As the House is set to vote on holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa is challenging the claim of Barack Obama to executive privilege regarding the documents the committee has requested for months concerning the Fast and Furious investigation. There is no question in regards to the reason behind the asserting of executive privilege. It was to keep the documents secret and to protect that guilty.
There is no national security issue at stake. The Washington Examiner even points out,
Ironically, the documents at the heart of the current argument are not directly related to the workings of Operation Fast and Furious, which allowed guns to “walk” from Arizona to Mexico in hopes they could be tracked.
Rather, Issa wants internal communications from February 2011, when the administration denied knowledge of gun-walking, to the end of the year, when officials acknowledged the denial was in error. Those documents covered a period after Fast and Furious was shut down.
While some “experts” have agreed with Obama’s view that all executive branch documents are protected from disclosure, in a letter from Representative Issa to Obama he wrote, “Courts have consistently held that the assertion of the constitutionally-based executive privilege … is only applicable … to documents and communications that implicate the confidentiality of the president’s decision-making process.”
Issa quoted from a 1997 case in which the DC Circuit Court of Appeals said that the privilege should not extend to staff outside the White House in executive branch agencies. Rather the court said the privilege should only apply to “communications authored or solicited and received by those members of an immediate White House adviser’s staff.” This also only applied to staff charged with formulating advice for the president.
However, Issa continually distinguished between the “presidential communications privilege” and the “deliberative process privilege.” While both are executive privileges, the court only dealt with the communications privilege concerning executive branch decision making. Barack Obama invoked the latter, the deliberative process privilege in the matter regarding Operation Fast and Furious.