Vice President Cheney has made the astounding claim that his office, Vice President of the United States, is not a part of the executive branch of government. Flying in the face of the United States Constitution and history as taught in American schools since the country was founded, Mr. Cheney insists that his office really isn’t part of the executive branch after all.
So, why would he make such a silly claim? The vice president, who has never been reluctant to demonstrate his unrestrained arrogance (See post 1/31/07)makes this claim because he doesn’t want to provide Information, as the law requires, to the Security and Oversight Office at the National Archives. He doesn’t want them to know how much material he has classified as secret or declassified. (Remember the scandal involving tipping the media to the identity of the CIA agent in order to punish her husband & disclassification of documents to do it with? 3/7/07). This, even though Achieves is part of his own executive branch of government and the President’s Executive Order requires him to give them the information.
He provided this information in 2001 and 2002, but then refused to provide more information claiming his office is not "within the executive branch" of government. Time has referred to his ridiculous claim as "The Cheney branch of government." And, as the New York Times points out, this is the same Vice President who over and over again refused to provide information to Congress claiming he was entitled to "executive" privilege because he insisted the office of the Vice President was part of the executive branch of government with executive privilege. Exactly the opposite position he now takes. Mr. Cheney unashamedly talks out of both sides of his mouth because he doesn’t want anyone to know what he has done.
What is the Constitutional and historical definition of the "executive branch"? Here’s the historical definition: Executive branch: That branch of the United States government that is responsible for carrying out the laws. As we learned in high school civics class, it is that branch of government responsible for "implementing, supporting and enforcing the laws made by the legislative branch and interpreted by the judicial branch." The legislature makes the law as the legislative branch. The courts interpret the law as the judicial branch. The president, vice president and cabinet implement the law as the executive branch. The office of vice president is part of the executive branch as it clearly can’t be part of the judicial or legislative, by definition and logic.
We also learned in civics class that the executive branch consists of the president, vice president and fifteen cabinet level executive departments. The cabinet is appointed by the president and approved by the Senate. The Vice president is part of the cabinet and serves as president of the Senate, but votes only in case of tie. On top of that, the president and vice president run as a team and are either elected together or defeated together. So, how could anyone with a straight face claim the office of vice president isn’t part of the executive branch? This would be amusing if it were not just one more example of Mr. Cheney’s unrestrained arrogance in believing he can make any outrageous excuse he wants when it serves his purpose. He acts as if he is above the law.
But, the President has set the same example. Mr. Bush who has repeatedly fallen back on lame excuses and ridiculous claims to justify his actions. Take the President’s use of "signing statements" as an excuse not to implement laws he doesn’t like. Until this year, instead of vetoing laws he doesn’t like,but are passed by Congress, Mr. Bush has signed them into law and then issued a statement that he doesn’t agree with the law and therefore won’t implement it. He has done this even though he has no constitutional right to do it. (See 5/24/07)
The President and Vice President of the United States have demonstrated over and over they believe they are above the law. Like ancient emperors or kings, they believe laws do not apply to them like everyone else. The White House along with Karl Rove have done whatever they want up to now, but Congress is no longer in their control and, as Bob Dylan wrote "The times, they are a-changing."