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White House Asserts Executive Privilege Over Fast And Furious Documents

Just minutes before the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee was scheduled to begin a meeting expected to end with a contempt citation against Attorney General Eric Holder regarding the withholding of documents related to the “Fast And Furious” investigation, the Justice Department threw a curve ball:

(CBS News) The White House granted Attorney General Eric Holder with executive privilege regarding Fast and Furious. Regardless of the action, Rep. Darrell Issa, R.-Cal., head of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee said he is moving forward with a contempt vote of the attorney general.

At issue is documents over the Arizona gunwalking program that put guns in the hands of illicit gun purchasers as a way to track Mexican smuggling cartels. As a result of the program, hundreds of guns showed up in Mexico and one was found at where a U.S. border agent was killed. Issa and his counterpart in the Senate, Charles Grassley, R-Iowa., opened an investigation into the case more than a year ago.

A meeting held Tuesday evening between the head of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Holder to work out an agreement over hadnging out documents pertaining to the Fast and Furious case has ended without an agreement being reached. As a result, Rep. Issa promised to move forward with the contempt vote.

Issa told reporters after the meeting, “If we receive no documents, we’ll go forward. If we receive documents we will evaluate them.”

In a letter to Issa sent later Tuesday evening, Deputy Attorney General James Cole wrote, “We regret that the Committee rejected our proposal. Our offer would have provided the Committee with unprecedented access to these documents, many of which are not covered by the Committee’s subpoenas in this matter.”

“We’re not looking to hold people responsible. We’re looking for document production,” Issa said.

Issa’s committee is looking for documents dating from February to December 2011 on how the Justice Department handled the Fast and Furious case.

Holder says he made Holder an “extraordinary” offer that includes documents, a briefing on those documents and answers to questions Issa and his committee might have.

One catch appears to be that the deal would have required agreement by the committee that this would be the end of the documents that would be requested. In any event, asserting Executive Privilege takes this matter up several notches, especially since there’s the not insignificant question of whether Executive Privilege even applies to the documents requested. More to the point, though, the assertion of Executive Privilege is not going to stop the Committee from going ahead with the Contempt vote and, indeed, only appears to have increased Republican resolve on that matter.

From the White House’s point of view, it’s  rather odd that they would assert Executive Privilege over documents that were requested some eight months ago and which, as recently as twelve hours ago, the Justice Department said that it was willing to provide the Committee access, at least under limited circumstances. From a political point of view, it seems to reinforce the idea that they were withholding the documents because they contained damaging information about the ongoing scandal. This is especially true since Executive Privilege has generally only been asserted in cases where the documents involve communications with the President and his staff. Up until now, the Justice Department and the White House have both said that the White House was not involved in the Fast And Furious operation or in the internal investigation that occurred after it started to fall apart. Does the assertion of Executive Privilege now mean that is true?

The more important question, though, is exactly what the President is asserting is covered by the privilege. It’s not generally acceptable to point to a pile of documents and claim that they are privileged without providing a specific basis for why they are so privileged. This typically requires creation of a Privilege Log that details what documents are being withheld and the reason that they are being withheld, something that the Justice Department itself has yet to do despite the fact that the subpeona is eight months old. So far, the White House has not sent any communication to the House or to the Committee asserting the privilege and detailing the documents that it asserting the privilege over. It would seem rather absurd for the privilege to be claimed over all 11,000 documents that have been withheld, so one would think that the White House will document its privilege claim soon so that it can be evaluated, by an independent body if necessary.

We’ve got ourselves a good old fashioned Separation of Powers showdown here.

Here’s the letter that the Justice Department sent to the Committee this morning:

062011 Letter

Related Posts:

About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. JKB says:

    Executive Privilege? So this wasn’t some routine operation of an Executive department which would fall under the proper oversight by the Legislative branch? Rather it was a specific operation conducted under the authority of the Office of the President with Presidential involvement? Otherwise, how could it be Executive Privilege?

    Interesting. Very interesting.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  2. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @JKB: Oh, cool! We haven’t had a good Constitutional Crisis showdown since William “Cold Cash” Jefferson (then D-LA, now federal inmate). Bring it on!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 9

  3. Drew says:

    I’m not a lawyer (although I stayed in a Holiday Inn Express last night) so I read Doug’s comments very carefully.

    The observation that the privilege is constrained to only President and staff communications, despite months of assertions to the contrary,seems rather damning. Second, the observation that no rationale was provided- just- “screw you” at the 11th hour paints an even more damning picture.

    Given the state of out an out propaganda and in the tank “journalism” these days (see: andrea Mitchell) it seems a bold gambit based upon a media support assumption. Shorter: let’s buffalo our way through it.. I’ll leave it to lawyers as to how that might play out. But something is obviously awfully rotten. And after all, we are talking about a murdered agent here.

    That said, let’s see how many intellectually honest lefties we have here, and how many simply dutifully don the knee pads.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 7

  4. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    OK, let’s get serious here. A few thoughts:

    1) Holder’s actions covered by the proposed “contempt” citation occurred before EP was asserted, so it’s arguable that he’s still on the hook for not complying. Only if EP is considered retroactive is he safe.

    2) Regardless of the actual facts of the case, Obama now owns the Fast & Furious scandal lock, stock, and barrel. Much like Nixon probably knew nothing about the Watergate break-in before it happened. However, now he’s officially on the record as standing on the side of keeping it all secret and covered up. Apparently he’s never heard the phrase “it’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up.”

    5) 3) I wonder if this subject came up on Obama’s recent trip to Mexico…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 7

  5. PD Shaw says:

    I think the assumption has to be that the “privileged documents” identify additional, incriminating or embarrassing documents that are the real issue here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  6. Guilty says:

    Well, this EP action certainly looks and smells strange. At this point there’s little doubt some truly damaging information is contained in those documents. Most likely names – and signatures – of who authorized Fast and Furious, and the nefarious scheme behind it. Obozo owns this scandal hook, line, and sinker now. Of course the main stream media will continue to try and ignore it, but remember: the coverup is always what trips the gahoots up, not the ‘crime’ itself. This is not going to go away, despite Obozo’s best efforts, along with his cohorts in the media, of trying to make it disappear.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 12

  7. Rob in CT says:

    Jenos’s #2 occured to me as well – if you assert privilege, you can’t really turn around later and claim that it was all your subordinate’s fault, fire him and try to save face. It seems like “going all in.”

    While I continue to believe that Issa is doing what he’s doing for purely partisan reasons, as I’ve said before, sometimes rank partisanship can be good. If not for partisanship, would anyone ever investigate anyone (see also: Obama’s “look forward, not backward” comment after he was elected, which so aggravated lefties) for anything? Maybe, but it sets the bar pretty high.

    I’d prefer that Holder produced every piece of paper Issa asked for and if/when Issa cherry-picked stuff designed to make Holder and/or Obama look bad, the response should have been counter-cherry-picking showing that they either acted responsibly (at best) or that the Bush Administration did the same stuff (at worst). Don’t hide. Return fire.

    If you can’t actually do that, well then. You’ve got a problem. Which leads me to this: this looks like hiding because you don’t have the ammo to fight.

    And from my standpoint, if this winds up damaging Executive Privilege in general, that would be a lovely silver lining.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  8. bk says:

    @Guilty: We’re talking about the program that was launched under the prior administration, right? (And nothing says “intelligent discourse” quite like using a third-grade nickname for the President).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  9. JKB says:

    It’s an interesting assertion in the DOJ letter. The President has decided to claim executive privilege because the House is moving forward with holding DOJ in contempt. They do make some claims about deliberative process in how to respond to Congressional inquiries but never cite any involvement by the Office of the President, the President, or staffers. Rather it seems the deliberative process was internal to the DOJ, an Executive department under Congressional oversight.

    So apparently, the contention is that if the President decides to invoke Executive privilege for a department’s internal deliberations, Congress has not right to investigate federal departments and agencies?

    That is, there is no Legislative oversight of regulations, laws and actions take by government employees if the President decides to give them cover. No real way when you petition your elected representatives for them to seek/information to redress grievances.

    Interesting, Very Interesting. Barack Millhouse Obama

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

  10. wr says:

    @Drew: “Intellectually honest lefites,” of course, meaning “people who agree with me that Obama sucks.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  11. Moderate Mom says:

    Holder has repeatedly asserted that the requested documents contain no damaging information. Does anyone really believe that now? An investigation that had not been covered in any depth by major news organizations is now going to be the talk of the media outlets.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  12. Since executive privelege only covers confidential advice given to the president by his advisors, doesn’t claiming the Fast and Furious documents are covered by it necessarily imply that the President was aware of it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  13. We regret that the Committee rejected our proposal. Our offer would have provided the Committee with unprecedented access to these documents, many of which are not covered by the Committee’s subpoenas in this matter.

    This is the bit that actually pisses me off. If I get a federal subpeona, I don’t get to negotiate whether I comply and under what conditions.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  14. sam says:

    @Guilty:

    Most likely names – and signatures – of who authorized Fast and Furious, and the nefarious scheme behind it.

    You are aware, I trust, that these operations began under the previous administration. See, ATF gunwalking scandal. The operations began under Project Gunrunner (the “nefarious” scheme):

    The ATF began Project Gunrunner as a pilot project in Laredo, Texas, in 2005 and expanded it as a national initiative in 2006. Project Gunrunner is also part of the Department of Justice’s broader Southwest Border Initiative, which seeks to reduce cross-border drug and firearms trafficking and the high level of violence associated with these activities on both sides of the border…

    In early 2011, the operation became controversial when it was revealed that Operation Fast and Furious and other probes under Project Gunrunner had allowed guns to “walk” into the hands of Mexican drug cartels since as early as 2006.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  15. Doug, you find this “rather odd”? You are truly the master of the understatement!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. JKB says:

    There is something they really don’t want to be revealed before the election. As Prof. Jacobson says over at Legal Insurrection, this is a stall. They can’t stall forever so they must be trying to keep some very bad information from the election.

    That fits with what they are trying to keep Congress from getting: deliberative documents on how to respond to Congress. A response, that had quite a few material errors. But in the internal discussions, they had to discuss the motivations for conducting the operation, who was in on the decision to conduct the op, what it’s real goals were, what they fear might be found.

    Given the op as conducted since 2009 seems only to have the goal of putting American-origin guns in criminals hands, the ‘conspiracy theory’ that it was designed to create a mandate for gun control is looking less and less unlikely.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  17. sam says:

    @JKB:

    Interesting, Very Interesting. Barack Millhouse Obama.

    Or George W. Bush. See, Executive privilege, section on invocation of the privilege during the Bush administration.

    In this instance, I think we have to agree with Doug, “They all do it.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  18. Dave Schuler says:

    Tactically, I think I would have started with executive privilege.

    My understanding is that the present doctrine on executive privilege is that the presidential material in the communications subpoenaed must be essential to the justice of the case. I wouldn’t think that would be something just realized at this point. Indeed, this may be a prelude to Holder falling on his sword.

    Here’s the reasoning. Not all communications by all members of the executive branch fall within the scope of executive privilege. Only matters that actually have actual executive connections. The obvious thing for the Congress to do at this point is to ask the White House if there’s an actual executive privilege involved here.

    Rather than minimizing the embarrassment this would appear to maximize it. If the move were to have been made at all it should have been made eight months ago, i.e. not less than five months before an election. Now the White House would need to assert there was actual executive privilege involved or deny that there was. If it acknowledges it, that flies in the face of the story that Justice has been peddling for the last eight months. If it denies it, then Holder will probably need to resign.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  19. anjin-san says:

    @ JKB

    It seems like just a short time ago that Republicans were telling us that the President is a “unitary executive” with virtually limitless powers – why even to question the President had a whiff of treason about it. What has changed, aside from the party affiliation of the President?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  20. Drew says:

    PD

    I think that sums it up perfectly.

    WR

    No, it’s just a comment borne of experience. see: Sam donning knee pads.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  21. JKB says:

    @anjin-san:

    As I’m not a Republican, I don’t know if anything has changed for Republican.

    That said, there are many things in which the President has unitary authority. Throwing the Executive Privilege net around a bunch of Bureaucrats across town when there has been claimed no White House or Presidential involvement isn’t one of them.

    Now, if they wish to claim privileged correspondence with the President in preparation of a response to Congress that contained many material errors and was possibly purposely misleading. Well…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  22. Drew says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    Dave

    And correct me if I’m wrong, Doug, but I think that is the essence of Dougs points.

    And I see the “everybody does it” BS coming out. Like I said, I wish I had the knee pad concession. That is either ignorance, or obfuscation.

    There is something ugly going on here. I won’t speculate as to it’s severity, but as someone said, it’s the cover up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  23. anjin-san says:

    As I’m not a Republican

    I see. You just play one on a blog.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  24. wr says:

    @Stormy Dragon: “This is the bit that actually pisses me off. If I get a federal subpeona, I don’t get to negotiate whether I comply and under what conditions. ”

    Guess what — if you decide someone is a threat to the country, you don’t get to send a drone to blow him up. If there’s a lot of traffic in your way, you don’t get to have the entire police force of the city clear you a path. If you don’t approve of the Secretary of the Interior, you don’t get to fire him.

    If what pisses you off is that the president of the United States can do things you can’t, you’re going to spend an awful lot of time being mad…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  25. JKB says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    Apparently, United State v Nixon (1974) requires that for Executive Privilege, correspondence must involve the President and close staffers. Plus, the documents in question involve the development of the DOJ response to Congress, not prosecutorial documents. Also, they are suppose to produce an Executive Privilege log that identifies each document and explains why it is covered.

    This is a stall to keep the legal wrangling going until after November. But the move, implies direct Presidential involvement in the preparation of a Congressional response that had many material errors later revealed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  26. wr says:

    @anjin-san: “What has changed, aside from the party affiliation of the President?”

    The color of the President…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 3

  27. One thing is for certain F&F has not been a big news story to date. If it is going to turn into a battle between two branches of government and a debate about Executive Privilege that is going to change, and that’s not entirely good news for Obama

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  28. Dave Schuler says:

    @JKB:

    Apparently, United State v Nixon (1974) requires that for Executive Privilege, correspondence must involve the President and close staffers.

    That was my recollection. I also have a vague recollection that the Justice Department has been saying that the whole things was a foul up by some low level staffers. That doesn’t sound like the stuff of executive privilege to me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  29. @wr:

    If what pisses you off is that the president of the United States can do things you can’t, you’re going to spend an awful lot of time being mad…

    Indeed, the extent to which public officials are treated as being above the law does make mad an awful lot of the time.

    PS – Given I’ve been one of the most vocal commenters w/r to opposing the drone program, that wasn’t exactly a good example to use with me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  30. Jeremy R says:

    @Donald Sensing:

    Doug, you find this “rather odd”? You are truly the master of the understatement!

    Yup, it’s historically actually “rather odd” and remarkable that this admin has used executive privilege so sparingly:

    The move by President Barack Obama is similar to battles between President George W. Bush and Democrats over the extent of presidential power, and sets up a much more serious debate over the authority of the executive and legislative branches …

    A contempt resolution against Holder would mark the first time since 1998 that a congressional committee has taken such an action against the nation’s top law-enforcement official. And the exertion of executive privilege is Obama’s first. President George W. Bush exerted it six times, and President Bill Clinton used it 14 times.

    It figures that the last attempted contempt resolution against an attorney general occurred when the GOP was on their Clinton era witch-hunt against AG Janet Reno.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  31. Partisans on both sides in this thread run far ahead of what we know. We’ve got a really stupid-seeming program, and a lot of CYA, up to and now including the President covering for … somebody.

    But beyond that we don’t know. To make the story a tight and tidy package as partisans do above, you have to assume you know what F&F was really about, and what secret decisions they made.

    I would like to know what really happened. I haven’t heard a good reason yet why secrecy is good for the country on this. But I’m not going to make up a narrative in the meantime.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  32. Monica says:

    I keep seeing people saying that F&F started under the Bush administration but it was my understanding their operation was “Wide Receiver” – which tracked and confiscated the guns, whereas the Obama administration started the “Fast and Furious” operation – which didn’t track or confiscate the guns. Not sure why the blame keeps getting pushed back on Bush if that’s truly the case.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  33. John D'Geek says:

    Well, another thing to remember — Watergate was just a “partisan witch hunt” at first. Then Nixon tried to cover it up …

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  34. mattb says:

    Two points on the politics of this (as I don’t know enough about the legal aspects):

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    2) Regardless of the actual facts of the case, Obama now owns the Fast & Furious scandal lock, stock, and barrel.

    Agreed.

    @Dave Schuler:

    Rather than minimizing the embarrassment this would appear to maximize it. If the move were to have been made at all it should have been made eight months ago, i.e. not less than five months before an election.

    Agreed. That said, I think they are taking the calculated risk that abstract rumors about what might be in those documents are far less damaging than whatever tangible information might come out of a fishing trip.

    My bet is this may come down to whether or not F&F was ever mentioned in Executive Briefings.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  35. Reviewing the story now, it seems a typical case of institutional stupidity and institutional cover-up.

    The idea that crimes were committed by bureaucrats, rather than simple stupidity, seems unsupported at this point. This “secret gun control” and “watergate” stuff seems around the bend …

    But then maybe you’ve got a link?

    I think it’s a mistake for Obama to provide cover. Not knowing more, I just wonder if it’s his psychology to shield his team, rather than throw them under the bus.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  36. Ben Wolf says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    That was my recollection. I also have a vague recollection that the Justice Department has been saying that the whole things was a foul up by some low level staffers. That doesn’t sound like the stuff of executive privilege to me.

    I think it’s not unreasonable to conclude that A) this was a screwup at high levels of the administration and B) the White House has decided it has something it doesn’t want becoming public. If executive privilege doesn’t hold, will the administration then claim this falls under national security? Not that it will ever get that far: Republicans and the White House will reach some sort of deal which shields the executive branch from whatever it did wrong. Our elites are, as a rule, not required to face responsibility for their actions.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  37. @mattb:

    Re. Whitehouse briefings:

    Through it all, ATF Director Melson sat in his office on New York Avenue in mounting frustration. He watched Congress pummel his agency and Issa call for his resignation while he said he was instructed by Justice to say nothing.

    Melson had known there was a massive case being run out of Phoenix, but he later said he wasn’t aware of the operational details or the agents’ discontent.

    After the outcry, Melson plunged into the case file, reading it at his kitchen table in Northern Virginia and on an airplane flight. It tied his stomach in knots, he said, and in mid-flight he composed an e-mail telling Justice officials that their public stance was inconsistent with the documents.

    That’s from the link above. It says the ATF Director didn’t know what was going on. That would lead me to believe that others in Washington were similarly out of the loop.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  38. jan says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    “One thing is for certain F&F has not been a big news story to date. “

    One of the reasons Fast & Furious has not been a big news story is because the MSM has either steadfastly ignored it or breezed over it. I call it doing ‘an Andrea Mitchell’ on a story, like she did with her editing correction of Romney’s comment, the other day. It is laughable how obvious the media earmarks what stories they want to highlight, versus other newsworthy ones they chose to sweep into the newsroom’s corners.

    Also, Obama’s executive privilege intervention is a pattern of his. What he has questioned or demeaned in a nemesis’ administration (aka Bush), 2007: Obama not a big fan of executive privilege, is perfectly ok on his own watch. Interestingly enough, the executive privilege taken by Bush dealt with a much more minor issue of employment termination, rather than one of gun-running and a consequential death.

    BTW, didn’t Nixon turn over all his tapes in the Watergate scandal? Why is it that Holder deems turning over 7,000 pages versus the 80,000 that are said to be out there is just fine?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 13

  39. jan says:

    @Monica:

    “Not sure why the blame keeps getting pushed back on Bush if that’s truly the case.”

    Good Question!

    However, the Obama Presidency is sustained by not having the buck stop at his desk, and merely passing it back to Bush, no matter how the dots line up. Even though he was elected to ‘fix’ the problems of his predecessor, President Obama continues to game his own actions, by I guess rationalizing everything was either worse than he assessed it was, or was simply above his pay grade. If that’s the case, why should he be reelected?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 12

  40. grumpy realist says:

    WTF? If I were president, I would have just released all 180,000 documents in paper format and delivered them via dump truck to Issa’s office. (and the hall…and the room next door…) Plus I would have volunteered to provide him with more and more documentation (all emails between all government employees, for example.) Warned him that all of this was to be considered confidential information and that he would be on the hook if any of it was released to the public. Then sat back and watched the sputtering.

    (Baffling the other side with an infinite amount of material is standard tactic in litigation.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  41. PD Shaw says:

    As I follow this, the document dispute doesn’t have to do with Fast and Furious; it has to do Congressional oversight activities in which the ATF or DOJ gave a misleading accounting of what happened, which was later withdrawn by the Justice Department as inaccurate. The reasonable inference is that Obama got involved in damage control operations pertaining to what is a prosecutable crime (misleading Congress).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  42. @jan:

    One of the reasons Fast & Furious has not been a big news story is because the MSM has either steadfastly ignored it or breezed over it. I call it doing ‘an Andrea Mitchell’ on a story, like she did with her editing correction of Romney’s comment, the other day. It is laughable how obvious the media earmarks what stories they want to highlight, versus other newsworthy ones they chose to sweep into the newsroom’s corners.

    Three points:

    – first, the wife of Alan Greenspan is not exactly a liberal standard bearer
    – second, that wasn’t really typical of Andrea, let alone the MSM
    – third, a sequence uninterrupted is not an “edit.” it just isn’t complete.

    “selective” quote would have been more accurate, in an attempt to be “snarky” even. But that’s about all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  43. sam says:

    @Monica:

    See my comment @ Wednesday, June 20, 2012 at 12:11 :

    In early 2011, the operation became controversial when it was revealed that Operation Fast and Furious and other probes under Project Gunrunner had allowed guns to “walk” into the hands of Mexican drug cartels since as early as 2006.

    2006 would be in the last administration. And BTW, I’m not “blaming Bush”. I only offered that comment as a corrective to those who think this fvckup was begun de novo under Obama.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  44. mattb says:

    @jan:

    One of the reasons Fast & Furious has not been a big news story is because the MSM has either steadfastly ignored it or breezed over it. I call it doing ‘an Andrea Mitchell’ on a story, like she did with her editing correction of Romney’s comment, the other day. It is laughable how obvious the media earmarks what stories they want to highlight, versus other newsworthy ones they chose to sweep into the newsroom’s corners.

    And here we have the classic concept of “media bias” – which isn’t so much that the media is liberal or conservative, but rather that the media doesn’t report on “WHAT I THINK IS IMPORTANT.” (note that this is similar to calls of Judicial Activism).

    Of course, the problem with this is that this gets to exactly the area where opinions and facts tend to deviate.

    I just did a bit of Google-Fu. Between 1/1/2011 and 5/1/2012* (before things really got hot in Congress) google news reported at least ~900 articles** on the topic from a wide range of News Organizations.

    To that point, this is like complaints about Obama not being vetted — it wasn’t that he was not accurately vetted, it’s just that people didn’t like the public response to the vetting (i.e. that the general public didn’t care).

    As far as the Andrea Mitchell thing, it was bad reporting and should be decried. That said, given a number of conservative outlets history for similiar “mistakes” or “lapses in judgement” it seems to me again to be the height of partisanship to pretend that this sort of this is exclusively a problem with the MSM (i.e. normal media outlets).

    * – I opted to cut off the date before news about the hearings overtook news about the actual operation, leaks, etc.
    ** – I attempted to do a rather narrow band search to minimize the number of movie reviews and fluff pieces… there’s a good chance that this missed a number of legitimate news articles. http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&gl=us&tbm=nws&q=Fast+%26+Furious&oq=Fast+%26+Furious&aq=0&aqi=d1g-C2d1&aql=&gs_l=news-cc.1.0.43j0i33l2j43i400.1098.5967.0.9317.3.3.0.0.0.0.96.96.1.1.0…0.0.nQDcAXW7vR0#q=%2B%22Fast%22+%2B%22Furious%22+%2B%22Mexico%22+%2B%22Gun%22&hl=en&safe=off&gl=us&sa=X&ei=hhziT9aOBoef6QH9no0H&ved=0CC8QpwUoCA&source=lnt&tbs=cdr:1%2Ccd_min%3A1%2F1%2F2011%2Ccd_max%3A5%2F1%2F2012&tbm=nws&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.,cf.osb&fp=91ceff464a9a013&biw=1608&bih=871

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  45. There is also this:

    Media Favored Romney Over Obama During GOP Primaries

    That’s not surprising. That’s the dynamic of the story. We know Obama and his advantages are old news. Articles now are going to be targeting problems. On the other hand, Mitt was (finally) winning in the Primaries and had an arc.

    You don’t see me complaining.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  46. wr says:

    @jan: “Interestingly enough, the executive privilege taken by Bush dealt with a much more minor issue of employment termination, rather than one of gun-running and a consequential death.”

    Employment termination? Is that how you refer to the public revealing of the identity of an undercover CIA operative? Or Dick Cheney’s secret meetings with oil company executives? Or to the death of Pat Tillman and its coverup? Oh, look, a consequential death and cover-up.

    And gosh, look what else a little research turns up — Bush extended executive privelege to his chief political advisor Karl Rove over the plan to politicize the justice department.

    I did a search, but I can’t seem to find the posts in which you expressed outrage over these “cover-ups.” Would you be so good as to remind us what you said then?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  47. al-Ameda says:

    The Administration should give Issa what he wants and be prepared for the grandstanding that will follow – it’s the American Way. We know that Issa is hack, but that really is not germane here.

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  48. Dazedandconfused says:

    @PD Shaw:

    That is indeed a reasonable inference, but what of the statements made today about the upper offices being misled by the Phoenix ones and 1300 documents showing how that happened already turned over to Issa?

    Since everything Bruer and Voth have stated are only available to a few members of the committee, all we, the public, have to go on is all the R’s don’t think it true and all the D’s do.

    I’ve listened to all these hearings and, IMO,the media has been doing a terrible job. I strongly suspect that once forced to pay close attention, they will no longer just concentrate on what Issa says, but also what Cummings does, once this thing goes big.

    Bottom line, try to keep an open mind because there is a lot of information we do not have access to still to come, and a lot of spun information that already has.

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  49. Franklin says:

    @bk: Regardless of who started the program, they are looking for documents during the current administration:

    “Issa’s committee is looking for documents dating from February to December 2011 on how the Justice Department handled the Fast and Furious case.”

    My opinion: if these documents really are subject to Executive Privilege, Obama himself appears to be in deep s**t. If they aren’t, then Obama has taken the unusual step of *not* throwing somebody under the bus (whether that’s Holder or somebody else at the DOJ remains to be seen).

    Anyway, the truth will come out someday, but this ain’t looking good for this Administration.

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  50. Patrick H says:

    @sam:

    Except you are wrong. Fast and Furious- what we are talking about here- was started under Obama. He has most of the blame. Bush’s operations were much smaller.

    @mattb:

    Except you are wrong. The media has ignored this, and its not a case of it wasn’t what I wanted. It was a clear case of them not investigating a big story because it didn’t favor Obama. People ignore media bias (which isn’t doesn’t always favor a single side) because they want to remain ignorant.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  51. mattb says:

    @Patrick H:

    Except you are wrong. The media has ignored this, and its not a case of it wasn’t what I wanted.

    Any you base your finding that the media ignore this on what exactly? Like I said, I just presented over 900 stories on a tight google news filter that cover the story…

    Seriously, where is your proof. Or, help me out, what exactly would “proper coverage” look like?

    As I’ve stated on other threads, like Ben Wolf and others, I support the investigation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  52. wr says:

    @mattb: “Seriously, where is your proof. Or, help me out, what exactly would “proper coverage” look like?”

    “Obama is gulty! Obama is a murderer! Obama was born in Kenya! Impeach Obama! Impeach Obama! Impeach Obama!” You know, something like that.

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  53. anjin-san says:

    No, it’s just a comment borne of experience. see: Sam donning knee pads.

    Now Drew, you are the guy who said Romney should be “knighted”. Setting aside the fact that that is not something we do in this country, did you also put on lipstick before you donned that particular set of knee pads?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  54. sam says:

    @Patrick H:

    Bush’s operations were much smaller.

    I think you owe us a definition of “smaller”:

    By early 2009, Project Gunrunner had resulted in approximately 650 cases by ATF, in which more than 1,400 defendants were referred for prosecution in federal and state courts and more than 12,000 firearms were involved [Source].

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  55. jukeboxgrad says:

    monica:

    it was my understanding their [GWB] operation was “Wide Receiver” – which tracked and confiscated the guns

    There was some attempt at tracking but it didn’t work. Link.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  56. PGlenn says:

    Let me get this straight, as I haven’t followed this case at all: on a much more modest scale, Wide Receiver attempted to track the guns, but the tracking did not work effectively, and the program was terminated; then, under the Obama administration, it was decided that the ineffective program should be greatly expanded as F&F and no effort should be made to track the guns; and that therefore F&F should be seen as a Bus-initiated program, and is probably simply a case of bureaucratic bungling?

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  57. An Interested Party says:

    I did a search, but I can’t seem to find the posts in which you expressed outrage over these “cover-ups.” Would you be so good as to remind us what you said then?

    Much like the Tea Party crowd whining about spending and deficits only after the current president sat in the White House, Jan just couldn’t be bothered to be upset back then…hmm, wasn’t The Most Successful Businessman In the History of the World ™ just rambling on about kneepads…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  58. PGlenn says:

    Interested Party: Should the left and/or Democrats be upset or concerned about Fast & Furious – either the results of the policy/program, or the actions of the Justice Dept. and/or Obama White House concerning this matter, or both?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  59. An Interested Party says:

    PGlenn: Forget particular political persuasions, everyone should want to get to the bottom of this mess…at the same time, some conservatives who are whining about the faults of this administration didn’t seem too bothered when the last administration was exhibiting similar behavior…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  60. PGlenn says:

    An Interested Party: that is true, but it’s not necessarily a “conservative” phenomenon, except that most self-identified conservatives would be partisan Republicans; plus, anyone who is especially engaged in politics – conservative or otherwise – will probably tend toward being an ideologue, which further distorts his/her outlook.

    Otherwise, though, libertarian-oriented conservatives and libertarian-oriented leftists should be roughly on the same page on this one – both wanting to get to the bottom of this mess and both more apt to be concerned/upset about these types of affairs. We can go back to being at eachother’s throats on other matters.

    Whereas “neocons” and Beltway Democrats will play at being at eachother’s throats on this matter (partly pretending, exercising theatrics for partisan reasons), even though they both are ever-prepared to defend their respective side when its under question and, when push comes to shove, aren’t that earnestly concerned/upset about such shenanigans except as it might affect their plans.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  61. jan says:

    @An Interested Party:

    “Much like the Tea Party crowd whining about spending and deficits only after the current president sat in the White House, “

    The tea party became overtly active because of the HC overreach. But, to say they were fans of Bush just shows your own ignorance about their movement. Bush was often cited as “spending like a drunken sailor.” Conservatives railed against his perscription drug expansion. Unlike dems, republicans are quick to chastice their own. And, the tea party, in particular, core theme was opposing the expansion of big government into the lives of people, whether they wanted it or not.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  62. jukeboxgrad says:

    Conservatives railed against his perscription drug expansion.

    As usual, you’re living in a dream world. Rush was still defending Medicare Part D in 2009. Link:

    When’s the last time a government program came in below cost? Well, Medicare Part D did

    And link:

    Speaking of that, there’s a story somewhere in the stack here. That’s Medicare Part D, I think, that’s the Bush entitlement. It came in under budget! It has worked. It’s come in under budget.

    The GOP is packed with people who became born-again deficit hawks on 1/20/09, after napping for thirty years. In particular, some of our finest born-again deficit hawks voted for Medicare Part D, even though it “added $15.5 trillion (in present value terms) to our nation’s indebtedness.” This group includes Boehner, Cantor, and Ryan. More proof that the GOP runs on amnesia.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  63. jukeboxgrad says:

    Also pay attention to what William F. Buckley Jr. said about Bush 109 days after Bush signed Medicare Part D into law. See if you can find the part of the article where he condemns that. Your “conservatives [who] railed against his perscription drug expansion” are mostly mythical.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  64. An Interested Party says:

    But, to say they were fans of Bush just shows your own ignorance about their movement.

    And you typing that statement just shows that you like to play with strawmen, as I never claimed that members of the Tea Party crowd were fans of Bush…

    Unlike dems, republicans are quick to chastice their own.

    Yeah, that must be why Republicans strong-armed other Republicans into the middle of the night to make sure that the law that included that prescription drug expansion was passed…

    And, the tea party, in particular, core theme was opposing the expansion of big government into the lives of people, whether they wanted it or not.

    Oh really? I missed all of their protests over, say, The No Child Left Behind Act…perhaps you could point me to links that illustrate this opposition to that particular expansion of big government…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  65. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @wr: Employment termination? Is that how you refer to the public revealing of the identity of an undercover CIA operative?

    I wasn’t going to bring up the Obama administration’s leaking of classified information for poltiical gain, like the British asset that tipped us off to the underwear bomber or the Pakistani doctor who helped us get Bin Laden, but if you wanna go there…

    Oh, you meant Valerie Plame, the desk agent who was accidentally outed by Richard Armitage after she put her husband up for an intelligence assignment he was woefully unqualified for? And who later lied about the significance of what he did uncover? Sorry, nowhere near the same.

    Thanks again, though, for demonstrating that when it comes to your stupidity and your partisan hackery, it’s neck and neck which is dominant.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  66. jukeboxgrad says:

    pglenn:

    Let me get this straight, as I haven’t followed this case at all: on a much more modest scale, Wide Receiver attempted to track the guns

    You’re not really getting it straight, because it’s probably an overstatement to flatly say “Wide Receiver attempted to track the guns.” What’s known is that “some firearms” were equipped with a tracking chip, but the method was quite inept.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  67. jukeboxgrad says:

    jenos:

    Valerie Plame, the desk agent

    According to DCI Hayden, her employment status was covert.

    who was accidentally outed by Richard Armitage

    You’re falsely implying there was only one leaker. Trouble is, there were at least three leakers. Yes, Armitage outed Plame to Novak. But Rove outed Plame to Cooper, and Libby outed Plame to Miller. Three wrongs don’t make a right. Fitzgerald knew that.

    after she put her husband up for an intelligence assignment

    Sending him was not her idea.

    he was woefully unqualified for

    His name came up because he had gone on a similar mission for the CIA just a few years prior. I guess you didn’t know that.

    And who later lied about the significance of what he did uncover?

    No, he didn’t lie “about the significance of what he did uncover.” This is the heart of what Wilson said:

    [before my trip] I was told [about] a memorandum of agreement that documented the sale of uranium yellowcake … [upon visiting Niger] it did not take long to conclude that it was highly doubtful that any such transaction had ever taken place … Then, in January, President Bush … repeated the charges about Iraqi efforts to buy uranium from Africa … if the president had been referring to Niger, then his conclusion was not borne out by the facts as I understood them.

    There’s nothing wrong with that statement, and he was proven to be correct.

    As usual, you manage to pack an extraordinary quantity of bullshit into a small number of words.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  68. David M says:

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2011/12/08/rep_issa_government_used_fast_and_furious_to_limit_second_amendment_rights.html

    Rep Issa: Very clearly, they’ve made a crisis and they’re using this crisis to somehow take away or limit people’s second amendment rights

    Darrell Issa is a crazy person if he believes that, or on a witch hunt if he doesn’t. Either way, I’m putting my money on the Administration claiming executive privilege not because they need to, but because they can. And cooperating with Issa certainly isn’t the right move.

    Also, is bad if I just don’t care about the admittedly stupid Fast & Furious plan? The NRA/GOP have convinced me that gun control doesn’t work as criminals will always get guns, so I can’t see how it actually harmed anyone.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  69. jukeboxgrad says:

    I can’t see how it actually harmed anyone.

    There are supposedly about 20 million illegal firearms in Mexico. So if FF added 2,000, that’s an increase of 0.01%. Needless to say, we should expect an enormous impact from a change of that magnitude.

    The real issue here is the stupid ‘war on drugs.’ That’s the underlying cause of the problem.

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  70. mattb says:

    FYI, for those interested, a quick primer on actual invocations of Executive Privilage:
    http://newsandinsight.thomsonreuters.com/Legal/News/2012/06_-_June/Factbox__History_of_executive_privilege/

    Top line in terms of numbers:
    Bill Clinton – 14 invocation
    President George W. Bush – 6 invocation
    Obama (to date) – 1 invocation

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  71. al-Ameda says:

    @mattb:

    Top line in terms of numbers:
    FYI, for those interested, a quick primer on actual invocations of Executive Privilage:
    Bill Clinton – 14 invocation
    President George W. Bush – 6 invocation
    Obama (to date) – 1 invocation

    The politically correct interpretation of those numbers is: “Obama is destroying our country.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  72. Eric Florack says:

    just as a matter of idle curiosity, how is it that the president can claim executive privilege over documents that he tells us he’s never seen?

    Secondly, Obama told us back on the 21st of January, 2009

    “Let me say it is simply as I can: transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency ”

    So how does the match that statement with the invocation of executive privilege, when clearly, there are criminal implications?

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