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Cheney denied full court rehearing on Energy Task Force

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Cheney denied full court rehearing on Energy Task Force

  • Because the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., declined to rehear arguments, a federal case to access documents from Vice President Cheney’s Energy Task Force will proceed.

Sep. 12, 2003 — The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., refused yesterday to reconsider an appellate panel’s ruling that requires the government to defend a lawsuit for access to documents pertaining to Vice President Dick Cheney’s 2001 Energy Task Force.

In the ruling, five of eight judges rejected the Bush administration’s efforts to have the full court hear its appeal. A split three-judge appeals panel in July refused the administration’s efforts to have the lawsuit, filed under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), thrown out of U.S. District Court.

Public interest organizations Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club have long sought access to the task force records, which identify the business leaders who played a role in shaping the U.S. energy policy more than two years ago. The information would also outline how the task force operated and Cheney’s role in the group.

“The vice president has been told by multiple courts that he is not above the law,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton, according to a story in The Washington Post today. “Perhaps now he will give up his legal stonewalling and begin complying with court orders to turn over his secret energy task force documents.”

The organizations filed the lawsuit under the FACA, which requires meetings and records — subject to exemptions — to be open when the government seeks advice from a group that includes people outside the government. The Department of Justice has been arguing that the administration is not subject to FACA in this case because President Bush named only federal officials to the task force headed by the vice president.

The public interest groups say, however, that industry officials were invited to meet with the task force and formulate policy. Therefore, the role of these non-governmental individuals in setting the U.S. energy policy ought to be made public.

(In re Cheney; Attorneys: Larry Klayman, Washington, D.C., and Sanjay Narayan, San Francisco) VR

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