Cheney Did Not Claim He Is Not In The Executive Branch

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It's true, Cheney never said it, and neither did his office.

Here's the depressing story (depressing because this urban legend has spread so quickly): what happened is that Cheney was not, in the view of the National Archives, complying with an executive order. Cheney said he didn't have to. This was interpreted by the National Archives dude as Cheney saying he is not within the executive branch, since the EO says it applies to all agencies of the executive branch, and such agencies are defined as "any other entity within the executive branch that comes into the possession of classified information."

Cheney didn't say it, the National Archives interpreted it that way: they said if it doesn't apply to you, you must be saying you are not within the executive branch, since if you were within the executive branch, it would apply to you.

That was a poor interpretation, of course. The problem is that the National Archives dude was following the letter of the EO, but Bush had said that the EO did not apply to Cheney, so therefore it didn't, as we should all know by now.

Later on, Cheney's spokesman said "This has been thoroughly reviewed and it's been determined that the reporting requirement does not apply to [the office of the vice president], which has both legislative and executive functions." That doesn't mean he is not within the executive branch (indeed, it implies the opposite, if anything, that he is within both the executive and legislative branches, though I don't think even that much is implied).

There are several possible interpretations here, but the most obvious one -- given the actual text of the EO, which explicitly separates the President and VP from "agencies" -- is that she was saying the reason why the VP is exempted is because he has other functions, not that because he has other functions he is therefore exempted.

Regardless of what the spokesman actually meant, these facts are clear: the Vice President and his office never claimed the Vice President is not in the executive branch; it is quite clear the Vice President believes he is a part of the executive branch; and it is absolutely true that this EO's reporting requirement does not apply to the Vice President.

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