- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 5, 2002

The White House gave a Senate committee yesterday more than 2,100 pages of documents under subpoenas related to contacts with Enron officials, but protested their handling by the panel's Democratic chairman.
The documents were transferred to the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee in early evening after the panel's noon deadline had passed.
White House officials said they were concerned about security of the documents, which contain sensitive information, and they wanted an agreement with the committee on safeguarding the materials before turning them over.
The two sides tried Monday and yesterday to work out an arrangement after committee Chairman Joseph I. Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat, extended by 24 hours the noon Monday deadline for handing over the documents. It was Congress' first subpoenas to the Bush White House. Two subpoenas were issued, one to President Bush's office, the other to the office of Vice President Richard B. Cheney.
"We are disappointed that Senator Lieberman has chosen not to handle the documents provided by the White House in the same way the committee treated documents in the past," White House spokeswoman Anne Womack said. "We expect the committee to use the information in a thoughtful and deliberative manner, which lends itself to gathering facts rather than engaging in a partisan fishing expedition."
She declined to specify the nature of the White House objections.
Presidential counsel Alberto Gonzales said Monday the documents would not be given to the panel until an agreement was reached on "procedures to safeguard the security and confidentiality of these documents."
Rather, the material 1,745 pages from Mr. Bush's office and 432 documents from Mr. Cheney's initially were made available at the White House for inspection and review by the committee staff.
White House officials said the documents include sensitive information such as Social Security numbers, e-mail addresses of government officials, communications among government employees regarding policy and foreign relations, and confidential business information.
On Monday, Mr. Gonzales and Mr. Cheney's office said the material made available for review composed a partial response to the twin subpoenas the committee issued May 22. The offices of Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney said they were still receiving documents from employees.
No instance has been found of Enron officials asking anyone in the White House for help before the company's bankruptcy filing in December, Mr. Gonzales said.
Houston-based Enron has been one of Mr. Bush's biggest campaign contributors.
"The committee is trying to work with the White House to provide all appropriate assurances that the documents it subpoenaed will be maintained in a secure manner, while still allowing the committee to conduct its important oversight work," Mr. Lieberman said Monday.
So far, no documents are being withheld on grounds of executive privilege, Mr. Gonzales told Mr. Lieberman.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide