Out of Sight

Smokin! cheney-office-fire.jpg

The National Archives official who challenged Dick Cheney’s handling of classified documents and whose office Cheney then tried to abolish is quitting. And furthering our knowledge of Cheney’s machinations as he exits.

cheney-lurking-head-and-shoulders.jpg Ever Vigilant

J. William Leonard headed the Information Security Oversight Office [ISOO] at archives, which tracks Executive Branch practices dealing with classified material. When he discovered Cheney had stopped complying with the security regulations he went to the Justice Department seeking a ruling that the Vice President follow the law. Cheney’s office responded by trying to eliminate the budget for the ISOO.

Leonard spoke to Newsweek on how Cheney’s people made up their own make-believe classification system, which they claim they don’t have to report:

A number of people have noted that the vice president’s office stopped reporting to you and complying with ISOO in the fall of 2003 when the whole Valerie Plame case blew up. Do you think there was a connection?
I don’t have any insight. I was held at arms length [from that.] But some of the things based on what I’ve read [have] given me cause for concern. A number of prosecution exhibits [in the Plame-related perjury trial of I. Scooter Libby, Cheney’s former chief of staff] were annotated, ‘handle as SCI.’ SCI is Sensitive Compartmentalized Information, the most sensitive classified information there is. As I recall, [one of them] was [the vice president and his staff] were coming back from Norfolk where they had attended a ship commissioning and they were conferring on the plane about coming up with a [media] response plan [to the allegations of Plame’s husband, Iraq war critic Joseph Wilson.] That was one of the exhibits marked, ‘handle as SCI.’

These were internal communications about what to say to the press?
Let me give you some the irony of that. Part of the National Archives is the presidential libraries….So we’re going to have documents [at the libraries] with the most sensitive markings on it that isn’t even classified. If I were going to do a review [of OVP], that would be one of the questions I would want to ask: What is this practice? And how widespread is it? And what is the rationale? How do we assure that people don’t get this mixed up with real secrets?

But in the spirit of the holiday season, let’s all enjoy another laugh about the Clinton papers and UFOs.

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