A regular emailer sent me the following story with this sensational headline- “Christ, ANOTHER Bush scandal.” Intrigued, I clicked on the link, and this is what I find:
A White House document shows that executives from big oil companies met with Vice President Cheney’s energy task force in 2001 — something long suspected by environmentalists but denied as recently as last week by industry officials testifying before Congress.
The document, obtained this week by The Washington Post, shows that officials from Exxon Mobil Corp., Conoco (before its merger with Phillips), Shell Oil Co. and BP America Inc. met in the White House complex with the Cheney aides who were developing a national energy policy, parts of which became law and parts of which are still being debated.
In a joint hearing last week of the Senate Energy and Commerce committees, the chief executives of Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and ConocoPhillips said their firms did not participate in the 2001 task force. The president of Shell Oil said his company did not participate “to my knowledge,” and the chief of BP America Inc. said he did not know.
Chevron was not named in the White House document, but the Government Accountability Office has found that Chevron was one of several companies that “gave detailed energy policy recommendations” to the task force. In addition, Cheney had a separate meeting with John Browne, BP’s chief executive, according to a person familiar with the task force’s work; that meeting is not noted in the document.
OF COURSE THEY MET WITH BIG OIL. What is next- are we going to be shocked to learn that the White House met with religious leaders, scientists, and bioethicists before crafting the Stem Cell policy? Or that the White House met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff to discuss Iraq policy?
What it as at issue here was never whether they met with big oil- everyone knew they did, and they also met with environmental groups, alternative energy advocates, and any other number of people before crafting the legislation we all saw and we all got to watch our Senators and representatives vote on.
What is at issue here is twofold: First, the White House’s assertion that executive privilege gives them the right to meet privately with groups and to not have to disclose the contents of the discussion or the identity of who participated in those private meetings. Democrats tried to make a big deal out of this, and lost this battle at every level of the legal system. They simply never were able to figure out how the unelected Hillary Clinton and her Health Care commission and the elected VP and his private meetings were not analagous.
Second, the Democrats believe that there is something de facto evil about Oil companies, and want you to think that, as well. A White House who did not meet with oil companies before crafting an energy bill would be grossly irresponsible. If the Democrats want to claim their was some quid pro quo, let them. They have the energy bill they can pore through, an open public record, and they can take their best shot. Otherwise, they have no right, as the courts have decided, to know what those private conversations were.
So, despite the hysterical and breathless reactions from the port side of the blogosphere on this issue, this is simply another Gerturde Stein m,oment, as far as I am concerned- “There is no there, there.”
“Denied as recently as last week by industry officials testifying before Congress.”
That’s the “there” there. The whole saying stuff to Congress that isn’t true (a crime, whether they’re under oath or not), and the whole Vice-President-not-correcting-them thing.
Second, the Democrats believe that there is something de facto evil about Oil companies, and want you to think that, as well.
They’re pretty much right about that. But Cheney’s connections to oil companies don’t bother me nearly as much as the whole lying through his teeth thing.
Here’s one Democrat who agrees with you, John.
Yes, the scandal is that these executives lied to Congress about it, which is illegal. Also, Cheney knew they lied to Congress about it, and said nothing, which is not illegal but isn’t terribly ethical.
The problem isn’t that they are meeting with oil companies; as you point out, everybody knows it. So then why are they lying about it constantly?
John obviously cannot see over the vast piles of oil stocks on his desk to see what is wrong here.
No, there may be no “special investigation”-worthy scandal here, but it doesn’t mean that what is/was going on here wasn’t wrong.
We’ve seen over and over that this Republican leadership basicallly lets industry and lobbyists write their own legislation, and that’s a fucking problem, even if it’s not “illegal.”
This is Exhibit A as to why the oil executives were not sworn in for last weeks testimony. They all lied. Raphael Palmiero has to take an oath before teastifying in a kangaroo hearing, but these guys didn’t? What the fuck, John?
You can quibble with the word “Scandal” if you want—if only because it’s business as usual, and that’s how low the bar is—but for you to pretend this is acceptable is disappointing.
If I were the President, I’d talk with American industry leaders, too. False statements before Congress are the issue here.
Nothing to be excited about, gas prices are falling. I don’t know why you democrats need to get your panties in a wad whenever industry experts write up portions of legislation. Do you think anyone in congress knows how to write up a Clear Skies Act or a Suck My GasHole law? No! It takes pure expertise in those areas to screw the American people out of health and money in significant enough portions.
When are Democrats gonna show any of this outrage toward the Real Evil Oil Barons over at the UN?
$64 Billion scam that starved thousands of children seems to get no traction
Some guy in a suit shows up for a meeting at the White House and it is torch-and-pitchforks time at the WH
Dems show all the proportionality of a 4-year-old’s drawing
Of course I am aware that they lied to Congress, but they can not be charged with perjury as they were not sworn in. The reason they lied to congress, btw, is because they were asked questions Congress had no right to ask, as it has been decided that the WH can meet with whomever they want without having to report it to Congress. Otherwise, this would just be an end-run around executive privilege.
You’re right, as far as the current GOP and this White House go, this is a minimul scandal. But there are a couple of questions.
Did Ted Stevens know that they were going to lie to the committees and is that why he flat out and loudly refused to put them under oath?
Will the GOP led congress do anything about it, or is lying to congress not a big deal to them?
Hey Don, how much of that was traced back to American corporations?
These oil deals where the companies are recieving subsidies and are getting gross exceptions from EPA regulations are worth far more than $64 billion.
Where is your sense of proportionality? Maybe its between that gap in your teeth.
This is not a scandal. It is Democrats trying to MAKE a scandal.
At any rate, glad Frank Lautenberg is so concerned with oil prices that all he cares about is who Cheney did or did not meet with 5 years ago.
We’re still reeling from the thrashing Bush gave us at Gettysburg. Give us time.
I have a hard time accepting judgments on proportionality from a guy who considered Bush’s speech on Friday to be his ‘Gettysburg Address’.
Bullshit. There are no questions that Congress cannot ask. The congress has full and untrammelled investigative powers in any matter concerning legislation. The executives could choose to not answer any questions they wish, perhaps, but not answering is quite different from lying.
In other words, answering “I’m sorry, but I cannot comment on any consultation between my company and the Executive branch without explicit permission.” is legal. What the executives did is not — and, although not perjury, it is Obstruction of Congress.
“Its OK if Your A Republican Donator”
“OF COURSE THEY MET WITH BIG OIL. What is next- are we going to be shocked to learn that the White House met with religious leaders, scientists, and bioethicists before crafting the Stem Cell policy?”
I actually would be shocked to learn that they met with scientists when they were crafting their stem cell policy…
Is this a general rule, then? If Congress asks a question that I think is in appropriate, it’s okay to lie, rather than refuse to answer? Notice that the “no right to ask” business, based on past political maneuvering, applies to the administration, if anyone, not to oil company executives.
Making false statements to Congress is every bit the crime that perjury is. It’s just a different statute.
As for the argument that Congress has no right to ask certain questions, I’m actually somewhat partial to that. Of course, I don’t think those deposition questions about Monica were relevant to the Paula Jones lawsuit, either. The point is, there are ways to protect executive privilege, and lying is not one of the permissible options.
My feeling is that the Republicans shouldn’t have been such pussies in the first place, because it’s perfectly defensible that they met with oil companies, for the reasons John stated. I’m not saying they should publicly disclose the details of discussions, but when they act like it’s such a big secret that no one can even know who they talked to or that they talked to anyone at all, all they accomplish is to make it look like something to hide. In other words, if you act embarassed every time the Democrats bring up your ties to oil companies, of course they’re going to keep bringing it up.
I love the smell of dudgeon in the morning (plus, bonus points for the use of the word ‘untrammelled.’)
This is a scandal about NOTHING.
I believe the Detroit Tigers were untrammelled following the season.
That’s what Bigfoot wants you to think.
marionette de chausette
It’s a scandal about lying about a blow job. Perjury is perjury no matter what.
“…they also met with environmental groups…”
I thought that was what the hubbub was all about back in 2001. Waxman, Judicial Watch and the Sierra club sued to see the groups consulted by Cheney and co. The story then was that only the energy companies were consulted.
Thank you, thank you, thanks you. I’m working on amplifying my lexicon of sesquipedalianisms, and I’m glad it’s having an effect.
Now, about lying to Congress…
So its ok to lie if you are asked questions you believe you aren’t obligated to answer? (We couldn’t just decline to answer the question, now could we? Wouldn’t fit the “do something about high gas prices” sound bite agenda for the politicians, would it? Or “we’ll take our public spanking if there is no real cost to us” agreement between politicians and big oil.) Knowing the oil execs will be asked such questions, so they are not sworn in to prevent perjury charges later, this is ok? The perfect manifestation of current Republican philosophy – the ends justify the means. Lies, deception and even torture are fine if they serve the greater purpose. Disgusting and amoral.
Actually the scandal is that they met only with big oil, and didn’t involve other industry groups.
It’s called crony capitalism, where you derive policies which protect a certain segment of the market, rather than policies which promote competition in a free market.
Yeah, the Democrats are too incompetent to make that point and will make some whine about how evil oil is, but you don’t have to be as dumb as they are.
Er, if your buddy asks you if you slept with the girl you took out last night and you only got to second base, the polite and ethical response is not “yeah, she put out.” It is “none of your business.” The same is true if you really did sleep with her. If something, whether decorum, the law or self-interest, requires that you not tell the truth, the proper course is not to lie, it’s to say nothing at all. Same deal here. If the WH believes they don’t have to keep Congress in the loop about this, they should say so, not lie about it.
Your post is the first I’ve heard of this issue, so don’t panic, I’m not inclined to make a scandal of it. It’s generally indicative and symbolic of their priorities and methods, but it’s nowhere near as bad as lots of other stuff and it doesn’t even look illegal. But Jesus, let’s call a spade a spade, unethical is still unethical even if it’s not illegal in this situation.
Also, I’ll accept your assertion that the administration met with environmental groups too at some point in history, but somehow I can’t help but think the oil companies had more of a voice in the decision-making process. Both more than environmental groups, and more than they should have had.
It’s silly politics to meet with only one side, anyway. Take some flunky you don’t like, such as Paul O’Neill, and make him sit down with the lefty environmental groups and listen to their suggestions for energy policy. Then you can say “we carefully considered input from all sides before crafting this policy…”
t. jasper parnell
This always strikes me as a matter of transparency. It makes perfect sense to discuss upcoming legislation with those involved, particularly if the legislation is intended to aid an industry, group, or involves specialized knowledge. For example, why not consult with experts in tax law when formulating tax reform? However, the voters, not just congress, need — although they may have no legal right — to know with whom people are meeting and the conclusions arrived at and the advice forwarded. Absent this information, how can we check on the accuracy of claims made by those involved in formulating the legislation. How much input did, in this case, the oil industry have in determining which areas of its economic activity ought receive state support? Answering this question would allow voters to assess if the legislator is acting in their interests or the oil industry’s, should those be in conflict. True enough, the voters may well be in error about their interests but so? If the voters want more money spent on pursuing alternative energy but the oil industry wants more money or relaxed regulations to pursue increased refining capabilities and the law comes down on the side of the oil industry and we are denied access to the conversation in which the oil industry made this plea, how will we know that the legistlator is more interested in follow the desires of an industry than the voter. Again, the voters may be wrong-headed, but absent the information how can they translate their wrong-headedness into votes and thus use their perogative to vote their interests as they actually are instead of how they are “spun.”
The question is not who they met with, its who was secretly writing US energy policy and who got what out of it. Obviously, like other initiatives of this Admin, US public law was written by the private comapanies who had the most to gain from them, never mind the rest of the country.
But that is not what the real news of that Wash Post article.
“The person familiar with the task force’s work, who requested anonymity out of concern about retribution, said the document was based on records kept by the Secret Service of people admitted to the White House complex. This person said most meetings were with Andrew Lundquist, the task force’s executive director, and Cheney aide Karen Y. Knutson.”
Now I wonder who is spreading around White House documents based on Secret
Service logs to Washington Post reporters, which make the VP look bad? Who
had the juice to ask for the Secret Service to compile those logs so as to
stab Cheney in the back? Who has an incentive to pass the troubles concerning
the Bush Admin off on Cheney, covering W’s ass and perhaps getting back in his good graces?
Ever smelled the fragrance of a Turd Blossom? I think I smell it now.
I doubt Karl was the direct source, but I’m sure he is behind it.
Rats in a trap often turn on each other in a frenzy of desperation.
If Congress can refer Rafael Palmeiro to the Justice Department for an investigation of whether he made false statements in his testimony, they can surely find the time to do the same for these folks.
When John starts feeling guilty about having three consecutive posts bashing Dems and starts looking for balance, maybe he could talk about how Republican efforts to demonize trial lawyers are just as silly as Democratic efforts to demonize the oil companies.
Nice try. There is nothing ‘secret’ about the bill at all. You can read the ENTIRE energy bill (I believe this is the right bill- too lazy to check), and, if you were really interested, I bet you could even spend the time digging through the Congressional record to find out what changes were made in each committee in both the Senate and the House.
marionette de chausette
Lie is a lie is a lie?
Yeah, I mean, what’s the big deal about lying to Congress as long as people like John Cole know it’s a lie? There’s simply no ‘there’ there. It’s not like there were blow jobs involved.
“OF COURSE THEY MET WITH BIG OIL …. What is as at issue here was never whether they met with big oil — everyone knew they did, and they also met with environmental groups, alternative energy advocates, and any other number of people before crafting the legislation[.]”
True, but a little misleading: Cheney’s task force met with one consumer group, 13 environmental groups, 22 unions, and 158 energy companies and corporate groups. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham met with three dozen energy industry representatives and zero consumer or conservation groups.
The most important thing is that the true nature of them meetings was — properly — kept secret all this time. If our enemies get these lists of companies and friends of the administration, then our security can be compromised.
Once again, Republicans are looking out for our safety and security, and Democrats are willing to trade those precious things for political gain.
You gotta admit, between this post and the post above, Cole is consistent in his belief that lying to Congress isn’t a big deal.
Now that’s just disingenuous, Kimmitt. Congress is the trusted authority when it comes to sanctity and the feeding of brain dead Americans, sure, but are they to be trusted in matters of national security?
President Bush put Congress on notice, immediately after 911, that all secure information would now go through the White House and only the White House would decide what information it was safe for Congress to see. This was a step that should have been taken a long time ago. Almost anyone can get elected to Congress, we can’t have our important secrets flying around the halls of Congress like so many scraps of paper.
Maybe they felt the need to keep the meeting’s participants & contents away from public view because Cheney needed to have unfettered, free discussions about the planned freeing of the Iraqi oilfields?
Nah, that’s just too far out there…
Oh, and since I haven’t seen DougJ around today..
Where’s all the good news about industry leaders lying to Congress?
DougJ’s taking a leave of absence. The “posts that dare not speak their names” were pretty scary.
We’ve turned the corner on disclosure of information.
No the Energy Bill was not secret, just the way it was written. As an American, I would like to see how many of my tax dollars went into its drafting and how many of the energy company’s dollars. Who contributed more to Bush/Cheney 2000 and how many meetings those companies got. It would be nice to see the memos passed to Cheney from the Energy Department (which we paid for) as compared to the memos from MegeEnergy Corp. Which got more lines in the final legislation?
Uncomfortable questions for this Admin and Republicans in general, but necessary for open govt as opposed to corrupt cronyism….not that such a problem did not show up in this Admin in later years or anything.
Not to worry, ppGaz will be playing the role of DougJ today, apparently.
Hmmm…ppGaz tells DougJ that he is ready to join the Army of Snarkness (not a direct quote, of course.) DougJ then takes a mysterious leave of absence after a nasty post by Horshu. ppGaz then steps smoothly into the void that DougJ left vacant…
ppGaz and Joseph Wilson have killed DougJ!
It would seem that the basic question for John is, “Do you think that lying to Congress is wrong”. Yes or no? And yes, even though they weren’t under oath, it is illegal.
I don’t care if they’re lying to Congress. What really cheeses me is that Big Oil is spending so much on inflated salaries and perks to the likes of Cheney, plus immense donations to the likes of TRIMPAC. They should returning their obscene profits to the rightful owners, like ME, in the form of obscenely inflated dividends.
Yeah, this is about nothing, alright. The same nothing that Cheney fought for years up and down the legal system, including the Supreme Court. And he used some insane arguments whilst doing it too.
Heh, good one. I forgot to mention that chart of Iraqi oilfields that was allegedly involved.
Trying to see John’s POV here…
There’s nothing wrong with the execs lying to Congress since they weren’t under oath. So it’s okay.
And, it was none of Congress’s business anyway. This is the private sector, despite the fact that the whole issue is the private sector oil execs writing public policy. So lay off, Vladimir!
I thought Clinton did it.