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Cheney – CIA Leak-Gate focuses on the Vice President

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Allegations about a Rove indictment last week took the focus off of several new filings by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. One of the filings contained two exhibits that involved Vice President Dick Cheney see . Today, the Associated Press reported that Cheney may be called in a witness in the case against his former Chief of Staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. It is hard to believe that is going to be the extent of the Vice President’s involvement in the Leak-Gate legal proceedings.

The exhibits suggest genuine interest by the Vice President in Ambassador Wilson and his wife Valerie Plame after Wilson’s article in the New York Times made strong allegations that the Bush administration knowingly sold the American People false information on Iraqi WMD in the run up to the war. This interest by the Vice President appears one week before Valerie Plame’s name first appeared in the print press. It is not hard to imagine that Cheney conspired with Libby and perhaps Rove to discredit both Wilson and Plame. Should Fitzgerald be able to connect these dots with evidence, Cheney would likely employ an interesting defense.

The Right Wing blogosphere, Free Republic in particular (or at least a substantial portion of its members), is of the opinion that the President delegated his powers of declassifying information to the Vice President and therefore, the Vice President can disclose sensitive information at his whim. Aside from the obvious moral issues of outing a CIA operative for political gain and the possibility that the Vice President may have perjured himself or obstructed justice to hide the truth of his involvement, there are real Constitutional questions as to what powers the President can delegate. If the President so wishes, can he delegate Veto powers? How about some of the rest of his powers from Article II of the constitution , can he delegate his ability to grant reprieves and pardons? Make Treaties? Appoint Ambassadorships? I have read Article II several times over the last few days to try to even start to form a constitutionally supported opinion on this one way or the other and I am at a loss. Coming at this from another angle, I know from my Air Force days that certain military officers and civilian DOD leaders are empowered to alter the security classification of documents and information, but the scope of the media and information with which they can do this is always limited to what is appropriate for their position and authority and if they execute this power improperly there will be career and perhaps legal consequences. The point is that with the exception of the President, there are limitations to anyone’s ability to declassify information. Even with the President there are some limitations. He cannot release classified information to the extent that it becomes treason. What is the outing of Valerie Plame if not treason? The intentional harming of a CIA operative’s ability to do their job of protecting the United States for personal gain. That to me is treason.

It is hard to be patient with the progress of the Leak Gate case. Mr. Fitzgerald is pursuing a careful, deliberate and thorough investigation of the facts and the evidence he has already unearthed is interesting and illuminating. The Constitutional questions that lurk just over the horizon are yet another bizarre twist in an already strange case. I just hope that Mr. Fitzgerald is permitted to do his job as he has been doing it all the way to its completion and that the guilty parties are brought to justice.
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A political blogger for the International Business Times, Steve Leser is a hot national political pundit. He has appeared on MSNBC's Coundown with Keith Olbermann, Comedy Central's Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Russia Today's (RT) Crosstalk with (more...)
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