Hiding in Plain Sight


One of the tactics used in the discovery phase of a lawsuit is to stonewall until forced to produce evidence by the court and then to bury the opposing side with a huge dump of paperwork at the last second. That’s the tactic the Department of Justice appears to have used in the suit filed by Judicial Watch over the non-response to Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act request for emails related to Operation Fast and Furious.

The DoJ has tried to claim executive privilege. The court order the DoJ to provide a complete list of the emails together with a description of why each was privileged. The DoJ wanted until after the election to respond. The judge order the response due this month.

John Hinderacker has an analysis of the information divulged by the list of emails over at PowerLine. Read the whole thing and find out why the Administration wanted the information out of the public eye. Especially before the election.

Transparency Means You Can See Right Though ‘Em


President Obama published a memo to the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies on transparency in government. You can read the whole thing here. It says in part:

Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing.  Information maintained by the Federal Government is a national asset. My Administration will take appropriate action, consistent with law and policy, to disclose information rapidly in forms that the public can readily find and use.

“… consistent with law and policy …” Those should not be weasel words, but they are. What happens when it is the Administration’s policy to deceive the public?

Obamacare happens. Benghazi happens. Fast and Furious happens. The IRS 501(c)3 debacle happens. NSA overreach happens. The unemployment statistics falsification happens.

The expectation that the government is lying happens. That expectation is becoming so pervasive that even the main steam media is having to take notice and challenge White House claims.

It really doesn’t matter whether the screwups are the result of incompetence as Chis Christie suggests (“they’ve never run anything before”) or corruption or some mix of them plus other factors. The result has been increased transparency. Folks are now looking for the gotcha, the weasel words, or the flat-out lie in whatever comes out of the White House, and, with that increased attention, are beginning to see right through the PR.

Public Reaction to Eric Holder is #FastandFurious


If the poll published by CNN is to be believed, the public isn’t buying the Obama Administration’s spin on the Fast and Furious subpoena and the Congressional contempt citation against Eric Holder. (H/T, Ed Morrissey)

It seems that we common folk naively believe that government officials are supposed to obey the law just as we have to. If the poll is accurate, then it would seem that the brouhaha is causing heartburn among a couple of key Obama constituencies–young people and low-income voters.

Hmmmm.

Is it November yet?

Getting It Wrong on #FastandFurious


One of the tactical blunders committed by the White House during June was claiming executive privilege on the Fast and Furious documents demanded by the House Oversight Committee. The resulting brouhaha was too loud for the main stream media to ignore. They’ve had to cover the story, and, of course, they’ve tried to bend the facts to fit their desired narrative. Consider this example from the NYT Opinion Page:

There is little chance that Mr. Holder will be prosecuted for criminal contempt, but a second House vote authorized Mr. Issa’s committee to pursue a civil court action against him — energy and effort much better spent developing a workable plan to stem the flood of American guns to Mexican drug cartels that gave rise to the disputed Fast and Furious Operation. This was a shameful exercise in political gamesmanship. House Republicans and the gun lobby, in making Mr. Holder the first sitting cabinet member in history to be held in contempt, came out looking a lot worse than their target.

They assert that there is a flood of American guns going to Mexico. Now there have certainly been some U. S. made firearms smuggled into Mexico, but the vast majority of of the Fast and Furious guns have been SKS rifles or semi auto versions of the AK-47. Both these designs are of Russian origin. Neither is manufactured in the U. S. The SKS and the full auto version of the AK-47 are readily obtainable in large quantities around the world. If I were a running a Mexican drug cartel, I wouldn’t waste time or money trying to buy guns at U. S. retail that are available wholesale in place like Cuba. But the main stream media has rarely let facts get in the way of a story that relates to guns.

Some leftwing bloggers are also having trouble with the facts. Firedoglake posts:

I’m on the record saying that I don’t think much of the Oversight Committee’s investigation. And we have a decent amount of information that calls into question the rendering of Fast and Furious as a gun-walking scandal. It appears more like a case of federal prosecutors being overcautious than a definitive strategy to track guns carried across the border by straw purchasers. What’s more, the program started under the Bush Administration and ended under the Obama Administration.

While it is true that the ATF under the Bush Administration tried a gun walking program, it’s also true that the operation was ended before Bush left office because the agents could not keep track of all of the guns involved. The fact of the matter is that the Obama Administration revived and expanded a known failed program. OTOH, credit is due to David Dayen for reaching a reasonable conclusion about the document controversy in the same FDL post:

Nevertheless, the proper way to handle this is to challenge the executive privilege invocation in court. Clearly we need more clarity – and limits – to how an Administration can use executive privilege. We know they can privilege both direct communications and deliberative communications among a government agency. But when executive privilege gets used as a mere method to deny documents to another branch of government engaged in oversight, that becomes a problem. In general, there’s way too much secrecy in government, and that’s been especially true of this Administration, which has been anything but the most transparent ever. We need rules on the classification of documents, because the executive branch has shown themselves willing at every opportunity to expand the definition.

I think Fast and Furious is a stupid case. But sometimes it takes stupid cases.

On that point, at least, it seems the leftwing bloggers are doing better than the main stream media.

Barack’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day


First, the Supreme Court will hand down its decisions in the Obamacare cases. I’m still betting that the whole law will go down.

Next, the House will hold the Contempt of Congress vote on Eric Holder. I’m betting he will be held in contempt.

A one-two punch. It will be entertaining to watch the White House and Main Stream Media spin machine tomorrow.

Forty Years Later …


Yesterday, the day that President Obama invoked executive privilege, was the fortieth anniversary of The 18-Minute Gap in the Watergate scandal. It is interesting to compare and contrast WaPo’s coverage and commentary on the topic of executive privilege then and now. All the President’s Men seem to be at the Post in 2012.

UPDATE–My bad! Some of them are at the New York Times.

Executive Privilege


UPDATE—Todd Gaziano argues over at The Foundry that the President’s assertion of executive privilege is illegitimate and probably an attempt to cover up wrongdoing. (H/T, David Kopel) It’s not only illegitimate, it’s stupid. As lots of us have pointed out, this blows the Fast and Furious story on the front pages of the Main Stream Media. Even MSNBC and Mother Jones are covering the story now. If the White House is this desperate to keep the documents out of public view …

The American people will now clearly understand that it is President Obama who doesn’t want them to know who is to blame for the Fast and Furious scandal—and whether his Administration has done anything to prevent it from happening again.

Fast and Furious Meets the Streisand Effect


The Obama administration is clearly worried (panicked?) concerning the contents of the documents Eric Holder refuses to turn over to Congress. Citing presidential executive privilege for the working papers of much lower level bureaucrats strikes me as foolish–unless there is something in them addressed directly to the President or written by him.

In any event, the story will now explode. It will move from being covered mostly by the right half of the blogosphere out to more main stream media other than CBS. It may take a while, but whatever they want to hid will now come out. Perhaps the folks who have compared Barack Obama to Richard Nixon are right. I wonder; what will be this administration’s equivalent of the 18-minute gap?

UPDATE–As Al Gore would say, there is controlling legal authority on the question of executive privilege. The case is United States v. Nixon in which the Supreme Court essentially limited the privilege to communication directly to or from the President. Is there something the documents with Barack Obama’s name on it? Or is he challenging the Supreme Court’s 1974 ruling? And is he forgetting how as a Senator he derided George W. Bush’s claim of the privilege in 2007? Inquiring minds want to know.

UPDATE 2–Even MSNBC has to cover the story now. Epic narrative fail!

UPDATE 3–(H/T, Charlie Spierling)

The President is not the Attorney General’s client; the people are.

–Senator Barack Obama, 2005

UPDATE 4–Even Kevin Drum at Mother Jones has taken notice. And not favorably.

Today, the White House asserted executive privilege to justify withholding the documents. Is this legitimate? It might be, but if the documents are truly covered by executive privilege, it’s a little hard to believe that Holder was willing to let the committee “review” them yesterday. Something doesn’t add up.

UPDATE 5 –Michael Walsh writes this over at The Corner:

But one thing is already clear: by asserting executive privilege, Obama has now forced F&F into the mainstream media, which has been doing its damnedest to block this story from the public. Those days are now over. Let the Nixon administration nostalgia now begin; at least no one died in Watergate.

Not Very Fast But Quite Furious


The Washington Examiner’s summary nails it:

Holder’s attitude before the committee yesterday could only be described as contemptuous. At one point, Rep. Raul Labrador read a dozen quotes from Holder over a period of more than a decade in which he had claimed his staff did not inform him about assorted matters. The attorney general disdainfully replied, “maybe this is the way you do things in Idaho or wherever you are from.” Labrador was born in Puerto Rico and represents an Idaho congressional district.

Rather than the country bumpkin Holder appears to consider him, Labrador is a lawyer and the former managing partner of a law firm. More important, he is an elected member of Congress tasked by the Constitution to ask whatever questions he deems appropriate in in a congressional oversight hearing probing executive branch law enforcement activities. As much as he clearly chafes under such oversight, Holder should be relieved of his duties.

UPDATE–Ed Morrissey asks whether the AG should walk the plank or be pushed. He cites part of Daily Caller interview with Rep. Trey Gowdy who doesn’t think that the votes are there for an impeachment.

UPDATE 2–While lurking about various MSM sites on the interwebs, I’ve found a few sites that feature AG Holder’s outrage or disgust at his character being called into question (ABC News, for example), but I’m a bit surprised at how few wagons are being circled around the AG. Many seem to be ready to move on. NPR, for instance, is running the AP wire story rather than coverage by their own reporter.

Hmmmm. Maybe that bus will be coming for Eric Holder after all.

Eric Holder To Become A Campaign Issue?


In today’s edition of Morning Jolt (subscribe here) Jim Geraghty reports that Eric Holder intends to assert some sort of privilege that would allow him to keep his emails and other work products from the prying eyes of Congress. (H/T, Ed Morrissey)

Thus, the administration that took military action in Libya without any authorization from force from Congress, that appointed czars with policymaking authority without congressional confirmation, and that made “recess” appointments while Congress was not in recess is invoking executive privilege to cover how the Department of Justice reacted when Congress began asking about a gun-trafficking operation that got U.S. law enforcement officers murdered by Mexican drug cartels.

All from a president who railed against a runaway imperial presidency when George W. Bush sat in the office he currently occupies.

Hmmm.

Ed Morrissey’s piece takes note of a memo circulating among Republicans in Congress that outlines further details of the ties between senior DoJ personnel and Operation Fast and Furious. It should be an interesting hearing today in Rep. Issa’s committee.

Mr. Morrissey notes that executive privilege lies with the President and communication in which he is personally involved. The only other privilege that I can think of that the AG might assert is attorney/client, but his client is the President–so any successful assertion of privilege would require the assumption of Presidential involvement. That turns Fast and Furious into a potential campaign issue.

UPDATE–PJ Media has a thorough fisking of the AG’s prepare testimony to the House committee.

UPDATE 2–The Arizona Republic (H/T, Shall Not Be Questioned) is carrying a story about Dennis Burke, a U. S. Attorney connected with Fast and Furious and a strong proponent of gun control, that tends to support the conspiracy theory that the whole operation was created in an effort to get new gun laws passed. Here’s the money quote from one of Mr. Burke’s emails:

It’s going to bring a lot of attention to straw purchasers of assault weapons. Some of these weapons bought by these clowns in Arizona have been directly traced to murders of elected officials in Mexico by the cartels, so Katie-bar-the-door when we unveil this baby.

Hmmmm.

Sebastian at Shall Not Be Questioned opines that Mr Burke should go to jail. A commenter at that site suggests a Mexican jail.

UPDATE 3–Among all the reporting on the AG’s testimony, this by Jim Geraghty perhaps best demonstrates how the Republicans will be able to make Eric Holder and Fast and Furious an issue. The video of the exchange between Mr. Holder and Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle shows a completely unrepentant, even arrogant, response from the AG. I am reminded of words spoken at another Congressional hearing many years ago:

… I think I have never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. …You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?

But this time those words should be directed to the witness.

It’s Not The Crime, It’s The Coverup


As AG Holder’s next appearance before Congress approaches, the Democrat minority led by Elijah Cummings has put out a thoroughly bogacious report attempting to whitewater whitewash Operation Fast and Furious. Bob Owens has a review of that report here.

Meanwhile, Politico reports that Rep. Issa is threatening to begin proceedings to hold AG Holder in contempt of Congress if certain documents aren’t produced by 9 February.

Investor’s Business Daily has a post up calling for Holder’s impeachment.

All this brouhaha is over the answer to the simple question (paraphrasing Howard Baker): What did the Attorney General know, and when did he know it? And perhaps we need to be asking Baker’s original question. “What did the President know, and when did he know it?”

Ya Think?


Janet Napolitano speaking at the National Press Cub said:

Obviously I think if the question is referring to things like Fast and Furious, I think everyone has acknowledged that mistakes, serious mistakes, were made there. The key question [is] to make sure that those mistakes, from my standpoint, are never again repeated.

Ya Think? Sounds like they’re preparing for someone (Holder?) to be the fall guy.

Sorry About That, Chief


It could read like a script from an old Get Smart episode:

Holder: I learned about Fast and Furious a couple of weeks beforehand.
Issa: I find that hard to believe.
Holder: Would you believe a couple of months?
Isaa: I don’t think so.
Holder: How about five months?

The latest document dump from the DoJ shows email traffic between Arizona and the head shed in DC on the very day of the shooting about the death of Border Patrol Agent Terry and the fact that Fast and Furious weapons were involved. One email contains the following:

I’ve alerted the AG, the Acting DAG, Lisa, etc.

It should be an interesting session when Holder testifies before Congress this week.

Chutzpah!


Politico has a story up quoting AG Eric Holder decrying the fact that 68 law enforcement officers in the U. S. have died this year from being shot. He is quoted as saying:

This is a devastating and unacceptable trend. Each of these deaths is a tragic reminder of the threats that law enforcement officers face each day. I want to assure the family members and loved ones who have mourned the loss of these heroes that we are responding to this year’s increased violence with renewed vigilance and will do everything within our power — and use every tool at our disposal — to keep our police officers safe.

I wonder if that includes an attempt to recover the guns that were sent to Mexico as part of Operation Fast and Furious and that are now turning up at U. S. crime scenes.

Chutzpah!

Pants on Fire


AG Eric Holder has testified that “nobody at the Justice Department has lied” about Operation Fast and Furious.
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Documents uncovered by Senate investigators show that Lanny Breuer, chief of the DoJ’s Criminal Division, misled the public while under oath about what he knew about the disastrous operation. Sen. Grassley says that Breuer lied in a letter about what he knew to be true about Fast and Furious and that he lied about his involvement in drafting and review of the letter.

Investor’s Business Daily has more here.

Depart I Say; And Let’s Have Done With You


Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) has introduced a resolution in the House of no confidence in AG Eric Holder. There are already 21 co-sponsors.

Tina Korbe notes:

[S]upport for Holder’s resignation today far outweighs the support for the resignation of George W. Bush Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez in 2007. Gonzalez eventually resigned. Yet, today, the president and Holder continue to dismiss the movement for the AG’s resignation as manufactured and unimportant.

It’s time for the country to say to the AG what Cromwell told the Rump Parliament:

You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately … Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!