Wednesday, September 15, 2004


The Progress Report


End Cheney's Shenanigans

For three-and-a-half years, Vice President Dick Cheney has gone to great lengths to conceal who helped him write the administration's ill-conceived energy policy, which is little more than billions in tax giveaways to the energy industry. (We do know, however, through news reports that disgraced Enron CEO Ken Lay was extensively involved.) Cheney repeatedly defied federal court orders to disclose who participated in order to buy himself time to appeal the litigation seeking the information in the Supreme Court. There, five justices did not side with Cheney, but further delayed the ruling by sending the case back to a federal appeals court on technical grounds. (Antonin Scalia, who refused to recuse himself from the case despite going on a hunting trip with Cheney weeks before, subsequently voted to resolve the case in Cheney's favor.) Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) has introduced a resolution, H. Res. 745, that would put an end, once and for all, to Cheney's shenanigans. The resolution would require – within 14 days of passage – that Cheney disclose to the House of Representatives the names of the people who were involved in his energy task force. It is being considered by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce today. Write your representative and say you deserve the truth – urge him or her to vote for the resolution when it reaches the House floor.

BUSH'S ASSAULT ON OPEN GOVERNMENT: A new report by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) details the Bush administration's assault on open government. The report reveals a consistent pattern whereby "laws designed to promote access to information have been undermined while laws that authorize the government to withhold information or operate in secret have been expanded." The administration has withheld from the public and Congress not only information about Cheney's energy task force but also: communications between the Defense Department and the vice president's office regarding contracts awarded to Halliburton, documents describing the prison abuses at Abu Ghraib, memoranda revealing what the White House knew about Iraq's WMD, and cost estimates of the Medicare prescription drug legislation. Read the full report (or, if you're short on time, the executive summary).

THE COST OF SECRECY: A study by the coalition reveals that the excessive secrecy of the Bush administration comes at a high price, literally. According to the report, "the federal government spent $6.5 billion last year creating 14 million new classified documents and securing accumulated secrets – more than it has for at least the past decade." For every dollar the administration spent on declassifying documents last year it spent $120 to keep documents secret.

STEPPING OVER THE LINE: The government's efforts to keep Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's speeches secret from the media went so far over the line even the administration was forced to admit it. AP reports the administration "has conceded that the U.S. Marshals Service violated federal law when a marshal ordered reporters with The Associated Press and the Hattiesburg American to erase their recordings of a speech" by Scalia. The Justice Department said that "the reporters and their employers are each entitled to $1,000 in damages and reasonable attorney fees."