Page 4 of 5   <       >

Will Justice Go After Cheney?

Cheney at Work

Here's another example of Cheney at work.

Newsweek's Michael Isikoff interviews J. William Leonard, the director of the National Archives' Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO), who "learned the hard way the perils of questioning Vice President Dick Cheney." Leonard "challenged claims by the Office of Vice President (OVP) to be exempt from federal rules governing classified information. His efforts touched off a firestorm- and a counter-strike by Cheney's chief of staff, David Addington, who tried to wipe out Leonard's job."

Newsweek: "Explain how all this happened."

Leonard: "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.' I didn't agree with it. But you know, there is a big fence around the White House. I didn't know how I could get in there if somebody didn't want me to."

Newsweek: "So how did matters escalate?"

Leonard: "The challenge arose last year when the Chicago Tribune was looking at [ISOO's annual report] and saw the asterisk [reporting that it contained no information from OVP] and decided to follow up. And that's when the spokesperson from the OVP made public this idea that because they have both legislative and executive functions, that requirement doesn't apply to them. . . . They were saying the basic rules didn't apply to them. I thought that was a rather remarkable position. So I wrote my letter to the Attorney General [asking for a ruling that Cheney's office had to comply.] Then it was shortly after that there were [email] recommendations [from OVP to a National Security Council task force] to change the executive order that would effectively abolish [my] office."

Newsweek: "Who wrote the emails?"

Leonard: "It was David Addington."

Newsweek: "No explanation was offered?"

Leonard: "No. It was strike this, strike that. Anyplace you saw the words, 'the director of ISOO' or 'ISOO' it was struck. . . . "

Newsweek: "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?"

Leonard: "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.'"


<             4        >

© 2008 The Washington Post Company