April 30, 2008

Dick ‘Fourth Branch’ Cheney strikes again

The always-creative team of Dick Cheney and his lawyers are at it again.

The lawyer for US vice-president Dick Cheney claimed [Monday] that the Congress lacks any authority to examine his behaviour on the job.

The exception claimed by Cheney’s counsel came in response to requests from congressional Democrats that David Addington, the vice-president’s chief of staff, testify about his involvement in the approval of interrogation tactics used at Guantanamo Bay.

Ruling out voluntary cooperation by Addington, Cheney lawyer Kathryn Wheelbarger said Cheney’s conduct is “not within the [congressional] committee’s power of inquiry”.

“Congress lacks the constitutional power to regulate by law what a vice-president communicates in the performance of the vice president’s official duties, or what a vice president recommends that a president communicate,” Wheelbarger wrote to senior aides on Capitol Hill.

I see. So, last year, Dick Cheney couldn’t be regulated by executive-branch rules because, he said, he’s not actually part of the executive branch. This year, Dick Cheney can’t be regulated by the legislative branch, either.

Dan Froomkin asked yesterday, “How far will Vice President Cheney go to shield himself and his office from public scrutiny?” Far enough, apparently, to conclude that Cheney answers to no one but himself.

From Froomkin’s report:

Cheney’s latest claim came in a response to a House Judiciary Committee request for vice presidential chief of staff David S. Addington to testify about his central role in developing the administration’s torture policies.

Cheney lawyer Kathryn L. Wheelbarger wrote back: “Congress lacks the constitutional power to regulate by a law what a Vice President communicates in the performance of the Vice President’s official duties, or what a Vice President recommends that a President communicate in the President’s performance of official duties, and therefore those matters are not within the Committee’s power of inquiry.”

As it happens, that was only one of three startling responses in Wheelbarger’s letter.

She also wrote: “The Chief of Staff to the Vice President is an employee of the Vice President, and not the President, and therefore is not in a position to speak on behalf of the President.”

Disregard, for a moment, the fact that Addington wasn’t actually asked to speak on behalf of the president - but about his “unique information and perspective.” Contrary to Wheelbarger’s central assertion, Addington actually does work for the president. When he took over the job previously held by Scooter Libby — who has since been convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in the Valerie Plame CIA leak case — Addington also inherited Libby’s title as “assistant to the president.”

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) was unimpressed with Wheelbarger’s “legalistic and argumentative response,” and is threatening to subpoena Addington.

Stay tuned.

 
Discussion

What do you think? Leave a comment. Alternatively, write a post on your own weblog; this blog accepts trackbacks.

28 Comments
1.
On April 30th, 2008 at 11:26 am, kevo said:

With this continuing foolduggery, Cheney seems to be arguing that the only thing Congress can legislate is support for his whim and caprice. Dick Cheney is anathema to democracy and our Constitutional heritage! -Kevo

2.
On April 30th, 2008 at 11:28 am, DM Metzger said:

Wake me up when Conyers follows through with his threats. We’ve been down this road before…

3.
On April 30th, 2008 at 11:31 am, Tom Cleaver said:

Cheney needs to be the one on the gurney being slid into the ambulance in the next “hunting accident.”

4.
On April 30th, 2008 at 11:39 am, N.Wells said:

More appropriately, he really needs to be impeached, for the constitutional health of the nation.

5.
On April 30th, 2008 at 11:39 am, joel hanes said:

Tom, I’m angry too, but that’s out of line.

6.
On April 30th, 2008 at 11:39 am, terraformer said:

What makes Conyers (or anyone else) think that a subpoena will be answered?

This Congress has already indicated that their subpoenas can be effectively ignored (e.g., attorneys-general scandal), with no repercussions.

Unless they flex their constitutionally-mandated muscle with respect to subpoena enforcement, I don’t think anyone in the White House cares much for anything that Congress does or says it wants to do. Why should they?

7.
On April 30th, 2008 at 11:40 am, JRD said:

And why should Addington be concerned about a subpoena when precedent establishes that the DOJ will refuse to pursue contempt of Congress charges when he refuses to comply? Somehow I don’t think the possibility of a civil suit concerns him very much.

8.
On April 30th, 2008 at 11:44 am, lucidthinker said:

I fear there is only one answer to this

[/b]PITCHFORKS[b]

9.
On April 30th, 2008 at 11:48 am, Mark Pencil said:

1) If Congress has no power viz the Office of the VP, presumably they cannot authorize any funding for it either.

2) A MESSAGE FROM SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE, NANCY PELOSI:
“Friends, as many of you know, I came into office with a desire to move forward on the agenda you elected Democrats to promote in 2006. I have resisted partisan games and retribution for the many improper things the Republicans did to us when they controlled the House. Unfortunately, the Republican administration has not met us halfway, but rather has continued to conceal, to obstruct, to act unilaterally against this countries interests, and to be blunt, continued to break the law. No matter my personal feelings, in the end America’s strength is that it has always been a nation of laws, run by rules, not the whims of men in power. Vice President Cheney has been among the most abusive, and secretive, leaders in our history in the use of his power. But in a government of checks and balances, no one’s power is absolute, and no one’s power can be unchecked. Congress has repeatedly tried through the most common means to perform the oversight that is a part of our job. Most recently, we asked a fairly simple, straightforward question: what role did the Vice President’s Chief of Staff have in makinga major change in the country’s policies on torture. Sadly, as he has done on numerous prior occasions, Dick Cheney refused to allow his staff to answer, claiming Congress has no say, no authority over the Vice President. Fellow Americans, Congress sits as your representative. The House members are the closest level of federal representation to the people, and we are elected every two years to ensure we stay in touch with the will of the people. We are, truly, the people’s House. When Dick Cheney claims he does not have to answer to us, he is really saying he does not have to answer to you, and if this is to be a Democracy, a government of the people, Dick Cheney must be shown his views are unacceptable and wrong. His refusal to have any dialogue, and productive working relationship, and willingness to share power with the House of the People, and his refusual to cooperate in any less drastic means of oversight unfortunately leaves me with only one choice. This afternoon, I will file in the House Articles of Impeachment against Vice President Richard Cheney. This brings me no joy, but it is my responsibility to ensure that this Democracy remains one of the People, not just one of the Vice President. I and all of your Representatives appreciate your support in what will be a difficult road ahead.”

10.
On April 30th, 2008 at 11:51 am, MsJoanne said:

Jesus, Mark…you got me all excited. If only it were true!

Where did that come from?

11.
On April 30th, 2008 at 11:51 am, The Answer is Orange said:

Yeah Tom! Shame on you. Running an ambulance takes a lot of gas. Have a little consideration for the environment, why don’t ya?

When we send CthCheney off to the Hauge it should be via the “environmentally friendly” method of a sailboat with a leaky hold.

12.
On April 30th, 2008 at 11:52 am, neil wilson said:

I think Dick Cheney should get his foreign travel out of his system while he is still VP.

I wouldn’t be surprised if various foreign countries won’t try to arrest him as a war criminal.

13.
On April 30th, 2008 at 11:55 am, Mark Pencil said:

unfortunately MsJoanne, it came from Mark’s Fantasy Universe o’ Democratic Leadership Operations.

14.
On April 30th, 2008 at 11:56 am, MsJoanne said:

I wouldn’t be surprised if various foreign countries won’t try to arrest him as a war criminal.

Neil, I am all for a little renditional assistance in that matter!

15.
On April 30th, 2008 at 11:58 am, MsJoanne said:

On April 30th, 2008 at 11:55 am, Mark Pencil said:

unfortunately MsJoanne, it came from Mark’s Fantasy Universe o’ Democratic Leadership Operations.

Deep, deep sigh.

Congress is enabling this crap. This is the most disgusting group administration AND elected officials we have ever seen. But for a handful, they all suck.

And we keep electing the same goddamned people.

FUCK!

16.
On April 30th, 2008 at 11:59 am, Dee Loralei said:

I like Mark Pencil’s idea, a lot. And about damned time. Plus it would get the media off the horse-race and nontroversies of the Democratic primary race.

But barring that, how about Congress just completely defund his office. Remove all of his hiring and spending powers. Not a secretary to be paid, not a ream of paper bought, not a lease on a mansized safe paid off. How long will Kathryn Wheelbarger or David Addington work for him under the circumstances. Some Bar Association needs to look into Wheelbargers constitutional law knowledge too. Sheesh did she go to the Antonin Scalia/ Liberty U school o’ law?

And defund the Naval Observatory too. No reason he and Lynn need cooks or gardeners or maids, or even anyone to wash their sheets.

17.
On April 30th, 2008 at 12:05 pm, Racer X said:

What DM Metzger said.

The only thing more disgusting than Cheney pissing on the constitution is the pile of cowardly Democrats making their usual noises about Cheney’s crimes, while doing absolutely nothing of substance to back up the previous threats they’ve made (which have been ignored).

I’d like to punch Conyers and Pelosi and Reid in the face. Seriously.

18.
On April 30th, 2008 at 12:08 pm, Capt Kirk said:

Well, so now Congress can huff and puff and bloooooooooow that undisclosed location down.

19.
On April 30th, 2008 at 12:56 pm, GRACIOUS said:

The wimps in the democratic party are as offensive as Dick Cheney. Whose rights are they sworn to protect anyway? Even if the articles are killed by the Republican thugs, at least someone said something. They are giving permission to the next vice president to behave in exactly the same way. This idea will become precedent for the next crook.

20.
On April 30th, 2008 at 1:58 pm, Shalimar said:

Cheney lawyer Kathryn L. Wheelbarger also wrote: “The Chief of Staff to the Vice President is an employee of the Vice President, and not the President, and therefore is not in a position to speak on behalf of the President.”

I am convinced Addington really believes all the contorted b.s. he comes up with to justify all of their power grasps, but sometime in the middle of the night I hope this woman wakes up every night in embarrassment realizing that future law students are going to laugh at the very mention of her name for just this kind of stupid couldn’t-convince-a-2nd-grader argument.

21.
On April 30th, 2008 at 2:04 pm, mikeyes said:

The VP has no other constitutional duty than to 1) wait for the president to die and 2) be President of the Senate. Since the latter is more ceremonial than anything else (unless there is a tie vote in the Senate, of course) and since most VPs let someone else fulfill the role most of the time, defunding should be a straight forward issue. Of course, in a practical sense it will take a very long time to get such a bill through but it would make great political theater.

On the other hand, it is about three years too late for such action.

22.
On April 30th, 2008 at 3:19 pm, james k. sayre said:

Sieg Heil!

23.
On April 30th, 2008 at 4:51 pm, madstork123 said:

Joel Hanes #5

I’m sorry, but I tend to agree with Tom. Cheney says he’s above the law, outside the law or not covered by the law. So why should he have protections of the law he swore to uphold. I think we should bring back hanging in front of the Capitol building for Dick and George for all they have done to our country. I belive that was one of the options for war crimes.

24.
On April 30th, 2008 at 5:01 pm, -jayinge- said:

I think Dee [email protected] and others have a good idea. One thing that really infuriates creatures like Cheney is to have money taken away from their clutches. If the “do nothing” Dems also went after this two-bit dictator after he left office, forcing him to spend MONEY on attorneys, his apoplexy might be a joy to behold.

25.
On April 30th, 2008 at 8:56 pm, mishanti said:

Once again…stop funding his office and then maybe we can get his attention. I am so sorry that this man makes Agnew look like a great VP. My one thought is how does his wife and family support this useless ass?

26.
On April 30th, 2008 at 11:10 pm, libra said:

Seems to me that Cheney is more a “fifth column” than “fourth branch”…

27.
On April 30th, 2008 at 11:49 pm, beep52 said:

Cheney is the master of the preemptive “f*ck you.”

28.
On May 4th, 2008 at 2:25 am, joel hanes said:

Tom, Madstork :

When you become like your enemy, your enemy has won.