By Frank Miniter | Forbes.com
On June 7 Attorney General Eric Holder told the U.S. House of Representativesí Judiciary Committee: ďWeíve looked at 240 custodians, processed millions of electronic records and reviewed over 140,000 documents and produced to you about 7,600.Ē
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) shot back: ďSo, 140,000 documents. How many documents are responsive but you are withholding at this time?Ē
This isnít election-year hyperbole. Rep. Issa and Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) have been trying to drag documents out of the Justice Department, interviewing whistleblowers and more for about 18 months now. In fact, Rep. Issa brought up executive privilege last December when Holder appeared before the House Judiciary Committee.
At the time, Issa asked, ďDonít you think it is a little conspicuous that there is not one email from or to you on Fast and Furious? Ö Isnít it true that executive privilege does not include you?Ē
Holder answered, ďWe have not withheld any documents that are responsive. We have withheld information about ongoing investigations.Ē
Issa shot back, ďThatís how John Mitchell responded.Ē (John Mitchell was attorney general under President Richard Nixon. Mitchell had been found guilty of charges related to the Watergate break-in. He was sentenced to 19 months in prison.)
Holder turned to Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and said, ďThe reference to John Mitchell, letís think about that. At some point, you know as they said at the McCarthy hearingsÖ.Ē He then he looked back at Issa and said, ďHave you no shame?Ē
Issa lashed back, ďHave you no shame?Ē
Thatís the tone surrounding the congressional investigation into Operation Fast and Furious. Thatís how heated the congressional investigation has been. Now 18 months after Special Agent Brian Terry was killed with an AK-47 that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) purposely let ďwalkĒ into Mexico, President Barack Obama has used executive privilege to shield documents related to the gunrunning program.
This use of executive privilege has forced even mainstream news outlets to stop mostly ignoring this scandal. It must have been hard for so many reporters to lay off this one; after all, this story deals with thousands of missing guns, the deaths of two American law-enforcement officers, corruption, obvious cover-ups, and, according to the Attorney General of Mexico, Marisela Morales, has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Mexicans. Yeah, some journalists have a lot of catching up to do.
Now, when this scandal is compared to Watergateóas all presidential scandals seem to beómany say, ďNo one died in Watergate.Ē Quite right. No one did, making this one much more serious. But the reason this is similar to Watergate is that we also have missing documents and the use of a presidentís executive privilege.
Specifically, congressional investigators want Holderís emails. They want the ones that mention Operation Fast and Furious. To date he hasnít given even one. This is why Rep. Issa asked, ďDonít you think it is a little conspicuous that there is not one email from or to you on Fast and Furious?Ē Itís why, in fact, that after Issaís five minutes questioning the Attorney General were up last December, Holderís emails were still the focus of the Republican memberís attention.
Read the full article at: forbes.com