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Vice President Ruled Part of Executive Branch: Cheney’s Records Must Be Preserved

CNN’s headline is Cheney must keep records, judge orders.  The very short version of all this is that the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) sued “Vice President Richard B. Cheney in his official capacity, the Executive Office of the President (“EOP”), the Office of the Vice President (“OVP”), the National Archives and Records
Administration (“NARA”), and Dr. Allen Weinstein, Archivist of the United States, in his official capacity” to force everyone involved to “preserve all vice presidential records, broadly defined to encompass all records relating to the vice president carrying out his constitutional, statutory or other official or ceremonial duties” (see the CREW site article: Court Orders Cheney to Preserve Records in CREW Lawsuit).

Turns out that a judge agrees with CREW and has ordered that:

Defendants shall preserve throughout the pendency of this litigation all documentary material, or any reasonably segregable portion thereof created or received by the Vice President, his staff, or a unit or individual of the Office of the Vice President whose function is to advise and assist the Vice President, in the course of conducting activities which relate to or have an effect upon the carrying out of the constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties of the Vice President, without regard to any limiting definitions that Defendants may believe are appropriate

I love that last bit – keep it all, even if you don’t think you should.  The court order finishes by saying that they should still give the records to NARA as long as NARA is going to treat them as covered by the Presidential Records Act (see NARA’s PRA page or Wikipedia’s PRA page – I will let you guess which is easier to read).

Is it bad of me to be excited that this is being treated as front page news? As of 9:30pm September 20th 2008, CNN is featuring the article in its ‘prime top left with a big photo’ spot and the New York Times has a link off the main page to their article: Cheney Is Ordered to Preserve Wide Set of Records. They say that there is no such thing as bad publicity. I would like to believe that front page news stories such as this one help improve understanding of archives in general (and NARA in particular).

Posted in appraisal, at risk records, journalism


  1. Ron Lockwitch

    I just don’t understand this administration! Who do they think they are? Why wouldn’t the VP stop be part of the executive branch? He would replace the president if anything would happen to the # 1 idiot. Where do these people comes from retardsville.

  2. Gordon

    The Bush administration has put archives on the front page not just on this issue, but on other issues as well (The Bush Library at SMU, Executive Order 13233, are two that come to mind). And while the Executive Branch has certainly pushed the envelope on how far it can go to keep public documents from the eyes of scrutiny, Congress has been derelict it its oversight duties as well. I’m reminded of that oft-quoted phrase from Ben Franklin, “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither safety nor liberty.” Since 9/11 the public and Congress has been far too willing to give the Executive Branch the benefit of the doubt when it comes to access to public records. I think it’s time we heed Ben Franklin’s words and take back our essential liberties, especially us archivists who are uniquely positioned to talk about issues like this. Glad to see this issue being discussed on archival blogs like this one. Keep up the good work!

  3. scott

    Dick Cheney can’t work for two entities at the same time. His masters at Haliburton would never let him serve anyone but them.

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