The Obama Justice Department has advanced yet another Bush administration argument in a government transparency case, this time pushing to withhold former Vice President Cheney’s deposition in the long-since concluded Valerie Plame leak case.
In a hearing before Judge Emmet Sullivan Thursday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., Justice Department attorney Jeffrey M. Smith told the judge that if Cheney’s statements "were published, then a future vice president asked to provide candid information during a criminal probe might refuse to do so out of concern ‘that it’s going to get on ‘The Daily Show‘’ or somehow be used as a political weapon,” The Washington Post reported.
The hearing came in a Freedom of Information Act case brought by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington for access to documents surrounding the investigation of who leaked Plame’s identity as an undercover CIA agent.
The Associated Press reported that Smith argued, "If we become a fact-finder for political enemies, they aren’t going to cooperate. . . . I don’t want a future vice president to say, `I’m not going to cooperate with you because I don’t want to be fodder for ‘The Daily Show.’"
According to the Post, the Bush administration had argued that Cheney’s statements fell under exemption 7(a) of FOIA — not subject to release because they could reasonably be expected to interfere with law enforcement proceedings. Sullivan reportedly countered that the argument "does not carry any weight" because the law enforcement inquiry is over.
The AP said Sullivan planned to review the requested records — largely notes from the FBI’s interview with Cheney — in his chambers to see if they could be released.
And of course, Smith’s arguments could be fodder for "The Daily Show" next week. Stay tuned.