Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

Shades Of Nixon In Cheney GAO Disclosure Decision

Shades Of Nixon In Cheney GAO Disclosure Decision


By Jason Leopold

The dismissal of the General Accounting Office lawsuit against Vice President Dick Cheney is just another example of the veil of secrecy that permeates within the Bush administration and is a grim reminder of the dark days of former President Richard Nixon, who openly defied Congress during the investigation into Watergate.

But despite the ruling by District Court Judge John Bates, this energy policy is dead. Any attempt to resurrect the policy in Congress next year “will be met with numerous Democratic amendments, especially on drilling in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge. Some of those amendments will fail, some will prevail,” said John Hess, an aide to Senator Barbara Boxer, D-California.

The Cheney policy, in its present form, “is nothing more than a report with a series of recommendations. Some of these have been included in the energy bills that were considered by the House and Senate this past Congress. But, since nothing passed, the bills are dead and have to reintroduced next year,” said Chris Lu, another Boxer aide.

However, there is still the thorny issue pertaining to disclosure, and the GAO said it might appeal the ruling. On its face, what the GAO requested from Cheney in its lawsuit filed in January is limited information about the energy task force, specifically, what process was used in developing the National Energy Policy? Where did the task force get the information and from whom? That’s it. Contrary to what has been reported in the media earlier this year thanks to the spin job by Cheney and his staff, the GAO was not interested in gaining access to the task force’s minutes or notes.

The GAO’s unprecedented lawsuit against Cheney was prompted when the Vice President rebuffed Congressman Henry Waxman, D-California, and the ranking member on the Committee on Government Reform, and John Dingell, D-Michigan, who asked Cheney for the same information in May 2001.

At the time, the California energy crisis was at its peak and many of the policies contained in the report seemed to benefit energy companies such as Enron (which had not yet imploded in a wave of accounting scandals) that contributed heavily to President Bush’s campaign.

However, the policy made only scant references to California’s energy crisis, which Enron was accused of igniting, and did not indicate what should be done to provide the state some relief.

Cheney said the policy focused on long-term solutions to the country’s energy needs, such as opening up drilling in the Alaskan National Wildlife Reserve and freeing up transmission lines. That’s why California was ignored in the report. But then news reports surfaced that former Enron Chief Executive Ken Lay met with Cheney several times between January and April 2001, just days before the policy was unveiled.

What’s more, in January, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Lay gave Cheney a memo outlining eight policy recommendations that would clearly benefit Enron. Of the eight, seven were included in the policy.

One can only assume that other players in the energy industry also met with Cheney and received the same kind of special treatment that was written into the National Energy Policy. Cheney has refused to identify those individuals not because it would undermine the administration’s ability to get advice from people but because it would greatly embarrass the President.

John Dean, former counsel to President Richard Nixon, wrote in a column on the web site FindLaw in February:

“not since Richard Nixon stiffed the Congress during Watergate has a White House so openly, and arrogantly, defied Congress's investigative authority. Nor has any activity by the Bush Administration more strongly suggested they are hiding the incriminating information about their relationship with the now-moribund Enron, or other heavy-hitting campaign contributors from the energy business. Cheney says he is refusing to provide information to the Congress as a matter of principle. He told the Today Show that he wants to ‘protect the ability of the president and the vice president to get unvarnished advice from any source we want.’ That sounds all too familiar to me. I worked for Richard Nixon.”

Dean added, “If the Vice President's position should prevail, it will change the very nature of our government's system of checks and balances. If GAO is held to be as restricted as Cheney would have it, such a ruling will create a black hole in the Federal firmament - a no man's land where only the President and Vice President can go, unobserved by their Constitutional co-equals on Capitol Hill,” Dean wrote. “The Vice President can only win if we have another Bush vs. Gore-like ruling.”

Congressman Waxman agreed with Dean’s prediction Monday saying, “The decision is another Bush v. Gore. It is a convoluted decision by a Republican judge that gives Bush and Cheney near total immunity from scrutiny. In Bush v. Gore, five Republican justices gave the election to George Bush and Dick Cheney. Today, another Republican judge has decided that, once in office, Bush and Cheney can operate in complete secrecy with no oversight by Congress.”

Nixon would be proud.

******************

- Jason Leopold is an investigative journalist based in California, he is currently finishing a book on the California energy crisis. He can be contacted at jasonleopold@hotmail.com. This story is available for republication, please contact the author by email.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Reese Erlich: Foreign Correspondent: Trump Plays Both Sides Against The Middle

Is he a hawk? Is he a peacenik? The President keeps us guessing . By Reese Erlich President Donald Trump has convinced Republican isolationists and hawks that he supports their views. That’s a neat trick, since the two groups hold opposing positions. ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Waiting For The Old Bailey: Julian Assange And Britain’s Judicial Establishment

On September 7, Julian Assange will be facing another round of gruelling extradition proceedings, in the Old Bailey, part of a process that has become a form of gradual state-sanctioned torture. The US Department of Justice hungers for their man. The More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The Sorry Plight Of The International Education Sector

Tourism and international education have been two of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic. They’re both key export industries. Yet the government response to them has been strikingly different. There has been nothing beyond a few words of ministerial condolence and a $51.6 million package (details below) to get the sector through the pandemic...
More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Google’s Open Letter: Fighting Australia’s News Media Bargaining Code

Tech giants tend to cast thin veils over threats regarding government regulations. They are also particularly concerned by those more public spirited ones, the sort supposedly made for the broader interest. Google has given us an example of this ... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Trump’s Current Chances Of Re-Election

By now it seems clear that National have no fresh ideas to offer for how New Zealand could avoid the Covid-19 economic crisis. As in the past, National has set an arbitrary 30% ratio of government debt to GDP that it aims to achieve “in a decade or so,” ... More>>

The Conversation: Rogue Poll Or Not, All The Signs Point To A Tectonic Shift In New Zealand Politics

Richard Shaw AAP(various)/NZ Greens (CC-BY-SA)/The Conversation Strong team. More jobs. Better economy. So say the National Party’s campaign hoardings. Only thing is, last Sunday’s Newshub-Reid Research poll – which had support for the Labour ... More>>

The Coronavirus Republic: Three Million Infections And Rising

The United States is famed for doing things, not to scale, but off it. Size is the be-all and end-all, and the coronavirus is now doing its bit to assure that the country remains unrivalled in the charts of infection . In time, other unfortunates may well ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Altars Of Hypocrisy: George Floyd, Protest And Black Face

Be wary what you protest about. The modern moral constabulary are out, and they are assisted by their Silicon Valley friends in the Social Media club. Should you dare take a stand on anything, especially in a dramatic way, you will be found out ... More>>