Sunday, July 12, 2009

Where is Cheney Now?

It is kind of funny that one could not help but see the recluse VP on TV for the first few months of the new administration, but now that his fingerprints (if they have not been surgically altered) are all over the super-secret CIA programs and the orders to keep the Intel oversight committees in the dark.

So, Dick Cheney gave the orders for the CIA to lie to Congress. Is this at all surprising? Like certain other recent events, this is appalling but not surprising. Who else would have the authority, the temerity and the attention span to do this? [Rumsfeld?] Only Cheney.

This does raise some important issues for one of my current research threads. I am starting to compare British-style parliaments and their ability to engage in oversight over defense issues, with the implicit and sometimes explicit comparison to the US case where the relevant committees have security clearances, subpoena power, large staffs, and funding. But, of course, oversight's effectiveness will vary with how enthusiastic the overseers are and how willing the actors in the executive are to comply. What is especially disturbing in all of this is not that Cheney is yet again proved to be a lying sack of excrement, but that people within the bureaucracy followed the instructions of someone who actually had no executive authority over them.

People tend to talk about the expansion of the powers of the Presidency under Bush, but it seems really that the office that poached more power was the VP's.

While the Obama Administration has not done a particularly good job of rectifying much of the harm done by its predecessor (including defending in court a variety of bad practices), I am pretty sure this is one that has already been reversed. I just don't see Joe Biden having such authority within the bureaucracy.

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