Where Did He Get THAT Power???

From Holden:

Cheney says he has some amazing powers.

Q Let me ask you another question. Is it your view that a Vice President has the authority to declassify information?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: There is an executive order to that effect.

Q There is.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yes.

Huh? When did that happen?

Byron York thinks he has the answer.

On March 25, 2003, Chimpy signed Executive Order 13292 amending Executive Order 12958 signed by Bill Clinton on April 17, 1995. Bush gave the Vice President powers equal to those of the President in regards to classifying government information by simply inserting the phrase “and, in the performance of executive duties, the Vice President” in a few key paragraphs.

However, Executive Order 13292 does not give the Vice President the power to declassify information willy-nilly.

Scooter Libby testified that Cheney authorized him to give secret information to reporters, specifically: portions of the CIA’s National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq.. Executive Order 13292 Sec. 3.1(b) clearly states:

It is presumed that information that continues to meet the classification requirements under this order requires continued protection. In some exceptional cases, however, the need to protect such information may be outweighed by the public interest in disclosure of the information, and in these cases the information should be declassified. When such questions arise, they shall be referred to the agency head or the senior agency official. That official will determine, as an exercise of discretion, whether the public interest in disclosure outweighs the damage to the national security that might reasonably be expected from disclosure.

Cheney may have believed that the public interest in disclosure of the classified NIE outwieghed the need to protect that information. However, it is still the responsibility of the agency head or the senior agency official to determine if the information should be declassified. That would have been George Tenet, not Dick Cheney.

Did George Tenet review the portions of the NIE that Cheney wanted Libby to leak? Did Tenet “determine, as an exercise of discretion, whether the public interest in disclosure outweighs the damage to the national security that might reasonably be expected from disclosure”? Is there a paper trail to support this decision?

Cheney’s claim to this power has nothing to do with Libby’s indictment, as Libby was indicted for perjury, not leaking classified information.

It is Cheney himself who has been placed at risk by Libby’s testimony, and Executive Order 13292 does not support Cheney’s claim.