Bush claims oversight exemption too
By Josh Meyer, LA Times Staff Writer
June 23, 2007
WASHINGTON — The White House said Friday that, like Vice President Dick Cheney's office, President Bush's office is not allowing an independent federal watchdog to oversee its handling of classified national security information.
An executive order that Bush issued in March 2003 — amending an existing order — requires all government agencies that are part of the executive branch to submit to oversight. Although it doesn't specifically say so, Bush's order was not meant to apply to the vice president's office or the president's office, a White House spokesman said.
Waxman and J. William Leonard, director of the Information Security Oversight Office, have argued that the order clearly applies to all executive branch agencies, including the offices of the vice president and the president.
The White House disagrees, Fratto said.
"We don't dispute that the ISOO has a different opinion. But let's be very clear: This executive order was issued by the president, and he knows what his intentions were," Fratto said. "He is in compliance with his executive order."
[...]Cheney's office drew criticism Thursday for claiming that it was exempt from the reporting requirements because the vice president's office is not fully within the executive branch. It cited his legislative role as president of the Senate when needed to break a tie.
At a Friday news conference, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said constitutional scholars could debate that assertion.
But, she said, Cheney's office is exempt from the requirements because the president intended him to be.
Sigh. "I secretly had my fingers crossed!" is not a desriable approach to rulemaking or lawmaking. No rulemaker should have an incentive to write an unclear rule (which this was not, but which the interpretive strategy on offer here would encourage) so that later on the rulemaker can opportunistically reveal his secret "intention."