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High Court Allows Cheney to Keep Task Force Records Secret

The U.S. Supreme Court's 7-2 decision means that the White House won't immediately be required to turn over records that would show what role industry lobbyists played in helping to formulate the Bush administration's national energy policy, various newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and The New York Times reported. A federal district judge had earlier ruled that Vice President Dick Cheney had to provide energy task force records to two public interest groups that sued to gain access to them. The case was sent back to the courts to more carefully weigh the executive branch's arguments for shielding information from the public. The High Court's ruling sets the stage for months or years of additional legal wrangling which will ensure that the documents are kept secret at least past the November election.

"The decision is a partial win for Mr. Cheney, who gets to keep the task force's records secret while litigation continues. But it also casts the courts in an odd light," because the Court seems to be giving the Bush administration more leeway than its predecessor, a Post editorial said.

Posted 06-25-2004 1:05 PM EDT

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Public Citizen Sues Attorney General Ashcroft

The Project On Government Oversight (POGO), represented by Public Citizen, sued Attorney General John Ashcroft and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) today over the DOJ's reclassification of information that alleges corruption, incompetence and cover-ups in an FBI translation unit. The lawsuit asks the court to find the agency's May reclassification of information unlawful and unconstitutional and require it to declassify the information. The information relates to allegations made by whistleblower Sibel Edmonds, a former FBI linguist who was fired after reporting to superiors numerous instances of wrongdoing in the FBI translation unit where she worked.

This information was presented by the FBI during two unclassified 2002 briefings held by the Senate Judiciary Committee and was referenced in letters from U.S. Sens. Patrick Leahy and Charles Grassley to DOJ officials. The letters were posted on the senators' Web sites but were removed after the DOJ

Posted 06-23-2004 3:27 PM EDT

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AP Sues for Access to Bush National Guard Records

Seeking access to all records pertaining to President Bush's military service, the Associated Press sued the U.S. Department of Defense and the Air Force today, the AP reported. The lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in New York, seeks access to a copy of Bush's complete personnel file. The file is on microfilm at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission in Austin. The Bush administration said it has released all records of Bush's military service, but there are questions about whether the file the White House released earlier this year is incomplete, the AP said.

In April, the AP requested in writing that Bush sign a waiver of his right to keep his records confidential, but the White House had not responded, the AP reported.

Posted 06-23-2004 3:21 PM EDT

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Cloak of Secrecy Hinders Oversight of Biotech Industry

A federal law that protects the trade secrets of biotech companies, which produce controversial genetically modified crops, also shields the industry from oversight, according to The Sacramento Bee. "The cloak of secrecy" employed by companies is the so-called "CBI" -- short for confidential business information, the Bee reported. Biotech companies use CBI to redact large portions of applications for experimental crops, making it difficult to find out when companies break rules designed to prevent introducing disease or infestation to an area and the spread of biotech genes beyond test plots.

The National Academy of Sciences has warned that the lack of transparency in biotechnology is so pervasive that public confidence in federal oversight could be undermined by the companies' ability to withhold vast amounts of information, the newspaper reported. (The article was one in a five-part series about the biotech industry.)

Posted 06-14-2004 4:02 PM EDT

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Newsday: Bush Should Release Torture Memos

Congress and the American people deserve to know why and to what extent the White House was "exploring the boundaries of the laws against torture," a (New York) Newsday editorial said. It called on President Bush to release administration memos that reportedly offered a rationale for torturing terrorist operatives and discussed ways around U.S. and international bans on torture. In the wake of abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, the Bush administration "should release the memos and any other documents that would shed light on its thinking and policy on torture," the newspaper said.

"Questions about tortured prisoners are too integral to the nation's faith in the rule of law and too damaging to its image abroad to be shrouded in secrecy," Newsday said.

Posted 06-10-2004 4:22 PM EDT

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