Cheney Sought to Abolish Secrecy Oversight Office

06.21.07 | 1 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

The Office of Vice President Dick Cheney proposed to abolish the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO), the executive branch organization that oversees the national security classification system, after its Director insisted that the Vice President comply with reporting requirements that apply to all executive branch entities.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), the chairman of the House Oversight Committee who revealed the move today, said in a letter to the Vice President (pdf) that it “could be construed as retaliation” against ISOO.

The proposed change in ISOO’s status was ultimately rejected by an interagency review group which is considering revisions to the executive order on classification policy.

The dispute between ISOO and the Office of the Vice President was prompted by a complaint filed with ISOO by the Federation of American Scientists in May 2006 (Secrecy News, 05/31/06). The FAS complaint (pdf) noted that the OVP had ceased to comply with its obligation to submit an annual report on classification and declassification activity, and asked the ISOO Director to enforce the requirement.

When the OVP continued to resist compliance, ISOO Director J. William Leonard formally asked the Attorney General in January 2007 (pdf) to intervene and to render an interpretation of the executive that would resolve the dispute in one direction or another.

A truncated copy of the ISOO letter to the Attorney General, with two attachments missing, was released by Rep. Waxman today. A complete copy of the January 9, 2007 letter is available here.

The Attorney General has not responded to the ISOO letter.