Dick Cheney, A Controversial Vice-President

By Philippe Gélie
Le FigaroMonday 27 August 2007

After the resignation of the president’s main adviser, Karl Rove, pressure is growing in Washington against the Executive branch’s powerful Number Two. A year before the presidential election, the sulfurous record of 66-year-old Richard Cheney embarrasses the Republicans and stimulates the Democrats. Will the 46th Vice-President of the United States complete his term by George W. Bush’s side?
July 10th, the American Senate’s budget committee took an unprecedented decision: it refused to allocate the 4.8 million dollars proposed to cover the expenses of the vice-president’s functions for the coming year. Unless there is a compromise before the fall, Dick Cheney could lose his official residence at Washington’s Naval Observatory, his armored limousines, his bodyguards, and his collaborators, the exact number of whom no one in the United States knows.

The Senate’s gesture of displeasure is a riposte to the last skirmish between George W. Bush’s “éminence grise” and the Congress. In his morbid obsession with secrecy, Cheney has refused to submit to the decree that obliges administration members to archive the confidential documents that pass through their hands. To justify his auto-exemption, the vice-president advanced an unexpected argument: in a letter to the House of Representatives’ oversight committee, he explained that he was “not part of the Executive branch.” Certainly, the American Constitution makes him President pro tem of the Senate, but he nonetheless remains first in the order of succession, with offices in the West Wing of the White House, where the President of the United States is headquartered. The ploy is all the more blatant in that Dick Cheney has, in the past, frequently invoked “executive privilege” in order to refuse to communicate information to congressmen.

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