Legal Forum

Cheney's Defiance of the GAO:
Outducking Dick or Into the (Naysaying) Agnew Stew With You!

The GAO (Government Accounting Office), an independent, nonpartisan agency of the Congress created in 1921, charged with overseeing the programs and expenditures of the federal government, is preparing to bring suit against Vice President Richard Cheney for refusing to answer questions about the composition of and confidential consultants to the so-called "National Energy Policy Development Group" signed into being by President George W. Bush on January 29, 2001.

The GAO's resort to judicial intervention is unprecedented, yet the course leading to the Supreme Court tracks the groove left by Nixon's White House tapes. Like Vice President Agnew before him, Cheney will take the heat from the (meanwhile tepid) press, lose his case at the circuit level, which he must because the GAO's purview explicitly extends to "deliberative" bodies, and then retreat to his interlocking board of directors special issue crosswords in the Oilgram News. Bush, just reconciled with pretzels and standing as tall, if as twisted, amid speculation about his own push-come-to-shovel part in the Enron collapse (the losses from which make those from the 80's-era Savings & Loan predation--another Bush family picnic--look like George Bailey's missing $8000) will learn to pronounce, though never to spell, "executive privilege," while his lawyers pick at the chads of a much-spindled Constitution just long enough for him to survive the 2004 landslide election.

As though this scenario were not already evident to Democrats who subscribe to Susan Sontag's 9/24 New Yorker cautionary—"Let's grieve together, but let's not be stupid together"—the full measure of scary stupidity is now postulated by the super-smart, but felonious, White House lawyer who kept Nixon's noodle out of the Judiciary Committee's impeachment bristle brush long enough to let him resign. John Dean reckons that the same 5-4 vote that elected No. 43 will again be waiting to rule on all fours, thereby "creating a black hole in the Federal firmament, a no man's land where only the President and Vice President can go, unobserved by their Constitutional co-equals on Capitol Hill." In so doing, he says, the high court will have decided that "Congressional oversight of the Executive Branch is limited to only what the President and Vice President are willing to permit." (Article).

-- MH (J.D., LL.M.)