain records.

To get the freer access to Cheney's records they sought, the plaintiffs -- archivists, historians, and government watchdogs -- will have to get Congress to change the law.

Gabriel Winant

Gabriel Winant is a graduate student in American history at Yale.

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