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Fourthbranch: The Misadventures Of Cheney And His Minion Squad

dday catches an intriguing bit in an interview with J.William Leonard, the head of the National Archives’ Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO), which deals with classified documents from the executive branch. To wit:

…Up until 2002, OVP was just like any other agency. Subsequent to that, they stopped reporting to us…At first, I took that to be, ‘we’re too busy.’ Then we routinely attempted to do a review of the OVP and it was at that point in time it was articulated back to me that: ‘well they weren’t really subject to our reviews.’

The laws need not apply to Dick Cheney and his minion squad, you see. As I read this, my mind flashed back to reporting that Murray Waas did in the months prior to the Libby trial, and a point which I made back then:

Lookee here, Junior was willing to do pretty much anything to save his own ass from being tarred with the liar brush — but when he got cornered on the lies, he dispatched the mean team. And guess who the captain was?

Bush also told federal prosecutors during his June 24, 2004, interview in the Oval Office that he had directed Cheney, as part of that broader effort, to disclose highly classified intelligence information that would not only defend his administration but also discredit Wilson, the sources said.

But Bush told investigators that he was unaware that Cheney had directed I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the vice president’s chief of staff, to covertly leak the classified information to the media instead of releasing it to the public after undergoing the formal governmental declassification processes….

That’s an awful lot of "shut the sonofabitch up, but play by the rules as you do it" from a bunch of political players who wouldn’t know a rule if it bit them on the ass….

Let’s see, the most powerful Vice President in history, who has been given a specific charge from the President of the United States to get out the information that fully rebuts and shuts up an Administration critic on the vital lynchpin of the argument for war in Iraq…just took notes on Amb. Wilson’s op-ed as a thought process exercise or as a means to work through the Sunday Jumble or something….

Wasn’t buying it then, still not buying it.

dday’s tagged Cheney with the nickname "Fourthbranch," which I think is mockingly hilarious — "(like the Taco Bell ad: "think outside the Constitution")". And, as dday so aptly points out, the Fourthbranch way is a sort of six degrees of separation between Cheney and whatever illegal activity may be in the offing. First using Libby, and now perhaps David Addington with hanging questions about the CIA torture tapes and who gave the burn bag orders on them.

Which takes me all the way back to some Congressional testimony about Dick and his minion posse:

The vice president and his chief of staff went out to CIA headquarters on a number of occasions — at least on two occasions — specifically to address the questions of weapons of mass destruction and the attempt to acquire a nuclear capability. These meetings, I’m told secondhand, were contentious, but the vice president insisted that there must be some support for this reporting of the yellow cake acquisition attempt….

At the time, that chief of staff was I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. But I have heard that David Addington also accompanied the Vice President on occasion back to his old employer’s at Langley to push the Veep’s agenda as well. bmaz at Emptywheel’s breaks down the potential Records Act violations and the various permutations of potential loopholes or lack thereof.

I keep thinking about the Frontline piece on Cheney’s Law — a clip of which I’ve attached to this post — and the stealthy, long-term way that Cheney and his true believer Fourthbranch minion squad have infiltrated the whole of government, infesting it with their "the laws don’t apply to us" cult. And wondering how long it is going to take to root out all that oathbreaking, power-grabbing paranoia in the years that follow. And whether there is anything these people won’t do to cover their own asses tracks.

(More resources on Cheney’s Law here.)

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com