Dick Cheney- Corporate Criminal

High Court Asked to Reject Cheney on Energy Report

Friday, October 31, 2003; 3:04 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Vice President Dick Cheney should be forced to divulge information about his energy task force, a government watchdog group told the Supreme Court on Friday, arguing that his claim of immunity was laughable.

In papers filed with the top U.S. court, Judicial Watch, said Cheney should be made to comply with a lower court order to release information about the task force's contacts with the energy industry in 2001.

Cheney has made "repeated attempts to transform the actual issues ... into ones of urgent constitutional concern," lawyers for Judicial Watch said, but: "No such issues exist."

Cheney's claim to be immune from having to produce documents was "risible" after a 1997 Supreme Court decision that discovery could proceed against then-President Clinton in a case brought by sexual-harassment accuser Paula Jones, Judicial Watch said.

Judicial Watch sued two years ago to find out how the vice president's energy task force operated in 2001 and the role of industry groups in shaping administration policy.

Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia ruled that Cheney should obey a lower court order to release some documents in the case.

Justice Department lawyers then asked the Supreme Court to hear the case, saying judicial power cannot extend to ordering the vice president to disclose details about the way the president gets advice.

The Supreme Court is expected to act on the government's request by the end of the year.

Judicial Watch and the environmentalist group Sierra Club contend that Cheney consulted with industry executives like former Enron Corp. chief Kenneth Lay, making them effectively members of the energy task force, while ignoring environmentalists.

Cheney was chief executive of energy and construction company Halliburton Co. from 1995 to 2000. His task force, which announced its policy in the spring of 2001, called for more oil and gas drilling and a nuclear power revival.

Cheney has acknowledged meeting Lay, but his lawyers say the energy task force was comprised of government officials, not corporate chieftains. The Bush administration has released thousands of pages of information from agencies involved in drafting the energy policy, but none from the White House.

In their filing with the Supreme Court, Judicial Watch argued that Cheney's lawyers had not shown he would suffer any harm by releasing White House papers, and were transparently trying to delay the case while the Bush administration's energy policy moved through Congress.

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