Date registered: Sep 2004
Vehicle: 95 E300
Location: Inside my head
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About 1/2 of the NY Times article.
Court Sides With Bush on Secrecy of Cheney Energy Panel
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By DAVID STOUT
Published: May 10, 2005
WASHINGTON, May 10 - A federal appeals court handed the Bush administration a resounding victory today when it unanimously ruled that Vice President Dick Cheney does not have to divulge details on how White House energy policies were shaped.
Text: White House Energy Task Force Litigation The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held, in an 8-0 decision that reinforced the power of the executive branch, that Mr. Cheney does not have to disclose the names of energy industry officials he consulted in helping to formulate policy early in President Bush's first term.
The Sierra Club and Judicial Watch have contended that the energy industry people were so deeply involved in formulating the administration's policy that they became de facto members of Mr. Cheney's National Energy Policy Development Group - and therefore their identities were subject to disclosure under the open-government Federal Advisory Committee Act.
But in a clear victory for the Bush administration, the appeals court disagreed. "Neither Judicial Watch nor the Sierra Club explicitly claimed that any nonfederal individual had a vote on the N.E.P.D.G. or had a veto over its decisions," the court held in a decision written by Judge A. Raymond Randolph.
The only people actually named to the energy development group were federal officials, the court noted, and only they signed the group's final report. The judges also brushed aside arguments that participation - "even influential participation" - in the energy development group's meetings somehow made outsiders members of the group.
It is commonplace in Washington, the court noted, for House and Senate members of a committee to bring aides with them and for executive branch officials to bring their aides to meetings. "An aide might exert great influence, but no one would say that the aide was, therefore, a member of the committee," the court reasoned.
The vice president's office said it was pleased by today's appeals court decision, saying it would help preserve the confidentiality of advice given to a president and vice president.
But the senior lawyer for the Sierra Club, David Bookbinder, said the issues raised in the lawsuit were "more relevant today than ever," given the Bush administration's pending energy legislation, which he called "an energy industry wish list." Mr. Bookbinder said he would study today's decision in hope of finding grounds to get the appeals court to reconsider, or perhaps to persuade the Supreme Court to review the case.