[From Connect Column Archives]
The General Accounting Office, which is a non-partisan investigative arm of the Congress of the United States, has repeatedly asked President George W. Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney for more details about the meetings convened by the administration which resulted in the formulation of the Bush-Cheney national energy policy. Cheney has formally refused to comply with these requests claiming certain details are none of the GAO’s business. The GAO office inquiry was prompted by a request from two House Democrats.
There is a problem here. It is understandable that Bush and Cheney would resist attempts by Democrats to make political hay from information provided to the GAO. This type of maneuvering is the same old monotonous story of politics as usual. If this is the motive behind the request from the Democrats: shame on them.
However, even if it is the motive, that does not excuse the position taken by the Bush-Cheney administration. It is not OK to withhold information about how what may turn out to be one of the most important policies in the history of this country was formulated. It is not OK to hold in secret the names and backgrounds of meeting participants or of other contacts and discussions that took place. It is not OK for the public not to be able to decide for themselves whether the people involved were acting in the best interest of the nation or in the best interest of themselves and the companies they represent.
Holding information in secret always raises suspicion. As a general principle in this country, the citizens have a right to know all that is going on in government unless there is some very, very good immediate national security reason to do otherwise. These energy policy formulation meetings and contacts clearly do not fall into that category. The nation’s business is best carried on in a glass house, not behind closed doors.
The Bush administration promised openness, frankness, and bi-partisan compromise in its campaign promises. It is time for the administration to clearly lay out for the public who participated in what meetings and when as it made the decisions about the energy future of this nation. If it does not, we urge the GAO to exercise what ever powers it may have to require the administration to do so. The decisions about our energy future are much too important for it to be otherwise.