Wednesday, June 27, 2007
By Firmin DeBrabander
I am forever amazed at the great irony that one of this nation’s most bullish proponents of spreading democracy abroad- especially in the Middle East- is one of the greatest opponents of democracy at home. The vice president’s antidemocratic streak was on display again this week when his office refused to hand over classified documents to the National Archives. This requirement applies to the executive branch of government, Cheney argued, but not to his office, which is not in fact part of the executive branch. Who knew?
Immediately, questions come to mind. Why is the vice presidency suddenly not part of the executive branch? Which branch of government is his office under, then? Why is this the first vice president to discover this constitutional loophole regarding government oversight of his office, if it is indeed authentic, and appeal to it? More importantly, why is he the first vice president to feel the need to appeal to this loophole in the first place? What does he have to hide?
No explanation has been given as of yet, which only sows greater suspicion among critics. But we all know what Cheney would or will eventually say, which has been his recurring theme through his many attempts to avoid political transparency and accountability: it is for the sake of national security. The war on terror is really most convenient for the executive branch of government. It is the ideal excuse for retaining secrets, curtailing constitutional rights, spying on the citizenry, bullying the press, disposing of trial by jury, etc. In other words, the war on terror is the ideal excuse for limiting the power of the people, and increasing that of the executive branch. This is Cheney’s real agenda. The vice president has long been in favor of making a ‘more robust’ executive office, in his words, capable of greater and swifter action. His attempt to elude the National Archives is a right, I suppose, he would expect to be vested in the president as well.