By Carole on Jun 20, 2012
When it comes to the government's Fast and Furious gun smuggling operation, Attorney General Eric Holder is running out of places to hide. But now he has President Barack Obama aiding and abetting his efforts to keep the truth about the program from both Congress and the American people.
Facing a House committee vote today on whether he is in contempt of Congress for not turning over requested documents, the desperate Mr. Holder sent a letter to the White House today requesting that the president, " assert executive privilege over the identified documents." And Mr. Obama has complied.
That allowed for a letter to Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Darrell Issa (R-California), in which a Justice Department official claimed the privilege applies to documents that explain how the department learned that there were problems with Fast and Furious.
What has sparked yet one more battle between the imperial leanings of the Obama administration and another branch of the federal government? It's understandable why most Americans aren't aware of the details as the mainstream media has barely covered the story so here's a brief summary:
The ATF's flawed "Fast and Furious" operations allowed firearms to "walk" across the U.S. border into Mexico in hopes of tracing the guns and locating major weapons traffickers. ATF devised the program in 2009 to try to track straw purchases of firearms where a gun is legally bought but then illegally sold to another individual. The operation took a tragic turn when two weapons found in December 2010 at the scene of murdered U.S. Border Patrol Brian Terry were found to be linked to Fast and Furious.
Issa takes issue with what he claims is the Justice Department's efforts to not turn over documents to Congress following the drafting of a February 4, 2011 letter.
That letter, sent to Sen. Grassley and his staff from Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich, included the line, "ATF makes every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally and prevent their transportation to Mexico."
DOJ later retracted the letter and revised it and communications showing how it was drafted. According to documents released by the Justice Department, then US Attorney in Arizona, Dennis Burke, wrote on January 31, 2011 to DOJ officials working on the response letter: "Grassley's assertions regarding the Arizona investigation and the weapons recovered at the BP Agent Terry murder scene are based on categorical falsehoods."
It is unclear, based on the documents released who was providing inaccurate information to Burke about ATF's role in Fast and Furious and the determination that the guns were linked to the horribly run gun smuggling operation. Burke resigned his post as US Attorney last year as the scandal unfolded.
Mr. Issa's committee is now attempting to determine who is responsible for those "categorical falsehoods" and has subpoenaed documents toward that end. But they have been thwarted by excuses, misdirections and any other tactic Mr. Holder and his accomplices could think of to prevent the truth from seeing the light of day.
Last night the attorney general made what was thought to be his last ditch effort to avoid the contempt charge without complying with the subpoena. According to Representative Adam Schiff (D-California), Mr. Holder offered "to turn over documents that are part of the Department of Justice's internal deliberations and work product and to brief the committee on their contents."
But the whole truth, according to an Issa spokesman, is "the attorney general indicated he would only be willing to produce a subset of documents that numbered fewer than 1,300 pages if the committee would first agree that the production of these documents would end the committee's investigation of the Justice Department."
Of course Chairman Issa did not agree to this 'I'll give you potential evidence against my department if you refuse to use it against me' ploy and so now, suddenly, Mr. Holder believes executive privilege is the last best way to prevent the truth about a failed and lethal administration policy from public exposure. And President Obama agrees.
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