Friday, November 25, 2005

Cheney has fucked himself

The Center for Public Integrity reports that Cheney is refusing to comply with travel disclosure rules which apply to all agencies of the executive branch. Cheney's excuse is that the Office of Vice President is not part of the executive branch.

The article quotes Stephen D. Potts (Office of Government Ethics Director under Reagan and Bush-the-slightly-smarter) as saying that the claim for exemption is "unusual." Potts then says he thinks a case could be made for excluding the VP but that such an exclusion would also apply to the pResident. I am not a lawyer, but Potts is talking crap and Cheney is right.

The Constitution does not define any executive-branch rôle for the VP as long as the pResident is able to carry out his functions. If the pResident dies then the VP becomes pResident. If the pResident becomes incapacitated then the VP becomes acting pResident until the pRresident is once again able to carry out his duties or his term of office ends. Therefore the Office of Vice President is not part of the executive branch (as long as the pResident is capable of carrying out his duties).

Does that leave the VP in Constitutional limbo? No, because the Constitution does define a governmental rôle for the VP: he is President of the Senate. That puts the VP very firmly into the congressional branch, not the executive branch. So Cheney is correct, he is not part of the executive branch.

And that is why Cheney has just fucked himself. He has steadfastly refused to make public the minutes of his energy policy meetings. He has argued the case in court, and won, because he claimed executive privilege. But Cheney has just claimed that he is not part of the executive branch, and a reasonable interpretation of the Constitution says that he is correct. Therefore Cheney cannot withold those minutes on the grounds of executive privilege because it cannot apply to him.

Cheney cannot have it both ways. If he is part of the executive branch then he can withold those minutes but is in breach of travel disclosure regulations. If he is not part of the executive branch then he is not in breach of travel disclosure regulations but cannot withold those minutes.

Of course, the Supreme Court may let Cheney have it both ways. But even they must be feeling a little guilt over aiding Bush steal the election in 2000 and what five years of Bush/Cheney maladministration has done to the US.

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