Cheney energy task force investigation given up

February 7, 2003 at 7:05 am
Contributed by:

Folks,



Not only are we not seeing any sort of hue and cry about the

administration’s connections to Enron, and letting those rapacious

fraudmongerers actually write our national energy policy…not only are we

seeing a total absence of any dogged special prosecutors, or serious

Congressional inquiries…but the one investigation that DID manage to get

under way just threw up its hands and gave up. See below.



Add one more knock against Congressional Democrats: they’ve got no guts.

Where is their Kenneth Starr?



After all the recent depressing news, I thought it was about time for some

humor. This isn’t fair, but it’s a howl all the same:



Fake State of the Union



–C





Congress Watchdog Won’t Appeal Cheney Case

11 minutes ago  Add Politics – Reuters to My Yahoo!





By Susan Cornwell



WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In a major victory for the White House, the

investigative arm of Congress said on Friday it was giving up its courtroom

battle to get records of Vice President Cheney’s energy task force.



The decision by the General Accounting Office (news – web sites) not to

appeal a federal judge’s earlier dismissal of its case ended a fierce fight

over congressional access to information held by the executive branch.





But the GAO climbdown does not necessarily protect the White House energy

papers forever. Private groups — including environmentalists who say they

were shut out of official energy policy deliberations — are still seeking

those documents in court.





Comptroller General David Walker, head of the GAO, sued the White House last

year to try to force the release of the names of energy industry executives

and lobbyists that Cheney and aides consulted in developing Bush

administration energy policy in 2001.





The lawsuit was dismissed on Dec. 9 by U.S. District Judge John Bates. While

Walker was still convinced of the merits of the case, he had decided that to

take the case to federal appeals court “would require investment of

significant time and resources over several years,” a GAO statement said on

Friday.





Meanwhile groups ranging across the political spectrum from the Sierra Club

(news – web sites) to Judicial Watch are also suing and “this information

will be made available to GAO if they are successful in their cases,” the

GAO statement added.





White House officials, who had argued that the GAO had overstepped its

bounds, said the outcome vindicates their position. Spokeswoman Claire

Buchan said the result “ensures the important principle of the president and

the vice president being able to receive unvarnished advice.”





The Justice Department (news – web sites) also praised the result.





“Allowing the GAO to sue the Vice President would improperly interfere with

the President’s ability to formulate the best possible policies for the

American people,” spokeswoman Barbara Comstock said in a statement.





DEMOCRATS SEE ‘NEED FOR MORE SUNSHINE’





Democratic lawmakers, who had suspected energy industry influence on the

White House energy policy and urged the GAO to go to court, said the outcome

was a blow against accountability.





“This is a tremendous setback for open government,” said Rep. Henry Waxman

of California.





Rep. John Dingell of Michigan said that he would have preferred the GAO to

keep fighting. “Reasonable people cannot differ on the need for more

sunshine on this administration’s actions,” he said.





The Bush administration announced an energy policy in May 2001 that called

for more oil and gas drilling and a revival of nuclear power. The policy

later bogged down in Congress.





Environmentalists cried foul when the policy was announced, saying they had

not been consulted, while they believed that Bush campaign supporters from

the energy industry had been.





The White House last year acknowledged that Cheney and members of the energy

task force met several times with representatives of Enron, the former

energy trader that collapsed in an accounting scandal. Enron had been a

major contributor to Bush political campaigns.





The lawsuits filed by private groups have forced the release of task force

records from agencies such as the Energy Department, but not from the White

House.





BATES SAID GAO LACKED STANDING



Judge Bates had said Walker lacked standing to bring the case because

neither house of Congress nor a congressional committee had authorized the

pleadings or issued a subpoena for the information.



The GAO statement argued that Bates erred on that point. It said two Senate

committee chairmen and two subcommittee chairmen had asked the congressional

agency to pursue the matter before Walker filed suit nearly a year ago.



Although Walker dropped his court battle, he said the result did not remove

the GAO’s right to sue again. The Bush administration should still “do the

right thing” and disclose the information, he said.



“We hope that GAO is never again put in the position of having to resort to

the courts to obtain information that Congress needs to perform its

constitutional duties, but we will be prepared to do so in the future if

necessary,” Walker said.


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