Dick Cheney- Corporate Criminal

Suit against Cheney energy task force goes to US Supreme Court
Wed Oct 1, 6:11 PM ET Add Politics - AFP to My Yahoo!

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The White House has asked the US Supreme Court to shield it from having to turn over documents to advocacy groups who claim in a lawsuit that corporations swayed Vice President Richard Cheney's energy task force.

Solicitor General Theodore Olson, in a 25-page petition filed with the high court Tuesday, said a US district judge's order to turn over records of energy task force meetings would "open the way for judicial supervision of internal executive branch deliberations."

"Legislative power and judicial power cannot extend to compelling the vice president to disclose... details of the process by which a president obtains information and advice from the vice president," Olson added in the document.

The Sierra Club (news - web sites) environmental group and Judicial Watch, a conservative legal pressure group, are seeking the documents in a lawsuit alleging that Kenneth Lay, then chairman of failed energy trader Enron Corp., and other corporate executives and lobbyists unduly influenced the task force which drew up recommendations for a national energy policy.

The task force produced a May 2001 report calling for increased oil and gas drilling, including on previously protected public lands, and changes in regulations that would spur growth in nuclear power generation.

The administration of President George W. Bush (news - web sites) had sought to block the document disclosure but a federal appeals court rebuffed it, setting the stage for the Supreme Court petition.

The Sierra Club has described the administration's energy policy as irresponsible and polluting and is challenging the legality of the process by which it was drawn up.

Along with Judicial Watch, the environmental group has argued in court that the Cheney energy task force constituted a de facto federal advisory committee and therefore was required by law to be open to public scrutiny and comment.

The Bush administration has maintained the task force was an informal working group and that officials were within their rights to seek confidential advice from interested parties.

The Justice Department (news - web sites), citing policy, declined to comment on Olson's petition.

A federal judge last year dismissed a separate but similar case brought by the General Accounting Office (news - web sites), the investigative arm of Congress, for access to Cheney task force documents.

Many of the energy task force's recommendations have been snarled in Congress, which is expected to vote on energy legislation in coming weeks after protracted, heated debate.

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