So now David Addington, Cheney's chief of staff, is trying to back away from the claim that the vice-president is somehow outside the executive branch. He does, however, say that the order governing the handling of classified material was only supposed to apply to executive-branch "agencies" and not the vice-president. Of course, he doesn't point to any specific language here, but hey, who needs specific language?

If anyone wants to get deep in the weeds, Jack Balkin has a lengthy explanation of why Addington's argument is preposterous. For the record, here's the relevant part of the order, as amended by Bush in 2003:

(b) "Agency" means any "Executive agency," as defined in 5 U.S.C. 105; any "Military department" as defined in 5 U.S.C. 102; and any other entity within the executive branch that comes into the possession of classified information.

--Bradford Plumer