Oversight

A weekly rundown of the latest efforts of lawmakers to scrutinize the actions of the executive branch.

•House Oversight and Government Reform Committee:

(6/21/07) — Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) has set his sights on Vice President Cheney, saying he is trying to exempt his office from an executive order that aims to protect classified information.

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According to Waxman, Cheney’s office blocked the National Archives’ Information Security Oversight Office from an inspection, arguing that it “does not consider itself an ‘entity within the executive branch.’”

When the Information Security Oversight Office appealed to the Department of Justice, Cheney’s office tried to abolish it, Waxman said in a letter sent to Cheney yesterday.

“I question both the legality and wisdom of your actions,” the lawmaker wrote.

Waxman then pointed to security breaches in Cheney’s office, such as the guilty plea of a staff member who gave classified information to people in the Philippines and the office’s role in the leaking of the name of a CIA operative.

Waxman wants Cheney to provide information on why he does not believe his office is bound to the executive order on protecting classified information and whether it has claimed in other instances not to be an entity within the executive branch.

In addition, Waxman is seeking information as to whether Cheney’s office has sought to retaliate against the Information Security Oversight Office, asking for information on why Cheney requested its elimination.

•House Judiciary Committee:

(6/20/07) — Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) is inviting career Department of Justice (DoJ) employees to blow the whistle on political appointees, and he has set up a website that will allow them to do so confidentially.
Conyers is investigating the 2006 firings of nine U.S. attorneys as part of a larger probe of whether the Bush administration has politicized the DoJ.

“We have heard through intermediaries that current and former Justice Department whistleblowers needed a means to securely and confidentially communicate with the Committee,” Conyers said. “This page is designed to allow those whistleblowers to get the truth about the Department to the American people.”
The committee is assuring DoJ employees that it will protect their confidentiality.