News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion
THURSDAY, MAY 12, 2005


Cheney's court victory a loss for American public

Vice President Dick Cheney should feel ashamed, not victorious, about his most recent legal victory.

A federal appellate court Tuesday ruled that Mr. Cheney had no legal obligation to disclose documents detailing White House contacts with lobbyists and corporate executives.

Mr. Cheney met with energy mavens in several sessions during 2001. After receiving the business input — and without seeking input from environmental groups — Mr. Cheney issued a report that favored increased drilling in public lands, and other industry-friendly proposals.

Most of those proposals are at the core of legislation now under congressional review.

The White House is laughing at us. The initial chuckle came when Mr. Cheney invited the fox to guard the environmental hen house. After the public became aware of this betrayal, White House chuckles became peals of laughter.

Not only would elected officials exclude the public from participating in the development of an energy policy, the White House also excluded the public from seeing the circumstances of that betrayal.

By refusing to divulge documents related to the meetings, Mr. Cheney is spurning the voters who put him in office. He is making it clear that it is big business, not voters, who deserve a glimpse into the decision-making process.

The Supreme Court ruled, in an earlier stage of the litigation, that the public's desire to see what took place during the clandestine meetings isn't as important as the "paramount necessity of protecting the executive branch from vexatious litigation."

The White House is pitting itself against the public when it hides information. The public that puts politicians in office, however, can also bring their political careers to a harsh conclusion.

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