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Hello, 911? I'd Like to Report a Crime

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What's it take to get a guy impeached these days? I mean, less than ten years ago it was lying under oath in a civil case involving alleged sexual harassment. Since then someone has apparently raised the bar -- to  someplace in low-earth orbit.

No, I'm not talking about impeaching George W. Bush – not that he doesn't richly deserve a thorough impeaching. I'm talking about his sidekick, Tricky Dick the Second.

We've all suspected for a long time that Dick was up to no good. And, while no one has yet been able to lift his finger prints from any of the many crime scenes that have turned up, and keep turning up, circumstantial evidence has pointed to him in almost every case.

But as of yesterday we now have a firm, undeniable set of prints. We now not only have a preverbal, but the gun is still in Cheney's hand and he's waving it proudly around in a "you'll never take me alive, coppers," manner:

WASHINGTON — For the last four years, Vice President Dick Cheney has made the controversial claim that his office is not fully part of the Bush administration in order to exempt it from a presidential order regulating federal agencies' handling of classified national security information, officials said Thursday....According to documents released Thursday by a House committee, Cheney's staff has blocked efforts by the National Archives' Information Security Oversight Office to enforce a key component of the presidential order: a mandatory on-site inspection of the vice president's office. At least one of those inspections would have come at a particularly delicate time — when Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, and other aides were under criminal investigation for their suspected roles in leaking the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame. (Full)

Hello Congress. (Anyone in there?) We've got a guy in our executive branch who did something a lot worse than just lying under oath that he ever lusted after an homely Arkansas gal.  This guy has openly violated a federal statute signed into law in 2002 by his own boss. And he is a serial violator too boot. He's broken this law, not just once, but four times already and is currently in the act of breaking it a fifth time. In other words, this time you've caught him in the act.. red handed. That would make five felonies and/or misdemeanors – on the record, staring you guys right in the face, mocking you.

Of course Dick has his defense. But it's a typical Dick Defense. If you think Bill Clinton's defense was a twenty-ton pile of steaming BS ("depends what the meaning of 'is" is.) -- get a load of the Dick's defense.  He says that, since the office of the Vice President serves a dual role, as VP and President of the Senate, he, as VP, is not subject to the law in question since that law only covers the executive branch.

"Cheney spokeswoman Lea Anne McBride confirmed the vice president's position Thursday but said she could not discuss the matter in detail, including whether Cheney or his aides tried to abolish the information security office. "We are confident that we are conducting this office properly under the law," McBride said."

Yep, you read that correctly. When the "cops" tried to enforce the law, Dick tried to "eliminate" them.  That would leave the  law on the books, but no one around to enforce it. Nice.

Anyway, back to Dick' defense. Cheney says he is not a member of the executive branch because he is also a member of the legislative branch. Hmmm. Let's see. If extrapolate that logic to it's logical conclusion then that means he Dick can't claim he's covered by executive privilege. If Dick is right then Congress would have the right to full and unimpeded access to all the VP's executive branch documents.  You know, like who he met with during his energy task force meetings, etc.  After all, Tricky Dick II, can't have it both ways.

Of course, Dick -- being the Dick we've all come to know -- wants it both ways. After all, if he were right about this, it would make him the most powerful person in government -- ever.

If Congress lets Cheney get away with this, this time, then we will have to assume that either Congress has abdicated it's power to a single man, or is somehow in on the deal. Well? What other explanations fit the circumstances? You tell me.

But if we still have an independent, co-equal legislative branch that is willing and able to defend their perogatives and rights, and enforce the rule of law, then only one course of action fits the bill -- impeachment.

Forget the federal courts. That's a dodge. First, trying to get a federal court interpretation of the statue is a waste of time, and we don't have that kind of time left in this administration. Besides, we already know Cheney has broken a law, and we know which law he broke and how many times he broke it.  Finally we know that Cheney's defense – that he is some kind of existential shape-shifter and therefore not a member of the executive branch --  is ridiculous on its face.

But that's Dick's defense and he is welcome to it. Let him put it forth during his impeachment trial and see how far he gets with it.

Republicans should be as concerned about this as Democrats. No, let amend and extend that remark. Republicans should be more concerned about this than Democrats. Because the next President and VP of the United States are likely going to be Democrats. And the last thing Republicans should want is for Cheney -- a guy on his way out -- to set a precedent that would allow a Democratic administration to hide what they've been up to from Congress.

The American public does not want such a precedent established either.  Because here's what happens when that happens.

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Stephen Pizzo has been published everywhere from The New York Times to Mother Jones magazine. His book, Inside Job: The Looting of America's Savings and Loans, was nominated for a Pulitzer.

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