The Mix

More on Executive Order 13292

Does Cheney have the authority to de-classify?
Peek has the scoop on where Cheney's alleged powers to declassify came from. Executive order 13292 gives VP Cheney similar classification powers as the President. Evan writes, "The Order essentially takes extant Executive Orders regarding classified material and the declassification thereof and replaces 'and the Vice President too!' wherever it says 'president.'"

However, it may be that, in President Bush's haste to let Cheney in on his favorite pastime -- the secret-ification of everything -- Bush may have overlooked the importance of commensurate de-classification privileges. LiberalOasis points out that,
classification authority is not the same as declassification authority (Bush's order explicitly defines them separately). If you, or a subordinate of yours, originally classified something, you have the power to declassify that something. But you do not have the power to declassify something that was classified in a different agency. Since everyone in the executive branch is subordinate to the President, the President can declassify at will (except for specific items that are outlawed by Congress, say for example, the identities of covert agents). But that is not necessarily the case for the Vice President.
But we couldn't get anywhere in this administration's legal landscape without special "in case of emergency, no law applies" provisions. And so, towards the end of the order, we find where Cheney may be seeking shelter:

"In an emergency, when necessary to respond to an imminent threat to life or in defense of the homeland, the agency head or any designee may authorize the disclosure of classified information to an individual or individuals who are otherwise not eligible for access."
Onnesha Roychoudhuri is an editorial fellow at AlterNet.
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