The Obama administration chose Election Day to give Darrell Issa’s House Oversight Committee more than 64,000 pages of documents relating to the Fast and Furious gun walking operation. These are documents that the House committee subpoenaed more than two years ago. The Obama administration alleged that they were subject to executive privilege and refused to produce them. The committee commenced a lawsuit to compel production, and on October 6 the presiding judge issued an order requiring DOJ to produce those documents that it admits are not covered by the “deliberative process” aspect of executive privilege. Other documents are still being withheld because the administration claims that the deliberative process privilege applies to them.
As I wrote here, the Obama administration has stonewalled successfully with respect to various scandals, including Fast and Furious. Eric Holder–dubbed the administration’s “scandal goalie” by Glenn Reynolds–has been the director of this conspiracy of concealment. By asserting frivolous claims of privilege, Holder was able to keep most if not all of the key information about Fast and Furious secret for years. By this time, the public perceives the scandal as old news and the media no longer pay attention to it. So the cover-up has been successful.
I would love to get a look at the documents–64,000 pages is actually a small production, as these things go–and will follow up with the committee to see if I can get a set. In the meantime, one or two have dribbled out, including this email thread from April 2011 in which Holder responds petulantly to the House committee’s investigation:
Holder’s email is, I think, revealing. When he says “We have to be careful,” he means that DOJ can’t blatantly interfere with the committee’s investigation by enlisting the United States Attorney in Arizona to try to quash the committee’s subpoena. Then Holder vents to his chief of staff:
Issa and his idiot cronies never gave a damn about this when all that was happening was that thousands of Mexicans were being killed with guns from our country.
Here, Holder is referring to the idea that Mexico’s off-the-charts crime rate is our fault because Mexican gangs import firearms from the U.S. At one time, liberals tried to use this claim as a rationale for more stringent gun control here in the U.S. Many have speculated that the point of Fast and Furious was to document that drug gangs were importing guns from American dealers to justify an administration gun control initiative. This seems far-fetched, but if that wasn’t the point, what was? If DOJ was unhappy about guns sold in the U.S. winding up in the hands of Mexican drug gangs, why did they facilitate, and even finance, the illegal transfer of guns from U.S. dealers to Mexican drug gangs, over the dealers’ objections?
This last part is pure childishness on Holder’s part:
All they want to do-in-reality-is cripple ATF and suck up to the gun lobby. Politics at its worst-maybe the media will get it.
The idea that House Republicans want to “cripple” the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is ridiculous. And what does investigating Fast and Furious have to do with “sucking up to the gun lobby,” unless that operation really was intended as a pretense to promote more firearms regulation? It strikes me that this comment may be unintentionally revealing. And Holder’s instinctive belief that any Congressional interest in how an American border agent came to be killed with a gun that the Department of Justice deliberately had transferred to a Mexican drug cartel could only be “politics” tells us a lot about the mentality of the Obama administration.
Holder was right about one thing, however: the media did indeed “get it.” Press coverage of Fast and Furious suggested that it was a close question whether the real scandal was the Department of Justice arming Mexican drug gangs, or Congress wanting to know why they did it. Who knows? Several years later, we might finally find out.