most media coverage of this court decision failed to mention the fact that the judge in question was appointed by bush II in 2001. the following article, admirably, mentions it in the first sentence.

for further details, the following letter from waxman (d - california) to cheney is interesting:

Judge lets Bush keep energy advice secret

David Teather in New York
Wednesday December 11, 2002
The Guardian

US Democrats protested yesterday after a Bush-appointed judge threw out an attempt to force the White House to name executives consulted in the formation of its energy policy.

Henry Waxman, a California Democrat in the House of Representatives, said the decision "gives Bush and [vice president Dick] Cheney near total immunity from scrutiny".

The landmark lawsuit was filed by the investigative arm of Congress earlier this year amid allegations that the energy industry had undue influence on the policy, formulated in the spring of 2001.

It advocated the easing of regulations on building nuclear power plants and called for expanded oil and gas drilling on public land, including Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The policy was submitted to Congress but faltered in the Senate.

With Republican control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate impending, contentious parts of the policy face a better chance of getting through.

The suit was filed by the head of the general accounting office, David Walker, after Mr Cheney refused to hand over the records.

The only detail released was that the energy task force met with executives of the disgraced firm Enron on six separate occasions. The company was one of the largest donors to the Bush election campaign. Conservationists were largely barred from the meetings.

Both President Bush and Mr Cheney ran oil companies in Texas before entering public life and have extensive contacts in the industry.

The judge, John Bates, said he was not in a position to challenge the constitution, which divides power in US government.

"The case ... is not the setting for such an unprecedented judicial action," he wrote in his judgment.

John Dingell, the senior Democrat on the house energy and commerce committee said the verdict was politically motivated. "It is regrettable but not surprising that a newly appointed federal judge chose to look the other way," he said.

The White House argued that handing over details of the meetings would compromise the administration's ability to seek the views of big business.

A White House spokesman said: "We believe it is important for the president to receive unvarnished advice and this decision supports that."

Mr Walker said he was "very disappointed" with the judge's verdict and the agency is considering an appeal.

The ruling does not affect two other suits seeking details of contacts between the energy industry and Mr Cheney.

last updated: 12.11.2002