Well, obviously, I don’t have proof, and the title’s just meant to lure you in. As a second installment of my brief foray into the art world, this is another image from Philip Toledano’s excellent new online installation, America: The Gift Shop, in which he asks, “If American foreign policy had a gift shop, what would it sell?” and presents a series of eerily seductive pieces, including this fine take on the traditional snow globe — the “Cheney Shredding Secret Documents Snow Globe” — in which Vice President Dick Cheney gets rid of the evidence, in case he is ever parted from the all-enveloping cloak of unaccountability that was hand-crafted for him by his chief of staff (and former legal counsel) David Addington.
Andy is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed, and see here for my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, published in March 2009.
Interestingly, though many of us have long suspected that the shredders (and their online equivalents) have been working overtime in Cheney’s office for years, Toledano’s snow globe appeared at the same time that, in response to a lawsuit filed by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ordered the Vice President to preserve all of his official records. As the Washington Post explained, Judge Kollar-Kotelly “issued her order despite assertions from Cheney’s representatives that he was preserving all the records he is required to” under the Presidential Records Act of 1978.
There is, of course, good reason for anyone concerned with the transparent workings of a functioning democracy to wonder about the fate of a Cheney paper trail, because, as the Post explained, “the vice president has long resisted revealing any aspect of the inner workings of his office. He has, for example, shielded information such as the names of industry executives who advised his energy task force, his travel costs and details, and Secret Service logs of visitors to his office and residence. Cheney also has argued that he is not part of the executive branch.”
In court, Claire M. O’Donnell, Cheney’s deputy chief of staff, offered a narrow, and typically Cheney-esque definition of vice presidential records, which failed to correspond with the one enshrined in the law, and which attempted to argue that the statute only applied to records relating to her boss’s “constitutional, statutory or other official or ceremonial duties,” which fall within “the category of functions of the Vice President specially assigned to the Vice President by the President in the discharge of executive duties and responsibilities” or “the category of the functions of the Vice President as President of the Senate.” In other words, that all Cheney’s significant functions (as an unaccountable member of the executive branch, presumably) were — and were to remain — out of sight.
As the Post noted, “that definition excludes many records, including those relating to Cheney’s work on the National Security Council and those where he acted without instructions from the president, such as his efforts to win reauthorization of a top-secret warrantless wiretapping program.” Fortunately, Judge Kollar-Kotelly “ordered all records preserved until the court can sort out the legal arguments on both sides before the presidential transition in January,” and stated, “Those unprotected documents could be transferred to other entities, destroyed, or not preserved, and if any of these events occur, the damage is inherently irreparable; once documentary material is gone, it cannot be retrieved.”
This is all well and good, but I can’t help wondering how much documentary material has already gone. I must stop looking at that snow globe …
For more information, here’s CREW’s website (with more on the case):
Here’s the Post article:
And here’s the ruling:
I’ve always figured Cheney was slipping something incriminating out with him in that wheelchair on Inauguration Day.
Investigative journalist, author, filmmaker, photographer and Guantanamo expert
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