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June 23, 2007

If Cheney's Not Part of the Executive Branch Then He Can't Claim "Executive Privilege"

The absurd (yet pathological) notion of non-executive branch status that's seeping from the dark recesses of Dick Cheney's brain has led to some swift responses. First, Congressman Rahm Emanuel took the duty-bound step of proposing to cut funding for Cheney's office from an upcoming appropriations bill. He also told Cheney to get the %*#! out of the White House, a suggestion many Americans would like to make to the vice-president, up close and personal.

Now RJ Eskow, blogging at HuffPo, takes it to the logical conclusion: if we are to accept this theory that the vice president is not part of the executive branch, then Cheney "can't withhold information from legislators under the separation of powers doctrine".

Surely you remember that infamous energy task force, the one where Mr. Cheney let his oil industry pals and their lobbyists come in and literally write their own rules? Cheney argued that the public had no right to information about the workings of that task force - because of executive privilege.

How about those executive branch visitor logs we've all been dying to see? I'd love to know how much time Jack Abramoff spent in Cheney's offices, and who he visited there. And, of course, there's the matter of Scooter Libby. With executive privilege out of the way, we can finally figure out whether there was an "underlying crime" or not. (Extra! Othello exonerated for strangling Desdemona - there was "no underlying crime" of adultery.)

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In fact, here's an even better idea: Since he says he's fundamentally a member of the Senate, why not bring him up on Senatorial ethics charges? Let the investigations commence!

Heck. It sounds pretty logical to me.

Update: Okay, it looks like more clarification on the issue is needed. It's just been confirmed that Bush doesn't think he is part of the executive branch either.

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 preseident's office or the president's office, a White House spokesman said.

So just for laughs: who exactly does make up the executive branch? And why is it called "the executive branch" if, in fact, it doesn't include the executive?  I wonder if that tattered old document, the Constitution of the United States of America, might have some clues. I'm gonna go have a look see...

Update 2: Well, Article II, section 1, makes things pretty clear:

The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows...

...and then goes on to describe the electoral college system. But I often find myself drawn to Article II, section 4, and I do think it bears repeating:

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.

Posted by shoephone on June 23, 2007 at 04:50 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink

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