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Wash Post Profiles Influential Legislator:
Today's Washington Post kicks off a series on Senate President Dick Cheney, who apparently has also exercised some influence in recent years within the Executive Branch. The first installment is here.

  UPDATE: The Washington Post article really is a must-read, although on reading it closely I realize that the title of my post is inaccurate. According to the Post article, Cheney's counsel believes that the Vice-Presidency is neither in the executive branch nor in the legisltive branch. Last I checked, the federal government only had three branches, so by process of elimination the Office of the Vice President must be in the judicial branch.
Joe Hiegel:
If indeed he has served as gatekeeper for Supreme Court nominees, it might be fair to say that he's a member of the judicial branch too, I imagine.
6.24.2007 2:45pm
Dave N (mail):
For those of you who suffer from BDS (I know there are some who read this site) you should be glad it is not U.S. President Dick Cheney--since Cheney Derangement Syndrome is even more unhinged than Bush Derangement Syndrome
6.24.2007 3:27pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
it might be fair to say that he's a member of the judicial branch too, I imagine.

So many gifts!

The article pretty much confirms how we thought things worked, but it's interesting that Addington wrote the "Geneva, how quaint" memo that went around under Gonzales's name.

Frankly, this country would've been much safer with Cheney working out of the Senate &fenced off from the White House.
6.24.2007 3:28pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Cheney Derangement Syndrome

That would be the disorder where the patient is as deranged as Cheney, right?
6.24.2007 3:29pm
Chris Owen:
Serious question: could Cheney be indicted after January 2009 for breaking the law during his term as VP? Or is he legally immune for everything he's done in office?
6.24.2007 4:01pm
Henri Le Compte (mail):
Just taking a wild fling at a rolling donut, but I'm guessing that it would be more accurate to say that "According to... Cheney's counsel... the Vice-Presidency is neither exclusively in the executive branch nor in the legisltive branch."

In that sense, it's just a boilerplate observation. Or, it could be that the man's insane. Take your pick!
6.24.2007 4:07pm
Henri Le Compte (mail):
Chris:
Do you have any reason to believe that the VP has broken the law? I mean is there any shred of evidence of any kind, anywhere, at any time in the public record that suggests Cheney is a criminal?

Outside of that small problem... sure. Just ask Spiro Agnew.
6.24.2007 4:12pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
Since it is clear that Cheney is not part of the judicial branch, we are led to the conclusion that he isn't part of the US government at all. He's actually a space alien.
6.24.2007 4:23pm
Waldensian (mail):

I mean is there any shred of evidence of any kind, anywhere, at any time in the public record that suggests Cheney is a criminal?

Not that I can think of. Although he was just a few shotgun pellets away from negligent homicide once.
6.24.2007 4:27pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Remember, all, that the article is not first &foremost a reflection upon Cheney.

Rather, it should make us think about the person who allows Cheney to behave this way -- who for instance allowed Cheney's lawyer to dream up how prisoners would be handled, and then signed it without running it past the cabinet, or even Rice and Powell -- who evidently didn't care for the input of his own cabinet officers.
6.24.2007 4:27pm
Stanford Grad:
Are the comments in this post (2:27, 2:28, etc) an accurate prediction of the general tenor of the Internet between now and November of 2008? If so, where do I turn in my connection?

There's no reason to feel the need to make the cheap political shots (from either side of the aisle) in these threads. They add nothing other than self-satisfied snark and detract from the wealth of thoughtful and illuminating comments from readers of the site. Can we please declare a truce, at least on this site? If you really feel the need to make snarky political comments then there are plenty of other sites that would happily cater to your needs.
6.24.2007 4:27pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
Or maybe he's an independent agency. When I was with RTC, they were fond of claiming to be a government agency when it suited them (more power and immunity) and to be non-governmental when it suited them (Admin. Procedure Act? NEPA? Endangered Species Act? Never heard of 'em).
6.24.2007 4:28pm
curious:
Henri wrote:
"According to... Cheney's counsel... the Vice-Presidency is neither exclusively in the executive branch nor in the legisltive branch."

The exact quote Orin was referring to in the article:

"His general counsel has asserted that 'the vice presidency is a unique office that is neither a part of the executive branch nor a part of the legislative branch,' and is therefore exempt from rules governing either."

Pretty unbelievable . . .
6.24.2007 4:32pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
There's no reason to feel the need to make the cheap political shots (from either side of the aisle) in these threads. They add nothing other than self-satisfied snark

You left off, "for the entertainment of others." I categorically reject the accusation of selfishness.

I seem to notice my 2:28 comment's pointing out something substantive &of interest from the article. And if you think wishing Cheney weren't in the White House is a "cheap political shot," it's not. It's quite sincere. The man's influence has been, near as I can tell, entirely pernicious.
6.24.2007 4:38pm
Stanford Grad:
> You left off, "for the entertainment of others."

You are certainly entitled to your opinion that your humor is entertaining. That said, the tenor and tone problem is not limited to your comments. You just happened to get swept in. Maybe this thread isn't the best example of the problem, but rather the straw that broke my patience with some of the self-assured smugness that has taken over some commentors on the site. I don't remember any comments of yours being particularly offensive on other threads, so maybe I rushed to judge.
6.24.2007 4:52pm
The McGehee (mail) (www):
Cheney's general counsel -- like all too many working lawyers inside the Beltway -- needs to spend more time reading the Constitution. The vice-presidency is an executive office, granted a certain limited legislative role as an exception to the Separation of Powers doctrine.
6.24.2007 4:55pm
Syd Henderson (mail):
If Cheney's office is not in the executive or legislative branch, then he can't claim executive or legislative privilege, so subpoena away!
6.24.2007 5:02pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
I don't remember any comments of yours being particularly offensive on other threads,

I'm sure they were.

Quite honestly, when you get the OVP insisting that it's a part of whichever branch suits its desire for power, ridicule is the first and best response. Once you start taking these people seriously, you've conceded them half the battle.
6.24.2007 5:08pm
Chico's Bail Bonds (mail):
Of course, the President also has legislative powers (e.g. veto) and executive powers. Like the Vice President, then, he is not a member of either branch and is not subject to the rules of either.

Also, the Congress has legislative and executive powers (advising on treaties and appointments of executive officers), so it can't be part of either of those branches. Like the Vice President, Congress is not subject to the rules of the executive and legislative branch.

I can't think of any executive or legislative powers of the judiciary. So, until such time as David Addington no longer finds it useful, the judiciary has to follow the law.
6.24.2007 5:24pm
AnandaG:
I don't generally think of myself as prone to hyperbole, but the fact that Cheney is making this argument through his counsel ought to be grounds for immediate impeachment. How much more clearly does he have to say that he's above the law?
6.24.2007 5:32pm
ReaderY:

I can't think of any executive or legislative powers of the judiciary. So, until such time as David Addington no longer finds it useful, the judiciary has to follow the law.


It's not as if the Judiciary could take over control of a government agency or raise taxes (it has declared that it can do both).

On the one hand, I think that Cheney's line of reasoning represents a rather inflationary overextension of constitutional position. But I would have thought a lot of the Judiciary's claims to power were so inconsistent with the consitution as to be downright silly as well, so it's not exactly as if there's no precedent through the more-power-and-less-oversight-through-creative-lawyering approach.
6.24.2007 5:41pm
r78:
Stanford - it's interesting to me that you are apparently more troubled by snarks about Cheney than by the fact that the Vice President of our government feels free to disregard laws regarding document retention that apply to the executive branch using the laughable fig leaf that he is not, actually, part of the executive branch.
6.24.2007 5:44pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
Cheney's general counsel -- like all too many working lawyers inside the Beltway -- needs to spend more time reading the Constitution.

In 10 yrs in government, I was always amazed how little policymakers knew about making policy.

Hmm.. if an office is both legislative and executive, why would it be exempt from the limits on each? It would seem more likely that it is subject to the limitations of both.
6.24.2007 5:47pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
It would seem more likely that it is subject to the limitations of both.

That is pre-9/11 thinking, Dave. Tune to FOXNews immediately, for at least four hours, or until reprogramming is complete.
6.24.2007 5:57pm
curious:
That is pre-9/11 thinking, Dave. Tune to FOXNews immediately, for at least four hours, or until reprogramming is complete.

Watch yourself, Anderson. You're in danger of destroying all that good will you just established with Stanford Grad . . .
6.24.2007 6:06pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Defeating others' high expectations of me has been a lifelong hobby of mine.
6.24.2007 6:15pm
curious:
That was my way of encouraging you to continue. This (as most anything) is much more interesting than bar studying.
6.24.2007 6:18pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
This (as most anything) is much more interesting than bar studying.

Well, I'm certainly not going to encourage your dereliction. No more snark for you! Go study!

(Spoken by someone who blew off the Saturday before his bar exam, reading Jack Vance in the Borders cafe. However, my anxiety as to whether I'd passed was nerve-wracking, and I would've been a much better husband and father for the next 8 weeks had I studied enough to feel confident.)
6.24.2007 6:34pm
Ella (www):
Silly reality-based thinkers. The VP WANTS to be a separate branch of government, so he is making it so. Great men like him can't be restrained by silly things like laws, precedent, and logic.
6.24.2007 6:38pm
Smokey:

Anderson:

Remember, all, that the article is not first &foremost a reflection upon Cheney.

Rather, it should make us think about the person who allows Cheney to behave this way...



Aside from the electorate, who, exactly, is the VP's boss?

Name(s), please.
6.24.2007 6:40pm
crane (mail):

Aside from the electorate, who, exactly, is the VP's boss?

Name(s), please.


Please tell us that's a joke.


...although, if you buy Cheney's argument that the vice president is not in the executive branch, then logically he would not be subordinate to the president's authority any more than members of congress are.
6.24.2007 6:54pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Aside from the electorate, who, exactly, is the VP's boss?

Bush can't fire Cheney, but he has all sorts of means at his disposal to rein him in -- very obvious means. He hasn't, that we can see.
6.24.2007 6:55pm
byomtov (mail):
Defeating others' high expectations of me has been a lifelong hobby of mine.

It must get harder and harder as those expectations drop, though. I admire your perseverance.
6.24.2007 6:56pm
Ella (www):
Smokey - I think you're pretending to be dense, but in case you're not - The President is the one who gives the VP almost all of his day-to-day jobs and responsibilities, including the significant domestic and foreign policy role Cheney has been given in this administration. Bush could cut off CHeney's access to most classified information and cut him out of the loop entirely on all presidential and executive branch activities if he were displeased with Cheney's behavior. Functionally, Bush is Cheney's boss EXCEPT when he is presiding over the Senate, breaking ties, or conducting certain statutory activities (membership on NSC, etc.). Since most, if not all, of the activities described in the articles don't fall into these very narrow areas, it's fair to say that Bush allows Cheney to behave the way he does when he carries out those activities. As such, Bush doesn't get a pass just because he can't fire Cheney from his position as Vice President.
6.24.2007 6:57pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
It must get harder and harder as those expectations drop, though. I admire your perseverance.

You assume a rational consumer!

--Thanks for having the patience to spell that out, Ella.

If Bush had any smarts at all, he would've seen through Cheney when he delegated Cheney to find him a list of VP candidates &Cheney came back with "Me." That is the LAST person you want.
6.24.2007 7:04pm
Ella (www):
Anderson - No problem. I, too, am distracting myself from bar review.

No kidding on the selection issue. But, unlike most Dems, I don't actually think Bush is an idiot. I think he knew what he was doing the first time he picked Cheney and I'm sure he knew the second time. Bush trusts Cheney and uses him to deflect criticism and do the dirty work (the king is loved, his chancellor is feared). That, or Cheney has one hell of a brown file on Bush.
6.24.2007 7:19pm
curious:
the king is loved, his chancellor is feared

Loved? Funny way of showing it!

Although I think the feared part isn't far off . . .
6.24.2007 7:27pm
Riley Still (mail):
"Cheney's general counsel -- like all too many working lawyers inside the Beltway -- needs to spend more time reading the Constitution. The vice-presidency is an executive office, granted a certain limited legislative role as an exception to the Separation of Powers doctrine."

Maybe some commenters to this blog should spend some time reading it too.


I'm trying to read The Constitution now, as I'm sure George Washington did in his time:

I read in Art. I Sec 3 that "... The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided." Reads to me like he is part of the Legislative branch and has a duty. Therefore, he should be subject to the rules of the Senate and restrictions placed on members of the Senate. Furthermore, the Senate exercised powers over the Vice president, for example, by ruling him ineligible to enter into debates.

I read in Art. II Sec 1 that The President "... with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows: ..."

I read in Art II Sec 4 that "The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, ..."

I read in Amendment XXV "In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President." [Note: GW did not live long enough to rea this one]

Nowhere in Art II or Amendment XXV to I see any powers or duties assigned to the person who is Vice President, only how he or she becomes Vice President, is removed, or becomes President. Nor does Art II give the President any Powers over the Vice president. Therefore, the Constitution doesn't seem to be a strong authority for assigning the office of Vice President to the Executive.

To bad we can't pose this question to John Adams. According to Joseph J. Ellis, author of "Founding Brothers" (p167) "Washington seldom consulted him on policy questions apparantly believing that the vice presidency was a legislative office based in the Senate." Ellis quates Adams. "The executive authority is so wholly out of my sphere..., I avoid it as much as possible."

If we want to attach restrictions to the free actions of the person who is Vice President acting as a member of the Executive as is Chaney, perhaps we should apply the same restrictions that we applied to Harry Hopkins.

Cheers to all.
6.24.2007 7:31pm
SpenceB:
"The establishment of a Vice-President is as unnecessary as it is dangerous. This officer, for want of other employment, is made president of the senate, thereby blending the executive and legislative powers... "




(Antifederalist No. 67: "VARIOUS FEARS CONCERNING THE EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT")

[From the "CATO" letters of George Clinton, taken from The New-York Journal of November 8, 1787]
6.24.2007 7:40pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Riley, that's certainly how it started out, but it's pretty obvious that Cheney is playing a big part in the Executive Branch.

Sure, if Hopkins had been violating Executive Orders on the grounds that he didn't have an actual post, I'd be against that too. (But wasn't he head of the WPA or somesuch?)
6.24.2007 7:42pm
Ella (www):
Curious - I didn't say it had proved to be an effective tactic.
6.24.2007 7:43pm
OrinKerr:
Riley,

That's interesting, but as I understand it Cheney's counsel is not claiming that the Vice President is part of the Legislative branch. Based on the quote above, he is claiming that he is neither in the Legislative nor the Executive brach. Do you agree?

Also, if the VP is part of the legislative branch, can he and his office claim executive privilege?
6.24.2007 7:53pm
curious:
I assumed as much and would never attribute unto you feelings of love for Bush. Unlike Stanford Grad, however, I enjoy noting as often as possible just how unpopular our king is.

Then again, when compared to the public's feelings for Dick, GWB is loved . . .
6.24.2007 7:54pm
Aaron B Brown (mail) (www):
test
6.24.2007 8:03pm
David Sucher (mail) (www):
Stanford Grad.

If you are going to object, may I suggest that you use something a bit less hackneyed and trite than "cheap political shots."

Personally, I think a claim that the Vice President doesn't belong to a branch of the US government deserves only the very cheapest response.
6.24.2007 8:06pm
llamasex (mail) (www):
I think people need to read the article. Because if they did we'd be having a much different discussion right now.
6.24.2007 8:54pm
Smokey:
It's interesting that no one here could name Cheney's boss [impotent arm-waving doesn't count].

The president is certainly not the Vice President's boss. Sure, the president can make life difficult for the VP -- but the president can make life difficult for lots of people in government.

The president can not discipline the VP for refusal to follow a direct order, and the president can not fire the VP -- who was elected by the voters, not hired by the president. Sure, the VP can be impeached and lose his job. But you can lose your job by being arrested and convicted, too, even if your boss doesn't want to lose you as an employee.

So I ask again: Who, exactly, is the Vice President's boss?

Name[s], please.
6.24.2007 8:54pm
Mark Field (mail):

Cheney's general counsel -- like all too many working lawyers inside the Beltway -- needs to spend more time reading the Constitution.


That would certainly help, but I don't think it's enough to say this. It's not like the Constitution has the prolixity of a legal code, defining every detail of the VPs job. It's more of an outline than a thesis.

Our expectations for the office are shaped not simply by the text, but by theory, history, and considerations of good faith. It's these, more than the text, which Cheney is violating.

His position lacks good faith because it seems to shift ground at his convenience, one minute avoiding executive rules because he's the President of the Senate, the next minute avoiding legislative rules on the claim that he's part of the Executive Branch.

His claims also violate our sense of the VP's role. That sense is informed by the history of the office, a history best summarized by John Nance Garner's famous description as "not worth a bucket of warm piss ["spit" in the bowderlized version]". Cheney's exaggerated claims of VP authority therefore undermine our shared understanding of the way the government is supposed to function without giving anyone else -- not Congress, not the Courts, not We, the People -- any say over it. The fact that his claims are the ultimate in self-serving makes them still more egregious.

Then there's theory. If there's any principle that everyone agrees on, it's that there are 3 branches of government. Cheney's attempt to create a fourth one for himself brings to mind the famous description of Samuel Chase: "He's a good man, but his theology is unsound. He thinks there's a fourth person in the Trinity."
6.24.2007 8:55pm
John Herbison (mail):
I am reminded of the line--I think it was said by Jay Leno when Dick Cheney had a flare-up of his heart trouble during the first term of the Bush-Fudd administration--about how frightening it is to realize that George W. Bush is just a heartbeat away from being President of the United States.

I can't decide whether that is more or less frightening now.
6.24.2007 9:16pm
Smokey:
At least the Vice President is giving a rationale, right or wrong, for his position.

Unlike...

''I'm not going to have some reporters pawing through our papers. We are the president!''

-- Hillary Clinton commenting on the release of subpeonaed documents.
6.24.2007 9:19pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Smokey, as you've doubtless been able to infer by now, (1) everyone already knows that Cheney doesn't have a "boss," and (2) whether or not he has a "boss" isn't relevant to the discussion.

If you can provide anything to differ with (2), then maybe we will find more relevance in the issue of (1).
6.24.2007 9:50pm
TyWebb:
Smokey,

No one arm-waved at your question. They dismissed it, for two reasons. First, because it's irrelevant to Cheney's claims. We do NOT determine whether or not someone is in a certain branch of government by finding the person that can have them fired. Just because the rules regarding dismissal are different based upon a public servant's position, does not mean that these rules are paramount to the determination of in what capacity they serve the people.

The second reason is that it begs the question. OK, Bush can't make Cheney resign, or fire him, or discipline him. Does that make him not his boss? Last time I checked, the control my partners will have over me is not limited to showing me the door. They also show me the work I'll be doing, and don't show me the work I won't be doing. They make this determination based upon a number of factors (including where I've shown my interest), but first among those factors has to be where I'm most effective.

Bush has control over what meetings Cheney attends, what information he gets, and what matters on which he is called to advise. We have received results based upon Bush's exercise of this control that many of us consider inappropriate, if not downright illegal and deplorable. Of course we will call Bush to account for this. It is his decision how to allocate Cheney's time. For someone who is obviously a Cheney fan, I'm somewhat amused that you reject the expansive power of the President in this regard.

So, to specifically answer your question, Cheney's boss is (ignoring the trite answer, "The American People) President George Bush.

Oh, and I'm glad you preemptively responded with the ever effective deflection, "but...but clinton! boogyman! sandy berger, and mean ol' hillary! dogs and cats, living together, mass hysteria!" I'm expecting Stanford Grad's rebuke of your snark anytime now.
6.24.2007 9:58pm
Ron Hardin (mail) (www):
Maybe there aren't three branches of government, when the question of what the Vice President is comes up. If he doesn't fit in any, then he doesn't fit in any.

On the other hand, it's not so important that you have to change the answer ``three'' on all the tests.

Perhaps some matter someday will make it important (some poorly written law, perhaps) and then the matter will be resolved somehow, perhaps by ignoring the law.
6.24.2007 10:04pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Maybe Stanford will provide a verifiable source for that quotation, while he or she is at it. I didn't see it at Snopes, and Wikiquote doesn't have a source for it.
6.24.2007 10:05pm
whackjobbbb:
Cheney does what he does because Bush wants him to do it, and 63,000,000 Americans musta liked what it is that he does, or they wouldn'ta reelected him. The rest in here is just whining. I think it's ridiculous that Cheney's employing some pettifogging nonsense here, but it's what you pettifogging lawyers do for a living, so I'm not all that patient with any of this weak tea, crybaby stuff.

I'm more interested in this quote from that article:


"What the hell just happened?" Secretary of State Colin L. Powell demanded, a witness said...


This is how I picture this perfumed-prince Powell... standing there with a foolish look wondering what's going on around him (and I use "perfumed-prince" in the pentagonial sense, because it's how many real men of arms reference this peacock, men who know him best).

This is the dolt who forced diplomatic policy to engage in a UN-approval-seeking boondoggle, and stood in the well of the UN waving unsubstantiated evidence for the "slam dunk".

This is the dolt who, following rejection of his UN dog and pony show, sat and watched and did nothing, besides rejecting the war plan that took Baghdad in 10 days, as being militarily improbable. Today, he's desperately trying to do what he does best, whimper for media approval, but when the heat was on... where was he?

This is the dolt who, following the overthrow of Sadaam Hussein, forcefully pushed for the creation of the Wisconsin-style legislature of the socialists' dreams, the creation of the "Green Zone", the appointment of Viceroy Bremer, and the importation of all the big government conservatism any tribalist could ever want... if those tribalists ever knew what a government was that didn't know only how to yank out their fingernails.

This is the idiot who in 1991 bombed illiterate Shiite conscripts for 40 days, turning 100,000 of them to jello, darkened every hospital and every infant incubator, and turned off every refrigerator in Baghdad, all in the name of the "Powell Doctrine", and followed that up by standing and watching as Sadaam slaughtered 200,000 of them in reprisal for a "revolution" that the peacock had advocated. You wonder why those Shiites hate us so much?

Bush likes or liked this guy too, I guess, so he's ultimately to blame if anyone. But if we're gonna review idiots in this administration, let's have a full accounting.
6.24.2007 10:07pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
"So I ask again: Who, exactly, is the Vice President's boss?"

We are. And we are not pleased.

"At least the Vice President is giving a rationale, right or wrong, for his position."

Oh, certainly. It is, after all, THE LEAST he can do, right?
6.24.2007 10:18pm
Smokey:
Anderson:

I know Cheney doesn't have a boss. That's what I've been pointing out. Glad you've finally come around to that understanding.

In the posts above, Ella, you, and Crane apparently started out assuming that the VP has a specific boss, and that boss is the president:

Ella:

''Functionally, Bush is Cheney's boss...''

Anderson:

''Rather, it should make us think about the person who allows Cheney to behave this way...'' [my emphasis]

And so on. But now the consensus in this thread appears to have changed. Good.

TyWebb is still a holdout, though:

''Cheney's boss is... President George Bush.''

BZZ-Z-Z-Z-Z-Z-T! Wrong!
But thanks for playing, and we have some lovely parting gifts for you on your way out...

...unless you can cite a specific law or Art/Sec of the Constitution that makes it clear that the president is the Vice President's boss. Otherwise, as they say, 'you lose.'

Anyway, Cheney's statement is certainly no different than Fat Albert's:

"There is no controlling legal authority that says this was in violation of law."

-- Al Gore, who gave the same exact testimony seven times.
6.24.2007 10:35pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Rather, it should make us think about the person who allows Cheney to behave this way

Riiight ... because if Bush threatened to yank Cheney's security clearances, ban him from cabinet meetings, and generally cut him out of the loop, then Cheney would either come to heel or else find himself with lots of time to spend on talk radio and O'Reilly.

Everyone else on the thread was able to figure that one out, it seems.
6.24.2007 10:51pm
cfoster (mail):
This paragraph turns up on answers.com. Unfortunately it doesn't include citations but rather lists a bibliography of authorities so I can’t vouch for its accuracy. For what it’s worth it addresses some of the arguments in this comment thread . I was most intrigued that it shares Cheney's counsel's idea about the branches to which the veep does not properly belong (emphasis added).

"The Vice Presidency was an afterthought for the Constitutional Convention, put into the document in order to provide for orderly succession without resorting to election of someone from Congress to fill the vacancy. The Vice President is not a member of either the executive or the legislative branch. Constitutionally, the Vice President is not a subordinate of the President, who has no power to issue orders to the Vice President and who cannot remove him from office. (The Vice President can be removed only by impeachment.) But Vice Presidents have found that the way they gain influence in Washington is by subordinating themselves to the President. By doing so, they have become, since Dwight Eisenhower's administration, part of the inner circle of senior political advisers to the President."
6.24.2007 10:57pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
So, Smokey, are you saying that Dick Cheney is accountable to no one, that he is subject to no oversight whatsoever, that his official records and activities may not be reviewed or subpoenaed under any circumstances?

And if so, is this because "Fat Albert" and Hillary did it too? Or is there some more compelling logic behind your defense?
6.24.2007 11:12pm
Ghlade:
I would be interested in knowing who posted that description on answers.com, and when.
6.24.2007 11:12pm
Riley Still (mail):
Orin:

No I don’t agree with the VP’s General Counsel that the VP is in neither branch. My point was that commenters who direct me to the Constitution to clearly see that the Vice President is in the Executive Branch are wrong. The Constitution makes no such assertion. I believe the Constitution does assert that the VP is in the Senate.

From a strict constructionist’s view, the VP (as VP) has no claim to executive privilege. But, he does have claim to privileges at least equal to the President Pro Tem of the Senate and of any other constitutional “officer” of the Senate or to any regular member of the Senate, whatever those privileges might be. I suspect that members of the Senate can claim privilege (that regular citizens like you and I don’t have) re: communications within their individual offices, and probably would be able to defend such privilege against the Executive, the House, the courts, or to some degree re: other Senators inquiries. A claim of privilege by the VP versus inquiries by the Executive would really be interesting.


Re my mention of Harry Hopkins: I believe (but don’t know) that HH was an advisor to the President without portfolio during the war. I believe that he would have had the same claim of privilege as had Roosevelt. Cheney hypothetically may claim to be an advisor to the President just as Harry Hopkins was and claim the same privilege that HH maintained. Whatever those privileges might have been.

Perhaps he should simply claim Vice Presidential privilege.
6.24.2007 11:21pm
cfoster (mail):
I would be interested in knowing who posted that description on answers.com, and when.

Good point. It's almost too on point. Is answers.com like wikipedia? I don't know.
6.24.2007 11:24pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
smokey: "unless you can cite a specific law or Art/Sec of the Constitution that makes it clear that the president is the Vice President's boss"

Please see Title 3, Chapter 2, § 106. It discusses how to "enable the Vice President to provide assistance to the President in connection with the performance of functions specially assigned to the Vice President by the President in the discharge of executive duties and responsibilities." The key word there is "assigned." This law seems to take for granted that POTUS gets to 'assign' functions to VP. In other words, the law indeed "makes it clear that the president is the Vice President's boss."

h/t to Joyner.

It's also worth noticing a few other things. The following is the first sentence, in full, of Article 2:

The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.


I can't imagine what "executive power" is, if not power to delegate executive functions to members of the executive branch. Unless you want to argue that VP is not part of the executive branch (exactly what Cheney has claimed, of course), this means that POTUS has power to delegate executive functions to VP. When someone can delegate power to me, here are the words we usually use to describe that person: my boss.

Also, according the Constitution, the VP has this title, oddly enough: "Vice President." The word "vice," in this context, is typically defined as 'next in rank.' Giving the VP this title was an odd choice, on the part of the Framers, if they did not intend the VP to be subordinate to POTUS.
6.24.2007 11:24pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Part two of the WaPo's series on Cheney is now up; this one focuses on the efforts of Cheney and Addington to work around the War Crimes Act and enable "enhanced interrogation techniques" (i.e., "torture" when it's being done to your son or daughter).

John Yoo is getting positively chatty about all the help he had, it seems.
6.24.2007 11:31pm
Angus:
answers.com gets all of its content word-for-word from Wikipedia, which anyone can edit. I wouldn't be surprised if that paragraph had been added from a Washington, D.C. I.P. address.
6.24.2007 11:31pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Can't begin to quote everything in the article, but it's interesting to see that ex-clerks of Justice Kennedy's were sought-after sources of advice. Ted Olson was getting uncomfortable having to argue for unlimited executive authority to detain U.S. citizens like Padilla:

Decision time came in a heated meeting in Gonzales's corner office on the West Wing's second floor, according to four officials with direct knowledge, none of whom agreed to be quoted by name about confidential legal deliberations. Olson was backed by associate White House counsel Bradford A. Berenson, a former law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.

Berenson told colleagues that the court's swing voter would never accept absolute presidential discretion to declare a U.S. citizen an enemy and lock him up without giving him an opportunity to be represented and heard. Another former Kennedy clerk, White House lawyer Brett Kavanaugh, had made the same argument earlier. Addington accused Berenson of surrendering executive power on a fool's prophecy about an inscrutable court. Berenson accused Addington of "know-nothingness."

Gonzales listened quietly as the Justice Department and his own staff lined up against Addington. Then he decided in favor of Cheney's lawyer.


You think nothing can amaze you any more about these people, but then you're amazed again.
6.24.2007 11:38pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
"Do you have any reason to believe that the VP has broken the law? I mean is there any shred of evidence of any kind, anywhere, at any time in the public record that suggests Cheney is a criminal?"


Based on the facts set forth in the WaPo article, I'd say there's pretty good evidence he's guilty of conspiracy to violate the War Crimes Act. See 18 USC 2441; 18 USC Section 371. Aiding and abetting would also be a viable theory. See 18 USC 2.
6.24.2007 11:38pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Various people in various places have correctly pointed out that it's time for Cheney to withdraw all his claims of executive privilege. I think it's helpful to notice that Bush has expressly spoken of VP as being part of the executive branch, when it was convenient to do so for the purpose of hiding behind executive privilege:

I'm not going to let Congress erode the power of the Executive Branch. I have a duty to protect the Executive Branch from legislative encroachment. I mean, for example, when the GAO demands documents from us, we're not going to give them to them. These were privileged conversations. These were conversations when people come into our offices and brief us. Can you imagine having to give up every single transcript of what is -- advised me or the Vice President? Our advice wouldn't be good and honest and open.

And so I viewed that as an encroachment on the power of the Executive Branch. I have an obligation to make sure that the presidency remains robust and the Legislative Branch doesn't end up running the Executive Branch.


Emphasis added.

It's ironic to hear Bush describe his concern, that "the Legislative Branch doesn't end up running the Executive Branch." Since we now know that Cheney is, indeed, 'the Legislative Branch,' and since we realize that Cheney has also been 'running the Executive Branch.'
6.24.2007 11:39pm
cfoster (mail):
Actually, answers.com give credit for the paragraph to:

US Government Guide information about Vice President of the United States
The Oxford Guide to the United States Government. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1998, 2001, 2002 by John J. Patrick, Richard M. Pious, Donald M. Ritchie. All rights reserved.
6.24.2007 11:40pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Mahan Atma, don't forget that the Congress rushed into law, before the 2006 elections, the so-called "Military Commissions Act," a chief aim of which was to immunize government officials and CIA interrogators from prosecution under same.

The Military Commissions Act, passed by strong majorities of the Senate and House on Sept. 28 and 29, 2006, gave "the office of the vice president almost everything it wanted," said Yoo, who maintained his contact with Addington after returning to a tenured position at Berkeley.

The new law withstood its first Supreme Court challenge on April 2. It exempts CIA case officers and other government employees from prosecution for past war crimes or torture. Once again, an apparently technical provision held great importance to Cheney and his allies.


You remember how clearly the liberal media framed the debate as "should we pass a law protecting Cheney, Addington, Tenet, and Yoo from prosecution for war crimes?" ... on second thought, I don't remember that, either.
6.24.2007 11:47pm
Howard Gilbert (mail):
Under Article I the Senate makes rules for itself and the House makes rules for itself. When the VP acts as President of the Senate, he follows the Senate rules and is not accountable to the President or the House. He is performing a legislative function, but it is not clear that he can be called a "member of the legislative branch."

When the VP acts as chairman of some committee to which he has been appointed by the President, then he is acting as part of the Executive, is accountable to the President, and must follow Executive Orders, but not because he is VP. This would be true of anyone appointed to the committee. He is acting in an Executive capacity, but again because of his unique constitutional status he may not be a "member of the executive branch". ("The executive power shall be vested in a President")

The only job the VP has in his own right is to be ready to become President. In this capacity, he is accountable to nobody, except through impeachment. Of course, in this capacity he does almost nothing. It is logically impossible to do "nothing" in an illegal or incorrect manner (except perhaps in Zen meditation). Our inability to hold the VP accountable for maintaining a pulse and remembering to breath does not seem to threaten the Republic.

The one thing he does as VP, however, is to read classified documents to get the background information he would need should he become President. In handling these documents, he is not accountable to the President any more than the Senate is accountable to the House. If there was a law, he would have to follow it. Absent a law, it would appear that he is responsible for setting up his own rules and verifying his own office's compliance. His office is small enough, and he has sufficiently little else to do, that he may attend to this matter personally.
6.24.2007 11:53pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
The one thing he does as VP, however, is to read classified documents to get the background information he would need should he become President.

Mr. Gilbert, I don't know of any law that entitles Cheney to any such access. Isn't it at the whim of the President?

Recall that Truman didn't know about the A-bomb.
6.24.2007 11:59pm
Gaius Marius:
Hmmmmm...if the VP is not subordinate to a President, then why do we permit the President to unilaterally nominate "his" VP???
6.25.2007 12:04am
Mark Field (mail):

answers.com gets all of its content word-for-word from Wikipedia, which anyone can edit.


That's my understanding also. However, the Wikipedia article on VPs (here) doesn't contain the language cfoster emphasized from Answers.com.
6.25.2007 12:05am
Gaius Marius:
In my prior post, I meant to ask why we permit a presidential nominee to unilaterally nominate his VP (if the VP is not subordinate to a President).
6.25.2007 12:05am
cfoster (mail):
Mark, answers.com credits the paragraph I quoted to -

The Oxford Guide to the United States Government. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1998, 2001, 2002 by John J. Patrick, Richard M. Pious, Donald M. Ritchie.
6.25.2007 12:08am
Anderson (mail) (www):
why we permit a presidential nominee to unilaterally nominate his VP (if the VP is not subordinate to a President).

One, that's purely a party-based, political decision. Second, in practice that's not always how it works, tho we may be moving towards that.

FDR ended up with Garner as his Veep in order to swing the Texas delegation to him &thus (along with California) generate the momentum to win on the 4th ballot at the 1932 convention. (I do not memorize such stuff; but I'm presently reading the new FDR bio by Jean Edward Smith.)
6.25.2007 12:09am
Anderson (mail) (www):
--And on the answers.com issue, if the graf that cfoster quotes is direct from a copyrighted source, or even suspected of such, then the Wikipedists may have stricken it -- they're rather tetchy about such things, not without reason. But it could still be showing up in the answers.com version.

You could study the history of the Wiki article to see if the language ever appeared therein, if you really wanted to be Sherlock Holmes on the subject. Or you could just decide there are Things Mortals Are Not Meant To Know.
6.25.2007 12:12am
whackjobbbb:

why we permit a presidential nominee to unilaterally nominate his VP


It wasn't this way originally as we know. And since the VP could theoretically be the President elect's political enemy, it was set up pretty much like Mr. Gilbert mentions... the VP guy was off somewhere maintaining a pulse and remembering to breathe.

But if Kerry was the VP right now, Cheney would still be around the White House with a portfolio to torment you... so there's really no escape for the BDS/CDS types.
6.25.2007 12:19am
whackjobbbb:
Heck, Rove does it and all he's got is a parking pass!
6.25.2007 12:22am
Gaius Marius:
You're right, Anderson, although I should have clarified my rhetorical question to pertain to the latter half of the 20th century. I wonder if it may be time to amend the U.S. Constitution providing for the nomination of a candidate for Vice-President via the same method/process for nominating a candidate for Preesident since a VP is not a subordinate of the President.
6.25.2007 12:23am
Mark Field (mail):

Mark, answers.com credits the paragraph I quoted to -

The Oxford Guide to the United States Government. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1998, 2001, 2002 by John J. Patrick, Richard M. Pious, Donald M. Ritchie.


Yeah, I saw that, but the emphasized language seemed a little too prescient for the current debate and I wonder if it was added later. I tried to look on Wiki to see, but I'm not tech-savvy enough to tell.


I'm presently reading the new FDR bio by Jean Edward Smith


A fine book -- just finished it.
6.25.2007 1:03am
cfoster (mail):
I checked to see if my local bookstore has it in stock but, alas. Maybe if someone has a copy of The Oxford Guide to the United States Government they could check to see if those claims are actually contained there.
6.25.2007 1:09am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
For some strange reason usa.gov, "the U.S. government's official web portal," run by GSA (itself an executive-branch agency), lists "The Vice President" as part of "Executive Office of the President," which is in turn part of "Federal Executive Branch."

Doan obviously didn't get the memo in time. Needs to check her rnc.com email more often.

And for some equally strange reason, Cheney's official website is obviously subordinate to the White House. This is clear from the design of the page (where the banner "Richard B. Cheney Vice President of the United States" appears immediately under the banner "The White House - President George W. Bush") and even from the address itself: http://www.whitehouse.gov/vicepresident/.

The whitehouse.gov site is a good place to learn about the executive branch. It even has a page called "Executive Branch." That page says "to learn more about the Executive Branch please visit the President's Cabinet page on the White House web site."

This page helpfully reminds us that "one of the principal purposes of the Cabinet (drawn from Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution) is to advise the President." And whose photo appears on this page? Our favorite legislator, Cheney. Yet another clue that he's not part of the executive branch.
6.25.2007 1:12am
Mark Field (mail):
Well, for the record, my suspicion was unwarranted. Amazon lets you search the book for specific phrases, and that search shows the same passage in the 2001 Edition.
6.25.2007 1:13am
Q the Enchanter (mail) (www):
"I believe the Constitution does assert that the VP is in the Senate."

Yes, well there is this tricky business of Article I, Sec. 3: "The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State...." Not, it should be noted, "two Senators from each State, along with the incumbent Vice President" (or words to that effect).

There's also the suggestive fact that the procedures for selecting the VP and P are structurally very tightly interrelated, such that the entire manner of their election, term of service and disqualification are set out in the exact same series of provisions. See Amendments 12 ("Choosing the President, Vice-President"), 20 ("Presidential, Congressional Terms") and 25 ("Presidential Disability and Succession"), as well as Article III, Sec. 1 (president and vice president serve "for the same Term") and Sec. 4 (which states, "The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors").

Finally, there's the rather awkward fact that the referenced provisions are not at all similar in substance to those governing the election, term of service and expulsion of members of the legislature. (In particular, query whether anyone would seriously argue that the Senate could constitutionally expel Cheney. Cf. Article I, Sec. 5.)

Other than that, of course, I guess it's like totally colorable that the VP is not in the executive branch but is in the legislative branch.
6.25.2007 1:14am
Grover Gardner (mail):
"But if Kerry was the VP right now, Cheney would still be around the White House with a portfolio to torment you..."

...in which case he couldn't claim he wasn't part of the Executive branch, could he? *That* would be inconvenient.

"Heck, Rove does it and all he's got is a parking pass!"

And a Blackberry!
6.25.2007 1:21am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
cfoster: "Maybe if someone has a copy of The Oxford Guide to the United States Government they could check to see if those claims are actually contained there."

This question can be answered online.

The text (presented at answers.com) is indeed verbatim from A Real Book, not from wikipedia. The book is browsable at amazon, and the right page (676) can be found with a little clicking and/or searching.

If Cheney sincerely wants to adopt the worldview described by these three academics/historians, then all he has to do is withdraw all the claims he's made regarding executive privilege.
6.25.2007 1:25am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
mark: "Amazon lets you search the book"

Oops, you got there first. I should have hit refresh and saved myself some typing.
6.25.2007 1:27am
Common Sense (mail):
It's not so ridiculous a theory. The Vice Presidency has powers in the Senate. The Vice President is a constitutional actor that cannot be displaced by the President. The Vice President lacks all the Executive power that is exclusively in the President's hands. The Vice President takes over if the President is indisposed.

So the Vice President is neither purely executive nor purely legislative, partly legislative and partly executive. Why is that a bizarre theory? That's what the constitution sets out.
6.25.2007 1:28am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
common: "the Vice President is neither purely executive nor purely legislative"

Purity is hard to come by. The Chief Justice presides over impeachment proceedings in the Senate. Does that mean he's a lawmaker? POTUS has veto power. Does that mean he's a lawmaker? Congress approves executive appointments. Does that mean they're part of the executive branch? It's not surprising to notice various special inter-branch roles like these, and they don't inspire us to claim that CJ is not part of the judicial branch, or that POTUS is not part of the executive branch, or that Congress is something other than the legislative branch.

"Why is that a bizarre theory?"

What's bizarre is how Cheney takes advantage of the fact that so many of his subjects have no memory. This is how he gets away with shamelessly jumping from one interpretation to the next, depending on what happens to best serve his interests in the moment.

Say, you're from the executive branch, coming to exercise oversight? Sorry, nobody home, we're feeling quite legislative today.

Say, you're from the legislative branch, coming to exercise oversight? Sorry, nobody home, we're feeling quite executive today.

The message Cheney is sending to all of us is essentially the same message he once delivered to Leahy.
6.25.2007 2:20am
Baseballhead (mail):
So the Vice President is neither purely executive nor purely legislative, partly legislative and partly executive. Why is that a bizarre theory? That's what the constitution sets out.

Then what's the constitutional check on the vice-presidency? Every actor established by the Constitution is, in theory, supposed to be checked and balanced. Who checks the VP?
6.25.2007 2:26am
cfoster (mail):
Then what's the constitutional check on the vice-presidency?

What power does the vp have that needs to be checked?
6.25.2007 2:34am
markm (mail):
Did Cheney's popularity rise or fall after he became the second Vice President to personally shoot a lawyer?
6.25.2007 9:07am
Dave N (mail):
The obvious check on the Vice President is impeachment and removal.

As to Jukeboxgrad's last post, he misses the point that the powers he asks about are enumerated in the Constitution. It might be helpful if those who criticize the Vice President for allegedly violating the Constitution actually read it first.
6.25.2007 10:25am
Crust (mail):
Chris Owen:

Serious question: could Cheney be indicted after January 2009 for breaking the law during his term as VP? Or is he legally immune for everything he's done in office?

I doubt he could be indicted. Bush will likely grant a wide-ranging pardon before he leaves office. I wouldn't be shocked if Bush preemptively pardoned his entire administration for any and all crimes committed in the course of their duties, or something along those lines.
6.25.2007 11:17am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
cfoster: "What power does the vp have that needs to be checked?"

Any power delegated to him by POTUS. This includes, for example, the power to gather classified information and dispense it to reporters.

dave n: "The obvious check on the Vice President is impeachment and removal."

It's the ultimate check, but it shouldn't be the only check.

I knew it would be a matter of only nanoseconds before we heard this GOP theory of responsible governance. It's the 'I dare you to impeach me' theory, and it goes something like this: 'there's no need for any constraint other than criminal conviction or impeachment, and the absence of such an outcome constitutes proof that everything is hunky-dory.' In other words, taking office is a blank check to do whatever you can get away with as long as you manage to avoid jail or impeachment. There's no need to respect any other rules or constraints. Let the good times roll! And of course this is the party that presents itself as having superior regard for the rule of law.

"he misses the point that the powers he asks about are enumerated in the Constitution"

You miss the point that powers "enumerated in the Constitution" do not include the power of VP to evade all forms of oversight by claiming to be a fourth branch of government.

I don't know what "powers" you're talking about. You're being incoherent.

"It might be helpful if those who criticize the Vice President for allegedly violating the Constitution actually read it first."

If you can explain which part of my post indicates constitutional ignorance, there's no time like the present.
6.25.2007 11:48am
Mark Field (mail):
It seems to me that if Cheney wants to make the argument that he's in neither branch, the natural consequence of that is that he has nothing to do. After all, if he presides over the Senate, he's subject to their rules. If he undertakes a task for the President, he's subject to the oversight of the President or the rules set by Congress (Art. I, Sec. 8, cl. 18). If he does neither of these things, then he has no actual work to do; he just sits.
6.25.2007 12:19pm
pireader (mail):
Following up on Mahan Atma and Anderson's discussion up-thread, here's a query.

Assume that an individual violated the War Crimes Act before 2006 (as Mahan suggested); but has a defense against prosecution due to Section 8 of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (as Anderson suggested). If Congress subsequently repeals Section 8, is he once agian exposed to prosecution for the violation?
6.25.2007 12:24pm
markm (mail):
Smokey's question about the VP's boss was a good one - normally, that's how you find a person's position in the organization chart. But as far as the Constitution goes, the VP doesn't have a boss and just barely gets on the org chart as the President of the Senate. That's not very meaningful, since it's a job requiring only a few hours a year, the VP is not included as a "member" of the Senate, as others have pointed out, and the Senate could get along quite well without him at all. However, the Constitution doesn't even provide that nebulous tie to the executive branch; the VP happens to be elected along with the President, and aside from quite light legislative duties is just a spare tire as long as the President can do the duties of his office. The President and the VP aren't required to even talk with each other after the inauguration.

Of course, as a practical matter, it would be gross irresponsibility for the President to not see that the VP was included in presidential-level briefings, or for the VP to not try to stay informed about issues and decisions in the President's office. Since the VP is being paid a good salary, it only makes sense to help him stay informed by putting him to work as a Presidential staffer - but the President has no power over the VP except the power to tell him to go away and to cut off his access to secrets.

So, we've got Cheney the VP, who has no required duties except opening the Senate session, and we've got Cheney the volunteer Presidential chief of staff. As the VP, he does not have executive privileges, and probably doesn't have legislative privileges either. As a Whitehouse staffer, he's in the executive branch.

So, what was the original issue, again? IIRC, he claimed that he wasn't subject to executive branch oversight in his handling of classified material. I don't see that he's got a leg to stand on unless that material came to him specifically in connection with Presiding over the Senate. If he got it as a Whitehouse staffer, it definitely comes under executive oversight. If he got it as "neither", I'd think he shouldn't have it without some agreement with the executive branch to safeguard the classified material. Anyway, I'd be amazed if he's been carefully separating the classified documents he deals with by "executive, legislative, neither."

And all that is ignoring the big picture. After Republicans complaining about careless handling of secrets by Democrats in the legislative branch for practically forever, but now a Republican leader is claiming that he doesn't have to follow the rules to keep national secrets safe! Can the Republican party meet and disown Bush and Cheney?
6.25.2007 12:24pm
whackjobbbb:
They'll be gone soon enough. And as we approach the 2008 election, and candidate Obama (or equal) nears the White House, Bush and his staff will do as every other sitting president has done... and begin to share national security briefings with him... and Senator Obama will presumably be sitting under the same Constitutional umbrella that the sitting Vice President is under... and it's not a consequent umbrella, as I understand this string of posts.
6.25.2007 1:13pm
The McGehee (mail) (www):
Obviously my previous comment should have read,


Cheney's general counsel -- like all too many working lawyers inside the Beltway -- needs to spend more time reading and comprehending the Constitution.
6.25.2007 1:53pm
Justin (mail):
dave n: "The obvious check on the Vice President is impeachment and removal."

Of course, if the Vice President is not obligated to provide any oversight, its not generally going to be clear that he has committed impeachable and removable acts.
6.25.2007 2:00pm
alkali (mail) (www):
Smokey provides the following quotation:

''I'm not going to have some reporters pawing through our papers. We are the president!'' -- Hillary Clinton commenting on the release of subpoenaed documents.

Is anyone aware of an authoritative source for this quotation?
6.25.2007 2:04pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
alkali: "an authoritative source"

That statement has been quoted countless times by righty sources, even though they never tell you exactly when and where she said it, or who allegedly witnessed the statement. Why isn't that good enough for you?
6.25.2007 2:55pm
cfoster (mail):
Who would preside over an impeachment of the vice president?
6.25.2007 3:20pm
Dave N (mail):
My understanding (and having read the WaPo article, this thread is based on one small paragraph of a much larger piece) is that the Vice President's claim is not that he is never part of the Executive Branch--as some seem to assume, but rather, he is not part of the Executive Branch with respect to this particular law.

I have not read the law (perhaps someone with more time than I have could provide the link) but assuming, for sake of argument, that the law reads, "The following people have access to the National Intelligence Estimate: The Vice President, the Speaker of the House, the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees. . ."

If (and I acknowledge it is ia a big if), that is what the law says, would that be an authorization based on the Vice President's standing as part of the Executive Branch or something else?
6.25.2007 3:21pm
hugh:
Folks – I can’t read the WP report since my office’s net nanny won’t let me in. But, we should all keep in mind that just because a newspaper reports something as fact does not mean that the report is accurate. I have made an arguments (in court or in written form) that have been mis-characterized in news reports; no doubt some of you have had the same experience.

So let’s wait to see the arguments made by Cheney’s office before we start calling for Cheney’s impeachment or condemning the analytical skills of his attorneys.
6.25.2007 3:29pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
dave: "the Vice President's claim is not that he is never part of the Executive Branch"

No. OVP seems to have flatly claimed that it's not part of the executive branch. The relevant text is this:

The Vice Presidency is a unique office that is neither a part of the executive branch nor a part of the legislative branch, but is attached by the Constitution to the latter.


See here for the citation to the original official source.
6.25.2007 3:37pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
hugh: "let’s wait to see the arguments made by Cheney’s office"

That's what I just cited.
6.25.2007 3:39pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Pireader: Dunno about your question -- statutes immunizing people for breaking other statutes were not a focus of my law-school education, as you would guess -- but see here re: another avenue of prosecution that is said to avoid the immunity issue.
6.25.2007 4:30pm
Caliban (mail) (www):
Maybe Cheney is in the judicial branch, since he is batspit-crazy enough to have concurred with the ridiculous Supreme Court decision in Morse v. Frederick.
6.25.2007 4:36pm
hugh:
Oh well, curses to the net nanny. I can't get to your link, juke. But thanks for posting it. I will go to it later.
6.25.2007 4:45pm
Caliban (mail) (www):
The best explanation for why so many (including myself) are outraged by Cheney's assertions is Mr. X's scenario that Cheney will avoid any oversight by playing "Simon Says" with investigators -- alternately claiming "executive privilege" and "legislative privilege" in order to deliberately slip between the cracks. ("Jam yesterday, and jam tomorrow, but never jam today.")

I completely agree with David Sucher that "a claim that the Vice President doesn't belong to a(ny) branch of the US government deserves only the very cheapest response."

Yesterday's TNR.com has a cute editorial entitled "Defund the Veep!" "Congressman Rahm Emanuel last week said he'd introduce legislation putting a hold on Cheney's budget until he clarifies which branch of government he belongs to."

And cutting off funding for his office is about as cheap a shot as possible (also in the sense the sense of being thrifty).
6.28.2007 9:03pm