On a side note, many media outlets are calling Fast and Furious a "botched" operation. Just to be clear - this operation was not "botched". ATF didn't lose those guns, they had instructions to stop tracking them (pp 14-18, "Trained to Interdict"). Who instructed them? Good question - and one that Rep. Issa is determined to get to the bottom of. Which brings us back to the issue at hand - the refusal of the DoJ to release tens of thousands of pages of information to Congress to assist in their inquiry into the deadly incidents involving ATF weapons. While Holder claims he has been very forthcoming in releasing documents, that's a tough sell when you realize he has released a mere 7,800 pages of documents to Congress out of an estimated 80,000 - not even ten percent.
To add to the mess, President Obama has thrown the weight of the presidency behind his AG by claiming executive privilege. His political calculator seems to be on the blink these days, because it is difficult to see how this action does anything to help his cause in November. In fact, he has now tied himself inextricably to Holder in this matter. Exercising executive privilege means the executive branch had to have been involved in some way. In other words, he has opened himself up to questions over what he knew and when he knew it. Perhaps we will also discover just how much of a coincidence it was that the very guns President Obama was calling for increased regulation over were the exact same types of weapons walked over the border just a few months later.
Democratic defenders say the many hearings on the matter are purely political in nature. One can only imagine how very non-political they would consider this if it had happened under the Bush administration. After all, a Border Patrol agent and an ICE agent were killed by weapons walked over the border by the ATF. And the mind simply reels at trying to imagine the bonus mileage the press would have squeezed out of the fact that, across the border, literally hundreds of Mexican citizens and government agents have been slaughtered by the weapons walked to the cartels (why does Bush hate Latinos so much?).
It's important to note that the Mexican government has their own investigation into OF&F currently underway, and they want answers, too. Foremost of which must surely be why they were not consulted on this deadly operation, when they had been working in concert with the Bush administration on Operation Wide Receiver. Never mind consultation, why in the world weren't they even notified? It's a damn good thing Mexico is such a close ally, because a more adversarial state could claim OF&F was an attempt by a foreign power to incite a civil war. We kept the Mexican government in the dark while we supplied weapons to dangerous, paramilitary forces that have made several attempts to assert their supremacy over the central Mexican power structure. The foreign policy implications are breathtaking.
After an exchange of letters Issa agreed to a meeting with Holder, in which he was offered a briefing on OF&F and a paltry 1,300 pages (many of which Issa did not request) in lieu of the more than 70,000 pages being withheld. Holder calls this an extraordinary offer. It seems at this point that the only extraordinary thing about his offer was the fact that he had the nerve to waste everyone's time in this pathetically transparent attempt to obfuscate, slow and deflect.
This scandal has been under investigation for eighteen months. If there was nothing to hide, one would imagine Mr. Holder would be happy to send over the records to the Oversight committee showing it was a local clusterfark with no ties to the administration. Instead, he has stonewalled, dragged his heels, and relocated key agents to positions that kept them under his thumb and out of the committee chamber. One can only imagine the howls for his blood if it were 2007 and he were a Bush appointee (via USAToday):
"You know, there's been a tendency on the part of this administration to — to try to hide behind executive privilege every time there's something a little shaky that's taking place," then-Sen. Obama said in an interview with Larry King. In the second interview, Obama said that "the issue of executive power and executive privilege is one that is subject to abuse, and in an Obama presidency what you will see will be a sufficient respect for law and co-equal branches of government."
The president's attempt to shield Holder only makes the attorney general look more guilty. But now it also raises the question of what is in those papers, that Obama is willing to risk this scandal (finally) going national by stepping in with executive privilege?
Democrats and the media (but I repeat myself) have been able to keep this scandal on the down low, even when it required a bit of a stretch, but the press are going to have to start covering it, now that the president has weighed in. Of course it's going to be spun as a political witch hunt and nothing more. Oh, and racism; but that, unfortunately, is a given these days. Two dead government agents, hundreds of dead Mexicans, but no need to investigate! Nothing to see here...move along....
...Hey, did you see there's a giant birth control pack following Mitt Romney around? That's waaay more interesting.