U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon indicated today she will make public the bulk of 19 million pages of Enron documents the company provided to the government and has also produced in two massive would-be class action lawsuits.
John Strasburger, the Houston-based lawyer representing Enron, said the company wants to protect private employee information and information on on-going contracts, asset sales and lawsuits that could lessen the value of assets if revealed. He said the company has already reviewed 10 million pages and found 4,000 documents that it wants kept private.
Strasburger said Enron has already produced to the depository most of what it has given to federal authorities. "For more than a year the federal government has been waging a campaign of shock and awe against Enron," he said. He said the public has been well served by the mass of information the company has provided the government agencies, and now the depository in the civil case.
Paul Howes, lawyer for lead shareholder plaintiff the University of California Board of Regents, agreed some personnel information should be kept private but not personnel performance reviews. He said Enron's request for categories of confidentiality like ongoing lawsuits or contracts are too broad and could be used to hide important information from the public.
"This is not an ordinary case. What we are talking about is a case of historic proportions, " Howes said. "The public interest has to be balanced."
Harmon indicated she will ask Enron to provide a list of the documents it wants kept confidential and that it may take another few months to finish compiling the full list if it provides some intermediate lists in the mean time.
The list will also be provided to the news media, the judge indicated. A lawyer representing several news interests including the Houston Chronicle asked that all the information be made available to the public as soon as possible.
I think it's a little early in the game to use "shock and awe" as an all-purpose cliché and metaphor, considering that the Siege of Baghdad hasn't even happened yet, and, besides, this particular metaphor is being used in defense of Enron, fraudulent financier to Bush's cabal and their Husseinomania.
I hope the Chronicle stays on top of this story. They've been doing a very good job so far, and I have to admit I'm looking forward to reading Andrew Fastow's performance reviews.
We also urge all plaintiffs and their attorneys to release as much information as possible online, where it can be searched and dissected and analyzed among the Volunteer Brigade for Justice — namely, us bloggers.