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Cheney ignoring executive order on classified info oversight: House panel

[JURIST] US Vice President Dick Cheney has exempted his office [press release] from Executive Order 12958 [PDF text] as amended by Executive Order 13292 [text], which requires executive branch officials to submit annual reports to the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO) [official website] to ensure that classified information is properly secured, according to documents released Thursday by the House Oversight Committee. The committee said that the ISOO issued letters of protest in June and August 2006 [PDF texts], and upon being ignored by Cheney's office, submitted a letter [PDF text] to the Department of Justice (DOJ) in January 2007. According to the ISOO, Cheney's office responded to the ISOO's request for access by asking President Bush to amend the executive orders to close the ISOO. Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Henry Waxman chastised [letter, PDF] Cheney's office for blocking efforts by the ISOO to conduct oversight by asserting that the office was not an "entity within the executive branch." Waxman further criticized the "legality and wisdom" of Cheney's actions, citing repeated security breaches in Cheney's office. In October 2005, the DOJ indicted [PDF text] Leandro Aragoncillo, an official in Cheney's office, for passing classified information to individuals in the Philippines. Aragoncillo pleaded guilty in May 2006. Waxman also cited the leak of former CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity [JURIST news archive] as an instance where Cheney's office failed to adhere to security protocols.

Cheney is accused of consistently shielding the internal workings [Oversight Committee fact sheet, PDF] of his office from external oversight. In 2005, Cheney successfully blocked [JURIST report] efforts by watchdog groups to obtain internal communications of the National Energy Policy Development Group [policy report, PDF], a task force headed by Cheney that consulted with private industry officials. Cheney has also sought to block efforts [JURIST report] by the Washington Post and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington to obtain Secret Service visitor logs [JURIST report] to identify lobbyists and religious leaders who have visited Cheney's residence. In May, the DOJ revealed that Cheney's lawyers instructed the Secret Service to destroy the visitor logs [JURIST report], despite claims that the information was protected by the Presidential Records Act [text]. The DOJ is currently reviewing the decision of the vice president's office to not comply with the executive orders. The Washington Post has more.

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