Today, the Washington Post’s Angler series explores Vice President Cheney’s heavy hand in Bush’s domestic surveillance program. Documents giving “strategic direction to the nation’s largest spy agency” were held not in the White House but in Cheney’s office. Cheney’s lawyer David Addington, who wrote the documents, kept White House Chief of Staff Andy Card in the dark:
It is unlikely that the history of U.S. intelligence includes another operation conceived and supervised by the office of the vice president. White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. had “no idea,” he said, that the presidential orders were held in a vice presidential safe. An authoritative source said the staff secretariat, which kept a comprehensive inventory of presidential papers, classified and unclassified, possessed no record of these.
In an interview, Card said the Executive Office of the President, a formal term that encompassed Bush’s staff but not Cheney’s, followed strict procedures for handling and securing presidential papers. “If there were exceptions to that, I’m not aware of them,” he said. “If these documents weren’t stored the right way or put in the right places or maintained by the right people, I’m not aware of it.”
Asked why Addington would write presidential directives, Card said, “David Addington is a very competent lawyer.”