"..Cheney and Addington will go down in history as the most aggressive and successful advocates of executive powers in this nation’s history. As Fritz Schwarz and I have charted, Cheney and Addington were in large part responsible for the 1987 Congressional Minority Report out of the Iran-contra affair, which first asserted that the White House could wield "monarchical notions of prerogatives." They grounded their vision of executive power on the prerogatives exercised by the British kings who were overthrown by the American Revolution.
Since 2001 Cheney has been at the tip of the spear in pushing for executive authority to override laws against surveillance and torture, among other things. And he’s aggressively used the Office of the Vice President to make unprecedented secrecy claims. In litigation around his energy task force, for example, Cheney invoked Article II of the Constitution–which creates the presidency–to underwrite his defiance of Congressional and private demands for information. The Supreme Court, while it didn’t wholly accept Cheney’s position, yielded to it with alarming deference in 2004. The suit was later dismissed by a lower court.
To rub salt in the open sore of hypocrisy, Cheney has been among the most assertive Vice Presidents in wielding executive privilege independent of the President. He’s also made extravagantly petty claims of secrecy: for example, ordering the Secret Service to destroy logs of visitors to his residence at the Naval Observatory in Washington despite the 1978 Presidential Records Act’s contrary demand.
For Cheney to be pushing the envelope on executive power is especially ironic, given the original constitutional status of the vice presidency: That office is a vestigial afterthought tacked on to the Constitution toward the end of the 1787 Constitutional Convention to solve a gaggle of unrelated problems. And it quickly proved more trouble than it was worth." The Nation
Ah, for the days when a vice president understood that his function was to preside over the senate (occasionally), play cards with his old pals from the same senate and wait for a "sickly season."
Very few VPs have had any function at all other than that. The VP is not in the chain of command of any department of government. He has no authority at all other than that which the president gives him. This president likes to be a "big picture" kind of guy. "You’re either with us or against us" would be his level of detail in running the affairs of state. Cheney is an "operator." He makes the "trains run on time." In one example, he makes them run all the way to Gitmo.
For those who peer beneath the surface of Washington’s daily facade of tourism and monumental buildings it is now evident that Dick Cheney is an anti-constitutionalist.
The US Constitution was constructed by men who distrusted concentrations of power. They had lived through the experience of what they saw as an excessive and arbitrary use of power by the Westminster parliament and the king’s ministers. They did not want to experience that again. For that reason they wrote a document which seeks to limit power rather than to enable it. That determination to prevent the consolidation of power has been weakened over the centuries. The Civil War’s outcome with its emphasis on the "oneness" of the union, the granting to the federal government of taxation rights on the income of individuals, the election of senators by a direct process rather than by the legislatures of the states, all these, and many other changes, have strengthened central power at the expense of the framers’ original intent.
Now we have Cheney and Addington, the leaders of the monarchist faction of the Republican Party. We had the right to think that these issues had been settled by the Revolution itself or at the least by the election of 1800.
After that one, Jefferson freed the captive editors and after his inauguration walked through the dust from Capitol Hill to the White House. Who will save us now?
Franklin was right to say that we have a republic, but that it is up to us to keep it. pl