Speaking of that Man-Sized Safe…

JimWhite noted that Senators Leahy, Jello Jay, DiFi, and Whitehouse have written the White House to warn Cheney to stop shredding. The letter seems to be a response–at least in part–to this passage from Barton Gellman’s Angler.

The command center of "the president’s program," as Addington usually called it, was not in the White House. Its controlling documents, which gave strategic direction to the nation’s largest spy agency, lived in a vault across an alley from the West Wing [7] — in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, on the east side of the second floor, where the vice president headquartered his staff.

The vault was in EEOB 268, Addington’s office. Cheney’s lawyer held the documents, physical and electronic, because he was the one who wrote them. New forms of domestic espionage were created and developed over time in presidential authorizations that Addington typed on a Tempest-shielded computer across from his desk [8].

It is unlikely that the history of U.S. intelligence includes another operation conceived and supervised by the office of the vice president. White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. had "no idea," he said, that the presidential orders were held in a vice presidential safe. An authoritative source said the staff secretariat, which kept a comprehensive inventory of presidential papers, classified and unclassified, possessed no record of these.

In an interview, Card said the Executive Office of the President, a formal term that encompassed Bush’s staff but not Cheney’s, followed strict procedures for handling and securing presidential papers.

"If there were exceptions to that, I’m not aware of them," he said. "If these documents weren’t stored the right way or put in the right places or maintained by the right people, I’m not aware of it."

The Senators ask, 

Have you investigated allegations reported in the Washington Post on September 14, 2008, that the "staff secretariat, which kept a comprehensive inventory of presidential papers, classified and unclassified, possessed no record of" presidential orders in the safe of the Counsel to the Vice President? If so, what were the results of your investigation.

In addition, they also ask specifically about Dick’s own notes (and those of Addington and Libby and Bush, if he actually ever kept notes)a.

Does the White House believe that any notes or documents created by the President, the Vice President or their respective staffs may be destroyed without consultation with the Archivist? If so, which notes or documents, and why?

Dick and Addington, having bolloxed the Iran-Contra investigation in the House, know how someone’s notes can come back to bite former Administration officials, so the Senators are right to be concerned.

Still, I’m not sure how effective yet another letter will be at this stage of the game. Me, I think they should just work out a plan for Biden to seize the man-sized safe when he gets his tour this evening.

21 replies
  1. Jkat says:

    sure ..sure .. after years and years of violating every federal statute in reach .. dickhead dick and dickhead david are suddenly going to leave a paper trail to their crimes ..

    not on your life ..

  2. bmaz says:

    Um, isn’t this exactly where there was already a fire? Since no one ever has been able to establish that said fire was nefarious, it would be awfully easy at this point to claim that certain, um, documents, info and evidence was destroyed accidentally in it.

    • Redshift says:

      A friend of mine does freelance video work, and they were downtown doing a shoot for one of the federal agencies that day, and happened to be in the street when the building emptied out for the fire alarm. The running half-joke among all of the federal employees there was that the fire must have been started by Cheney’s people burning documents.

  3. BlueStateRedHead says:

    Lightening so to speak struck twice for Mr. Addington.

    For many years, he kept a vast collection of legal documents in a library in his modest brick-and-clapboard home, in Alexandria, Virginia. One evening several years ago, lightning struck a nearby power line and the house caught fire; much of the archive burned. The fire started at around nine in the evening, and Addington, typically, was still in his office. His wife, Cynthia, and their three daughters were fine, but the loss of his extraordinary collection of papers and political memorabilia, Berry said, “was very hard for him to accept. All you get in this work is memorabilia./blockquote>


    So all the Senators are asking for is a chance to share in the memor[abilia].

  4. rosalind says:

    bmaz: your sheriff joe is back at it.

    New reality show “Smile, You’re Under Arrest”
    UPDATE: Fox is working with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office on this show, which is no surprise.


  5. BoxTurtle says:

    My bet is that it’s gone forever already. Cheney’s office is unlikely to have anyone who would/could prevent it. What’s the worst that happens? Cheney loses his sceurity clearence for mishandling classified documents.

    Boxturtle (And it’ll be covered under the blanket pardon)

  6. JimWhite says:

    Geez, they ask whether these guys believe they can destroy relevant materials, but they don’t ask whether they have already destroyed materials. I wish they had asked that. That would be a very good question for someone to answer under oath.

    Thanks for getting hold of the full letter, EW.

    • marksb says:

      As if these bozos would ever answer, even under oath (you know: ‘executive privilege’), or for that matter even bother showing up. We have certainly learned more about the the phrase “stonewall”…

    • Leen says:

      “whether they have all ready destroyed materials” that makes sense, surprised they did not ask.

      John Dean’s answer when I asked him who would be first on his Impeachment wish list

      J. Dean October 14th, 2007 at 11:54 am

      No. 5 – QUESTIONS: “Would Ari Fleisher, Douglas Feith, John Bolton, Paul Wolfowitz, and David Wurmser be candidates for impeachment?

      Who do you think most highly qualifies for impeachment?”

      ANSWER: Any presidential appointee is subject to impeachment. I would put David Addington at the top of my list, because a simple majority vote after impeachment can bar that person from holding federal office. The thought of Addington coming back in an even high post is chilling.

  7. bobschacht says:

    I’m late for the party again, but I’ve been moving to a new apartment, which looks down on the school where President-elect Obama went as a teenager.

    Here’s my thought on Cheney destroying papers:
    I remember how insistent the CIA was in getting written authorization to do what it did. Someone’s kept copies, if only to protect their own derrieres. Besides, the Cheney-Bush mob has committed so many felonies that its like reaching into a sack of popcorn kernels: You may not be able to grab them all, but you can grab enough of them to pay for their room and board at San Quentin for the rest of their lives.

    Bob in HI

  8. oldoilfieldhand says:

    Ask congress and the new President to rejoin the I.C.C. everyone. The International Criminal Court will swallow up all the time and resources of the shredders of secret and not so secret (U.S. Constitution) documents. Addington may even be able to defend himself and deadeye simultaneously.

  9. SENILEBIKER says:

    Ah, but the wonders of the information age. Nothing ever totally disappears.

    Like those nice torture memos, you can write them, and keep them on paper, and number the copies, but what value do they have if you don’t communicate them to to the people you want to do the torturing. They might not see the actual memo, but they sure as hell would want something on paper to cover their asses.

    Somewhere out there is the trail that leads to the pot of gold, and on Jan 21st, there will be a whole shit load of people who will be asking themselves if their interest is best served by trying to maintain the cover up, or coming clean and getting out of the line of fire.

    My bet is on an ongoing prime time serial that will out run Dallas and Dynasty combined.

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