Vice President Dick Cheney has indicated in no uncertain terms that he believes the laws of the United States do not apply to him. According to Capitol Hill Blue , Cheney - in direct violation of a Presidential executive order - has refused to turn over documents to the National Archives. On Monday, June 25, 2007, most of the All-Star Panel on Special Report disagreed with the Vice President's blatant arrogance. Fred Barnes, editor of the Weekly Standard and Brit Hume were the notable exceptions. With video.
Hume started the segment off with a clip of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) saying "You now have the Vice President saying, on something as controversial as intelligence, where we know that prior to the war he made a number of trips to the CIA - a substantial number - saying 'I will not adhere to the rules that are set up by the executive branch for the handling of intelligence.' I think it's the height of arrogance." Even Hume had to admit that the EO (Executive Order) "didn't contain any language saying that the President and the Vice President were to be excluded from it.
Mort Kondracke of Roll Call took the position that the issue with the National Archives was not important, but what he found disturbing were other allegations against Cheney being made public in a series of Washington Post articles. Brit Hume gave a dismissive wave of his hand as Kondracke began speaking about this as if to warn Kondracke off. It didn't work.
According to the Kondracke, there are questions about Cheney's "extension of executive power to the furthest reaches ... imaginable where he says the Geneva Convention doesn't apply because the Congress cannot inhibit in any way the powers of the President to conduct foreign policy or conduct a war. They set up these military commissions which would have had zero civilian review no matter what they did with these detainees. They could have kept them forever. They could have killed them, tried them, or anything and all of that stuff is being knocked back by the courts, putting the administration in worse shape than it was when it started."
NPR's Mara Liasson summed it up succinctly: "There are limits on executive power and it's called the Supreme Court and that's what's happening right now." As she was speaking she mentioned that the real issue in the National Archives case was the fact that the President left out the proviso that the President and Vice President were exempt from the provisions of the EO.
Brit Hume and Fred Barnes jumped in, saying that Bush ought to rewrite the EO "right now - today". I was surprised since Hume's gimmick is to present himself to the viewing audience as an impartial, experienced journalist who simply reports the facts. Yet in this instance he took sides when he suggested that Bush immediately rewrite the EO.
Comment: Under the pressure of Bush's abysmal poll numbers, even the right-wing's tin-plated front men are losing it!
Hume and Barnes made some interesting and revealing comments later in the segment:
HUME: "But what about Mort's - Mort seems quite active - Mort seems animated by the Washington Post ..."
BARNES: "The Washington Post series that most of our viewers haven't read?"
BARNES: "Thanks, Mort."
Comment: Hume's earlier gesture coupled with this exchange leads me to believe that neither Hume nor Barnes wanted the FOX viewers to know about the Washington Post series.
Fred Barnes continued, making a fool of himself as he tried to explain away Cheney's autocratic, quasi-dictatorial behavior.
BARNES: "Look. There was an emergency situation. We'd been attacked on 9-11 and Cheney wanted to establish things quickly about how we were going to handle these unlawful combatants who have - people who have never, ever in human history been considered as people who are covered by the Geneva Convention."
HUME: "And the laws of war."
BARNES: "And the laws of war. Yeah. Now the Supreme Court has said that they do - but they dreamed that up out of whole cloth. And Cheney moved quickly in ways that were not the normal process of things working at the White House. I'm glad he did."
When Kondracke mentioned that even hard liners like John Yoo had advised against letting the military conduct "robust interrogations" (torture) because there woud inevitably be blowback, Barned jumped in with the moth-eaten, shopworn retort: "Have we been attacked again or not?"
Looks like Cheney's in for some hard times ...
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