The General Accounting Office say that Vice President Dick Cheney has stymied their investigation into his energy task force by refusing to turn over key documents. Lawsuits have shaken loose some documents relating to the energy industry, but none from the White House.

The General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, said it was impossible to tell how much energy companies or industry groups may have influenced the task force’s 2001 report because the administration withheld important records.

“The extent to which submissions from any of these stakeholders were solicited, influenced policy deliberations or were incorporated into the final report is not something that we can determine based on the limited information at our disposal,” the GAO said.

The report came more than eight months after a federal judge rejected the GAO’s demand that the administration turn over task force records.
The GAO report provoked a new round of complaints from Democrats in Congress.

Critics of the administration, including environmentalists and some Democrats in Congress, said they suspected the energy industry had undue influence on the task force.

White House officials argued that the GAO had overstepped its bounds and forcing them to turn over the records would hamper their ability to get “unvarnished” expert advice.

The GAO’s final report confirmed that administration officials met with a procession of lobbyists and executives from the energy industry, including coal, nuclear, natural gas and electricity companies. But it did not shed much new light on the task force’s deliberations, beyond information already shaken loose by private lawsuits against the administration.

Those suits forced the release of records from agencies such as the Energy Department, but not from the White House.

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