Although the U.S. Supreme Court will be the final arbiter in the matter, we applaud the ruling of a federal appeals court that the government has no basis for withholding information about Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force.
One rarely sees the vice president these days, except perhaps at fund-raisers or at setpiece public appearances. But he is a former oil company executive, as is his boss, and some of the conclusions of the task force raise legitimate public policy questions.
Among them were that public lands should be opened to oil and gas drilling. Among the so-called energy experts consulted was Kenneth Lay, then the chief executive of the infamous Enron Corp. Its collapse was one of the most egregious corporate scandals in recent American history
The suit, which was initiated by Judicial Watch, a conservative legal group, and the Sierra Club, an activist environmental organization, was upheld at the district court level. The White House has argued that disclosure of information about the task force is an improper intrusion into the internal deliberations of the executive branch. That's hogwash. Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney and their subordinates can confer as much as they like behind closed doors, and talk to whomever they like, but since when has the guest list of something so seemingly exalted as a vice-presidential task force on energy risen to the level of a state secret?
Mr. Cheney is the poster child of closed-door administration in a country where matters of great importance are routinely discussed on C-Span. Despite his long record of public service, he appears to have a rather low opinion of the public's right to know. What does he have to hide, anyway?
How many of the task force participants were energy industry executives and political allies of the Bush Administration? It's a fair question, and the high court should let it be answered.
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