[Congressional Record: June 22, 2007 (Senate)]
[Page S8277]


  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, this morning's Washington Post had a 
front-page story that troubles me. It is about Vice President Cheney 
and his attempts to exempt the Office of the Vice President of the 
United States of America from the Presidential Executive order that 
establishes a uniform, government-wide system for safeguarding 
classified national security information. The decision by Vice 
President Cheney to exempt his office from this system for protecting 
classified information troubles me. It could place national security 
secrets at risk.
  It is hard to believe the Vice President is taking this action given 
the history of security breaches involving high-ranking officials in 
his office. Scooter Libby, the Vice President's former Chief of Staff, 
has been convicted of several felonies: perjury, obstruction of 
justice, and false statements. He has been sentenced to prison in part 
for his role in disclosing the identity of a covert CIA agent and then 
misrepresenting that fact to a grand jury. Worse, it appears, at least 
according to these press reports, Vice President Cheney has attempted 
to block inspection of Federal agencies and White House offices to 
ensure compliance with the security procedures required by the 
  According to the National Archives, the agency responsible for 
conducting the oversight, Vice President Cheney asserted that his 
office is not ``an entity within the executive branch'' and, therefore, 
not subject to Presidential Executive orders. The Vice President is 
arguing that his office is not in the executive branch of Government? 
It is hard to imagine the tortured logic Vice President Cheney is using 
to avoid the requirements of the law and Executive orders.
  Then he recommended that the Executive order be amended to abolish 
the Information Security Oversight Office. Here is a Vice President who 
has already been challenged as to the groups he meets with and the 
people he consults with in making some of the most important decisions 
for the country's policy. Here is a Vice President who has sadly 
misrepresented this war in Iraq over and over again, from the 
initiation of the war, the existence of weapons of mass destruction, 
and now is saying that he is not covered by the law when it comes to 
the disclosure of classified information within his own office. This is 
evidence of arrogance of power, and it is unacceptable.
  The Vice President of the United States and his former Chief of Staff 
are not above the law. They have to be held to the same high standard 
of performance as Members of Congress and every member of our 
Government. For the Vice President to believe he has no responsibility 
to meet this requirement of the law is, in my mind, a dereliction of 
duty and responsibility to the people of the United States. And then 
for him to attempt to abolish the agency that was putting pressure on 
him to follow the law shows he has gone entirely too far.
  Vice President Cheney is not above the law. He is required to follow 
the law, as every American citizen should. This situation and the 
prosecution of his former Chief of Staff are evidence of an attitude 
toward governmental responsibility which has to change. I sincerely 
hope the Vice President will make it clear in the week ahead that he is 
finally going to comply with these Executive orders, that he is going 
to make sure we protect classified information moving through his 
office so we do not compromise this important intelligence data that 
keeps America safe.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Republican leader is