Custom Search

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fast And Furious: Obama Asserts Executive Privilege To Hide FF Documents From Oversight Committee

By Susan Duclos

[Update] -Letter sent to House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman asserting Executive Privilege on Fast and Furious documents, found here.

Holder's letter to Obama requesting that Obama assert Executive Privilege on Fast and Furious documents, found here and embedded below.

Michelle Malkin reminds readers, with a video of Barack Obama in 2007, where he told CNN that Executive Privilege should not be used to withhold information from Congress.

The morning of the scheduled Contempt of Congress vote against Attorney General Eric Holder for stonewalling the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee by refusing to present documents pertaining to Fast and Furious, Barack Obama sent the Committee a letter claiming Executive Privilege over those documents.

Representative Darrell Issa says the Contempt of Congress vote will continue as scheduled and Obama's actions are too little, too late.

The Committee will vote on the contempt resolution but Holder will not officially be held in Contempt of Congress until the full House approves the measure.

Obama's decision pertains to documents from February 2011 and afterward examining how Justice officials learned about the Fast and Furious probe.

Holder, in his letter to Obama, said those documents pertain to the "deliberative process" on how to respond to congressional and media inquiries.

Wednesday's developments follow a flurry of activity Tuesday, as Holder tried to negotiate a way to avert the contempt proceedings. Issa had earlier indicated a willingness to postpone the vote after Holder indicated a willingness to make compromises and supply some documents in response to House Republicans' subpoena.

But Issa told reporters after a roughly 20-minute meeting with Holder Tuesday that the attorney general instead briefed them on the documents in lieu of delivering them.

Issa told Fox News that Holder didn't provide "anything in writing," and said the family of murdered Border Patrol agent Brian Terry wants the documents as much as he does.

"We want the documents. Brian Terry's family would like the documents that are responsive to how in fact their son was gunned down with weapons that came from lawful dealers but at the ... behest of the Justice Department," Issa told Fox News.

Weapons from the Fast and Furious anti-gunrunning operation were found at Terry's murder scene.

The failed Fast and Furious operation attempted selling thousands of guns to arms dealers along the U.S.-Mexico border to trace them to leaders of drug cartels. However, many of them showed up in crime scenes.

Congressional investigators have been trying to determine if and when high-level Justice officials knew about problems with the operation.

Holder ran to Obama on Tuesday after meeting with Representative Issa when he realized the Contempt of Congress vote would continue as scheduled and Weds. morning is the first media reports stating that Obama had granted Holder's request to withhold the documents the House Oversight Committee needed to continue their investigation.

Holder's letter to Obama requesting that Obama assert Executive Privilege to prevent the oversight Committee from obtaining the Fast and Furious documents, below:

AG Letter to Obama

Instead, in a 20-minute meeting that Holder himself had requested to stave off today’s planned contempt citation vote in Issa’s committee, he merely offered to “brief” Issa on their contents.

Holder’s insulting, 11th-hour offer came after he’d already missed a morning deadline to turn over the documents — a small percentage of the total number that Congress has demanded as it tries to get to the bottom of the scandal.

Issa surely feels like Charlie Brown charging the football, with Holder as Lucy. For over a year, he’s been trying to pin down the slippery AG, issuing one “last chance” after another, dragging Holder in front of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (on top of Senate appearances) and firing off angry letter after angry letter.

Each time, Holder has scampered off, meeting Issa’s legitimate demands with contempt — for the congressman, the Congress itself and the rule of law.

He tried it again yesterday after his offer was rebuffed, calling Issa’s demands “political gamesmanship” and cracking, “The ball’s in their court.”

Um . . . no, Mr. Attorney General. The ball’s in your court — and has been ever since Justice took the extraordinary step of formally “withdrawing” a Feb. 4, 2011 letter from assistant AG Ron Weich — who announced last week that he’s leaving Justice to become dean of the University of Baltimore law school.

Weich is just the latest F&F figure to jump ship, after ex-US Attorney for Arizona Dennis Burke and former acting head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Ken Melson.

Weich’s letter definitively denied allegations that the ATF, which supervised the F&F operation, “knowingly allowed the sale of assault weapons” to straw buyers acting on behalf of Mexican drug cartels.

Oops. In December, Holder told Congress that Weich’s letter was now inoperable, then promptly clammed up again, making it clear he has something — something big — to hide from Congress and the American people.

Which is why — unless he produces the documents before 10 a.m. this morning — Holder is looking at a House committee vote on contempt of Congress charges; once the full House goes along, he’ll be only the 11th official to be so cited since 1975.

Credit where it is due: Obama and Holder's Fast and Furious scandal was blown wide open by an investigative reporter for CBS News, Sharyl Attkisson, who has relentlessly reported on the failed operation.

[Update] Oversight Committee page on Fast and Furious investigation.