Federal Court Rules Against Obama Administration’s Withholding Documents From “Fast and Furious” Investigation

ajacksonUS-DeptOfJustice-Seal_svgIn a major victory for Congress, U.S. District Judge Amy Jackson Berman rejected the executive privilege claims of the Obama Administration in withholding documents from a House Committee looking into the Fast and Furious “gun-walking” scandal. I have long maintained that the refusal of the Administration to turn over material to this and other committees is denial of congressional authority protected under Article I. The case is Comm. on Oversight & Gov’t Reform v. Lynch, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5713.

The “Fast and Furious” investigation is a classic example of congressional oversight in looking into the effort by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to track guns across the Southwest border. The result was horrific and one of the guns was used to kill a federal officer. Since being made public, the Administration has been stonewalling and slow-walking document demands. The result was that former Attorney General Eric Holder was held in contempt of Congress. The Justice Department then refused to submit the case to a grand jury — a decision that I heavily criticized at the time.

Berman correctly noted that the Administration was making implausible executive privilege claims while it was releasing the same information through other channels.

What harm to the interests advanced by the privilege would flow from the transfer of the specific records sought here to the Committee when the Department has already elected to release a detailed Inspector General report that quotes liberally from the same records? See IG Report at 329-417; see also Reply in Supp. of Def.’s Mot. to Dismiss at 25 (stating that the IG Report “discloses vast amounts of information that the Committee purported to seek in its Complaint”). The Department has already laid bare the records of its internal deliberations – and even published portions of interviews revealing its officials’ thoughts and impressions about those records.

This is but one of a myriad of instances where the Administration has refused congressional demands for information and documents in the exercise of its oversight duties. Whether citizens agree with the majority in Congress today, they should see the danger in a president denying the legislative branch such information needed to perform its vital check and balance role in our system. What was most striking about this case is the utter lack of a plausible or credible claim of privilege. Yet, the Justice Department continued to litigate the case to delay and obstruct the congressional committee.

This record goes beyond the simple failure to fulfill President Obama’s pledge to be the most transparent Administration in history. It strikes at the very heart of our constitutional system in my view.

38 thoughts on “Federal Court Rules Against Obama Administration’s Withholding Documents From “Fast and Furious” Investigation

  1. @Hildegard
    1, January 21, 2016 at 4:29 pm
    “Glenn must be a paid Obot troll. No one can be that willfully ignorant at this point in time unless they’re paid to be.”

    Glenn wrote, “Presidents have each others (sic) backs on these type (sic) of matters. Did you ever think maybe Obama had Dubya’s back when he said we have to look forward not back on all the crimes Dubya did?”

    On what are basing your accusation of his ignorance and of his being a “paid Obot troll”?

  2. The Bush-Cheney reign of tyrrany was one uninterrupted string of constitutional violations that makes Fast-n-Furious look like jaywalking in comparison. And, yes, F&F was a Team Bush brainchild

  3. I recognize that it is regarded as heresy to point out the blantant errors and lies put forward by the “It’s all Bush’s fault” crowd, straining to absolve his administration of any blame for any screwups.
    Fast and Furious was intiated by Holder under the OBAMA administration .
    The operation Wide Receiver under Bush 43 was discontinued in 2007 (Obama took office in 2009).
    So the “(It’s all Bush’s fault” (crap, common as dirt among blindly partisan hacks, is an oft-repeated lie which has been losing its effectiveness after 7-8 years of the Obama presidency.

  4. @tnash80hotmailcom
    1, January 21, 2016 at 6:29 pm
    “I recognize that it is regarded as heresy to point out the blantant (sic) errors and lies put forward by the ‘It’s all Bush’s fault’ crowd, straining to absolve his [Obama’s?] administration of any blame for any screwups. (sic)

    One can wade through all the available documents comparing and contrasting “Wide Receiver,” “Fast & Furious,” and other absolutely brilliant US Government strategies, all of which, however, can be very accurately summarized, although unhappily for both Bushbots and Obamabots, as “Obama is Bush on Steroids.”

    “During the June 12, 2012, Senate hearing, Eric Holder stated, ‘If you want to talk about Fast and Furious, I’m the Attorney General that put an end to the misguided tactics that were used in Fast and Furious. An Attorney General who I suppose you would hold in higher regard was briefed on these kinds of tactics in an operation called Wide Receiver and did nothing to stop them—nothing. Three hundred guns, at least, walked in that instance.’

    “Holder cited a briefing paper on ‘Wide Receiver’; the DOJ Office of Legislative Affairs later clarified that the briefing paper was about the Fidel Hernandez case, prepared for Holder’s predecessor, U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey before his meeting with Mexican Attorney General Mora on November 16, 2007.[35] The Hernandez Case had ended October 6, 2007,[104] before Mukasey entered office November 9, 2007.[105]

    “The office further explained, ‘As Attorney General Holder also noted in his testimony, and as we have set forth in prior correspondence and testimony, he took measures and instituted a series of important reforms designed to ensure that the inappropriate tactics used in Fast and Furious, Wide Receiver, Hernandez, and other matters about which the Department has informed Congress are not repeated.”[35]

    “The later DOJ OIG investigation concluded ‘Attorney General Mukasey was not briefed about Operation Wide Receiver or gun “walking,” but on a different and traditional law enforcement tactic that was employed in a different case.’ “[1]

    • I watched much of Eric Holder’s testimony re Fast and Furious.According to his testimony, he appeared to learn about the F&F operation from an article in the Arizona Republic…….or at least about the same time that newspapers started covering the program .
      And Holder did end the operation, in 2012, if I remember correctly. If Holder is to be believed, he was unaware of the c. 3 year Fast and Furious operation. Since the ATF is under the DOJ, then there was either a rogue agency operating right under Holder’s nose and he didn’t know about.
      OR Holder knew about F&F all along, and he’s lying through his teeth and moustache. And since Operation Linebacker was discontinued in 2007 under the Bush administration, it is not true that Fast and Furious was “just a continuation of” a Bush program.
      Obama tried to claim that Fast and Furious was a something he inherited from the Bush administration. Politifact called him on that lie.

    • See “Fast and Furious Bombshell; Has Eric Holder Been Caught Lying to Congress?”
      It seemed clear to me during Holder’s testimony that he was lying, and that he wasn’t even a convincing liar.
      Obama tried to contain the damage by invoking executive privilege for HOLDER’S documents…….as far as I know, that is unprecented. Executive privilege has been used in attempts to withold PRESIDENTS’ communications, not cabinet heads’ documents.

  5. Under the relatively limited Operation Linebacker, about 400 guns “walked” before the program was ended. And it appears that there was actuaslly successful tracking of at least some of the weapons.
    Under Fast and Furious, 2000-2500 guns walked, and there was a very poor record of tracking them.
    The claim has been made that Operation Linebacker was instituted with the full knowledge and approval of Mexican authorities, but that Fast and Furious guns were send a crossed the border without informing Mexico. I’d need to verify that claim before accepting it as fact.

  6. @tnash80hotmailcom
    1, January 21, 2016 at 8:13 pm
    “Under the relatively limited Operation Linebacker [Wide Receiver?] about 400 guns ‘walked’ (Bush), before the program was ended. And it appears that there was actuaslly (sic) successful tracking of at least some of the weapons.

    “Under Fast and Furious, 2000-2500 guns walked, (Bush on Steroids, aka Obama)and there was a very poor record of tracking them.”

  7. Who is it that conservatives like to say about government programs? Once started, they’re nearly impossible to get rid of. F and F was merely a continuation of a Bush administration program. And in any event, it is small change compared to the gross violations of the Constitution committed by the Bush/Cheney cabal. Willful ignorance, indeed.

    • Operation Wide Receiver was discontinued in 2007. Fast and Furious was initiated two years later under the Obama administration.
      It was not a program ” nearly impossible to get rid of”. Fast and Furious wasn’t some program on autopilot that was inherited by Obama/Holder and the ATF.
      It took deliberate decisions to encourage the transfer of 2000-2500 firearms to criminals in Mexico.
      That’s why the initial feeble attempts on the part of Obama and Holder to claim that this was a “Bush program” were shot down.

  8. Assuming that there is no connection between the Bush version of this operation and Obama’s is true, and I’m not saying it is, it still doesn’t compare to the utterly despicable violations of the constitution Bush/Cheney committed for their entire term.

  9. Ken Rogers

    You asked “On what are basing your accusation of his ignorance and of his being a “paid Obot troll”?”

    The comment Glenn made that ‘inspired’ my accusation appears to have disappeared but Paul responded to it thus:

    “Glenn – Dubya DID NOT start Fast and Furious. He had another program which did NOT lose any guns. This one is all Obama and Holder”

    Maybe Glenn deleted his own comment, but he was engaging in knee jerk conservative/Republican bashing and basically defending Obama; a person for whom there is no defense.

    For the record, I’m Libertarian if a label must be applied but I’d rather it didn’t. Also I’m having serious doubts about Trump but he’s still the best of the worst in my opinion. If we could only splice Trump and Rand Paul together we might have something going.

    Trump’s views on the NSA are atrocious. He basically said he welcomes having even his own phone conversations recorded (and believe me, they are in the words of whistle blower Dennis Montgomery “zillions of times”) in order to ‘keep us safe’. He also talks as if the copious fake shootings courtesy of the Obama admin. are real. But anything other than that is obviously asking way too much of any presidential candidate at this time in our brilliant history.

  10. Ken Rogers Here’s another conspiracy for you:

    Top Scientist Resigns Admitting Global Warming Is A Big Scam

    Remember that the conspirators are protected by the fact that the lie is SO big…the conspiracy so heinous, no one will believe it. Mass media does such a good job of keeping everyone stupid and uninformed. Case in point:

    “You may be surprised to learn that in 2011, the Food and Drug Administration received 179,855 reports of serious or fatal adverse drug reactions. This was an increase of 15,386 reports (9.4 percent) from the 2010 total. http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/healthcare/Drugs-most-frequently-reported-for-adverse-reactions.html

    Almost 180,000 serious or fatal adverse reactions in one year….up 15,386 from the year before… from PROPERLY PRESCRIBED DRUGS and this is not news? There’s not just one thing to wake up to….

  11. Monty Z. “And in any event, it is small change compared to the gross violations of the Constitution committed by the Bush/Cheney cabal.” Poor deluded Monty Z. You must get all your ‘intelligence’ from the sewer known as ‘main stream media’ and the stench still hasn’t motivated you to branch out. Perhaps you’ve just gotten too used to the smell. Unless you’re being paid to spout this conservative vs. liberal b.s. you might want to consider..uhhhh…. Waking up??

  12. G. Mason Love the “most transparent’ video you posted. Short and too the point. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so tragic. Still I laugh at the stupidity of people who continue to not only endure and ignore the crimes of this villainous narcissistic pathological lying thug, but to also support him.

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