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February 27, 2002
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"A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the Energy Department to release thousands of records on Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force, criticizing the government for moving at 'a glacial pace.' " Is anyone else interested in this? This is honestly the first time since Bush took office that I've felt optomistic about much. Anyone old enough to remember the look on Nixon's face as he stepped on to Marine One for the last time, when he turned to give the victory sign? The Vice President surely remembers, I wonder if he's thought of it lately?
posted by jack-o (32 comments total)

 
This is major...but will Cheney, et al., continue to withhold the juiciest morsels? Does this settle the GAO's lawsuit? Dunno. But I for one can't wait to see what Dick and the gang have been trying so hard to hide, namely, who exactly held the ear of the DOE as it formulated our country's energy policy.
posted by mapalm at 8:53 PM on February 27, 2002


Hopefully after this, people will realize that it's not democrats versus republicans, but alleged "civil servants" versus the rest of us. Personally I preferred Clinton's scandal to this one: Clinton's sex scandal didn't help screw up the economy. Whitewater was just ignorant business practices, not a handful of rich guys in suits purposefully screwing millions of dollars from their own employees...

then again..
posted by ZachsMind at 9:12 PM on February 27, 2002


Is anyone else interested in this?

Yes, very much so. At this point I'm not even all that concerned with what is in the documents, I'm just relieved that they're being released. A democracy requires transparency of government.
posted by homunculus at 9:21 PM on February 27, 2002


Cheney will wriggle his way out of this one. It just seems all too easy that he would actually ever be done in by a 'naive' legal system he's skirted the whole of his career. He's insolent, brazen and wily. I don't imagine he's ever once considered his accountability to the American people. He's above us. I also don't imagine the term "civil servant" is a term he's ever actually seriously considered for himself.
posted by crasspastor at 9:31 PM on February 27, 2002


Whitewater was just ignorant business practices, not a handful of rich guys in suits purposefully screwing millions of dollars from their own employees...

Personally I preferred Clinton's scandal to this one

and this in case anyone has forgotten
posted by RunsWithBandageScissors at 9:37 PM on February 27, 2002


and yes it's an old link, buy the people are still dead!
posted by RunsWithBandageScissors at 9:37 PM on February 27, 2002


"but" not "buy" argh!
posted by RunsWithBandageScissors at 9:39 PM on February 27, 2002


Dead people. Funny, that. I thought we all lived forever.
posted by dhartung at 9:41 PM on February 27, 2002


Why bring this up again? There's two sides to this coin. All the disinformation in question is circumstantial. No one was ever able to certify that all these deaths were caused directly by Clinton. So either it's just a weird coincidence or the people Clinton hired to do his dirty work for him were very good at it.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:05 PM on February 27, 2002


Zach, well put (first comment esp.)
I'm really surprised to see this moving along as fast as it is.

And although Cheney is insolent, brazen and wily, he his also fat, ignorant and old enough to have plenty of enemies (none the least of which is an informed public).
posted by Settle at 10:17 PM on February 27, 2002


once we learn what's in the documents action needs to be taken. yes jack-o, I am interested in the findings.
posted by RunsWithBandageScissors at 10:32 PM on February 27, 2002


March 25th- April 10th is a long period of time for anyone determined to not let particular pieces of information see the light of day...

Gentlemen, start your shredders!!
posted by hincandenza at 10:40 PM on February 27, 2002


Hopefully after this, people will realize that it's not democrats versus republicans, but alleged "civil servants" versus the rest of us. Right on, Zach.

I've been waiting for these records since the energy plan was announced last summer. How much we'll actually see, who knows, but I'm glad this is coming up again. I sure hope it's major.
posted by Dean King at 10:53 PM on February 27, 2002


Cheney compared to Nixon? Please, that bastard was The Fat Rat. Cheney would have to grow three times to be noticed in Nixon's shadow.

No, Cheney ought to think about that tiny little dust-up that was Nixon's VP:

"A Nixon-Agnew administration will abolish the credibility gap and reestablish the truth -- the whole truth -- as its policy."
-- Spiro Agnew September 21, 1973.

Agnew resigned as vice-president on Oct. 10, 1973.
posted by dglynn at 10:59 PM on February 27, 2002


...and thank you NRDC
posted by Dean King at 11:07 PM on February 27, 2002


Of course it is 'us' vs the professional politicians; at every level, party affiliation be dammned...Cheney will never be shown to be as evil as Nixon (may his name be erased forever) and this will not bring him down from his hidden perch, any more than the mountains of badness regarding Clinton and Gore did. Anyone who thinks it was just Monica and Whitewater wasn't paying attention. They are all bad.
posted by Mack Twain at 12:20 AM on February 28, 2002


a handful of rich guys in suits purposefully screwing millions of dollars from their own employees

interesting take on Enron employee's fate
posted by brettski at 6:56 AM on February 28, 2002


Clarification:

This lawsuit is separate from the GAO's own suit. The former (the one just adjudicated upon) calls for the release of notes relating to low-level meetings held between administration staffers on the Energy Task Force and heads or representatives of private corporations. The latter suit by the GAO - still pending - is demanding the release of notes relating to meetings held between Cheney himself and the reps from private corporations. Needless to say, those are the details that will likely be the most telling.
posted by mapalm at 7:11 AM on February 28, 2002


So glad that there ARE in fact people who ARE paying attention! Thank you for disginguishing, mapalm, between the records that were were just ordered released and the files that might actually contain the details that I would be interested in. Metafilter is great, corrupt politicians don't stand a chance when held up to our collective brainpower and analytical abilities.
posted by jack-o at 8:21 AM on February 28, 2002


Where there's smoke, there's fire, so everyone's (gonna be)interested ultimately. The whole episode stinks on ice. But the Dems can't really make political hay out of it right now, cuz there's nothing (yet) to talk about.

BUT, the fact is that the shruberati have time on their side, by way of endless legal delay and appeal. It could easily take longer than the administration has time in office and that, I think, is their real game.

I take heart in the fact that they play such a cold and calculating game so early in their term. Such a cynical approach to governance and especially their constituency implies that theirs much more hijinks to come.
posted by BentPenguin at 10:00 AM on February 28, 2002


Speaking of credibility gaps - haven't heard much about Bush's executive order delaying the release of papers from the Reagan-Bush years. Isn't that being challenged as well? Don't they realize that it gives the current administration a distinct eaue d'Nixon? Or, at least Nixon Lite?
posted by groundhog at 10:15 AM on February 28, 2002


Speaking of Nixon, more tapes to be released.
posted by Dean King at 11:23 AM on February 28, 2002


So glad that there ARE in fact people who ARE paying attention! Thank you for disginguishing, mapalm, between the records that were were just ordered released and the files that might actually contain the details that I would be interested in. Metafilter is great, corrupt politicians don't stand a chance when held up to our collective brainpower and analytical abilities.

Odd. Odd that this is being used with the implication that Cheney did something wrong ... he's being compared to Nixon (for goodness sake). The entire reason for all this attention is for no purpose other than for Democrats to try to embarress Republicans. That's it ... it is pure, shitty politics.

See, it doesn't matter at all who Cheney talked to ... he can talk to any damn person he wants for advice on any damn thing he wants. Get straight about that folks - even if Cheney had invited Ken Lay to personally write a proposal, and then used it verbatim as the draft of an energy policy, he would not have broken any laws. And the policy would still need to make it through both houses of Congress. The only purpose such an inquiry will serve is to give Democrats ammunition to attempt to smear Cheney & Bush by associating them with Enron.

What this request is about is a change to SOP in Washington. All sorts of informal advice is sought by both the Executive Branch, Congressional committees, and individual Congresspeople during the course of business. There have been understandings about what was delivered informally, and what was done publically. It was also generally understood that the candid nature of advice that a lot of policy makers need to construct good legislation often is not delivered under the glare of public lights.

Should anyone cheer this current fiasco, I hope they will also cheer any future requests from the Executive branch, to Congressional committees, for similar transparency. I myself would not at all mind seeing how much of Labor law under Clinton was actually drafted in close consultation with the AFL-CIO. How much environmental law has been written by the Sierra Club and Wilderness Society, and the NRDC.

In fact, I'd like to see the minutes of the discussions of - and a list of those consulted by - the GAO itself as it decided ... behind closed doors ... to sue Dick Cheney (the irony here is priceless ...).

Enjoy your victory folks - methinks a serious amount of whining and complaining will happen when (not if, mind you, when ) this shoe winds up on the other foot.

It also may be worth mentioning that the founders of this country, in drafting the Constitution itself, saw the necessity of holding a number of the discussions behind closed doors. That the effects of this thing may result in a situation where the quality of advising our policy makers gets declines somewhat significantly. But such details don't really matter to people in the middle of a witch hunt I suppose.
posted by MidasMulligan at 12:08 PM on February 28, 2002


I would be delighted for it to be disclosed that Enron and other smelly entities have shaped the adminstration's energy policy: it might neutralize Bush's anti-environmental stance indefinitely. On the other hand, if the documents reveal zero, its the admin's opposition which will be neutralized, and the adminstration will be emboldened to "live in SUVburbia": it's a double-edged sword, so be careful what you wish for.
posted by ParisParamus at 12:17 PM on February 28, 2002


In fact, I'd like to see the minutes of the discussions of - and a list of those consulted by - the GAO itself as it decided ... behind closed doors ... to sue Dick Cheney (the irony here is priceless ...).

midas, as I understand it, the GAO is NOT seeking notes, minutes, transcripts or records of meetings from the vice president or the energy task force. Only the names of people involved and the subject and cost of each meeting.

This isn't Dick C calling up Kenny Boy on his own dime and asking him what he thinks about -- energy taxes. These are official meetings, requiring (I assume) the use of federal meeting rooms, stationery, pens, pencils, staff, etc etc. This is not anything really new, I believe that other administrations have also received, and usually complied, with similar requests.

Personally, I'm no fan of Bush, but for the good of the country I truly hope that this doesn't turn out to be a scandal.
posted by groundhog at 12:41 PM on February 28, 2002


midas, as I understand it, the GAO is NOT seeking notes, minutes, transcripts or records of meetings from the vice president or the energy task force. Only the names of people involved and the subject and cost of each meeting.

No it isn't seeking minutes & notes. That's the point ... this isn't for oversight, it is purely for embarrassment. And the GAO request, mind you, was initiated by two leading Democrats (not the entire Congress ... just two Democrats) - who first asked for it this summer. They got little traction, as it was quite clear it was for entirely partisan purposes. Then, once the Enron situation unfolded, they re-elevated the request. And now the GAO is very publically seeking to sue Cheney to get information that serves no purpose whatsoever - other than to let people point at Cheney and associate him with Enron.

Again, I'd like to see consistant standards. The GAO's meetings are also "official meetings, requiring the use of federal meeting rooms, stationery, pens, pencils, staff, etc etc." ... and I would very much like to see who they met with just prior to suing Cheney. Only, perhaps, a group of Democrats? And I'd love to see whether those democrats met with the NRDC, and other such groups just prior to meeting with GAO. Wouldn't that be telling?

See, if the Democrats themselves, as Congresspeople, personally requested this information (which they certainly could do - after all, whatever power the GAO has is shared by Congress itself), it would very clearly be a blatantly partisan attack. Having the GAO do it, however, makes it appear as something different than it is.

If we want "transparency" - I want to see total transparency.
posted by MidasMulligan at 2:48 PM on February 28, 2002


oh God, too easy....

you won't ever see total transparency

commence with the groaning
posted by ajayb at 2:57 PM on February 28, 2002


It also may be worth mentioning that the founders of this country, in drafting the Constitution itself, saw the necessity of holding a number of the discussions behind closed doors

Probably so as not to be killed for treason. Not exactly the same thing, these days. Or is your fear that Cheney will be killed for treason if what went on in those meetings reaches public eyes? Geez, you must be even more pessimistic about this administration than I am...

No it [the GAO] isn't seeking minutes & notes. That's the point

They were, initially. Cheney was so staunch in his refusal, they scaled down the request to just a list of people. He refused even this, at which point they threatened to sue if he didn't relent- which they've since done, with results pending. But it's worth noting that just a couple of weeks ago, Cheney was on the Tonight Show- among other outlets- continue to spread the outright lie and propaganda that the GAO was still requesting the minutes & notes and not just the lists. Now, why would he say something that was blatantly untrue about this? Hm- perhaps you'd better call the VP- he doesn't seem as clear on the facts of this issue as you do.

In fact, I'd like to see the minutes of the discussions of - and a list of those consulted by - the GAO itself as it decided ... behind closed doors ... to sue Dick Cheney (the irony here is priceless ...).

Har har har! You tell 'em, Midas! Har har! Megadittoes, dude!

Wait- what irony? I'm too lazy to look it up and confirm it, but I believe this is a variation of the ad hominem logical fallacy. Basically, your argument against the GAO's request is that the GAO hasn't volunteered, out of the blue, minutes and lists for every meeting they've had. The minor detail that no one has asked them to, not even Cheney himself, would seem a pertinent point to everyone but you. And even if the GAO refused when asked, that wouldn't make their case for Cheney to reveal his energy policy meeting information any less valid- it would at worst make them an awkward party to ask for it.

To clarify that type of fallacy, in case you aren't grasping the concept: if someone says "Murder is wrong!", that doesn't mean that if they kill someone, that the core statement about murder isn't valid- it just makes them a lousy source to look to for moral advice, even if in this case they are correct. Similarly, even if the GAO were operating on purely partisan terms, that wouldn't make their request invalid. If the Democrats did it directly, the request would still be a perfectly legitimate request, but you'd positively foam at the mouth if they did that because you wouldn't be able to separate the request from the requestor. Is the GAO acting on behalf of the Dems? Perhaps, although the GAO is not partisan by design, since it's the investigative body of the Congress. It was used as much by Bob Barr to investigate the White House Vandalism rumors (turns out just a lie spread by the Bush White House) as it is used by Henry Waxman in his desire to find out just what went on in the Cheney meetings.

Why do I have to spell this out for you to understand it, anyway? You're some bigshot money-making Ubermensch, you should have figured this out yourself. Oddly, you use the same thinking I described above when you tell us that it doesn't matter who offered the energy policy, provided it is good or bad policy on its own merits. You tell us to make no distinction between the request- energy policy- and the requestors- Enron et al. Yet when the GAO makes a policy recommendation- to turn over the meeting information- you don't have this same impartial abstractness, debating the request itself purely on merits. Instead, you decide to just start hollering "PARTISAN! PARTISAN!".

The real question at heart of this issue, that you seem to be avoiding like a plague, is why I couldn't ask to see those lists, or any other American citizen who wants to know. While I sure as hell didn't vote for the guy, he is still my vice-president, as he is yours and every other American citizen's. I certainly haven't heard any shortage of drum beating from this administration's fans about how all American have to support Bush & Cheney because they're our President and Vice President in these "difficult" times. Well, I want my Vice President to tell us all who he met with about energy policy, and what they spoke to him about- especially if those people were big contributors to his campaign.

Oh, wait, silly me- I forgot you don't actually believe in representative democracy, but in feudal rule by Nietzchean supermen. Guess the democracy and populism argument is just going to fall on deaf ears with you....
posted by hincandenza at 4:06 AM on March 1, 2002


Oh, wait, silly me- I forgot you don't actually believe in representative democracy, but in feudal rule by Nietzchean supermen. Guess the democracy and populism argument is just going to fall on deaf ears with you....

A suitable, petty, cheap little bitter end to several paragraphs of justification - you seem to be curiously defensive. But I've come to expect no less from you dear boy.

Believe it or not, the adults that run this country - both Republicans and Democrats - actually do think there is a legitimate constitutional issue here. And some of them -Republicans and Democrats - are not all that pleased at what is going on ... because they fully understand this is a "mutually assured destruction" scenerio.

The real question at heart of this issue, that you seem to be avoiding like a plague, is why I couldn't ask to see those lists, or any other American citizen who wants to know.

Ok little boy, though I've not only not avoided the "real question", but discussed it already, I'll do so once more in a probably hopeless attempt to introduce a couple of watts of light into your permanently dark brain ... pay attention now - the REASON that it is not always a good idea to simply give any information away to anyone that wants it is because it is likely that this would greatly inhibit the ability of government officials to obtain a good deal of the free advice they get in large quantities from from the private sector. Can you understand this? There has nearly always been a tacit understanding this is in the best interest of everyone - Republicans and Democrats.

I do believe in "representative democracy" ... perhaps you ought to read a couple of books about what that is. You elect people to govern. They govern. But I suppose any understanding of the principles of representative democracy, or the notion of what intelligent adults need to govern a vastly diverse population of 300 million people will fall on deaf ears with you ... hardly expect you to get it, as the level you apparently think at is one of demanding that it's your right to see lists of meeting attendees for the sole purpose of jumping up and down like some cheap little playground bully, pointing your finger, and yelling "nyah nyah, nyah nyah nyah I caught you Dick Cheney".
posted by MidasMulligan at 6:41 AM on March 1, 2002


And the GAO request, mind you, was initiated by two leading Democrats (not the entire Congress ... just two Democrats) - who first asked for it this summer.

The first request was made in March.

They got little traction, as it was quite clear it was for entirely partisan purposes.

I'm shocked! Shocked that there is partisanship going on here! Actually, the request got quite a bit of traction, and press here and there, but was overshadowed by Sept. 11. Then Enron happened.

It should be mentioned that, prior to the announcement of the WH energy plan, Cheney held a big sunny press conference with the few representatives of environmental organizations whom he actually agreed to meet with, just to show that he was "open to all views". They all smiled and waved and then Cheney went back to his office and promptly ignored all of their recommendations.

It was Cheney who started this "openness" ball rolling, but only when it suited his PR purpose. So much for the need for "confidentiality" and "unvarnished advice".
posted by Ty Webb at 7:29 AM on March 1, 2002


P.S. I can understand the need for some confidentiality, but Cheney's appeals, given the history of the case, are completely disingenuous, and no less partisan politics than Waxman/Dingell's.
posted by Ty Webb at 7:33 AM on March 1, 2002


"There were all manner of people and groups that came in and were briefed and shared their suggestions," Cheney aide Mary Matalin said. "But the deliberative process and decision-making process took place among the Cabinet-level group and only that group and their staffs."

But even some GOP lobbyists say they are baffled by the administration's stance. "It may be a fine intellectual argument, but it's not a good road for Republicans to go down right now, what with the Enron thing," a former GOP House aide said.
from a Feb 27 Washington Post article on lobbying by Shell Oil and Anadarko Petroleum executives.
posted by Dean King at 7:06 PM on March 5, 2002


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