Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Rules Don't Apply

The President and Vice-President have made it clear that they both are above oversight from any source, even when the President himself has issued an order requiring the executive branch to submit to oversight from an independent federal watchdog. From today's Los Angeles Times:

The White House said Friday that, like Vice President Dick Cheney's office, President Bush's office is not allowing an independent federal watchdog to oversee its handling of classified national security information.

An executive order that Bush issued in March 2003 — amending an existing order — requires all government agencies that are part of the executive branch to submit to oversight. Although it doesn't specifically say so, Bush's order was not meant to apply to the vice president's office or the president's office, a White House spokesman said. ...

As a result, the National Archives has been unable to review how much information the president's and vice president's offices are classifying and declassifying. And the security oversight office cannot inspect the president and vice president's executive offices to determine whether safeguards are in place to protect the classified information they handle and to properly declassify information when required.
[Emphasis added]

The key to the President's argument that the oversight doesn't apply to him (or the Vice-President) is that he never intended it to. It's sort of like his signing statements: he'll execute only those laws he likes and only when it suits him. The only difference is that his signing statements are explicit; in this case his intention is implied, but, hey! it just makes sense. The imperial presidency isn't bound by rules of any kind.

Several security experts said they were not aware that the president had exempted his own office from the oversight requirements.

But they said it fit what they saw as a pattern in the administration of avoiding accountability, even on matters of national security.

And this is surprising how?

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