Magazine article Information Management

VP Challenges Classified Data Order

Magazine article Information Management

VP Challenges Classified Data Order

Article excerpt

For four years, Vice President Dick Cheney's office has refused to comply with an executive order governing the classification, declassification, and safeguarding of sensitive government information, according to documents released by a congressional committee.

Later, when the National Archives and Records Administration's (NARA) Information Security Oversight Office--charged by presidential order with ensuring that executive branch agencies properly protect classified data--tried to investigate his office's data-handling processes, Cheney proposed abolishing the office.

The executive order in question, originally signed by President Bill Clinton in 1995 and revised by President George W. Bush in 2003, established a uniform, government-wide system for safeguarding classified information. Under the order, an "entity within the executive branch that comes into the possession of classified information" must report annually how much it is keeping secret, according to The Washington Post.

Internal documents show that Cheney's office filed reports in 2001 and 2002 but stopped in 2003. In 2004, when NARA's Oversight Office tried to inspect Cheney's office to find out how it handled sensitive material, Cheney's staff blocked the inspection, according to a letter sent to the vice president from Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif:), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which is investigating the matter.

In 2006, Oversight Office Director J. William Leonard wrote to Cheney's Chief of Staff, David Addington, to protest the office's refusal to comply and was told that the vice president's office "does not believe it is included in the definition of 'agency' as set forth in the order," nor is it an "entity within the executive branch that comes into the possession of classified information," according to letters released by Waxman's committee. …

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