As many of you know, the scandal of Fast and Furious involved the Department of Justice allowing thousands of illegally purchased weapons to ‘walk’ across the border for resale to Mexican drug cartels. The weapons had no tracking devices, most have never been recovered and over 300 murders have been attributed to them, including the murder of U.S. border patrol agent Brian Terry.
On the eve of Attorney General Eric Holder being cited for contempt over his refusal to supply documents on Fast and Furious that were subpoenaed by the Congressional Oversight committee, President Obama asserted executive privilege over the documents in question. What will be the end result of this strategy and what does it signify? The Council weighs in:
The Right Planet: Invoking executive privilege in the Fast and Furious gun-walking scheme has, for all intents and purposes, forced the hand of the media to deal with the F&F investigation. To what extent, I cannot predict, but it surely was a shock to the mainstream media to discover the president (ab)used executive authority, on behalf of Attorney General Eric Holder, to block DoJ documents being requested by Rep. Issa and the Oversight Committee relating to the Fast and Furious operation. The problem for the Obama Administration is now twofold: either AG Holder lied to Congress; or Obama was fully aware and involved in Operation Fast and Furious. The documents now in question are allegedly related to communications between the WH and AG Holder during the course of the investigation. Additionally, Holder has made several retractions from his testimony before the Oversight Committee when new facts came to light. Think about it … who gets to retract testimony during an investigation or court trial? Apparently the Obama Administration thinks it can.
I predict the liberal media will blame Bush–claiming that a similar program was implemented during Bush’s term–Operation Wide Receiver–and that Operation Fast and Furious was simply a continuation. Sorry, MSM, Operation Wide Receiver and Operation Fast and Furious are fundamentally different. The Wide Receiver op was conducted in cooperation with the Mexican government, unlike Fast and Furious. Also, Wide Receiver tagged and tracked the guns sold to straw purchasers–once again, unlike the Fast and Furious op. The liberal media claims Fast and Furious was just a “botched” operation. Really? A “botched” operation that lead to the deaths of two Border Patrol agents and nearly 300 Mexicans? No, that’s on par with a war crime. The question now becomes who are the individuals responsible for mass murder. And why. What was the specific purpose of Fast Furious? I will also predict the MSM will try and slough off the use executive privilege by claiming Bush, and other presidents, did it too. Well, to me, that’s not a rebuttal. What national security matter is being threatened by not releasing the documents to Congress as prescribed by the Constitution? The use of executive privilege can only be invoked to protect national security in these matters, not to cover-up wrongdoing (see Nixon). I predict this will not end well for Holder or Obama.
The Razor: I’ve often wondered if Nixon had been a Democrat whether there would have been a Watergate investigation by Washington Post reporters. At the time I don’t think reporters were anywhere near as biased towards the Democrats as they are now due to Johnson’s escalation of the Vietnam war, but considering how they’ve lost all pretense to objectivity since I find it worth considering. It’s a shame because Fast and Furious has the potential to be the worst scandal since Watergate.
The administration created procedures to funnel guns to narcoterrorists in Mexico for an unknown reason. There are three possible reasons for the operation: First, that the administration was so incompetent that it failed to create tracking mechanisms for the guns on the Mexican side of the border by working with Mexican authorities. Second that the administration was passing guns to the narcoterrorists as a tool of American foreign policy to help them destabilize the Mexican government for example. Finally, that the administration funneled guns to the narcoterrorists as a tool of domestic policy to justify gun control measures made easier by American made guns turning up at crimes committed by the Mexican gangs. All three options are impeachable offenses by the Attorney General, and the last two are impeachable offenses of the president. I don’t take impeachment lightly. I opposed the Republican effort to impeach Clinton in 1998 and still do, but Fast and Furious has the necessary ingredients to justify it in this case if the facts bear it out.
That said I do not expect the Executive Privilege orders to be challenged by a mainstream press that operates as the propaganda wing of the DNC. The orders are coming over the summer when most people are too busy enjoying themselves to pay much attention to the news, and the orders have enough nuances to them (Bush used them 6 times while this is Obama’s first) for people to give the administration the benefit of the doubt. The administration knows how to play the press better than any I’ve seen in my lifetime thanks to the press’s willingness to be played.
It is a shame because what is known about Fast and Furious is enough to justify full disclosure. I expect that we will someday know the truth, but I don’t expect it before November.
Bookworm Room: If Obama cannot credibly prove that the documents he seeks to protect involve the executive decision-making process, his claim will die and die quickly. He’ll end up looking like a fool, and the documents will be squeezed out of Holder.
If Obama can credibly prove that the documents he seeks to protect involve the executive decision-making process, he’s actually in trouble, because he will have implicated himself in the Fast & Furious cover-up. In this regard, keep in mind that Rep. Issa posed an extremely narrow request that goes to Fast & Furious testimony, rather than Fast & Furious itself. Because Holder has consistently backtracked — i.e., recanted lies — Obama’s claim means that his office was a part of the cover-up. And to the extent that Holder is still refusing to turn over documents, Obama is part of a continuing cover-up. Worse, for Obama, the narrow range of this type of executive privilege claim means that, because wrongdoing is involved, Obama will ultimately still need to let those documents go to the House.
The worst thing for Obama is that, by invoking executive privilege, he leaped over the the Cone of Silence that the media had so thoughtfully built around Fast & Furious. It’s gone from being a scandal in the conservative internet to becoming national news. Those same citizens who were once completely oblivious to this chicanery are now sitting up and taking notice.
There’s debate as to whether the Democrat party has become so ethically corrupt that it will continue to rally around Obama and Holder regardless of subsequent discovery about wrongdoing. If Dems do rally around him, Obama will avoid impeachment or official humiliation from the legislative branch. What’s more important, though, is that this whole debacle won’t end well in the public eye. Obama will look like a fool for wrongly invoking executive privilege or, if he had reason to invoke it, his fingerprints will suddenly be all over a scheme that armed drug runners, killed American law officers, and killed innumerable Hispanics on both sides of the border.
Joshuapundit: President Obama is playing an interesting game here, and one he has a decent chance of winning.
This is by no means the first time the Administration has been fingered in questionable deeds. Most American have forgotten, for instance, that the White House was directly implicated by two senate candidates who both made public statements that the White House offered them jobs not to primary incumbents, a felony offense that somehow just wafted away into the ozone. Congress’s request to the DOJ for a special prosecutor was denied here too.
President Obama believes he has Teflon underwear based on these and other instances I could mention, and and the president knows it primarily comes from his race and the unspoken threat of massive urban civil unrest should he be called to account and secondly from his idolization by the dinosaur media. That’s why Fast and Furious has been allowed to drag on so long.
The House will almost certainly vote on party lines to cite Holder for contempt, but their only possible redress will be through the DC circuit court, which will take months. If President Obama loses, he will likely grant Eric Holder and anyone else concerned a pardon, which is irrevocable. It’s unlikely that a new Republican Administration would pursue this matter, given how the political classes operate. If the president should win and if the Republicans take both houses of Congress this matter might be pursued but if so it’s likely to end up as the Clinton impeachment did because most Democrats in the Senate are unlikely to vote for impeachment of a Democrat no matter what, and the likelihood of getting 60 votes to convict is sketchy. Especially since the president has the power to pardon any awkward witnesses to eliminate any possibility of prosecutors granting immunity in exchange for testimony.
The only positive thing is that by prematurely claiming non-catalogued executive privilege this president has not only linked the White House to Fast and Furious with iron shackles, but forced the dinosaur media to cover the scandal instead of being able to ignore it.
The Noisy Room: I believe that the Executive Privilege that Barack Obama has claimed over Fast and Furious will be challenged by Issa and others and will wind up at the feet of the Supreme Court. If I had to guess on that outcome, I believe Constitutionally they would rule against Obama.
In the end, this scandal will prove more widespread and deeper than Watergate and the media will not be able to contain it. The truth will eventually come out and I have long said that Eric Holder should one day grace the inside of a prison cell. He will be found in contempt and will likely get a Presidential pardon. As for Barack Obama, I predict this whole thing will be stalled until he is out of office, G-d willing, next year. Obama will most likely never have to pay for his hand in this, although if he is involved, in the end he could be prosecuted. Romney will have to clean up the mess left him and try to repair as much of the damage as possible.
The Colossus of Rhodey: The end result will amount to nothing, ultimately, if Obama loses in the fall, because the matter will remain in the courts for months/years. But if Obama wins, the GOP congress will continue to press the matter for all it’s worth well into the second Obama term. If the SCOTUS deems exec privilege unworthy in this case a la with Nixon back during Watergate, then we may see another just such spectacle — and then *that* will drag on for months … all accompanied with the usual vigorous charges of “racism,” of course. 😉
The Independent Sentinel: Nothing will happen before the election – nothing. I don’t believe the House will vote for contempt charges because John Boehner will see it as a potential loser.
Holder might give up a few more redacted documents and say he has released an unprecedented amount of documents. The House will seek to send it to the courts on constitutional grounds.
Some websites have written about the possibility of using “inherent contempt” charges but that will not happen.
This election must be about the economy.
VA Right!: Fast and Furious was a government sponsored operation that was created when the 2nd Amendment Bloggers began examining the misleading statistics the Obama Administration was using to justify a crackdown on legal gun sales in America. The statistics being reported indicated that a high percentage of the guns used by the Drug Cartel in Mexico to kill people actually came from America. But these reports failed to point out that the statistics were only compiled on weapons that could be traced. And most of these were American made. Those made elsewhere are not traceable as other countries do not keep the records Americans are required to have. And actually, the percentage of guns originating in the US used in crimes was actually fairly low when compared to ALL of the guns used by the Cartels.
Many believe Fast and Furious was intended to change that ratio and push more controls on guns in America.
But the plan backfired.
Democrats are complaining that this is a partisan fishing expedition, and were it not for the deaths of a couple of US Border Patrol Agents and the fact that Attorney General Eric Holder delivered a letter to Congress denying the program allowed guns to “walk” across the border (whichy was later withdrawn) they may have a point. But in light of deaths and lies by the Justice Department, the Congressional Committee is absolutely right in looking into this.
And the argument of “Executive Privilege” is spurious. Congress will eventually be allowed to see the documents, but it will, in all likelihood, be after the election.
If Richard Nixon’s tapes that were recorded in the Oval Office between the President and his Advisers did not qualify for Executive Privilege, then there is no hope for the Obama Administration that this will stand up in court.
It is all about delaying this until after the election.
Since the Justice Department was created by Congress and they control their funding, it is highly unlikely the final outcome would keep the document out of the hands of the Overseers.
There is obviously something in those papers that the White House and Holder cannot let the public see before the election.