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Cheney Won’t Release Energy Papers

September 4, 2002

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ Citing constitutional concerns, Vice President Dick Cheney and the White House are refusing to turn over information in two lawsuits against the Bush administration’s energy task force.

In court papers filed this week, the Justice Department said that requiring Cheney’s energy task force to produce documents and provide written answers to Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club would interfere with the executive branch’s authority to give confidential advice to the president.

``Further responses″ by Cheney and the task force ``would impose upon the Executive unconstitutional burdens,″ the Justice Department wrote. The information the two private groups are seeking is ``under the direct control of _ and therefore from _ the president of the United States.″

Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club are attempting to learn the details of industry influence on the national energy plan which Cheney’s task force formulated more than a year ago. The results of that plan, a comprehensive energy package, are before a House-Senate conference committee.

The latest move by the Bush administration in the two court cases will require further rulings by U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, who has already ordered evidence-gathering to proceed in the lawsuits. The judge has said he wants the process to be narrowly focused to avoid raising constitutional issues. Sullivan had given the administration until Tuesday to file any objections. The next hearing is scheduled for Sept. 13.

Various federal agencies that are also defendants in the two cases have produced thousands of pages of documents to the two private groups. The administration is objecting to the requests to Cheney, two assistants to the president, the former executive director of the energy task force and the task force itself.

``Judge Sullivan made it clear that he would not tolerate this type of gamesmanship,″ Larry Klayman, chairman and general counsel of Judicial Watch, a conservative group, said Wednesdsay.

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