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  • Fast and Furious: Covering up the Death of a U.S. Agent

    Todd Gaziano has outlined at the Foundry the legal doctrine of executive privilege that President Obama has asserted in the congressional investigation of Operation Fast and Furious. The most important part of that doctrine to understand is that a President cannot assert executive privilege for the purpose of hiding wrongdoing by Administration officials.

    Fast and Furious began in September 2009 and was not shut down until January 2011. It was a reckless law enforcement operation that led to thousands of weapons ending up in the hands of dangerous criminals and major drug cartels. This “felony stupid” operation, as it has been referred to, was not shut down until two weapons that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) had allowed straw buyers to purchase and take across the Mexican border were found at the murder scene of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry on December 14, 2010. This conduct, as testimony from several ATF whistleblowers showed, was against all ATF rules and procedures. The well-known rule at the Department of Justice (DOJ) drummed into all prosecutors is that you never let guns or drugs get away from you in any undercover operation.

    Representative Darrell Issa (R) has conducted several hearings, interviewed 24 fact witnesses (many of them whistleblowers), sent the DOJ over 50 letters, and issued two subpoenas for documents. The DOJ has turned over only a small fraction of the documents being sought, and many of those turned over were so full of redactions that it was “unnecessarily difficult and sometimes impossible…to investigate decisions made by Department officials,” according to Issa.

    The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has received much of its relevant information from whistleblowers, not the DOJ, including copies of six Operation Fast and Furious wiretap applications that Attorney General Eric Holder refused to provide. Contrary to the sworn position taken by Holder that the “inappropriate tactics” (as he now admits) in Operation Fast and Furious “were not initiated or authorized by Department leadership in Washington,” those wiretap applications as well as other internal e-mails show that political appointees in the leadership, such as Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, were well aware of the operation and the dangerous tactics being used.

    Yet Holder has refused to answer—or provide the documents that would answer—the critical question being investigated by the House Committee: Who were the senior officials at DOJ who were told about and/or approved this irresponsible operation, and what was the law enforcement rationale for doing so? As Gaziano points out, executive privilege “does not shield” information and documentation that would provide the answer to those questions.

    For almost a year and a half, the DOJ has unlawfully refused to provide Congress with what it is constitutionally entitled to when it is exercising its oversight function. The latest information obtained from the leaked wiretap applications indicates that Holder and his deputies have been misleading Congress on these very issues. As former ATF acting director Kenneth Melson testified, “it appears thoroughly to us that the [DOJ] is really trying to figure out a way to push the information away from their political appointees at the department.”

    Holder attempts to mislead the President on this issue in his June 19 letter requesting that President Obama assert executive privilege. Holder says that he is only asking for executive privilege to shield any information “concerning [DOJ’s] response to congressional oversight and related media inquiries,” since Issa supposedly narrowed his request to those documents. But Issa offered to narrow his committee’s request only if Holder would agree to finally quit stonewalling.

    Holder refused to agree to that accommodation, so all of the other information being sought under the outstanding subpoenas about the planning, initiation, approval, and conduct of Operation Fast and Furious is still outstanding and isn’t even covered under Holder’s request—or the apparent grant of privilege provided by President Obama (and there is no reasonable basis for asserting executive privilege on something as routine as responding to media inquiries).

    In any event, the President’s attempt to assert executive privilege is just the latest move in the Administration trying to prevent any political appointees within the most politicized DOJ in our lifetime from having to take responsibility for the serious mistakes in judgment made in this operation, mistakes that have killed a U.S. agent and many Mexican citizens.

    It would be a rank abuse of the Constitution for the President to use executive privilege simply to prevent political embarrassment and to shield political appointees from the consequences of their ill-considered and careless judgment and actions.

    Posted in Legal [slideshow_deploy]

    9 Responses to Fast and Furious: Covering up the Death of a U.S. Agent

    1. The weapons were also used in killing of Mexican nationals. Which also points to Holder and maybe the President.

    2. la in ma says:

      So when Obama does it, it's an outrageous abuse of power, but when any other President in recent history does it, several times, it's no big deal. How very logical.

      • Hbeachbum says:

        The typical ignorant response of a liberal. When it's obvious that you are at fault… Point the finger at someone else and that makes it OK. What a jerk.

        • JTB says:

          I agree .. one more pathetic attempt to divert the issue .. that is all they can do!

        • Michele says:

          I get very irritated when people points fingers at Obama during these type of situations but were very silent when Bush and Rumsfeld started the e-Trace program in the first place. You people are seriously flawed.

    3. Dantes says:

      "It would be a rank abuse of the Constitution for the President to use executive privilege"

      So what? Lots of people say this, but he keeps doing it, and nobody seems to have the cojones to stop him.

    4. Bobbie says:

      For those members in political office richly paid while poor in judgment to imply “truth” regarding deadly consequences by government design as a “witch hunt” where a “search” wouldn't have pursued if those men accountable would present the facts without deception, distortion and contempt but with honor regarding the truth of their planned mission for good intentions, that if good was intended, fast and furious wouldn't have been so careless to the grim potentiality of deadly consequences then belittle by stating the facts of information are too sensitive to share? There's no excuse but guilt to hide any documentation from the public on all accounts that have already taken place. Holder and the like (desperately insisting on) reiterating the English words written in the documentation is manipulation.

      This arrogance has got to dismiss from the offices of the people. America(ns) are so much better and deserving of honorable men whom stand accountable! This man stands on a pedestal with the protection of the neighborhood thug gains, Intimidating with violent tendencies.

      What if Holders' fast and furious infiltrated guns and ammunition across the country in the hands of people waiting for proper corrections not in favor of Holder's indignity? President's Executive order accompanying national security in support and obedience of America's government rising up against we the people??

      Don't let America down! Never give into the unprincipled! stand strong and true to principle. What comes will come regardless! I believe more people are seeing the truth for what it is…

      Only guilt gives special executive cover up that diverts facts and proper accountabilities negatively effecting America(ns) within government control under the commander in chief! If this man's plan was all of good intention he wouldn't have a thing to hide from the public. He hides his truth from Americans in America's court where he stands shameless with blood on his hands. He's in contempt of America. America(ns,) the family of innocent victims and most of all Mrs. Terry and family are deserving of proper governance that respects all of the truth to be told with consideration to sensitivities but not withholding truth because of sensitivities.

    5. Tionico says:

      what ALL these doofuses neglect is the FACT that they ALL work for US… WE THE PEOPLE are the covereign in this nation, under the laws, and they are not only in OUR employ but answerable to us as our employees. Holder's and Obama's maneouvrings uncover their warped understanding that this is all about them, and their little fiefdom. THEY are wrong, it is all about WE THE PEOPLE. Agent Terry is not the only known victim,… there was another US agent killed on the Mexican side of the border with a F&F weapon recovered at the scene…Zapanta, or something similar, is his name.That death, also directly attributable to F&F/Holder, has been left out of most media coverege.

      The fact that these perverts are working hard to cover their own backsides tells me none of them are after OUR good, but only lining their own pockets, and bulding their own castles in the sky on OUR nickel. Typical of the Chicago way……. so I am not surprised. Not a bit. Mad? Yes… and hoping agains thope that our sick legal system will eventually bring justice to "Justice". That whole department needs taken apart, and BATF needs to be all but ended. The very foxes guarding the henhouse have been feasting on the chickens. This time they were less than diligent about cleaning up the feathers. Rather telling, that…..

    6. captdax says:

      we have a President who allows our borders to be violated by illegals of any country while we are at war.

      There is enough evidence presented to Congress to arrest him and prosecute him for an Act of War against the nation of Mexico, accessory to murder of thousands of innocent citizens in Mexico and America as well as the murder of United States Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.

      Besides sending illegal guns to Mexico, Holder and Obama sold guns to criminal street gangs inside the United States where the guns will be used inside the United States. It will take years to find the thousands of guns these criminals sold to killers.

      Eric Holder and his criminal operatives in his office and the Department of Justice need to be dragged out in handcuffs, jailed with no bail and put on trial with a jury of American citizens who are not federal government employees.

      He allows them work permits, access to our services and when apprehended by law enforcement refuses to have them jailed or deported.

      Barack Hussein Obama has crossed the line, and under Article III, Section 3 of our Constitution is guilty of treason by giving aid and comfort to the enemy and attempting to overthrow our government from within.

      Now is the time for members of Congress,to finally do your Constitutional duty and hold Barack Hussein Obama accountable for his crimes against America.

      Mr. Obama is a fraudulent president who is selling out America.

      It’s time Mr. Obama is called accountable for his treasonous actions.

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