UPDATE: I did some more research and much to my surprise one of my questions below has been answered — BY THE VICE PRESIDENT HIMSELF!! It was during the interview with Brit Hume:
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.
Q Have you done it?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I’ve certainly advocated declassification and participated in declassification decisions. The executive order —
Q You ever done it unilaterally?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I don’t want to get into that. There is an executive order that specifies who has classification authority, and obviously focuses first and foremost on the President, but also includes the Vice President.
Q There have been two leaks, one that pertained to possible facilities in Europe; and another that pertained to this NSA matter. There are officials who have had various characterizations of the degree of damage done by those. How would you characterize the damage done by those two reports?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: There clearly has been damage done.
Q Which has been the more harmful, in your view?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I don’t want to get into just sort of ranking them, then you get into why is one more damaging than the other. One of the problems we have as a government is our inability to keep secrets. And it costs us, in terms of our relationship with other governments, in terms of the willingness of other intelligence services to work with us, in terms of revealing sources and methods. And all of those elements enter into some of these leaks.
Q Mr. Vice President, thank you very much for doing this.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Brit.
So, may I give mercy to yet another question that is begging to be answered:
IS VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY’S ASSESSMENT THAT HE CAN, IN FACT, DECLASSIFY DOCUMENTS LEGALLY SOUND?
My original Post is below:
As reported by the New York Times today, it has been revealed that, at the very least, Scooter Libby had relayed information about a classified document (the National Intelligence Estimate, or NIE) to Judy Miller and Bob Woodward.
Mr. Fitzgerald, in his filing, said that Mr. Libby had been authorized to tell Judith Miller, then a reporter for The New York Times, on July 8, 2003, that a key finding of the 2002 intelligence estimate on Iraq was that Baghdad had been vigorously seeking to acquire uranium from Africa.
Mr. Libby also described the intelligence estimate to Bob Woodward of The Washington Post earlier, on June 27, 2003.
According to the New York Times (and other reporters that I’ve heard at the White House Press Briefing on Friday, March 7, 2006), the NIE documents were officially declassified 10 DAYS AFTER LIBBY’S MEETING WITH JUDY MILLER.
In fact, the estimate’s key judgments, which were officially declassified 10 days after Mr. Libby’s meeting with Ms. Miller, say nothing about the uranium allegations.
…allow me to give mercy to this begged question.
DO DICK CHENEY AND PRESIDENT BUSH HAVE SERIOUS LEGAL PROBLEMS HERE?
Interestingly, while doing some research on Wikipedia, I discovered this little nugget, as well. It says that the Bush administration, on March 25, 2003, significantly changed WHO can classify documents. It appears that under this new order, the Vice President now has the power to classify documents:
Executive Order 13292 concerns classified national security information of the United States government and “prescribes a uniform system for classifying, safeguarding, and declassifying national security information, including information relating to defense against transnational terrorism.” It was issued by President George W. Bush on March 25, 2003 and amends earlier executive orders on classified information, including Executive Order 12356 of April 6, 1982 and Executive Order 12958 of October 14, 1995.
The significance of this executive order was a subject that Vice President Dick Cheney discussed in a February 15, 2006 interview that was mostly focused on the hunting incident which had occurred a few days earlier. That interview included a few questions on a comment by Scooter Libby related to the Plame affair; one of those questions led to the following comment from Cheney:
There is an executive order that specifies who has classification authority, and obviously focuses first and foremost on the President,but also includes the Vice President.
Byron York of the National Review noted some of the changes that Cheney was referring to:
Throughout Executive Order 13292, there are changes to the original Clinton order which, in effect, give the vice president the power of the president in dealing with classified material….Executive Order 13292 is real evidence of real power in the vice president’s office. Since the beginning of the administration, Dick Cheney has favored measures allowing the executive branch to keep more things secret. And in March of 2003, the president gave him the authority to do it.
…allow me to help give mercy to another begged question:
DOES THE VICE PRESIDENT, UNDER EXECUTIVE ORDER 13292, NOW HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO “DECLASSIFY” DOCUMENTS? AND IF SO, WHY DID HE HAVE TO MENTION TO LIBBY THAT THE PRESIDENT DECLASSIFIED THEM?
These are 2 questions that, for me, are critically important to this whole leak-gate affair.
Anyone have some answers for me?