Court scrubs Cheney delay gambit

A federal appeals court in Washington has rejected Vice President Dick Cheney’s latest effort to keep secret the workings of his energy task force.

The Bush-Cheney energy bill is being debated in a congressional conference committee.

Last July a three judge panel of the court ruled the administration is subject to “discovery” and must comply with information requests from Judicial Watch, a public interest law firm in Washington, and the Sierra Club, an environmental organization.

The two groups are plaintiffs in a lawsuit that seeks to shed light on how much influence oil and gas industry executives had on the new energy policy, which is the basis of the legislation now before Congress.

When it rejected the administration’s arguments, the court declared the Bush-Cheney position would “transform executive privilege from a doctrine designed to protect presidential communications into virtual immunity from suit.”

The Bush administration tried to delay the release of information even further by asking for a rehearing of their appeal. The court turned down that bid by a 5-3 vote.

“It’s time for the Bush administration to stop delaying and fess up to their secret dealings with the energy industry,” said Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club.

“Given that the Congress is debating the energy bill, it’s more important than ever that Americans know who’s deciding their energy future. Today, the public is one step closer to knowing how much influence energy corporations had over the Bush administration’s energy plan,” he said.

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