The Dead-Enders Do Dallas

There are two notable details about this article on the reunion of the Bush dead-enders in Dallas to plan W’s legacy.

Dick Doesn’t Do Dallas

The first is the absence Peter Baker does note; apparently, Dick’s not doing Dallas.

Not coming to next week’s session is former Vice President Dick Cheney, who in the final days of the administration argued with Mr. Bush about his failure to pardon Mr. Cheney’s former chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby Jr., who was convicted of perjury and other counts for his role in the leak of Valerie Wilson’s employment with the Central Intelligence Agency. Mr. Cheney later went on television to air his grievances with Mr. Bush, while also accusing Mr. Obama of endangering the country.

That is an approach Mr. Bush has rejected, telling aides that for now he is intent on giving his successor room to govern without criticism from him. Besides, he says, he is too busy in his own new life.

While I’m all in favor of flogging the "Cheney in a huff over Scooter" story (maybe it’ll spark some interest in why Cheney feels so strongly?), Cheney’s absence is more interesting, IMO, given his apparently recent decision to keep his records–and the loot he received as gifts while serving as the Fourth Branch–in the National Archives in DC rather than in the Bush Library.

Last fall, an architect for Bush’s library indicated that Cheney’s records and artifacts would be coming soon, but that apparently was a mix-up. Cheney wants them to remain in Washington as he writes his memoirs.


During talks last year, the National Archives suggested that Cheney’s artifacts – like a set of gold Murano glass candlesticks and bowls from Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi – be sent to the Bush library. That way they could be displayed with Bush’s items, including the 9 mm pistol that Saddam Hussein held when captured by American soldiers in Iraq.

"The VP preferred to have the VP artifacts remain with the records," said Sharon Fawcett, assistant archivist for presidential libraries.

Plans for the Bush library at SMU include space for new collections, including Cheney’s archives. His official and personal records would need an estimated 6,000 cubic feet, according to the National Archives.

Last fall, e-mails between Bush architects and the archives, which ensures that the library meets federal standards, signaled that Cheney’s records would be coming to Dallas.

In October, one architect wrote to the archives: "We received a call from [George W. Bush Foundation president] Mark Langdale that the Vice Presidential holdings will now be located at the GWBPL [George W. Bush Presidential Library]" and asked for guidance to update the library’s designs.

But there was "a miscommunication," said Rob Saliterman, spokesman for the nonprofit Bush Foundation, which is in charge of building the library, museum and policy center.

I’m reading "miscommunication" here to be Cheney-speak for change of plans, or more likely, long-time deception about his real plans. But given Cheney’s repeated attempts to bypass the Presidential Records Act, particularly his attempts to have his emails, visitors, and classification actions hidden, I suspect his decision to keep his records in NARA reflects a desire to exercise continued control over access to them.

But it also means you’ve got Bush in Texas writing his memoirs using one archive, and Cheney in DC writing his own memoir using different archives.  I can’t wait to write the set of posts comparing the two memoirs, reflecting as they will two totally different archives about the events portrayed within them. I almost imagine that Bush is the one Cheney’s keeping his archives away from, lest he find out what really happened during his presidency.

A Legacy without a Brain

And then there’s the other notable detail: Baker’s complete silence about whether Rove will attend. 

Condoleezza Rice will be there. So will Karen Hughes and Dan Bartlett and Michael Gerson. And George W. Bush himself.

The old gang is getting back together next week in Dallas for a reunion of sorts, the Bush team’s first since leaving the White House. On tap is a dinner with the former president and a day-long discussion of the future George W. Bush Policy Institute.

Apparently, the Dallas News tried to answer the question Baker’s silence doesn’t address–though with no better luck. 

Those expected to attend include former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and media advisers Karen Hughes and Dan Bartlett.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney will not be there. It was unclear whether Karl Rove, a top Bush political adviser, would attend.

Now, unlike Dick, Karl is definitely still working on the George Bush legacy project. Witness his strong reaction to Joe Biden’s recollection of a meeting at which Biden warned Bush that the President might be a leader, but no one was following. 

"I remember President Bush saying to me one time in the Oval Office," Biden said, "’Well, Joe,’ he said, ‘I’m a leader.’ And I said: ‘Mr. President, turn and around look behind you. No one is following.’"

Yesterday, Rove said the exchange was purely "fictional."

"It didn’t happen," Rove said in a taped interview (which appears below). "It’s his imagination; it’s a made-up, fictional world.

"He ought to get out of it and get back to reality," Rove added. "He’s making this up out of whole cloth."

"I hate to say this, but he’s a serial exaggerator," continued. "If I was being unkind I would say liar. But it is a habit he ought to drop."

And the best part is that the same Karl Rove that spread Cheney’s rumors that Valerie Plame had a low-level desk job at the CIA, and put up with Cheney’s claims that Iraq contributed to 9/11, is now lecturing that Vice Presidents shouldn’t lie or exaggerate. 

"You should not exaggerate and lie like this when you are the Vice President of the United States," he quipped.

Thanks, Karl. Glad to see your newfound concern about the veracity of the Vice President.

Of course, Karl might just be cranky. After all. On the same day Rove went after Biden, he also went after a Tom Feeney staffer in a restaurant, warning of his "file" measuring Feeney’s disloyalty. 

Though, come to think of it, Karl’s just about due for his little chat with the House Judiciary staffers, so maybe there’s a reason he’s so touchy. 

Still. Karl Rove is the man who created whatever historical profile George Bush has. And here they are, brainstorming ways to turn shit into gold. And they can’t even tell the press whether Bush’s brain is going to show up.

That says something, I think, about the future of Bush’s legacy.

71 replies
  1. manys says:

    At the Sketchfest in San Francisco this year I attended a show called, “Celebrity Autobiographies.” Actors got on stage and read from various books straight-faced. Toward the end they did a couple of bits where multiple actors read from related autobiographies regarding the same event. One was Debbie Reynolds, Eddie Fisher, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, regarding Eddie’s leaving Debbie for Elizabeth, who left him in order to return to Richard. Another was Burt Reynolds, Loni Anderson, and Burt’s assistant regarding their split. I’m guessing the Bush-Cheney memoir comparison will tend closest to the latter.

  2. Rayne says:

    Hoo-boy. Almost smells like Dick is threatening Karl and Krewe in his own special, “I have other priorities” way. Wonder if there’s a quid pro quo, meaning Dick won’t show up and shoot anybody in the face if Karl doesn’t show up and be his usually annoying weenie self?

    Just idle musings.

    Also idly musing over the gifts Deadeye received while in office; are there ethical restrictions on these gifts, including value and ownership?

  3. joejoejoe says:

    I’d like to see some follow up on this tidbit with Jason Roe and/or retired (by the voters) Rep. Tom Feeney:

    Roe: “I don’t know that I’m famous, but I’m Tom Feeney’s former chief of staff, and I’m offended by your comments on Fox about Tom. You guys wouldn’t be in the White House without Tom. And you made these really degrading comments about him that offended a lot of people.”

    (Sidenote: Tom Feeney was the speaker of the Florida House of Representatives during the whole Bush/Gore 2000 recount.)

    Feeney’s old CD opponent Clint Curtis has long accused Feeney of approaching him to fix voting machines prior to the 2000 election.

    • joejoejoe says:

      You are right about the dates and timeline.

      I don’t know what Roe is referring to from 2000. I always thought it was voters who decided elections but I guess that’s not how GOP Chiefs of Staff view it.

      • emptywheel says:

        Per Brad, Feeney was ready to have the state house determine the outcome, regardless of what Sandra Day O’C said.

        He also said Feeney had vote-caging lists. And then reminded that Volusia’s weird vote tally was never explained. Not sure how much of that is Feeney. But certainly the threat to have the state leg decide how electors would be decided was him.

        • JimWhite says:

          In a weird sense, we have Feeney to “thank” that it wasn’t Jeb! instead of W. in 2000. Feeney was Jeb!’s running mate when Jeb! ran unsuccessfully against Chiles in 1994. Feeney was so freaking fascist in that campaign that he lost it for Jeb!, so W. had more Guvner experience by the time 2000 came around and got to be the family candidate.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Awww, don’t take too much effort. When his brain finally shows up, it’ll resemble a 2″ long wet noodle. You’ll have trouble even seeing it when it shows up.

      Just go get a nice drink because it’s a Friday evening and once again it’s baseball season ;-)))

      Although, it is just so damn funny to read that Cheney’s ‘not showing up’ to fluff GWB’s ego. God, that’s funny. Are we certain that he was actually invited…? My guess would be that he sensed a Rather Cold Shoulder. Besides, even he’s probably had enough wet noodles to last him a lifetime.

      Well, it’s off to my wine cave for me…

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Well, perhaps like Vampirish things, his papers are only visible in the very dark depths of the night?

  4. bobschacht says:

    It looks like the old Bush crew is hunkering down, and the fireworks are about to begin. I’m guessing that Rove is “participating” in the Bush legacy project so that he can protect his own image that emerges from Bush’s POV, while reserving his own book for later. Maybe there will be maneuvering to see who publishes first, so they can adapt their work to make themselves look better at the expense of the others. One would normally expect that, but it is interesting to see already that they are sequestering their own archives and will share only on their own terms.

    Of course, I would prefer to see their witness accounts told from the witness stand in court, under oath.

    Bob in HI

  5. shekissesfrogs says:

    It’s clear there has been an emotional divorce between Bush and Cheney, and if push came to shove Bush would throw him under the bus.

  6. oregondave says:

    I almost imagine that Bush is the one Cheney’s keeping his archives away from, lest he find out what really happened during his presidency.


  7. Rayne says:

    OT — Check out this bit from Reuters today about a downgrade on Chrysler’s debt.

    30 to 50 percent recovery, sez S&P, if a bankruptcy.

    Is it just me or does it look like we’re still haggling on price?

  8. freepatriot says:

    dead eye dick is smart enough to know that he has the right to remain silent

    and that anything he says can be used against him in a court of law …

    at least george was able to increase cheney’s respect for Miranda

  9. FrankProbst says:

    I can’t wait to write the set of posts comparing the two memoirs…

    I suspect they’ll be pretty similar.

    Bush: “I was the Decider.”

    Cheney: “I was the Decider.”

  10. prostratedragon says:

    I almost imagine that Bush is the one Cheney’s keeping his archives away from, lest he find out what really happened during his presidency.

    Wow, ew, so unlike you not to finish things! But yeah, that’s long been my sense of a main current in their relationship.

  11. Sara says:

    On Presidential Gifts…

    I believe the rule is that a gift valued under $50.00 can just be kept.

    Anything over $50.00 goes into storage, and at the end of term the President or VP can “buy” it for personal use, or designate it for purchase in some cases by a member of the President’s Staff. Otherwise the gift becomes property of the Government, and goes to the National Archives. For instance, I believe the Clinton’s bought some emerald Jewelry when they left — value about 2500 or so, a set of special golf clubs, and a few other items mounting up to about ten thousand dollars. But they designed the museum in Little Rock with public space for many of the gifts in display cases. FDR’s Library is not covered by the Presidential Records Act — but the more or less follow the guidelines, that which was personal to FDR or Eleanor is used in periodic displays, and the stuff given to him as head of state is in a distinct display managed by the Archives. Ike’s library has three catagories — personal artifacts, artifacts related to his military service, (which Ike donated to the Library for a tax break), and head of state items, and the displays are quite seperate. Johnson, who was also not covered by the Nixon era legislation, ultimately gave everything to the Library — retaining for his own and Lady Bird’s use some things not handed over till her death — but in fact, Lady Bird kept very little until she died. Lady Bird also followed the Presidential Records Act guidelines, and bought out of the gifts some things she wanted for her children and grandchildren.

    Mondale says he followed the Presidential Records Act faithfully. All VP papers are part of the Carter Center, but he has his own archive for his Senate Papers, and in depth copies of his VP papers and personal papers that will be at the Humphrey Center, U of MN, managed in part by the Minnesota Historical Society, along with all gifts. All of Humphrey’s papers and gifts as VP and many when he was Senator are also part of this collection at the University. In fact, the Humphrey Center may be the closest parallel to what Bush seems to have in mind (except it is a very different style). The Humphrey Institute is a Public Policy Academic Center, tied to the Political Science Department at the U, with a staff that is actively engaged in policy advocacy. Most Staff have joint appointments, though most are on multi year contract, and not tenured. Since Johnson/Humphrey were not covered by the records act, I don’t know how much of Hubert’s papers were placed, either as copies or in original in the Johnson Library. I rather suspect it was quite limited.

    Remember, the National Archives ultimately is the owner of that part of a presidential library that contains the papers, — they run it and staff it once it becomes operational as simply a “repository” and reading room. Many of the gifts thus become “decoration” for the public spaces, and the norm is to make some small part of the museum part of the Archives turf, so that displays can be set up, and changed from time to time. The Archives section of a Library is supposed to be quite a-political.

    In my mind, Congress really needs to take a new look at this whole issue. It has become a serious boondoggle, with each President trying to build a larger library than the last, each needing to raise a larger and larger endowment to support these museums in praise of themselves, and administation by administration less attention given to what is core — namely that the point is a repository for papers and artifacts useful to scholars engaged in studying and interpreting public policy related to a particular administration. These should be administered ONLY by the National Archives — and Congress should fund them, and given today’s technology, Congress should also fund electronic versions of materials, and should require the National Archives to put them on line. But we need to put some limits on the “museum” piece of these Presidential Centers — and we need to be very careful as to big league foreign involvement in creating the endowments for them.

    • emptywheel says:

      Not Congress, I know, but NARA is reevaluating how it makes these documents avaialable.

      The National Archives and Records Administration is asking for comments from the public on how they can make the archives of previous administrations more accessible to the public and less costly.


      • Peterr says:

        Presidential libraries are in fact branches of the National Archives, though many presidents now also set up parallel foundations and such to serve as the repository of the legacy.

        Here’s the pdf of NARA’s request for input. Note the following:

        The 2008 [Presidential Historical Records Preservation] Act increased the amount of money that the former President’s foundation, which is responsible for constructing a Presidential library, must transfer to the government to be used for an endowment. Funds derived from the endowment are used to offset the annual cost of operating and maintaining the Presidential library. The Act raised the endowment to 60 percent of the cost of the library, and takes effect for libraries built after that of President George W. Bush. The foundations that built the first Bush Library and the Clinton Library provided endowments of 20 percent of the cost of the library, as will the foundation building the George W. Bush Library.

        The Act also requires the Archivist to submit to Congress a report that provides alternative models for Presidential libraries that would “1) reduce the financial burden on the Federal Government, 2) improve the preservation of presidential records, and 3) reduce the delay in public access to all presidential records.”

        Thus, presidential libraries are a joint public/private enterprise. The documents themselves belong to and are handled by NARA, but the associated think tanks and other legacy-building efforts are run by the foundation.

  12. GregOPauls says:

    I guess that the Clinton library is filled with great stuff. Yeah right, like hookers numbers, pickup lines and other crap that he filled the white house up with. Let’s not forget the famous speaches: I did not have sex with that woman.

    See you all at the tea party on Wednesday.

    • Sara says:

      Thank you very much, but the Archivists at the FDR Library provided me with such a memorable tea party, I think I will skip yours.

      You see, at the bicentenial in 1976 I was doing research for part of the summer at Hyde Park, and the day after the big fling in NYC, they paraded all the tall ships up the Hudson, and turned them around just down from the FDR Estate. The Archivist pulled Sara Roosevelt’s china out of inventory, steeped real china tea — the kind the Delano family fortune was made from, and invited the researchers up to the sunroom on the top floor for tea, sandwiches, and a great view of the turning tall ships. The kind of perk you get if the archivist considers you serious.

      I hope those sending the tea bags to DC realize that they cannot be delivered via the mail without expensive inspection, including radiation, because of security considerations. In other words — your protest is a waste of taxpayer’s money, and most of the bags are just being burned without being delivered.

      I also note that one Gay group is going to counter demonstrate — they plan to break out some decent china, teapots, take decanters of sugar and proper lemon slices, and chairs — and drink tea properly, showing some respect for quality tea and tea etiquette. I hope the tea-bag demonstrators don’t get all hot and violent and break the cups and saucers.

      And then there is the Polish Elephant Story. Seems that the Poles spent a good deal of money building a proper Elephant House and area at the Warsaw Zoo. Finally their Elephant arrived, a young male (just 11) who eventually will live with an existing female, and a younger one yet to arrive. Plans are to have a whole Elephant Family…But Sad — the Politicians in Poland are in a snit. Turns out their new male may be Gay. The Polish Economy may be going south and all, what with too many dollar and EU denominated loans from Germany and Austria, but the Conservatives are in a tizzy about their Gay Male Elephant. (According to the Warsaw zoo keepers, this may just be a phase — Elephants don’t become sexually mature till they are about 14.)

      • freepatriot says:

        geez Sara, your posts usually fill me with hope

        but this one makes me sad:

        I also note that one Gay group is going to counter demonstrate — they plan to break out some decent china, teapots, take decanters of sugar and proper lemon slices, and chairs — and drink tea properly, showing some respect for quality tea and tea etiquette. I hope the tea-bag demonstrators don’t get all hot and violent and break the cups and saucers.

        why are they gonna bother to demonstrate a tea party, everybody KNOWS how a tea party works

        I was hopin for a demonstration of “Honest To God Tea Bagging”

        I had visions of a giant teabagger party on Market Street (and then let’s see the “best Political Team on Television” explain THAT ONE) the vision of 10,000 gay men dipping their balls would leave a lasting impression that would WIPE OUT an political capital the repuglitards hope to gain

        let America see what the REAL TEABAGGERS ARE

        that would take the wind out of the repuglitards’ sails

        and make them the laughing stock of the WHOLE FUCKING PLANET

        as you can see, we’re two totally different kinds of liberals


        • Rayne says:

          I’m inspired, think I will have a tea party on 15th too. Best china, best tea, canapes on silver platters served to my progressive friends. Maybe I’ll ask for donations to Planned Parenthood while we sip away the afternoon.

          Or maybe just beers. Beers and donations to EMILY’s List, maybe.

          w00t!! Better yet, GREEN TEA BEER PARTY!!!

          Off to the wine and beer store to see if they have some.

          By the way, sign the petition or follow us on Twitter if you’re stuck like me and can’t make the Boycott Chase rally.

          • PJEvans says:

            Don’t forget the green tea ice cream!

            I was considering signing up for a low-end account with WaMu, to use for buying on eBay, but not one with Chase. It isn’t exactly a boycott, but it’s still loss of a customer.

      • freepatriot says:

        please don’t feed my troll

        an that goes for you too, fatster

        all our trolls are belong to me

        I’m his huckleberry

        he’s been gettin a little fat lately (that cheetoes diet can fatten a troll up) so I got him on a diet of comments about his “inadequacies”

        thanks for your support


    • freepatriot says:

      maybe you should check out the Clinton library

      I know there isn’t much hope, but you might find a few clues

      and then you might be able to get laid for the first time in your life

      and then you wouldn’t have to waste your life trying to disrupt your betters when they talk

      or you could just stay the way you are, an ignorant unfuckable troll

  13. Rayne says:

    Wow. That’s really constructive and instructive. Still fretting over Clinton while the Bush-created economy goes down in flames, consuming our national security.

    And a lot of teabags publicly brandished by a bunch of white people with nothing better to do are going to solve the problem.

  14. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I had the same reaction to the use of “mix-up” as a credible explanation for Cheney’s failure to consolidate “his” records with the rest of the Bush presidency’s records. Just for the record, they are the files of the American people. They are no more Bush or Cheney’s records than the business correspondence of Carly Fiorina as CEO of H-P is hers and not H-P’s. Then again, complying with the law is something that predators like Cheney think is beneath them.

    Cheney is a skillful deceiver and arch manipulator. Bush is easily deceived and manipulated by personalities such as Dick’s, which suggests Mr. Cheney has less than little respect for George. But he is dependent on him still, since he has as little independent authority now as he had while Vice President. Out of office, at least, he can be more silent still and can use collateral authority he acquires from other relationships.

    Rove is more vulnerable. He is a witness in a federal probe. He is dependent on good relations with his most visible former client in order to gain new ones. He has, however, been acquiring independent wealth since bolting from the White House. His media gigs are lucrative, as is his work for other clients, including the Bush Libwawy. Like J. Edgar Hoover, he probably has “files” on most Villagers and lots of contributors to ensure an income and to make crossing him expensive. It will be interesting to see how much sunlight withers his and Mr. Cheney’s bloom.

  15. Sara says:

    As to recommendations to NARA. And yes, I will write a formal letter.

    What scholars and journalists who use Presidential Archives want most of all is legislation that puts in law the terms for making materials available. I know of two doctoral candidates who got screwed by Bush II when he used Executive Orders to change the terms, and they had to change dissertation topics in mid-research phase, as for the last 7 years they could not access materials that were scheduled to open regarding the last days of the Cold War. (Bush I and Reagan papers.) Congress needs to make hard and fast rules, and let things fall as they do. As things are suppost to stand, Unclassified papers should be open after 8 years, with review of classified materials and opening of these, after 12 years. If the Archives prepares decent finding aids, frequently subjects that are classified can be researched prior to 12 years through departments and agencies, and then at the 12 year point, you can narrow it down and persue specific targeted classified materials through various appeals. So they need to legislate that schedule, and give NARA sufficient funds to create the finding aids early on.

    Electronic Documentation is a total mess — not only with regard to Presidential Papers and E-Mail, but Agency and Departmental ones. The Feds use just too many custom programs, with no consideration as to whether the hardware and software will be available to read things after the classification dates expire, or the classification is lifted. What Congress needs to do is authorize NARA to collect and sequester along with both hardware and software on a day to day or month to month basis, and then when time limits or classifications expire, convert materials to the Archival Programs in use by NARA and Library of Congress — and as many historians are now suggesting, print a paper copy as back-up on archival paper, so that 50-100 years from now there will be true back-up. Archivists really don’t like to process materials for several years after an event or an administration, because they do cull a good deal of material, and you don’t know how to evaluate many matters till time has passed.

    Congress needs to legislatively clarify what papers are Administration papers. I think this is an easy call — it would apply to the President and the VP, and all WH staff appointees that serve them, and all other political appointees that require Senate Confirmation. (that is about 6000 persons). The Archives ought to have sufficient staff to brief all these covered persons on Archival Policy and practice, and regularly review whether documents are being properly saved and archived as agreed. The Archives ought to have to formally sign off on any change or modification of IT systems that might impact whether material is archived on a daily basis. This would obviously mean that NARA would have a serious staff with high security clearances — it gets expensive. But most Presidential Appointees are required to log all phone calls — and have done so back at least to FDR’s years, so this is in fact just an extension of that practice. But Congress needs to put this into clear legislative language. They might even consider making any Presidential IT tech with Systems Manager level access a joint appointment with NARA so that competence to operate the system can be a reviewable qualification. However it is done — Congress needs to put the purpose and the controls into clear legislative language — we been through this too many times. Remember, Bush I walked off with all the hard drives for the WH computers, only to be outfoxed because there was a tape back-up, and Clinton had problems with E-Mail, again fixed but only after a congressional bust-up, and of course Bush II probably had the whole damn government on the Republican Party Servers. (But maybe NSA was tapping the Republic Servers???) Anyhow it is Congress’s responsibility to stop the nonsense in the name of History.

    • LabDancer says:

      “Congress needs to legislatively clarify what papers are Administration papers. I think this is an easy call — it would apply to the President and the VP, and all WH staff appointees that serve them, and all other political appointees that require Senate Confirmation.”

      Sara –

      While I agree with your first assertion above, I have a feeling Dick Cheney does not. But it’s your second assertion that interests me here: Do we have any idea of the precise BASIS under which the most recent OVP records etc [or at least what the OVP was prepared to concede as to be delivered] were in fact delivered to NARA?

      I raise it because the legislation that created the office of the National Archivist appears to set up a distinction between “presidential records” etc and “agency records” etc, creating along with that distinction an additional set of rules bearing on declassification of the same, and to my mind leaving the impression that the Archivist would have to be additionally pro-active in overcoming whatever classification has been put on such records by the “head” of the given agency by, AOT, approaching the chief of the agency that imposed the classification for that chief’s input.

      It’s my impression that this in effect gives the chief of such an agency a greater degree of power over the public release of not just the records etc themselves but potentially all information bearing on them [eg any precise or even general description such as might appear in a comprehensive list].

      I suspect I would not be alone in surmising that it would be interesting, possibly important, & at the very least a barrel of monkey fun in and of itself if Dick’s records were delivered to NARA on the basis of the OVP being an “agency” — as opposed to as simply one arm of the administration — but additionally, under the terms of the same legislation, what do you think of the idea that delivering the records as an “agency” might also make them more vulnerable to a proactive declassification by Joe Biden?

      • Sara says:

        “I raise it because the legislation that created the office of the National Archivist appears to set up a distinction between “presidential records” etc and “agency records” etc, creating along with that distinction an additional set of rules bearing on declassification of the same, and to my mind leaving the impression that the Archivist would have to be additionally pro-active in overcoming whatever classification has been put on such records by the “head” of the given agency by, AOT, approaching the chief of the agency that imposed the classification for that chief’s input.

        It’s my impression that this in effect gives the chief of such an agency a greater degree of power over the public release of not just the records etc themselves but potentially all information bearing on them [eg any precise or even general description such as might appear in a comprehensive list].

        I suspect I would not be alone in surmising that it would be interesting, possibly important, & at the very least a barrel of monkey fun in and of itself if Dick’s records were delivered to NARA on the basis of the OVP being an “agency” — as opposed to as simply one arm of the administration — but additionally, under the terms of the same legislation, what do you think of the idea that delivering the records as an “agency” might also make them more vulnerable to a proactive declassification by Joe Biden?”

        The system as I understand it is that once an administration changes over under a new President, the records of agencies and departments are covered by individual rules established by NARA and the agency. Depending on those agreements, records from one administration are packed up and taken to the Archives, with the individual agency rules determinative as to when they will be opened, and the agency classification officer then dealing with any residual classifications that need to be considered in — opening them, or setting a time schedule for their release. Should a petition for opening particular files be received then the classification officer has to deal with the issue — is something still classified in whole, can it be released in partial or redacted form, etc. The political personnel of the administration that created the document have no further powers over release or classification.

        This is what makes archive diving so interesting. In so many cases you’ll find a whole file at a Presidential Library about a topic, all open and available, but agency papers regarding the same matter still classified. Or Vise Versa. Historians use this to their advantage — what you can’t find one place, you perhaps find another — and you can go on your merry way and source the place you found something — usually a sequence of memo’s that are traded back and forth as part of policy development. Unlike the Journalistic researcher who locks on to a specific document in a particular file — historians tend to fly under the radar a bit, and use the art of piecing together what is accessable as a way of sketching out the story — and if you are wrong it is quite likely the classification of what you didn’t get will come off for purposes of correcting the record.

        With regard to Cheney’s stuff — I doubt if much exists in paper form that would be useful. I suspect pizza boxes all over the country are currently made of what he had pulped. But I think Congress ought to make an issue of asking NARA for an accounting of any document series he has turned over, plus any agreements oral or in writing he has with NARA. I suppose it is Leahy who deals with this — and he needs to do it soon. Remember, Cheney invented his own classification system — which may be a way of saying no existing classification officer has power over his records, and, because he didn’t deposit them with the Bush Library, the specifics of the Presidential Records Act has no application. I assume he dug himself a nice deep loophole, and is double daring congress to take notice. Same approach ought to be used with regard to his staff — if you can figure out which staffers at the WH were in his office. Remember, we never got a staff list.

        Of course what Congress ought to do in a proposed law is simply declare the office of the VP a dependency of the Office of the President, allow a VP to have his own archive if he wants, but require it be administered by the staff of the Presidential Library, and that copies of everything be placed in the Presidential Library. Mondale and Carter were not subject to the Presidential Records Act — 1977 I think — but since Mondale was the original author when he was still in the Senate, they followed it to the letter — and all Mondale’s originals are in the Carter Center, and copies are at the Humphrey Institute…actually physically at the Minnesota Historical Society, which has the state of the art climate controlled warehouse. Thus Mondale is in four parts — his Attorney General of Minnesota papers, his Senate Papers, copies of his VP papers, and copies of his Ambassador to Japan Papers — originals for those both at State and in Clinton’s collection. He also has his Presidential Campaign papers there, but I think most of those are not yet open. (all about donors and all that I suppose). Since most of Carter’s papers are declassified now, there is very little of Mondale’s VP still classified, but if a classification changes on something in Georgia, they notify the archivist who deals with Mondale, and the same follows here. That is how it is suppost to work.

        I suspect it will be up to a private body — National Security Archive (at George Washington in DC) or CREW, or a scholarly group, to take up the matter of making legal war with Cheney on these matters — I don’t think Biden or Obama will take the bait (and I think that may be just what this is right now — dropping stuff in the press as a way to “bait” Obama to take his focus off pirates or Pakistan or Health Care, the new WH Dog, or whatever — and have a fight with Cheney instead.) I hope Biden and Obama don’t take the bait, but that they let Congress press the matter — and perhaps stir the pot over at the National Security Archive a bit. Leahy ought to have just a little interest in being able to force Cheney to do the impossible sexual act.

        But just to irritate Cheney a little — someone ought to go digging into the Nixon Papers, and the National Archive holdings on that fantastic duo, Cheney and Rumsfeld, who were assigned the job in 1969 of abolishing OEO. There is no classification on that domestic stuff, and there is a great story there. Likewise, Cheney’s papers from the Ford Administration should be open — and now that GHWBush’s papers have been “opened” by Obama’s executive orders — Cheney’s DOD stuff ought to be semi-available. Likewise if there are any communications between Cheney and the Reagan White House during Iran/Contra Hearings, that probably could be made available, and might be most interesting. — Obama opened a bunch of stuff at the Reagan Library. I think if people went to work on this stuff that is apparently now open, it would drive Cheney batty. And for the sake of covering everything, I’d go after Lynn Cheney’s tracks when she was on the Humanities Council. I think there is a great story there about her “war on Historical Standards” during the Clinton Years — followed up by her founding that organization with Alumni and Trustees in the title, that sought to blacklist University Professors who were “Liberal” and didn’t agree to make war on Iraq. She did a lot of damage all on her own.

        I’ve long had my own pet theory as to what happened between Bush and Cheney and when. Back in the summer of 2006, Bush was apparently more or less summoned up to Maine by Poppy and the family Counsel, Jim Baker. That long weekend trip was not really planned, W had already been to Maine for the 4th with Family — this trip was just him. I think the riot act was read to him in no uncertain terms, and the upshot was his agreement to the Iraq Study Group. Cheney and Cheney people were left out totally. That was apparently when he was first matched up with Bob Gates, marriage made by Jim Baker. I think that was when the decision to fire Rumsfeld was first made, left to be executed a few months later in the wake of the loss of Congress, and Gates was slid in to the vacume. I suspect this was also when Cheney was cut out at the WH. From that point on Condi called Foreign Policy Shots — backed up by her sponsors, GHWBush and Baker. My guess is it had to do with finding out Cheney was setting the conditions for war with Iran — something Hersh was reporting on all that summer. I wouldn’t even be surprised if Colin Powell might not have been in on it — he would be an ally of Jim Baker’s. As I say — this is just my pet theory, but I think Jim Baker and GHWBush had one thing in mind, trying to get hapiless W through his last two years without impeachment, and whatever else might have happened. The last two years were something of a regency. I suspect that is why Nancy Pelosi took impeachment off the table. Eventually I suspect we’ll find out how near disaster it all was, but I think it was all about Cheney running stuff without Bush’s knowledge of key detail. No Pardon for Libby is just what we know about — I suspect there is much much more. Anyhow I think the real story is the last two years, and I don’t think it can remain hidden forever.

        • emptywheel says:

          Two things.

          First, of course I happen to live in the same town as the Ford archives. Been meaning to wander over there… Any requests, Sara?

          Second, sort of free association here. When Congress threatened to defund the OVP in 2007 based on his Fourth Branch claim, he panicked, adn THAT is when they finally decided how EO 13298 would be interpreted, to get him out of the Fourth Branch problem.

          I suspect the panic had more to do with the worry that his little assassination gig free of any oversight from Congress might be totally made illegal than that he’d hand over classification activity (though of course Plame was still a concern).

          • Sara says:

            “Two things.

            First, of course I happen to live in the same town as the Ford archives. Been meaning to wander over there… Any requests, Sara?”

            Might be interesting to start with John Prados’s biography of CIA director William Colby, “Lost Crusader” and move around and about the matter.

            Prados tells the story of how both Rumsfeld and Cheney put tons of pressure on Ford to draw the line on turning CIA material over to Congress after Colby dropped all the Family Jewels in the Church Committee’s lap. That is when they called GHWBush back from China to take over the CIA. It is also when Chief of Station, Welch, in Athens was assassinated, and they used that as basis for writing the law about revealing the name of an operational CIA officer (see what is available on the process of authoring that bill — didn’t pass till the first year of Reagan, but they lobbied for it all during 1976. — Twas the law that was supposed to protect Plame). (You can probably prove what’s her name (Victoria Toesing) — the loud mouth red-headed lawyer who claimed she wrote that bill — didn’t write the bill). You’ve got Cheney as Chief of Staff to Ford, and Rummy over at DOD, and this is apparently where Cheney got it into his noggin that congress had no right to CIA stuff, and lines had to be drawn. Up with Secrecy and all that. Down with FISA style bills (Mondale was busy writing the legislation at the time, before he started running for VP, and it was passed in 1977.) Same with the Presidential Records Act. But in 76 Cheney and Rummy were pressing Ford to kill it all. Follow all the threads.

            So I would read Prados’s construction of the story as he has it in the firing of Colby, (always start with secondary sources to get oriented), and then follow your nose through any documents available, but carefully look at the finding aids, and see just what is still classified. I am sure much is. Should you eventually want to expand the Plame book — this stuff would fit right in. It would be great fun to see just what is in the Ford Papers on all this — and what is still classified. Keep track of names that show up in documents — either in text or on distribution lists. When you get home you can google them and see if they show up in either Bush I (+Reagan’s terms) or Bush II.

            This is narrow enough as a topic, but related as foreground to the whole Plame story, and Cheney clearly was a primary actor in it (along with Rummy), and it is a good depiction of the operative notions of secrecy as governance.

            I think you could have a grand old time in those Ford archives, and extend the reach of the Plame Trial Book.

        • Rayne says:

          Your pinpointing the breach is excellent, Sara; the ISG certainly appeared to be the vehicle by which Poppy Bush wrested control of the war and the White House from Cheney. Certainly fits his M.O. to leave no personal fingerprints, although the seriousness of this internecine battle was signaled by Baker’s complete immersion in this process.

          I can’t help but think of Al the Spook and his use of allegories, particularly Chinese ones at this point.

  16. Leen says:

    The tension between Dick and Bush the last six or so months of the Bush administration was measurable.

    It is not going to matter how much time the dead enders spend trying to spin the last eight years…it just is not going to work.

    I measure what middle America is thinking by the thinking of my big Catholic family that inhabits the suburbs around Dayton Ohio. They are so done with the Bush years…done. Even the Republican cousins have come out and talked smack about Bush and Cheney.

    It is just not going to work

  17. JohnLopresti says:

    It is interesting that the gathering appears to be ‘moderates’ aggregating to craft Bush’s authorship, on the theme of Bush2’s ten decisionBased turningPoints, things like mushroom clouds, and Iraq seeking to buy weapon grade atomic material; I think the authors of both of those rhetorical gambits are to be in attendance.

    Re: Nara, I was reminded of remarks by Carl Bernstein when Yorba Linda shifted to Nara management in 2007, as well as the bland report of the purloined papers from the Simi site at a time when JohnRoberts‘ dossier was before the Senate committee for hearings in 2005.

    • Rayne says:

      Certainly could explain the weird division increasing in size…I’m not all the way through Russ Baker’s book on the Bush presidencies, but based on what I’ve read so far it can’t be ruled out as a strategy.

      And maybe both sides figure it’ll be a draw and they’ll both get off scot free…

      • Leen says:

        There was a crack of light getting in during Bush’s last interview with Stephanapoulous. Bush was on the verge of really admitting he had made mistakes.

        On the other hand no light getting in during Cheney’s last interview with Lehrer…all darkness all denial.

        Could end up in a blame game. Sure looks like they will get off scottie free.

        That is unless there were some extra curricular blow jobs that occured while in office that could get their fellow Republicans justice juices flowing.

        Oh I forgot that D.C. head hooker killed herself (cough)…..uicide.htm

        • Sara says:

          “Could end up in a blame game. Sure looks like they will get off scottie free.”

          Not all that sure they will. Let’s assume that the Spanish Prosecutor comes up with an Indictment of the “Bush-Cheney Torture Six” — apparently following along the lines of Philippe Sands “Torture Team.” They issue six indictments, and Spain plus the EU ask Obama to either investigate the crimes through a special prosecutor at DoJ — or send the critters over to Spain for Trial. What does Obama Do?

          Me thinks he hands the very hot frying pan off to Eric Holder, and a special prosecutor is appointed, and the Spanish Indictment is considered, at least to the extent of calling a Grand Jury and making a determination as to whether an American Indictment can issue. In effect the Spanish Indictment gives Obama and DoJ cover. They are interested in regaining respect for American Institutions in the EU and the world, and this forces their hand. If someone needs Prosecuting our National Courts can do it, mister, we don’t need no fancy Spanish Judges doing our thing. They can go ahead with necessary political cover. And Sands in no ambulance chaser, he teaches at Harvard Law, NYU Law, as well as in London, both a British and American Practice, and he prosecuted Pinochet and Charles Taylor — and has advised a number of international tribunals.

          No, doesn’t get to Bush and Cheney — but does get Yoo, Feith, Gonzo and others. (Dougie Feith will wet his pants and spill all the beans.)

          Not all the trees in the forest fall with a head on assault. Obama is something of a master of indirection I think — I enjoy watching what I think is a class act.

          • Petrocelli says:

            “Obama is something of a master of indirection …”Sara

            Thanks, that’s exactly how I have tried to describe him but could not do it this succinctly.

              • Petrocelli says:

                No one is ever going to agree with me all the time but I think he is a brilliant politician … accent
                on “politician”

                • bmaz says:

                  Overall, I actually very much agree; however, there are a few pesky and important issues where I am pretty disappointed. And that is in spite of the fact that I wasn’t expecting him to be great on those issues either.

                  • Petrocelli says:

                    I hear you and completely agree but I think his plan of action is different from ours because he thinks that his will bear greater results. I hope that he is right, for all our sakes.

  18. Sara says:

    And one other thing about NARA — Allen Weinstein, the Chief Archivist who the Bushies brought in for their purposes, is leaving early. Apparently he is sick in some way. Anyhow it is a fixed term of, I believe, five years, so it is an opening that Obama can fill. I suppose there are many candidates, though the History List I am on has not mentioned anything about it other than a note late last year about Weinstein’s health and planned retirement.

    If Obama is serious about FISA and all — this is a very very key appointment, and should be getting some quality attention.

    Weinstein was a very controversial appointment, very closely associated with the neo-cons, particularly their interpretation of the end of the Cold War. Historians have many doubts about Weinstein’s book, “The Haunted Woods” — one can google the reviews to get some of the points about his less than candid sourcing in former Soviet Archives, paying the Soviet Archivists with copy machines in the days when those were new toys in Moscow, and then using what he managed to collect more for commercial purposes (and personal PR) and less for deep analysis.

    Anyhow it is important who the Obama Archivist is. Do we want a Solid Historian — in which case I would nominate Eric Foner — or do we want a technical Archivist?

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