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Fox Floats Cheney's Trial Balloon

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Did anyone catch Brit Hume and Cheney working together to roll out an early foundation for Cheney's defense for outing -- or rather "declassifying" -- Valerie Plame's status? (Courtesy Ice House Gang.) This exchange, irrelevant to Cheney's hunting accident, came right at the close of the interview:

Q: Let me ask you another question. Is it your view that a Vice President has the authority to declassify information?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: There is an executive order to that effect.

Q: There is.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yes.

Q: Have you done it?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I've certainly advocated declassification and participated in declassification decisions. The executive order --

Q: You ever done it unilaterally?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I don't want to get into that. There is an executive order that specifies who has classification authority, and obviously focuses first and foremost on the President, but also includes the Vice President.

Q: There have been two leaks, one that pertained to possible facilities in Europe; and another that pertained to this NSA matter. There are officials who have had various characterizations of the degree of damage done by those. How would you characterize the damage done by those two reports?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: There clearly has been damage done.

Q: Which has been the more harmful, in your view?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I don't want to get into just sort of ranking them, then you get into why is one more damaging than the other. One of the problems we have as a government is our inability to keep secrets. And it costs us, in terms of our relationship with other governments, in terms of the willingness of other intelligence services to work with us, in terms of revealing sources and methods. And all of those elements enter into some of these leaks.

Q: Mr. Vice President, thank you so much for blah, blah, etc.