An unnecessary battle

Outside editorials

Posted: Tuesday, January 29, 2002

The clash between congressional investigators and Vice President Richard Cheney over Enron is an unnecessary battle for the Bush administration.

Cheney should hand over all records of his talks with Enron officials about the administration's energy policy. If he doesn't, the General Accounting Office is likely to file suit, an unprecedented challenge to the executive branch. It shouldn't come to that. Coming clean voluntarily would restore public trust in the administration's handling of Enron.

If companies as shady as Enron feel inhibited from peddling influence in Washington, so much the better but companies that operate ethically should not be affected by this. Public-minded business leaders always will be eager to offer their counsel to presidents.

The Bush administration has set a pattern of tightening access to information. Being open about Enron would break that pattern. It would also ease public concern about Cheney's long-time ties to Enron officials.

- Today's San Jose Mercury News

Accountability issue

The escalating stare-down between Vice President Dick Cheney and the General Accounting Office is on the verge of being waged in a federal court.

For months, Cheney has refused to release records of his energy task force, despite growing public perception that oil and gas interests improperly influenced U.S. energy policy. Such perceptions can harm an administration, even one that enjoys overwhelming approval for the war against terror.

Regrettably, the vice president continues to offer a legal explanation to an accountability issue. The administration is fully within its right to pursue an energy policy, but the public and other non-energy stakeholders also have a right to know whether conflicts of interest played a role. We thought the same with Hillary Clinton's health policy task force.

The administration should be perfectly candid about its energy policy deliberations.

- Today's Dallas Morning News

Cheney's stone wall

Vice President Dick Cheney may be spending too much time in underground bunkers. His refusal to hand over information to Congress about secret meetings of his energy task force last spring with corporate executives, including Enron's, suggests that he has become blinded to the fact that democracy relies on open government.

On television this past weekend, Cheney inflated his position into a mini-constitutional crisis, declaring he is determined to stem the erosion of executive power that has taken place over the past three decades. But even leading Republicans - including Rep. W.J. "Billy" Tauzin, R-La., chairman of a House committee that is investigating Enron - are now calling on Cheney to cough up the documents, and his stonewalling is fueling the perception that the administration has something to hide....

Cheney was really reaching when he claimed there is no reason to hand over information because "there is no evidence to indicate anybody did anything wrong in the administration." What elected official wouldn't love to get away with that line of argument? Most citizens would rather decide for themselves.

- Today's Los Angeles Times

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