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To Tell The Truth

Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2005 10:10 PM


In the wake of last week's 'testimony' before the Senate Energy and Commerce Committees, the Washington Post has obtained a copy of a White House memo that apparently contradicts the recollections and statements of oil company executives as to their participation in Vice President Dick Cheney's meetings on a national energy policy.

Had these executives been under oath, the question of perjury would be a valid one. But, apparently, the folks at the White House have learned their lesson with Scooter Libby getting pegged for his misstatements - that is, it's not perjury if you're not under oath - and were duly aided and abetted by Commerce Committee chairman, Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), who chose to forego the oath despite protests from Democratic committee members.

A spokesman for the Vice President trotted out the usual excuse that the President and Vice President have a constitutional right, upheld by the courts, to obtain information in confidentiality.

That's all well and good, but isn't it the content, and not the occurence that should be confidential?

If there was concern about the taint of perjury, would it not suffice to be sworn in, and, under oath, state that the subject of discussion is confidential? That the committee should proceed in closed session? Aren't there rules for precisely such instances, to protect the confidentiality or classification of sensitive information?

Sen. Stevens ignored those practices and chose to proceed without a binding oath. Why?

As it is, the testimony of oil executives has now been contradicted by the White House memo, and instead of a question of confidentiality, we have the fact that oil executives and the Vice President lied to the American public.

It is reasonable to allow for elements of a national energy policy that would be classified specific details about the location of key resources, or the details of nuclear power plant security. But again, that's content, and not a question of whether or not two parties actually met.



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