Is Dick Cheney Trying to Create His Own 4th Branch of Government?

This post, written by Naomi Seligman, originally appeared on CREW

The Vice President of the United States, Dick Cheney, is trying to create a new legal status for himself. This latest development raises serious new questions about Cheney -- and who, if anyone, has authority over his actions. In Cheney's mind, it seems no one does.

CREW just issued this news release asking these new questions that need to be answered about Dick Cheney:

In light of new revelations that Vice President Cheney is claiming that his office is not subject to an executive order governing the handling of classified information because as president of the Senate he has both legislative and executive duties, CREW asks if Vice President Cheney is attempting to create a fourth branch of the government?

Under his argument, if Mr. Cheney is not subject to executive branch security requirements, surely he must be subject to Senate rules.

To safeguard sensitive information, in 1987 the Senate created the Office of Senate Security, which is part of the Secretary of the Senate. The Security Office's standards, procedures and requirements are set out in the Senate Security Manual, which is binding on all employees of the Senate.

So, if Mr. Cheney is a member of the Senate, he must adhere to the following:
* a requirement that any of his staff needing access to classified information undergo a security clearance and complete written non-disclosure agreements;

* physical security requirements, that the Security Office is empowered to implement, including any necessary inspections; and

* investigations of suspected security violations by employees, such as the security violation committed by Scooter Libby when he unlawfully disclosed the identity of Valerie Plame Wilson, then a covert CIA operative.
In addition, Mr. Cheney and his staff would be subject to investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee, which has the responsibility to investigate allegations of improper conduct which may reflect upon the Senate, including violations of law and the rules and regulations of the Senate.

Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said Mr. Cheney's arguments raise new questions:

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