Tags: More | Judges | Pressure | Cheney

More Judges Pressure Cheney

Thursday, 28 February 2002 12:00 AM

On Wednesday, in a third case seeking information on Cheney's task force, U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler ordered the

Judicial Watch, a government watchdog group, sued Cheney and nine federal agencies, including DOE, last year for information from their files that may pertain to meetings Cheney's energy task held between Jan. 29 and May 1, 2001, as the group formed President Bush's energy policy. Their requests for information have not been met.

In two separate hearings, U.S. District Judges Emmet Sullivan and Paul Friedman both indicated impatience with the government's pace in handling the Judicial Watch suits, Judicial Watch Chairman Larry Klayman said Thursday.

Klayman and Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said Judge Sullivan refused a government request to give it 17 days for additional preparation, ordered the government to be ready in a week and told the court at one point: "I assume the government is stalling."

Klayman said Judge Friedman, sitting on another aspect of the same issue, indicated that he would refuse a government request to throw out Judicial Watch's quest for documents under the Freedom of Information Act and was likely to order the government to deliver the material.

The fourth and most prominent lawsuit seeking materials from the White House on the taskforce was brought last month by the General Accounting Office on behalf of Congress. Cheney has refused to give full details on his task force meetings to Democratic members of a house committee.

Barbara Comstock, spokeswoman for Attorney General John Ashcroft, issued the following statement Thursday: "The issues raised in court yesterday and today do not have any direct effect on the issues raised in the lawsuit brought by the General Accounting Office (GAO) against the vice president. From the beginning, agencies and departments have been cooperating with requests for information as required under law. The suit by the GAO is being brought against the vice president, rather than a federal agency. The GAO suit is not based on the same statutes as these other cases, and is being brought by a government entity that lacks the authority to require the president and vice president to disclose their thought processes or policy-making deliberations."

The statement also said: "The administration has never disputed the necessity of producing documents which are properly subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and not exempt from disclosure under that act. These decisions are essentially scheduling orders, and the administration will comply with the court's schedule to move forward on the pending FOIA requests, and will produce the documents being sought subject to the appropriate and lawful exceptions and privileges."

If the documents sought by Judicial Watch are released, it will mean additional thousands of documents on this policy will be available to the public.

Several members of government and private groups have accused the Bush administration of succumbing to private industry pressure in forming its energy policy. Several key meetings already confirmed by the administration included contacts between Enron Corp. officials and the task force. Enron is the giant energy conglomerate that went bankrupt late last year and is under government investigation.

But Bush and Cheney have consistently denied that any improper contacts with industry were held.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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On Wednesday, in a third case seeking information on Cheney's task force, U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler ordered the Judicial Watch, a government watchdog group, sued Cheney and nine federal agencies, including DOE, last year for information from their files...
More,Judges,Pressure,Cheney
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2002-00-28
Thursday, 28 February 2002 12:00 AM
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