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Court Orders VP Cheney To Turn Over Documents

For Immediate Release
Oct 17, 2002 Contact: Press Office



(Washington, DC) Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, reported today that a federal court ruled that Vice President Cheney and The Bush White House must produce documents about his Energy Task Force. The Honorable Emmet G. Sullivan had ruled that the Vice President was required to produce information concerning into the identities of Task Force participants, how it operated, and the role of the Vice President in the Task Force. Non-privileged documents must be made public by November 5, 2002. Judge Sullivan this morning rejected motions by the government lawyers for the Vice President requesting that his office be exempted from discovery. In doing so, the Court ruled that Vice President Cheney must comply with the law “like everyone has to do.” Judicial Watch has accused the Bush Administration of delaying the release of these documents for “delay’s sake,” and indeed Vice President Cheney’s government lawyers were forced to admit they would seek an appeal of the court’s ruling, which would push off the release of the disputed documents until after the November elections.

Judicial Watch was forced to file a lawsuit last year under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (open meetings law) after it was rebuffed in its requests for information on the Task Force by Vice President Cheney. Several months later, the Energy Task Force was also sued by the Sierra Club, which is now a co-plaintiff in Judicial Watch’s lawsuit.

And in what Judge Sullivan called a “startling revelation,” Justice Department attorney Shannen Coffin today admitted, after well over a year of litigating that the documents were too sensitive to be released, that no one had actually reviewed documents in the Vice President’s office concerning the Task Force. Coffin later tried to back away from his statement, yet confessed at the end of this morning’s court hearing that the review had not been completed.

“The Court’s ruling is a victory for openness in government. And for the Vice President to cite executive privilege and ‘constitutional’ concerns over documents no one has yet examined shows that the arrogance and bad faith stonewalling of the Bush Administration has risen to new heights. Their gamesmanship must end,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.


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