When Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson held his secret meeting at the New York Federal Reserve Bank in response to super-insurer A.I.G.’s plea for help two weeks ago, he brought a friend:

The only Wall Street chief executive participating in the meeting was Lloyd C. Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, Mr. Paulson’s former firm. Mr. Blankfein had particular reason for concern.

Although it was not widely known, Goldman, a Wall Street stalwart that had seemed immune to its rivals’ woes, was A.I.G.’s largest trading partner, according to six people close to the insurer who requested anonymity because of confidentiality agreements. A collapse of the insurer threatened to leave a hole of as much as $20 billion in Goldman’s side, several of these people said.

And why would Paulson’s successor at the helm of Goldman Sachs be permitted to attend a meeting where the decision was made to let uber-rival investment bank Lehman Brothers fail and have the federal government rescue A.I.G.?

Few knew of Goldman’s exposure to A.I.G. When the insurer’s flameout became public, David A. Viniar, Goldman’s chief financial officer, assured analysts on Sept. 16 that his firm’s exposure was “immaterial,” a view that the company reiterated in an interview.

Later that same day, the government announced its two-year, $85 billion loan to A.I.G., offering it a chance to sell its assets in an orderly fashion and theoretically repay taxpayers for their trouble. The plan saved the insurer’s trading partners but decimated its shareholders.

But don’t the American people have the right to know the answer to questions about these meetings before our representatives decide to hand over a trillion dollars to these discredited Masters of the Universe? Or should our legislators take statements like this at face value?

Regarding Mr. Blankfein’s presence at the Fed during talks about an A.I.G. bailout, he said: “I think it would be a mistake to read into it that he was there because of our own interests. We were engaged because of the implications to the entire system.”

Mr. van Praag declined to comment on what communications, if any, took place between Mr. Blankfein and the Treasury secretary, Mr. Paulson, during the bailout discussions.

A Treasury spokeswoman declined to comment about the A.I.G. rescue and Goldman’s role. The government recently allowed Goldman to change its regulatory status to help bolster its finances amid the market turmoil.

Mr. van Praag might not work for the United States of America (yet, the week is very young) but I’d sure like to hear some answers from the Treasury department. Their spokeswoman needs to understand who she works for, as does her boss, Hank Paulson.

The American people deserve answers to these questions. We demand them now.

Teddy Partridge

Teddy Partridge