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Kremlin More Transparent Than Bush White House?

That's right. While mum is the word at the Bush White House, the Kremlin is talking. When reporters wanted information about President Bush's recent phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, they turned to the Kremlin, a symbol of secrecy, for comment, The Washington Post reported. The presidents talked about Iraq, Kosovo, Afghanistan and other "situations in the crisis areas of the world," the Russian government said in a statement. Meanwhile, the White House revealed "no details of the conversation," the Associated Press reported.

The Bush White House's routine secrecy and silence prompted Oliver Knox, a White House reporter at Agence France-Presse, to propose a new slogan for the Bush White House: "When we have something to announce, another country will announce it."

Posted 04-20-2004 10:57 AM EDT

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Bush Planned Iraq War While Troops Fought in Afghanistan

While U.S. troops fought the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan, President Bush secretly made plans to invade Iraq, according to Bob Woodward's new book, the Associated Press reported. In "Plan of Attack," Woodward says Bush ordered Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in November 2001 to draw up a war plan against Iraq. But Bush kept many top officials on his national security team, including CIA Director George Tenet and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, out of the loop because he didn't want word of his decision to leak. He feared that people would think he was too eager for war.

Woodward quotes Bush as saying, "It was such a high-stakes moment and ... it would look like I was anxious to go to war. And I'm not anxious to go to war." The book says the decision angered Gen. Tommy Franks when he was told to come up with a fresh Iraq war plan while U.S. troops were engaged in Afghanistan.

Posted 04-16-2004 5:44 PM EDT

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White House Withheld Terror Documents

Another day, another story about how the Bush White House is hampering the 9/11 investigation. The commission investigating the 9/11 attacks identified 69 Clinton-era documents, which include references to al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, that the Bush administration withheld from investigators, The Washington Post reported. The White House gave the commission 12 of those documents yesterday, but 57 others are in dispute. Although they weren't specifically requested, the documents are "relevant to our work," according to a commission statement.

The White House insists that it is cooperating with the commission; however, Democratic commissioner Timothy Roemer told the Post: "We continue to have document problems with this White House ... Access to documents is absolutely crucial for this commission to be able to do its work."

Posted 04-08-2004 2:20 PM EDT

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FDA Sitting on Report Linking Suicide, Children

After a researcher at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that children on antidepressants were two times as likely to exhibit suicidal behavior as kids who were not, officials sat on the report for months and ordered more research, the Los Angeles Times reported. FDA officials also stopped Dr. Andrew Mosholder from presenting his findings to an agency advisory committee in February. The agency issued a warning in March about the possibility of problems for children taking antidepressant drugs, but FDA officials denied they had any conclusive scientific evidence linking children, antidepressants and suicidal behavior.

"Evidence that they're suppressing a report like this is an outrage, given the public health and safety issues at stake, Dr. Joseph Glenmullen, a Harvard psychiatrist, told the Times. Despite recent media attention, the FDA still hasn't released the report.

Posted 04-08-2004 2:16 PM EDT

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White House Played Down Mercury Health Risks

The White House edited a proposed rule concerning coal-fired power plant emissions and downplayed the public health risks of mercury, The New York Times reported. Documents and e-mail messages show that White House staff members, working with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials, made a host of subtle changes that minimized the health risks associated with mercury from coal-fired plants. The final proposal placed less emphasis on potential public health risks. Attorneys general in 10 states and senators asked the EPA to junk the proposed rules because they weren't strict enough, the Times said.

The White House Office of Management and Budget's "role is supposed to be to review the economics of rules -- which they did very poorly here -- not to fly speck the science and minimize health threats," said Lisa Heinzerling, a Georgetown University professor and co-author "Priceless," a book that looks critically at cost-benefit analysis of regulations.

Posted 04-07-2004 11:23 AM EDT

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White House Has Final Say on 9/11 Report

The White House will review the 9/11 commission's report "line by line" before it is released to the public, 9/11 commission leaders said on NBC's "Meet the Press." While this sort of review is standard procedure, it raises concerns about White House censorship and the possibility that the Bush administration will delay the report's release until after the November presidential election, the USA Today said. Bush adviser Karen Hughes told "Meet the Press" host Tim Russert that she thinks the White House will allow the panel to release the report before the election.

Perhaps if the White House hadn't opposed the commission's creation, stonewalled it repeatedly and refused, until last week, to allow the national security adviser to testify in public and under oath, Hughes' assurance would be more comforting.

Posted 04-06-2004 11:51 AM EDT

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Bush Secrecy 'Worse Than Watergate'

Thirty years ago, as counsel to President Nixon, John Dean played a pivotal role in exposing the Watergate scandal. Now, Dean has written an alarming new book that concludes that the Bush administration's obsession with secrecy and deception is worse than Watergate. Recently, Dean spoke to Bill Moyers of PBS (full transcript of "Now with Bill Moyers") about the "hidden agenda of a White House shrouded in secrecy and a presidency that seeks to remain unaccountable" and his book "Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush."

Dean said the Bush administration has tried to block, frustrate or control any probe into the Sept. 11 attacks using "well-proven tactics not unlike those used by the Nixon White House during Watergate."

Posted 04-06-2004 11:43 AM EDT

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Waste of Energy

An editorial in The Washington Post took the Bush administration to task for its "struggle to keep secret the workings of Vice President Cheney's energy task force." The Post also called on the White House to abide by a federal judge's recent order and release more information about the task force's work. It's likely that the Bush administration will appeal U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman's ruling, "but it ought to think hard about simply releasing the information and letting the matter rest," the Post said.

Posted 04-05-2004 5:55 PM EDT

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Judge Orders Release of Energy Task Force Data

U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman ordered federal agencies to release documents pertaining to their work on Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force, The Washington Post reported. The Bush administration has claimed that its employees' work for the task force, which held secret meetings with energy company representatives and crafted national energy policy, is protected by confidentiality privileges. Friedman rejected the White House's argument and ordered the documents be made public by June 1.

case in which Cheney also is trying to keep task force information from being disclosed is pending before the Supreme Court.

Posted 04-02-2004 5:12 PM EDT

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House GOP Halts Medicare Secrecy Inquiry

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives stopped an inquiry into whether the Bush administration illegally withheld information about the real cost estimate of last year's Medicare prescription drug bill, the Los Angeles Times reported. Ways and Means Committee Republicans quashed Democrats' attempts to subpoena Thomas Scully and White House aide Doug Badger, key figures in the controversy. Scully, President Bush's former Medicare Administrator, is accused of threatening to fire his top actuary if he provided lawmakers with his analysis showing the cost of the Medicare law would be far more than administration officials had led the public and members of Congress to believe.

"There was a cover-up of this information and we want to know how high the cover-up went," Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) told the Times.

Posted 04-02-2004 4:50 PM EDT

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