Sunday, June 24, 2007

I Guess It Depends On What the Meaning of the Word “Or” Is

Dick Cheney stepped in a pile of cock-a-doodle when he ignored an executive order to provide information on his office’s classification and declassification activities. News of his failure to comply hit the airwaves late last week. But what became clear to me is that while this is all coming out just now with public revelation of a struggle that has been going on since 2004.

That struggle came to the public’s attention in a June 21, 2007 letter from Congressman Henry Waxman (D-California). The letter describes a 2004 incident when Cheney turned away onsite inspectors from the Information Security Oversight Office who notified him that they were coming by to conduct the executive order-mandated inspection.

Waxman brought to light a 2006 letter sent to the national archives in which Cheney insists that his office does not fall under the Executive Branch of government:

“According to a letter that the National Archives sent to your staff in June 2006, you asserted that the Office of the Vice President is not an ‘entity within the executive ranch’and hence is not subject to presidential executive orders.”

There’s all sorts of other good stuff in the letter, but I want to get to my point.

It all depends on what the meaning of “or” is.

Here is the entire 2003 Executive Order, I excepted a bit of it below.

“Sec. 5.1. Program Direction. (a) The Director of the Information Security Oversight Office, under the direction of the Archivist and in consultation with the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, shall issue such directives as are necessary to implement this order.”

Cheney’s claim is that his office is not an agency of the Executive Branch. However his power of classification of the nation’s secrets are specifically given to him in this same executive order.

“(cc) ‘Original classification authority’ means an individual authorized in writing, either by the President, the Vice President in the performance of executive duties, or by agency heads or other officials designated by the President, to classify information in the first instance.”

“the Vice President . . . or by agency heads . . .”

Or” is meant here as a term of inclusion.

Actually I like this definition from

OR /ɔr/ Pronunciation Key
a Boolean operator that returns a positive result when either or both operands are positive.

In other words, "agency" and "Vice President" are on an equal footing here in terms of assigning classification authority.

So Cheney must choose whether he has classification authority or not because you can’t have it both ways. You can’t have classification authority without oversight. No can do.

Actually from what I am hearing today, in response to Cheney's denial that his office does not fall under the Executive Branch, there is a movement afoot to delete Vice President Cheney’s office from the General Government Appropriations Bill to be introduced this coming week. From The Raw Story:

“Following Vice President Dick Cheney's assertion that his office is not a part of the executive branch of the US government, Democratic Caucus Chairman Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) plans to introduce an amendment to the the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill to cut funding for Cheney's office.”

Chiding the VP, Rahm Emmanuel’s office sent over a reconfiguration of the federal government structure: The Government According to Cheney

In response to this, Cheney was heard to say “Neererng-neerng, #!&*@% you!”


Tammy said...

Hey! See you there at Edwards Event..BTW..Please ask who ever you think might be interested. We are looking for some volunteers for the Edwards Event on Wed. the 27th. We will need them at about 3:30pm. If interested please contact me (tammy) at 281-974-0098 or ASAP. It would be a GREAT time and a GREAT experience and a lifetime opportunity to say that YOU worked on the Presidents Campaign!

Hal said...

Tammy refers to a nationwide house party. Here is the announcement

Party for Change
Jun 27, 2007
7:00 pm
It's Time to Party for Change!

On Wednesday, June 27th thousands of Americans will gather in living rooms across the country to join John Edwards' campaign to change America. We'll discuss the issues, build local support, and talk live with John Edwards about what's next.

All we need now is you.

See Tams for info.

Hey . . .kiddo, how ya doin?

Anonymous said...

We haven't seen anything yet regarding Bush Administration threats to our civil liberties regarding Presidential Executive Orders. See the online book, "The Swiss Preserve Solution" for more information of Presidential Executive Orders and what could happen next following another terrorist attack against the US