Yesterday the news broke that Obama elevated the Fast and Furious scandal by invoking Executive Privilege to shield the release of further documents. This lead many to wonder what are they hiding?
The big unanswered question in the Fast and Furious scandal is what happened between February 2011 when the Department of Justice denied it had let guns "walk" to Mexico resulting in the killing of U.S. Border Agent Brian Terry and scores of Mexican nationals and the admission in December 2011 that this in fact had happened and that earlier statements to Congress were misleading.
Here's the House Oversight Committee statement explaining the importance of these documents:
Why are the post February 4, 2011, documents critically important?WH Response: GOP Should Focus on Jobs.
On February 4, 2011, the Department of Justice denied whistleblower allegations that guns in Operation Fast and Furious had been allowed to “walk” to Mexico and defended the Operation itself. Ten months later, on December 2, 2011, the Justice Department formally withdrew this denial and acknowledged that Fast and Furious was “fundamentally flawed.” In responding to Congress, however, the Justice Department has taken the position that it will not share its internal deliberations related to Operation Fast and Furious that occurred after it denied anything inappropriate occurred on February 4, 2011. This position effectively denies Congress and the American people information about:
o The Justice Department switching its view from denying whistleblower allegations to admitting they were true.
o Hiding the identity of officials who led the charge to call whistleblowers liars and retaliate against them.
o The reactions of top officials when confronted with evidence about gunwalking in Fast and Furious, including whether they were surprised or were already aware.
o The Justice Department’s assessment of responsibility for officials who knew about reckless conduct or were negligent.
o Whether senior officials and political appointees at fault in Operation Fast and Furious were held to the same standards as lower level career employees whom the Department has primarily blamed.
While officials at the Department of Justice had earlier claimed that divulging this information would have a “chilling effect” on future internal deliberations, they have more recently expressed a greater willingness to produce this material. Congress, under both Democratic and Republican leadership, has never recognized internal agency discussions as privileged and protected.
Note to WH: 30 GOP Jobs Bills Stalled in Senate!
No surprise that White House Spokesman Jay Carney completely glossed over the fact that Executive Privilege does not apply to interdepartmental documents being sought. Instead, Carney attempted to shift the focus by saying that "Given the economic challenges facing the country, we believe that House Republicans" should help grow the economy instead of "political theater."
Speaking of political theater, last week we had Obama's 54 minute speech in Cleveland on the economy which was long on recycled rhetoric and absent any new ideas. At the time, House Speaker Boehner reminded us that the House has 30 jobs bills that have been blocked or stalled by Democrats in the U.S. Senate. Here's the video: