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Lieberman outlines security for Enron documents

Lieberman outlines security for Enron documents

WASHINGTON -- Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, D-Connecticut, said Tuesday he is imposing strict security procedures to govern the panel's review of White House documents provided in response to a May 22 subpoena.

One box and one accordion folder of documents were delivered late Tuesday afternoon. The White House said it released more than 2,000 pages. It had released the documents even though it had failed to come to an agreement with the committee on steps to ensure their security.

Tuesday, however, Lieberman indicated an agreement had been reached.

"I'm satisfied we have come to an accommodation on the security of these documents and the terms under which they might be made public, while refusing to yield the committee's right to conduct its investigation and inform the public of the findings of that investigation," Lieberman said. "This committee has

always respected the sensitivity of all documents within its possession, as well as the privacy rights of individuals who might be mentioned in those documents.

"My staff and I have agreed to extraordinary security precautions in this particular case, in an effort to put White House fears to rest."

According to the agreement, Lieberman said, the documents will be held in a locked room, equipped with an alarm. Access to the room will be given to only a limited number of staff members, all of whom must first sign confidentiality agreements.

Documents may be made public if either the committee Chairman or its ranking Republican, Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee, determine "that disclosure is appropriate to further the purposes of the investigation." Before any documents are released, 24-hour written notice must be given to the White House to allow for consultation.

The committee also added a provision, unsought by the White House, making clear its intent to protect personal privacy information, such as Social Security numbers.

"I'm pleased the White House has begun to deliver the documents I believe are necessary to conduct a complete investigation into the government's oversight of Enron," Lieberman said. "Thousands upon thousands of people have lost savings, pensions, and jobs, and the U.S. economy has suffered a severe loss of confidence. I look forward to determining what, if anything, the federal government might have done differently to avoid these problems."

White House counsel Alberto Gonzales has said the documents show that Enron communicated policy positions to administration officials, but that a review of White House records had found no evidence of any Enron requests of anyone in the Executive Office of the President or the Office of the Vice President for help prior to its bankruptcy filing, or any inappropriate conduct by any officials in those offices.

A White House official said 1,745 pages of records from the president's office and roughly 460 pages of records from the vice president's office were turned over to the committee.

Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and Commerce Secretary Don Evans have said they were contacted by senior Enron officials, but declined to take any actions on behalf of the now bankrupt energy giant.




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