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Old 02-16-2006, 12:37 PM   #1
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How To Desclassify Secrets?

Cheney Says He Can Declassify Secrets

Vice President Dick Cheney says he has the power to declassify government secrets, raising the possibility that he authorized his former chief of staff to pass along sensitive prewar data on Iraq to reporters.

Cheney coupled his statement in a TV interview Wednesday with an endorsement of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, his ex-aide. Libby is under indictment on charges of perjury, obstruction and lying to the FBI about disclosing the identity of undercover CIA officer Valerie Plame.
I know this thread will open the door to Cheney critics, but I thought the underlying issue was interesting:

How do you declassify government secrets? Who has the power to do this? Is there a required check and balance process? Should there always be one?

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Old 02-16-2006, 01:06 PM   #2
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Well basically each Administration draws up its own protocols for this (surprise, surprise). You can find the text of Bush's protocol, Executive Order 13292, here:

It does indeed specify that the Vice President has classification authority "in the performance of executive duties" (Sec. 1.3), though it does not define what said duties are. The declassification section (Sec. 3) doesn't explicitly give the VP declassification authority (unless the rather cryptic reference in 3.5 is meant to suggest that, but I don't think so). However, I suppose declassification authority would be implicit in classification authority.
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