The U. S. Justice Department has just announced that President Barack Obama has asserted executive privilege in the effort to withhold documents in the matter of Fast and Furious. The Justice Department wrote to Congressman Darrell Issa, the privilege applies to documents that explain how the department learned that there were problems with the ATF’s gun running debacle.
In response, came just before hearings before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Fast and Furious. Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said the President’s “falls short of any reason to delay today’s proceedings.”
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is recommending that the House of Representatives hold Attorney General Eric Holder in Contempt of Congress. According to the Committee’s website, “Holder and the Department of Justice have failed to comply with congressional subpoenas concerning Justice Department documents about the Fast and Furious gunwalking operation, which allowed around 2,000 firearms to fall into the hands of drug cartels in Mexico and led to the death of a U.S. Border Patrol Agent. The Committee on Oversight and Goverment Reform is working to hold Top Justice Officials accountable for their actions in the Fast and Furious Operation.”
According to various news sources, Holder met Tuesday night with leaders of the House oversight committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee to work on an agreement in which Holder could avoid contemot charges and the Justice Department would hand over documents.
Congressman Issa said he declined Holder’s offer and plans to move forward with a contempt motion.
Isaa told reports, “If we receive no documents we’ll go forward, if we receive documents we’ll evaluate them and we’ll take some time as is necessary in delay to be sure of the quality of these documents.”
During the hearing today, Congressman Kucinich asked Issa to make one more attempt to get the documents before pursuing contempt charges.
A Michigan Congressman, said that “Brian Terry’s family deserved the truth. “The Attorney General only offered to provide a “fair compilation” of the documents. Complying with the subpoena is not optional. The Attorney General refuses to even provide a list of documents. It is fair to say that we don’t know what we don’t know. The committee has made a series of accommodations, citizens wonder why we have been so gracious, we have done voluntary interviews instead of depositions. The Attorney General has not produced one single document since this hearing was announced he has a low level of commitment to cooperate with this committee.”
In 2007, then Senator Barack Obama criticized the Bush administration’s use of executive privilege. He said, “There’s been a tendency, on the part of this administration, to try to hide behind executive privilege every time there’s something a little shaky that’s taking place,” he told CNN’s Larry King. “I think the administration would be best served by coming clean on this. There doesn’t seem to be any national security issues involved.”
Arizona Congressman Jeff Flake said the new excutive privilege claim was “not a wise move on the President’s part. By invoking executive privilege on Fast and Furious documents, the President has elevated a scandal that has thus far been largely confined to the Department of Justice.”
Just this Monday, the union that represents Border Patrol agents in Southern Arizona and around the country called for U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to resign.
The National Border Patrol Council has called for Holder to resign. In its demand, the Border Patrol’s union alleged that Holder was dishonest about Operation Fast and Furious.
Operation Fast and Furious resulted in the death of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry while he was patrolling near Rio Rico. Terry was shot and killed by criminals yielding assault rifles that were traced to a straw purchaser for Mexican drug cartels in Arizona who the ATF knew about and allowed to deliver the weapons to the cartels.