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Vice Presidential entity "treated as" having dictatorial powers

I guess when Shooter figures out which branch of the government should be cutting him his checks, I can honor him with whatever official title he should have; until then, we'll just have to make do with "Vice Presidential Entity" (or VPE*).

Anyhow, today WaPo's running the first of a multipart and extremely belated series on the destructive swath Cheney's been cutting through our system of checks and balances and the rule of law for the last seven years. This paragraph caught my eye:

Stealth is among Cheney's most effective tools. Man-size Mosler safes**, used elsewhere in government for classified secrets, store the workaday business of the office of the vice president. Even talking points for reporters are sometimes stamped "Treated As: Top Secret/SCI." Experts in and out of government said Cheney's office appears to have invented that designation, which alludes to "sensitive compartmented information," the most closely guarded category of government secrets. By adding the words "treated as," they said, Cheney seeks to protect unclassified work as though its disclosure would cause "exceptionally grave damage to national security."

"Treated as..." Don't you just love it when Shooter displays his obfuscatory super powers?

But say, if Cheney can dicttate what unclassified material must be "treated as" classified, what can't he keep secret? Where are the checks?

And what next? "Treated as lawful"? "Treated as constitutional"?

John Marshall once said: "The power to tax is the power to destroy."

But in today's information society, the power to classify--say, as an unlawful combatant--is the power to destroy.

And by arrogating that power to himself, Cheney, the Vice Presidential Entity, really is giving the executive dictatorial powers...

* Not to be confused with VPL.

** And you can make up your own jokes on "man-sized" "safes" with "sensitive," er, stuff inside. I mean, I should hope so.

UPDATE Yes, there really just is something about Dick. Mild mannered Kevin Drum works blue:

back in February when this story was first reported, Cheney wasn't arguing that the VP's office wasn't executive. He was arguing that the VP's office was both legislative and executive, and thus could ignore the rules of either branch whenever it suited him. So here's my question: If a quantum superposition of a dead cat and a live cat is Schrödinger's Cat, is a quantum superposition of legislative Cheney and executive Cheney Schrödinger's Dick?

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mattd's picture
Submitted by mattd on

I think Cheney's office has the right to treat its own information as more secret than it really is, if they want to go to the trouble.

Unless, of course, the information is required by law to be available to those who request it and they refused. That, of course, would be felonious.

(I think the bigger irony is a VP's office that treats actual unclassified talking points as "classified," but treats actual classified names of covert agents as talking points.)

--Matt

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

Not true that SCI is "the most" anything. Top secret is the highest category, period. Its flavors have no hierarchy. SCI just makes people go Ooo because of whose chop it is. I guess treated as means 'leak at will to betray and destroy political enemies.'