Judge orders Cheney to preserve records of administration
A federal judge ruled against the Bush administration's closed-door policy on internal documents by ordering Vice President Dick Cheney to preserve a large amount of records during his time at the White House, the Associated Press reported Saturday.
The decision is meant to prevent many records from being destroyed before they can be made public under the Presidential Records Act, which the Bush administration has attempted to narrowly define.
But U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said the administration's reluctance to hand over the documents "heightens the court's concern" that they would not be preserved without judicial intervention.
A Washington watchdog group filed a lawsuit against Cheney early this month, challenging his refusal to hand over a majority of his papers, The Wall Street Journal reported.
"Given the unlawful policies and directives of the defendants, there is an imminent threat that even before the end of this administration, Vice President Cheney and the OVP will destroy, transfer, or otherwise dispose of many of the vice president's records under the theory they are personal records and therefore not covered" by the law, the lawsuit stated.
The group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, was motivated to sue after Cheney argued he is exempt because his office is not part of the executive branch of government, the Associated Press reported.
The Presidential Records Act was instituted in the wake of the Watergate scandal as a means of safeguarding sensitive documents from the executive office for eventual release to the public.
Cheney chief of staff David Addington told Congress that Cheney doesn't belong to the executive or legislative branches of government, but rather is attached to Congress by the Constitution.