By Frank Miniter | Forbes.com
On June 7 Attorney General Eric Holder told the U.S. House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee: “We’ve looked at 240 custodians, processed millions of electronic records and reviewed over 140,000 documents and produced to you about 7,600.”
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) shot back: “So, 140,000 documents. How many documents are responsive but you are withholding at this time?”
This isn’t 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, “Don’t you think it is a little conspicuous that there is not one email from or to you on Fast and Furious? … Isn’t it true that executive privilege does not include you?”
Holder answered, “We have not withheld any documents that are responsive. We have withheld information about ongoing investigations.”
Issa shot back, “That’s how John Mitchell responded.” (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, “The reference to John Mitchell, let’s think about that. At some point, you know as they said at the McCarthy hearings….” He then he looked back at Issa and said, “Have you no shame?”
Issa lashed back, “Have you no shame?”
That’s the tone surrounding the congressional investigation into Operation Fast and Furious. That’s 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 “walk” 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 Watergate—as all presidential scandals seem to be—many say, “No one died in Watergate.” 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 president’s executive privilege.
Specifically, congressional investigators want Holder’s emails. They want the ones that mention Operation Fast and Furious. To date he hasn’t given even one. This is why Rep. Issa asked, “Don’t you think it is a little conspicuous that there is not one email from or to you on Fast and Furious?” It’s why, in fact, that after Issa’s five minutes questioning the Attorney General were up last December, Holder’s emails were still the focus of the Republican member’s attention.
Read the full article at: forbes.com