Vice President Dick Cheney would prefer that most of his activities as vice president be totally opaque to the public, and has even sought to maintain secrecy around the number and identity of staff. -- Secrecy News, the newsletter maintained by Stephen Aftergood, let in a little light on Tuesday by posting a redacted copy of a four-page 2004 telephone directory for the Office of the Vice President. -- The number of people that the vice president has working for him — more than 80 — is extraordinary, given that his only constitutional duty is to preside over the U.S. Senate, which in modern times the vice president has rarely done. -- As Daniel Benjamin wrote on Slate web site in November 2005
, “It has become a cliché to say that Dick Cheney is the most powerful vice president in American history. Nonetheless, here is a prediction: When the historians really get digging into the paper entrails of the Bush administration—or possibly when Scooter Libby goes on trial—those who have intoned that phrase will still be astonished at the extent to which the Office of Vice President Dick Cheney was the center of power inside the White House—and at the grip it had on foreign and defense policy.” ...
A TELEPHONE DIRECTORY FOR THE OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT
January 30, 2007
The Office of the Vice President under Dick Cheney seems to cultivate secrecy as an end in itself, and not simply to protect national security or personal privacy. The OVP will not even confirm how many staff people work there, who they are, or much of anything else.
"Cheney's office refuses to give any details to reporters," observed Justin Rood in TPMmuckraker, noting further that the OVP "is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act, so any such request would be futile."
Similarly, a Cheney spokesman recently told reporter Laura Rozen, "If we have a personnel announcement we'd like you to know about, we'll tell you."
Some Americans still find this willful obscurity offensive to democratic principles, and TPMmuckraker summoned the blogosphere to help pierce the veil.
Secrecy News was able to contribute a 2004 telephone directory for the OVP, which is marked "for official use only," naturally. Though it is no longer current -- it still lists the departed Scooter Libby as assistant to the Vice President, for example -- it provides a good sense of the size and structure of the OVP.
The 2004 OVP telephone directory is posted here (with phone and fax numbers redacted by Secrecy News):
Readers discussed the matter on TPMmuckraker here: