In what The New York Times calls a “constitutional showdown,” the White House refuses to disclose records on meetings between Vice President Dick Cheney”s energy task force and several energy companies, including Enron, to the General Accounting Office, an investigating branch of Congress.
The GAO has been asking Cheney to hand over records that would reveal who the task force meet with and a general sense of what was discussed. Cheney, supported by his administration, has firmly refused to do so, stating that it violates confidentiality and in the words of White House press secretary, Ari Fleischer, that “The GAO continues to ask for information that oversteps their bounds.”
The White House needs to concede and reveal such documents not only to shed light on what brought down the energy giant and what looks like foul play on behalf of the business executives, but to ensure the public that the executive branch is being truthful and democratic.
In order to maintain a democratic system in this recession and in the post-Sept. 11 world, it is more important than ever to have separation of power and a transparency of government. Therefore, the executive branch must not obstruct congressional oversight and hand over information to the GAO and the American public must continue to have freedom of information and the right to observe how its government is operating.
The White House defends its defiance against the GAO because it feels that if it disseminates information it will be a breach of trust against the companies with which Cheney met and that specific information is not legally public information. However, Congress does, indeed, have a right to information concerning the energy task force because it is subsidized with taxpayers” dollars.
Therefore, the White House is not only morally obligated to hand over such information for the sake of transparency and the democratic process, but it is also legally bound to do so.
If the Bush administration wants to convince the American public that it did not act illegally or irresponsibly in dealing with Enron, then the only way it can be truthful is to disclose its information By not doing so, it is only making the White House look more and more suspicious.
Our government is based on the principals of checks and balances and the democratic process, which requires the right of citizens to observe its government. As of now, our executive branch is ignoring the checks on its power and acting in secrecy.