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Ney York Times Article

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SENATE MAJORITY LEADER Tom Daschle called Cheney's stance "unfortunate."

"The American people have a right to know what the facts are," Daschle said on CBS's "Face the Nation." "I think the administration needs to open up, to be willing to be forthcoming with all the information regarding these circumstances."

At issue are meetings Cheney or members of his energy task force held with officials of energy firms, including the now-collapsed Enron Corp., while the energy policy was being formed last year. Cheney spoke on the same day a New York Times/CBS News Poll showed a majority of Americans believe the administration is hiding something or lying about its dealings with Enron.


Cheney said his office already has given investigators numerous financial and other records.


What he won't turn over, despite demands by investigators and Democratic members of Congress, is "a listing of everybody I meet with, of everything that was discussed, any advice that was received, notes and minutes of those meetings," Cheney told "Fox News Sunday."

"Now, that would be unprecedented in the sense that that's not been done before. It's unprecedented in the sense that it would make it virtually impossible for me to have confidential conversations with anybody," he said.

"You just cannot accept that proposition without putting a chill over the ability of the president and vice president to receive unvarnished advice."


David Walker, the head of the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, has said he will decide next week whether to file a lawsuit to force the White House to turn over documents on the meetings.

Cheney said the GAO is a "creature of Congress" whose authority does not extend to the White House. "I'm a constitutional officer, and the authority of the GAO does not extend in that case to my office."

Daschle suggested that Congress could take action beyond the GAO probe. "We will analyze just what our options are, what prospects there would be for Congress asserting itself," he said, without elaborating.

White House chief of staff Andrew Card agreed with Cheney that the administration's ability to have confidential talks with advisers should be fiercely guarded.

"I believe very strongly in protecting the privilege of the president" on recommendations that may not come out in public domain, he said on NBC's "Meet the Press."


Cheney said the administration's stance is the same as it was last August, when investigators sought similar information. The GAO eventually backed off.

"What's re-energized it now is the question of Enron and some efforts by some of my Democratic friends on the Hill to try to create a political issue out of what's really a corporate issue," Cheney added on ABC's "This Week."

"What Enron's all about is a corporate collapse, maybe malfeasance in office, and that will be dealt with. ... But if the principle was valid last August, the collapse of Enron should not be permitted to undermine the principle," he said.

Though the administration has refused to reveal the inner workings of the energy panel for nearly a year, Senate Republican Leader Trent Lott said "everybody knows what happened" inside.

And, he said, "the proof is in the pudding" -- the administration developed a plan that balances the need for new domestic petroleum production with conservation programs, upgrading energy transmission infrastructure and alternative fuels, he said.

Environmental groups and many Democrats said the Bush plan, large portions of which



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