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Impeach Bush

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 Shadow government and more lies
 O'Neill: No U.S. recession in 2001
 Bush to impose tariffs on steel
 EU vows to respond to U.S. steel curbs
 Ridge won't testify before congress
 Bush violates anti-nepotism laws *
 Anti-nepotism law--Title 5, Section 3110
 EPA regulator's resignation letter *
 Judge orders Energy to release records
 Judge donated to Bush/Cheney
* impeachable offense
Shadow government and more lies
CbsNews.com

(CBS) After lawmakers complained that they were kept in the dark, White House officials on Tuesday briefed top members of Congress about the "shadow government" that President Bush set up outside Washington as a safeguard against terrorism.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said two top Bush aides briefed Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., and Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D. on Tuesday, and House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., "had been previously informed."

But House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., was not part of Tuesday's session. His spokesman Erik Smith said Gephardt did not know about the meeting until it ended. He said he did not know why Gephardt was not invited.

"We're disappointed, we don't understand why they would choose not to invite Mr. Gephardt," Smith said.

Fleischer told reporters that Gephardt's absence was "a scheduling matter," but when pressed on whether Gephardt was invited, Fleischer replied, "I don't make all the invitations here at the White House."

"If he was not (invited), it was inadvertent," Fleischer said. He insisted that congressional leaders were informed of the plan in the proper manner, adding that lawmakers will realize that "when members of Congress have a chance to pause, think and talk to each other."

After the briefing, Daschle, who protested that he should have been told earlier about the shadow government, said it's basically just a "contingency plan" for an emergency. He called for a "cease fire" on "who told who what and when," reports CBS News Correspondent Bob Fuss, but added that the White House did not do a good job of informing key people.

Regarding the controversy over who knew what, Lott said there was adequate notification. And he dismissed the very notion of a "shadow government."

"There is no shadow government," he said. "I don't know where that term came from. There has been for many years a plan for continuity in government and it goes into place automatically when you have an event like we had."

The contingency plans include housing 75 to 150 senior administration officials in secure underground facilities. The officials rotate in and out of the secret sites, spending days at a time away from friends and family, to ensure that top government officials survive an attack on Washington.

White House and congressional aides said the lawmakers were briefed by White House chief of staff Andrew Card and Nicholas Calio, the administration's chief congressional lobbyist.

Some aides declined to discuss details of Tuesday's session, saying it was classified.

Fleischer said the "shadow government" was a tightly held secret because the White House did not want a repeat of the underground bunker at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulfur Springs, W.Va. It was designed to protect members of Congress in a nuclear strike, but is now a tourist site rented out for theme parties.

"There was a similar program that operated for the legislative branch and as a result of a great number of people talking about it, discussing it, and being informed, the program is now a tourist attraction, at a waste of millions and millions of dollars to the public," Fleischer said.

"The president has no interest in repeating in the executive branch what happened in the legislative branch," he said.

After The Washington Post revealed the existence of the plans last week, Daschle complained that he had known nothing about them.

Lott said he, too, had not known about the plans until they were reported by the newspaper, adding, "And I had no justification for it, either."

"This is not the kind of thing you tell 10, 50 or 100 senators. If you do, you might as well tell the world," Lott said.

The procedures, a response to the Sept. 11 attacks, marks the first time that the Cold War-era continuity of government plan has been implemented.

Daschle said Sunday he wants Mr. Bush to keep congressional leaders better informed about the war on terrorism and the shadow government. He said no lawmakers knew about the continuity of government plan.

Fleischer said "the appropriate people" on Capitol Hill knew of the plan. "I cannot speak to how Congress fully informs itself. I'm confident and the president is confident that when people pause and talk to each other on the Hill" they will discover who was told of the administration's plan.

He said the information was tightly held because secrecy is key to ensuring the continuity of government in the event of a disaster.

Asked if Daschle was not informed because he is not in the line to succeed the president, Fleischer replied, "There is a line of succession."

Hastert, next in line after Vice President Dick Cheney to succeed Bush, was given a full briefing on the contingency plans, said Hastert spokesman John Feehery.

The White House also maintains that it informed Senate President Pro Tempore Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., who follows Hastert in the line of succession.

But CBS News Senior White House Correspondent John Roberts reports Byrd's office states emphatically that they were never told of the shadow government. "Sen. Byrd has not been briefed and neither has his staff," said Byrd spokesman Tom Gavin.

Commentary:
So Senator Byrd says he wasn't informed and Bush says he was. Who do you believe? Only a complete moron would believe anything this White House says. We need a president who can go a whole day without lying...let's start there and hope for the best.


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O'Neill: No U.S. Recession in 2001
Reuters.com

— KUWAIT CITY (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill said on Tuesday that the world's biggest economy was on solid ground and had not suffered a recession in 2001.

O'Neill, touring the Middle East for talks on economic and security, told reporters that contrary to a declaration by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), which dates U.S. business cycles, a recession had not set in last year.

"It seems quite clear now that our economy never suffered a recession," O'Neill told a news conference.

The U.S. Treasury chief noted that, while gross domestic product contracted during the third quarter last year, latest government statistics show expansion resumed in the fourth quarter. That means a popular definition of recession as being at least six months of declining output was not met.

Last November the NBER's business cycle dating committee said the U.S. economy had entered a recession in March 2001 after a 10-year expansion.

The NBER defines a recession as "a significant decline in activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, visible in industrial production, employment, real income, and wholesale-retail trade," according to the group's web site: www.nber.org.

O'Neill said "economic fundamentals are moving back into place" in the United States and predicted growth rates will gradually increase this year to reach an annual rate of three to 3.5 percent a year by year-end.

He added that 2003 should see "substantial growth for the U.S. economy" but did not predict a growth rate.

Commentary:
When you don't like historic facts, change them. This appears to be the motto for the Bush people. For those living in the real world, yes, we had a recession. For those who don't care about facts keep listening to these idiots.


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Bush to Impose Tariffs on Steel, Newspaper Reports
Reuters.com/Washington Post

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Facing a Wednesday deadline, President Bush has decided to impose tariffs of up to 30 percent on steel imports to help the financially struggling U.S. steel industry rebuild, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

The newspaper, citing unnamed administration officials, said the plan Bush endorsed at an Oval Office meeting with advisers would exempt steel imported from Mexico and Canada and several developing nations, including Argentina.

U.S. steel firms and steelworkers have asked for a 40 percent across-the-board tariff for four years on a broad range of steel imports. They blame low-priced imports for 31 bankruptcies since 1997 and are seeking temporary "safeguard" protection under "Section 201" of U.S. trade law.

The Post quoted steel industry executives as saying the exceptions of countries and products envisioned by the White House could apply to more than one-third of current steel imports, reducing the effectiveness of a tariff plan aimed at the price of U.S.-made steel.

"It's not what we wanted, but we're getting closer to something we can at least say is workable and helpful," said a steel industry official involved in the White House negotiations.

Administration officials continued negotiations into the night in hopes of coming up with a proposal that would win approval of union leaders by the time the president makes an official announcement, the Post said.

White House aides said on Monday Bush's decision could come as early as Tuesday and that it was possible the president would announce his decision before the Wednesday deadline.

The White House did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

The European Union and other trading partners, including Japan, have threatened to challenge any import restrictions at the World Trade Organization.

In December, the U.S. International Trade Commission sent Bush a mixed bag of recommendations for curbing imports, including tariffs ranging from 8 percent to 40 percent depending on the specific product line.

Bush can accept those recommendations, fashion his own trade remedy or do nothing at all. The last is probably the least likely option because Bush initiated the Section 201 proceeding last summer at the request of the industry.

U.S. steel firms have argued that a uniform tariff is needed to prevent countries from shifting production to those steel products facing the lowest tariffs.

However, U.S. steel-consuming industries and port operators have warned that import restrictions could cost more jobs than they save and raise prices for American consumers.

A senior administration official said last week it was possible import protections could vary by product line with the highest curbs on flat steel.

The official also said a tariff as high as 40 percent may not be necessary to give the domestic industry the breathing space it needs to get back on its feet.

More sophisticated products, including an array of specialized parts made from steel, could be subjected to either quotas or a mix of quota and tariffs, the newspaper quoted officials as saying.

Joe Lockhart, a former spokesman for President Bill Clinton who now represents the Stand Up For Steel coalition, said steel companies and steel workers were alarmed by reports Bush could exempt developing countries from restrictions.

He also urged the administration to impose "a tariff-based remedy" on all steel imports, including slab, the most common type of semi-finished steel.

Administration officials have said slab could be treated differently than other steel products because many West Coast steel mills depend on slab imports.

One possibility is a tariff-rate quota, which would let a certain amount of slab come in at reduced duty levels.

Commentary:
Free trade is dead. Bush killed it. The next time you hear someone say republicans stand for free trade tell them to put a fork in it.


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EU Vows to Respond to Any Undue U.S. Steel Curbs
Reuters.com

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (Reuters) - The European Union's top trade official warned the United States on Saturday not to impose steel import restrictions next week, or else prepare to face the same barriers it is considering putting into effect.

The warning came days before President Bush was expected to decide whether to slap temporary restrictions on steel imports to help the U.S. steel industry, a move allowed under World Trade Organization rules.

"If the U.S. were to erect undue barriers and this had as a consequence a flow back of steel to the EU, we are entitled to safeguard clauses under WTO rules and we will consider using that in case this happens," EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy told Reuters during a trade promotion tour of South America.

On Friday, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick tried to deflect EU criticism by reminding the region of its own long history of state aid for the steel sector.

Lamy asked the United States last month not take "unilateral action to reduce access to its steel market."

Bush must make a decision on steel import restrictions as a result of an investigation under U.S. trade law that he launched last summer to determine if imports had seriously harmed domestic firms.

The U.S. International Trade Commission agreed that imports had hurt the industry, and in December sent Bush a mixed bag of "trade-remedy" recommendations, including tariffs ranging from 8 percent to 40 percent, depending on the steel product.

Bush has until Wednesday to decide whether to accept those recommendations or come up with his own solution.

U.S. steel companies and steelworkers have urged Bush to impose a 40 percent across-the-board tariff for four years. Many steel industry analysts expect tariffs of only 20 percent for two years.

Commentary:
The Trade Commission is made up of mostly republicans who are attempting to give Bush some political cover for his anti-free trade decisions. Bush, like his father and Reagan before him talk about free trade but don't believe in practicing it.

A tariff war is the last thing we need when our economy is already frail. But, never underestimate how much damage a republican president can do to the economy.


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Ridge Refuses to Testify to Senate
.Yahoo.news/AP/USA Today

WASHINGTON (AP) - Homeland security chief Tom Ridge is turning down a bipartisan request from a Senate committee that he testify, his spokeswoman said Monday, the latest White House-Congress difference over the war on terror.

The two top members of the Senate Appropriations Committee — Chairman Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., and senior Republican Sen. Ted Stevens (news) of Alaska — wrote to Ridge on Monday asking that he appear before their panel.

Ridge coordinates the government's anti-terrorism effort at home, though the programs themselves are carried out by dozens of other agencies. Appropriations controls much federal spending, including the $38 billion — double this year's total — that President Bush (news - web sites) has proposed for next year's domestic security programs.

"Your views and insights on the policies necessary to meet these objectives are critical to the committee and the nation," the senators wrote.

Ridge spokeswoman Susan Neely said he would not testify because he is an adviser to the president, not a Senate-confirmed head of an agency that implements policy.

"Assistants to the president work for the president," Neely said. "And the president has spoken his recommendations to the Senate and House" in the budget he sent Congress last month, she said.

Byrd spokesman Tom Gavin had no comment on Ridge's refusal until the committee receives the homeland security director's formal response. Asked if Byrd would compel Ridge's appearance through a subpoena, Gavin said Byrd has not discussed that possibility.

Republican Stevens' signature on the Appropriations Committee letter makes this appear to be a dispute between the executive and legislative branches over the release of information, not a partisan conflict.

Last week, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., and other Democrats asked questions about Bush administration plans for continuing the conflict in Afghanistan (news - web sites). That prompted some Republicans to accuse Democrats of politicizing the war, while Democrats said they merely wanted details.

Daschle and other lawmakers also have complained they knew nothing about federal officials who have been working secretly outside Washington since Sept. 11 as a contingency government to guarantee continuity in case of a devastating attack on Washington. The "shadow government" was revealed last week by The Washington Post, and a GOP lawmaker criticized the secrecy surrounding it on Monday.

"We have to have some awareness of this because, as I recall, we are number three in succession here and that might be of interest to them," said Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., referring to succession to the presidency.

In another dispute, Congress' General Accounting Office (news - web sites) has sued Vice President Dick Cheney (news - web sites) to learn the names of business leaders who met with the White House energy task force.

Neely said Ridge has repeatedly met privately with lawmakers to discuss domestic security, including recent separate sessions with GOP and Democratic senators.

Byrd and Stevens gave Ridge the choice of testifying on April 9, 10 or 11.

Commentary:
The Homeland Security Chief overseas spending $38 billion this year alone and he thinks the congress has no right to ask him questions. Maybe the congress should haul Bush's butt before their committee instead.


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Bush Violates Anti-Nepotism Laws *
Reuters.com/Findlaw.com

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Liz Cheney, daughter of U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, will start work at the State Department within weeks as a deputy assistant secretary of state in the Near East bureau, the agency's spokesman said on Friday.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said she would have an economic portfolio, which another U.S. official described as a mandate to promote economic liberalization and U.S. trade and investment in the region.

Deputy assistant secretaries typically enter an executive corps distinct from most federal employees, which according to government Web sites pays between $126,000 and $138,000 a year to workers based in Washington.

Boucher said Secretary of State Colin Powell had known her for some time and that she was a "very highly skilled individual" who would bring important talents to the post, which had been vacant for more than a year.

"We're delighted to have Ms. Cheney join our team. She brings a very strong legal and economic background to her new position, having previously served with both the private and government sectors, including with USAID and the Department of State," Boucher said.

The U.S. Agency for International Development manages U.S. aid programs abroad.

Liz Cheney is married to Philip Perry, a deputy associate attorney general in the Department of Justice.

Title 5 Section 3110
Findlaw.com

Section 3110. Employment of relatives; restrictions

(a) For the purpose of this section -
 (1) agency means -

(A) an Executive agency;
(B) an office, agency, or other establishment in the legislative branch;
(C) an office, agency, or other establishment in the judicial branch; and
(D) the government of the District of Columbia;
 (2) ''public official'' means an officer (including the President and a Member of Congress), a member of the uniformed service, an employee and any other individual, in whom is vested the authority by law, rule, or regulation, or to whom the authority has been delegated, to appoint, employ, promote, or advance individuals, or to recommend individuals for appointment, employment, promotion, or advancement in connection with employment in an agency; and
 (3) ''relative'' means, with respect to a public official, an individual who is related to the public official as father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, first cousin, nephew, niece, husband, wife, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, stepfather, stepmother, stepson, stepdaughter, stepbrother, stepsister, half brother, or half sister.
(b) A public official may not appoint, employ, promote, advance, or advocate for appointment, employment, promotion, or advancement, in or to a civilian position in the agency in which he is serving or over which he exercises jurisdiction or control any individual who is a relative of the public official. An individual may not be appointed, employed, promoted, or advanced in or to a civilian position in an agency if such appointment, employment, promotion, or advancement has been advocated by a public official, serving in or exercising jurisdiction or control over the agency, who is a relative of the individual.
(c) An individual appointed, employed, promoted, or advanced in violation of this section is not entitled to pay, and money may not be paid from the Treasury as pay to an individual so appointed, employed, promoted, or advanced.
(d) The Office of Personnel Management may prescribe regulations authorizing the temporary employment, in the event of emergencies resulting from natural disasters or similar unforeseen events or circumstances, of individuals whose employment would otherwise be prohibited by this section.
(e) This section shall not be construed to prohibit the appointment of an individual who is a preference eligible in any case in which the passing over of that individual on a certificate of eligibles furnished under section 3317(a) of this title will result in the selection for appointment of an individual who is not a preference eligible.

Commentary:
When those who are sworn to defend our laws violate them so casually one has to wonder if the "rule of law" has ANY meaning to this administration.

On this day, Mr. Bush becomes eligible for articles of impeachment and removal from office for violating the Constitution of the United States.


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EPA regulator's resignation letter *
msnbc.com

Christine Whitman
Administrator
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20004

Dear Ms. Whitman:

I resign today from the Environmental Protection Agency after twelve years of service, the last five as Director of the Office of Regulatory Enforcement. I am grateful for the opportunities I have been given, and leave with a deep admiration for the men and women of EPA who dedicate their lives to protecting the environment and the public health. Their faith in the Agency's mission is an inspiring example to those who still believe that government should stand for the public interest.

But I cannot leave without sharing my frustration about the fate of our enforcement actions against power companies that have violated the Clean Air Act. Between November of 1999 and December of 2000, EPA filed lawsuits against 9 power companies for expanding their plants, without obtaining New Source Review permits and the up to date pollution controls required by law. The companies named in our lawsuits emit an incredible 5.0 million tons of sulfur dioxide every year (a quarter of the emissions in the entire country) as well as 2 million tons of nitrogen oxide.

As the scale of pollution from these coal-fired smokestacks is immense, so is the damage to public health. Data supplied to the Senate Environment Committee by EPA last year estimate the annual health bill from 7 million tons of SO2 and NO2: more than 10,800 premature deaths; at least 5,400 incidents of chronic bronchitis; more than 5,100 hospital emergency visits; and over 1.5 million lost work days. Add to that severe damage to our natural resources, as acid rain attacks soils and plants, and deposits nitrogen in the Chesapeake Bay and other critical bodies of water.

Fifteen months ago, it looked as though our lawsuits were going to shrink these dismal statistics, when EPA publicly announced agreements with Cinergy and Vepco to reduce Sox and Nox emissions by a combined 750,000 tons per year. Settlements already lodged with two other companies B TECO and PSE&G B will eventually take another quarter million tons of Nox and Sox out of the air annually. If we get similar results from the 9 companies with filed complaints, we are on track to reduce both pollutants by a combined 4.8 million tons per year. And that does not count the hundreds of thousands of additional tons that can be obtained from other companies with whom we have been negotiating.

Yet today, we seem about the snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. We are in the 9th month of a "90 day review" to reexamine the law, and fighting a White House that seems determined to weaken the rules we are trying to enforce. It is hard to know which is worse, the endless delay or the repeated leaks by energy industry lobbyists of draft rule changes that would undermine lawsuits already filed. At their heart, these proposals would turn narrow exceptions into larger loopholes that would allow old "grandfathered" plants to be continually rebuilt (and emissions to increase) without modern pollution controls.

Our negotiating position is weakened further by the Administration's budget proposal to cut the civil enforcement program by more than 200 staff positions below the 2001 level. Already, we are unable to fill key staff positions, not only in air enforcement, but in other critical programs, and the proposed budget cuts would leave us desperately short of the resources needed to deal with the large, sophisticated corporate defendants we face. And it is completely unrealistic to expect underfunded state environmental programs, facing their own budget cuts, to take up the slack.

It is no longer possible to pretend that the ongoing debate with the White House and Department of Energy is not effecting our ability to negotiate settlements. Cinergy and Vepco have refused to sign the consent decrees they agreed to 15 months ago, hedging their bets while waiting for the Administration's Clean Air Act reform proposals. Other companies with whom we were close to settlement have walked away from the table. The momentum we obtained with agreements announced earlier has stopped, and we have filed no new lawsuits against utility companies since this Administration took office. We obviously cannot settle cases with defendants who think we are still rewriting the law.

The arguments against sustaining our enforcement actions don't hold up to scrutiny.

Were the complaints filed by the U.S. government based on conflicting or changing interpretations? The Justice Department doesn't think so. Its review of our enforcement actions found EPA's interpretation of the law to be reasonable and consistent. While the Justice Department has gamely insisted it will continue to prosecute existing cases, the confusion over where EPA is going with New Source Review has made settlement almost impossible, and protracted litigation inevitable.

What about the energy crisis? It stubbornly refuses to materialize, as experts predict a glut of power plants in some areas of the U.S. In any case, our settlements are flexible enough to provide for cleaner air while protecting consumers from rate shock.

The relative costs and benefits? EPA's regulatory impact analyses, reviewed by OMB, quantify health and environmental benefits of $7,300 per ton of SO2 reduced at a cost of less than $1,000 per ton. These cases should be supported by anyone who thinks cost-benefit analysis is a serious tool for decision-making, not a political game.

Is the law too complicated to understand? Most of the projects our cases targeted involved big expansion projects that pushed emission increases many times over the limits allowed by law.

Should we try to fix the problem by passing a new law? Assuming the Administration's bill survives a legislative odyssey in today's evenly divided Congress, it will send us right back where we started with new rules to write, which will then be delayed by industry challenges, and with fewer emissions reductions than we can get by enforcing today's law.

I believe you share the concerns I have expressed, and wish you well in your efforts to persuade the Administration to put our enforcement actions back on course. Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican and our greatest environmental President, said, "Compliance with the law is demanded as a right, not asked as a favor." By showing that powerful utility interests are not exempt from that principle, you will prove to EPA's staff that their faith in the Agency's mission is not in vain. And you will leave the American public with an environmental victory that will be felt for generations to come.

Sincerely,

Eric V. Schaeffer, Director
Office of Regulatory Enforcement

Commentary:
This resignation letter clearly states the Bush White House is no longer following the law and has all but given up on using Justice to stop law-breaking energy companies. This White House has sold its political soul, the constitution and the "rule of law" to the highest bidder.

Just a few short months ago Bush created an Energy Crisis as an excuse to write a secret energy policy. Now the courts will decide if that secret policy and those who wrote it (can we say energy companies?) have the right to keep their secrets from us. Is Bush fighting GAO on principle or is he hiding the bribes energy gave him?

"Is the law too complicated to understand?"

On this day, Mr. Bush becomes eligible for articles of impeachment and removal from office for violating the Constitution of the United States.


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Judge orders Energy to release records
usatoday.com

WASHINGTON — A federal district court has given the Department of Energy less than a month to release thousands of pages of documents detailing the names of energy company officials who met with the agency to consult on President Bush's energy plan.

Calling the information "of extraordinary public interest," U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler sided with the Natural Resources Defense Council in a lawsuit the environmental group filed in December. It seeks the names of individuals who met with Energy Department officials serving on Vice President Cheney's energy task force, the dates of those meetings and the topics discussed.

Kessler, who was appointed to the district court by President Clinton, ordered the Energy Department to release the "vast majority" of the 2,149 documents by March 25 and the rest by April 10.

The order, dated last Thursday but released Wednesday, could influence a higher-profile lawsuit filed against Cheney last week by Congress' General Accounting Office. That lawsuit seeks similar information detailing who met with the energy task force and what topics were discussed. Cheney has said the release of such information would harm the ability of the White House to seek expert advice as it formulates policy. But Kessler said the formulation of energy policy "is of enormous concern to consumers, to environmentalists, to the Congress and to industry."

The environmental group's suit seeks documents relating specifically to the Energy Department. But Sharon Buccino, the group's lead attorney on the lawsuit, said that because Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham was a member of Cheney's task force, the court order would cover meetings at the White House in which Abraham or other Energy Department officials participated. "A lot of information that everyone has been seeking will finally come out," she said.

Energy spokeswoman Jill Schroeder said the agency will "fully comply." The court order criticizes the department for not releasing the documents sooner. It says the documents could have been revealed "after the need for them in the formulation of national energy policy (had) been overtaken by events."

The Senate is scheduled to take up comprehensive energy legislation next week and could complete work on it before March 25. The House approved an energy plan last August. Congressional aides said the documents almost certainly will be made public before House and Senate negotiators can work out a final bill.

Commentary:
Some judges still think the rule of law has meaning. Note who appointed this judge, then compare this decision with the one in the next story.


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Judge in Cheney Case Donated to Bush/Cheney
news.yahoo.com/USA Today

WASHINGTON (AP) - A former Whitewater prosecutor who forced the Clinton White House to reveal information is the trial judge in a new battle over White House disclosure.

U.S. District Judge John Bates will handle the lawsuit over Vice President Dick Cheney (news - web sites)'s task force meetings with energy industry executives and lobbyists.

A political independent who gave $1,000 to Bush's presidential campaign in 1999, Bates was one of Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr's deputies. Bates argued successfully to a federal appeals court in 1997 that notes of White House lawyers' conversations with Hillary Rodham Clinton must be turned over to a federal grand jury in the Whitewater investigation.

In a 2-1 ruling, the appeals court overruled Mrs. Clinton's claim that the conversations were protected by attorney-client privilege.

Mrs. Clinton could be indicted in the Whitewater investigation, Bates told the appeals court in 1997 as he underscored the gravity of the issue and the prosecutors' desire to gain as many facts as possible. Starr's office decided not to prosecute the first lady.

The General Accounting Office (news - web sites), the investigative arm of Congress, sued Cheney on Friday seeking disclosure of which energy company officials met with the White House energy policy task force Cheney chaired. Bates was chosen by computer from more than a dozen judges to hear the case.

Joining Starr's Whitewater investigation in 1995, Bates eventually ran the Washington side of the investigation. He had spent most of his career handling civil litigation at the U.S. attorney's office in Washington.

Cheney's office said last month that Enron Corp. representatives met six times with Cheney or his aides concerning energy policy. However, both the vice president and Bush have refused to be more specific about who attended meetings of the task force and what subjects were discussed, saying the disclosure would restrict the president's ability to get candid advice from outside the government.

Commentary:
This is interesting. An anti-Clintonite and donor to Bush/Cheney is going to judge the case against them. Why hasn't this judge recused himself? There can be only one reason--the "rule of law" is meaningless.


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