about us Return to the home page

Blogs 201 - 213 of 213

Previous 20 Blogs 5 at a time | 10 at a time | 20 at a time

GAO Study Contradicts EPA Testimony

A new study by the General Accounting Office contradicts the Bush administration's claims that Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule changes would not jeopardize lawsuits filed against electric utilities during the Clinton administration, the Associated Press reported. The study backs up an earlier report by Public Citizen.

The rule changes issued by EPA and the White House could result in reduced fines and pollution controls in some of the Clean Air Act enforcement lawsuits, the GAO said. The revisions to the EPA's "New Source Review" program make it easier for utilities to make improvements to their facilities without having to install additional pollution controls.

Three U.S. senators asked the EPA inspector general to investigate the administration's claims that the changes would not have an impact on the pending lawsuits, which were expected to cut power plant pollution by half. In testimony before Congress about the proposed rule change, a high-ranking EPA official misled lawmakers about its impact on those lawsuits.

Posted 10-23-2003 10:47 AM EDT

............................................................

GAO Faults Murky Rulemaking Process

Much of the White House's efforts to put its pro-business stamp on federal regulations is kept out of the public eye, The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) reported, citing a government study being circulated on Capitol Hill. Because informal talks between federal agencies that craft regulations and the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) often aren't well documented, the rulemaking process often is unclear, according to the General Accounting Office, which acts as the investigative arm of Congress. The GAO also found that OMB steers regulations in the direction favored by industry lobbyists after meeting with them, the Journal said.

John Graham, head of OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, was singled out in the report because of his powerful influence and his penchant for changing rules to make them more palatable to industry.

Posted 10-22-2003 3:37 PM EDT

............................................................

Nothing to See Here

The U.S. Justice Department ended more than a year of stonewalling by releasing an independent consultant's assessment of the agency's efforts to ensure diversity within the workplace, The Washington Post  reported. Reporters had filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to obtain the study. Now, it's all there in black and white for anyone to see -- literally. About half of the 186-page report by KPMG Consulting was blacked out by agency officials because FOIA allows them to keep secret "pre-decisional deliberative information," the Post said. Senior officials basically cut out the negative stuff but allowed this nugget: The department's attorney workforce is more diverse than the U.S. legal workforce.

"The bureaucracy run amok," one political appointee told the Post in explaining why so much of the report, including a section on "Recommendations," was redacted. The Post estimates that the study cost taxpayers a few hundred thousand dollars. Too bad they don't have X-ray vision, because reading between the lines won't work.

Posted 10-22-2003 2:22 PM EDT

............................................................

9/11 Panel to Bush Administration: On Guard

The independent commission probing government failures before and after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks served notice to the Bush administration that it will go after agencies that resist turning over documents and other information, The Washington Post reported. That notice came in the form of a subpoena aimed at the Federal Aviation Administration. It's the first one issued by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, a 10-member bipartisan panel that the Bush administration opposed.

"What we have here is a very angry commission," Chairman Thomas Kean (R), the former governor of New Jersey, said to the Post. "This is a sign that we are not loath to use a subpoena on other agencies if we need to. ... Hopefully this will tell other agencies that haven't complied with our requests to get on the stick and do so."

Posted 10-16-2003 10:09 AM EDT

............................................................

Transparency Lacking in Iraq Contracts

Democrats in Congress, worried about cronyism and war profiteering, signaled they plan to carefully scrutinize Bush's $20 billion budget request for the reconstruction of Iraq, according to the New York Times. No sense throwing money into a dark hole, especially if the administration's corporate cronies are the only ones waiting at the bottom.

"We don't see transparency today," said Senate minority leader Tom Daschle. "We don't know where the money is going. We're very concerned about profiteering. And we would prohibit profiteering, and we will make the effort to do so."

Posted 10-14-2003 4:27 PM EDT

............................................................

Talking with our Lips Sealed

The Transportation Security Administration held an open meeting last week with aviation and security representatives to discuss a new report on air cargo security, but kept attendees from discussing details of the report during the meeting, the Washington Post reports. And, citing sensitive material, the agency refused to release the report. Not much to talk about, is there?

On another quiet front, pilots critical of the TSA's plan to arm them have been barred from talking to the media about their concerns. The agency invites journalists to talk with pilots who support the program, even to tour its pilot arming and screener training programs, but pilots' groups say critics are not allowed speak out.

Posted 10-10-2003 2:10 PM EDT

............................................................

Card up the Sleeve?

Four U.S. Senators are complaining that the Justice Department's investigation into the leaking of a CIA operative's identity could already be compromised. The Washington Post reports that White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and the Justice Department were too slow to order employees to preserve records that could be relevant to the investigation. Columnist Robert Novak printed the covert operative's name after her husband, Joseph Wilson IV, became a vocal critic of claims the Bush administration had made to justify the invasion of Iraq.

Also, Gonzales plans to act as gatekeeper for all evidence that employees do turn over, and he hasn't ruled out the possibility of withholding documents under a claim of executive privilege.

Posted 10-10-2003 12:58 PM EDT

............................................................

Access Denied

The Defense Department has denied public access to its Internet database of department policies and procedures, according to Secrecy News, an electronic publication of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) Project on Government Secrecy. This unclassified information has been publicly available on the Internet since the Pentagon launched its Web site. But now the database has been restricted to official users only.

"If this represents a permanent change, it is a shocking development," private researcher Robert Todd told Secrecy News. "I can't believe they've gone overboard like this." Much of the information may still be found on other Web sites, including on the FAS Web site. 

Posted 10-09-2003 3:02 PM EDT

............................................................

That's Classified

That national security adviser Condoleezza Rice will take over the lead role in the reconstruction of Iraq was news to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, according to The Washington Post. He didn't find out about the switch until he received a classified memo about it from Rice. Rumsfeld, citing the memo, said it looks like Rice's job has been restated to coordinate efforts among different departments and agencies. "Unfortunately, it's a classified memo. It shouldn't be. There's nothing in it that's classified," he told the Post. "I kind of wish they'd just release the memorandum."

The White House shuffle comes amid concerns in Congress that the reconstruction effort was poorly planned and more expensive than lawmakers had anticipated.

Posted 10-08-2003 3:36 PM EDT

............................................................

Privileged Information?

It may take a couple of weeks for the White House to hand over all the documents requested by Justice Department lawyers investigating the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's name to conservative columnist Robert Novak and other journalists,  the Los Angeles Times reported. Why the drawn out process? Some suggest it's because the White House might be considering invoking executive privilege to protect some of the materials. "They will read through everything that is provided, and make an assessment whether there is anything in there that is potentially privileged," Beth Nolan, a White House counsel in the Clinton administration, told the Times.

The Justice Department is looking into allegations that a senior Bush administration official leaked Plame's name to get back at her husband, former envoy Joseph C. Wilson IV, for criticizing Bush's Iraq policy. Wilson disproved the administration's claims that Saddam Hussein had tried to obtain African uranium. Bush cited the allegation anyway in his State of the Union address in January.

Posted 10-08-2003 3:10 PM EDT

............................................................

New Sheriff in Town?

Seeking greater accountability from the Bush administration, the Senate passed an amendment requiring that all future contracts to rebuild Iraq be awarded via an open and competitive process, The New York Times reported. The amendment is one of several proposals that could be tied to President Bush's $87 billion spending request for Iraq and Afghanistan. Lawmakers in both parties aren't happy with the information about how the administration spent the $79 billion they approved in April. Prior to the war, Halliburton Co. was given an open-ended, no-bid contract potentially worth billions of dollars.

Sen. Ron Wyden, who sponsored the amendment with Sen. Susan Collins, said the lack of information provided by the administration was like a blank account statement from the bank, the Times reported. "Up to now, it's been like Dodge City before the marshals showed up."

Posted 10-03-2003 4:31 PM EDT

............................................................

Zero Bang for Buck

After seven months of unsuccessful searches for Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, the Bush administration has a new plan: Let's spend more money. Tucked away in a classified section of President Bush's $87 billion spending request for Iraq and Afghanistan expenses is a request for $600 million to continue searching for chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, according to The New York Times. The Pentagon declined to comment on the classified request. If approved, the total price for the search will be about $1 billion.

Since the search for WMDs has thus far proved fruitless, Americans might be wondering how the administration plans to spend the extra money. After all, "it's your money," not the government's, as Bush is fond of saying.

Posted 10-02-2003 12:05 PM EDT

............................................................

Fill in the Blanks

The White House has refused U.S. Sen. Bob Graham's request to declassify part of a congressional report on the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to Reuters. The 900-page 9/11 report, released by a joint intelligence committee in July, has 28 blank pages that reportedly include details of Saudi Arabia's involvement in the plot.

Graham and Sen. Richard Shelby served on the committee, and Shelby is on record as saying that "95 percent of that information could be declassified, become uncensored so the American people would know."

Posted 10-02-2003 12:02 PM EDT

Previous 20 Blogs 5 at a time | 10 at a time | 20 at a time


home | secrecy blog | about us | join us | other secrecy sites
Powered by Public Citizen - www.citizen.org
Copyright © 2016 Public Citizen. All rights reserved.