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For Immediate Release
Tuesday November 30, 2004
Contact: Meredith Fuchs (202) 994-7059
Thomas Blanton (202) 994-7068

National Security Archive joins library and public interest groups supporting public access to special interests participating in Cheney's energy task force

Washington, D.C., 30 November 2004 - The National Security Archive along with concerned library, journalist, and public interest organizations today filed an amici curiae brief with the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit supporting public access to information about the energy task force convened by Vice President Cheney in 2001. The case is vital to preserving public access to government information under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA).

The case seeking to determine whether special oil industry interests influenced the National Energy Policy Development Group (NEPDG) was brought by the Sierra Club and Judicial Watch and heard at the United States Supreme Court in March 2004. It is now scheduled for en banc review during its second appearance in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Archive Executive Director Thomas Blanton described the background: "In an effort to rebuild a zone of secrecy around the actions of the Executive Branch that Vice President Cheney believes was compromised away over the last 30-35 years, he has litigated up and down the court system to hide the fact that the energy task force apparently met with representatives of the oil industry."

The Supreme Court suggested that the lower court consider options for reconciling the competing constitutional and statutory concerns raised in the case. The amici argue that the lower court should accept the Supreme Court's invitation to develop a procedure for accommodating the competing interests asserted in this case. Archive counsel Meredith Fuchs explained, "The amici recommend creating a 'Cheney Log' that identifies certain basic information that may be provided by the government without undue burden or compromise of confidentiality." That information ordinarily will provide sufficient basis to evaluate whether non-government persons participated in meetings of the NEPDG or its sub-groups, thereby triggering FACA requirements that protect against the improper influence of special interests on government decisionmaking.

The brief states that, "when important constitutional principles are on a collision course, as in this case, courts should be wary of any winner-take-all resolution. The judicial goal in this case should be accommodation of the competing principles, not the exaltation of one and the obliteration of the other. Requiring the Cheney Log, based on the successful example of the Vaughn Index, promises such an effective accommodation."

The amici are the American Association of Law Libraries, the American Library Association, the Association of Research Libraries, the Center for American Progress, the National Security Archive, the Society of American Archivists, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the Liberty Project, OMB Watch, and the Society of Professional Journalists. Amici are represented by David O. Stewart, Thomas M. Susman, and Stacy J. Dawson of Ropes & Gray LLP.

Copy of the Cheney Amici Brief:

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