Friday, September 05, 2003

Lies lies and more lies:
After he was elected -- and very much beholden to those contributors -- Bush put Cheney in charge of developing the National Energy Policy. To do so, Cheney convened an Energy Task Force.

Cheney's selection alone was ominous: He had headed Halliburton, just the kind of big-dollar Republican energy industry contributor that had helped Bush-Cheney win the election in the first place.

The Energy Task Force might have operated in absolute secrecy, were it not for GAO. GAO is a nonpartisan agency with statutory authority to investigate "all matters related to the receipt, disbursement, and use of public money," so that it can judge the expenditures and effectiveness of public programs, and report to Congress on what it finds.

To fulfill its statutory responsibility, GAO sought documents from Vice-President Cheney relating to Energy Task Force expenditures. But in a literally unprecedented move, the White House said no.

Amazingly, it did so without even bothering to claim that the documents sought were covered by executive privilege. It simply refused.

On August 2, 2001, Vice President Cheney sent a letter -- personally signed by him -- to Congress demanding, in essence, that it get the Comptroller off his back. In the letter, he claimed that his staff had already provided "documents responsive to the Comptroller General's inquiry concerning the costs associated with the [Energy task force's] work." As I will explain later, this turned out to be a lie.