Here’s a seemingly simple question for you: Is the vice president’s office located within the executive branch?
To most people, the answer would probably be yes. If you’re Vice President Dick Cheney, the answer is no – that he is attached to the Congress because he presides over the Senate.
But a federal judge has just ruled that, in fact, Cheney is a part of the executive branch – and, as such, he has to preserve his official records.
The Sept. 20 ruling was a response to a lawsuit filed this month by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a watchdog group, and others. (See stories in The Washington Post and The New York Times.
See, now that Bush and Co. are on their way out of office, the administration is trying to narrowly define what materials must be saved under the Presidential Records Act. This ruling orders the administration to preserve the records at least while the lawsuit is ongoing.
“It’s a pretty strong opinion,” Anne Weismann, chief counsel for CREW, told the Post. “They will be prevented from destroying anything. It basically means they have to preserve everything in the broadest possible interpretation of what the law requires – not their narrow interpretation.”