WASHINGTON - The White House on Thursday rejected
a demand to turn over documents sought by Congress in an
inquiry into how the Bush administration's energy policy was
Vice President Dick Cheney's spokeswoman, Juleanna Glover
Weiss, said the White House was confident in its position that
the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of
Congress, did not have the legal authority to request the
The GAO had demanded the White House respond by Thursday or
face a lawsuit. Cheney has provided some information to the GAO
but not meeting records of President Bush's energy task force,
which was headed by Cheney.
``We are confident in the strength and persuasiveness of our
position,'' Weiss said. ``The matter could end right now, but
that of course is up to the GAO comptroller general. We're
focused on securing much-needed energy legislation.''
The task force has been criticized for its closed-door
meetings and meetings with industry officials as it developed
the energy policy Bush unveiled on May 17. Bush called for
stimulating production of coal, oil and nuclear power as well
as conservation measures.
GAO Comptroller General David Walker had been asked by
California Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman and Michigan Democratic
Rep. John Dingell to investigate the work of the energy policy
``Vice President Cheney continues to act like someone who
has something to hide,'' said Laura Sheehan, Dingell's
Congressional sources said that while a GAO lawsuit was a
possible next step, it was up to the GAO, which is the
investigative arm of Congress. The GAO had no immediate
Critics have charged the administration did not include
environmentalists and other concerned groups outside the energy
industry in significant policy discussions.
In letters sent to the House of Representatives and the
Senate a month ago, Cheney argued the president, the vice
president and other senior aides needed the ability to have a
''confidentiality of communications.''
Cheney in June turned over records relating to the costs of
the energy task force, but the GAO sought additional records,
raising the possibility of taking the issue to court.
The agency sought names of people attending the energy
policy group meetings and of panel staff workers. It also
sought records of meetings that energy panel staff or Cheney
had with people to gather information relevant to the energy
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