Thursday, October 19, 2006

Judge orders Cheney visitor logs opened

A federal judge has ordered the Bush administration to release information about who visited Vice President Dick Cheney's office and personal residence, an order that could spark a late election-season debate over lobbyists' White House access.

While researching the access lobbyists and others had on the White House, The Washington Post asked in June for two years of White House visitor logs. The Secret Service refused to process the request, which government attorneys called "a fishing expedition into the most sensitive details of the vice presidency."

U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina said Wednesday that, by the end of next week, the Secret Service must produce the records or at least identity them and justify why they are being withheld.

The Secret Service can still try to withhold the records but, in a written ruling Thursday, Urbina questioned the agency's primary argument — that the logs are protected by Cheney's right to executive privilege.

Republicans have suffered a spate of bad news lately. Ohio Rep. Bob Ney (news, bio, voting record) pleaded guilty in the Jack Abramoff lobbying investigation, Florida Rep. Mark Foley resigned after reports of his sexually explicit Internet conversations with teenage House pages, and the FBI intensified its corruption investigation into Pennsylvania Rep. Curt Weldon.

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