On Monday evening the Obama Justice Department sought dismissal of a lawsuit brought by the Republican-led House Oversight Committee. The reason for the lawsuit is that the committee is still demanding that Attorney General Eric Holder turn over thousands of documents that he has failed to provide to the committee or to the Inspector General Michael Horowitz.
President Barack Obama has invoked executive privilege and the attorney general has been found to be in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over documents that might explain what led the Justice Department to reverse course after initially denying that federal agents had used a controversial tactic called gun-walking in the failed law enforcement operation. The tactic resulted in hundreds of illegally acquired weapons purchased at Arizona gun shops winding up in Mexico, where many of them were recovered from crime scenes. Two guns in Operation Fast and Furious were found on the U.S. side of the border at the scene of a shooting in which U.S. border agent Brian Terry was killed. In a Feb. 4, 2011, letter to Congress, the Justice Department said that agents made every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally and prevent their transportation to Mexico, which turned out to be incorrect. Ten months later, the department withdrew the letter.
In its court papers, the Justice Department says the Constitution does not permit the courts to resolve the political dispute between the executive branch and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that is seeking the records. The political branches have a long history of resolving disputes over congressional requests without judicial intervention, the court filing said.
If the lawsuit is allowed to go forward, "countless other suits by Congress are sure to follow, given the volume of document requests issued by the dozens of congressional committees that perform oversight functions," the Justice Department's court filing stated. "This case thus illustrates vividly why the judiciary must defer to the time-tested political process for resolution of such disputes."
So far, the only people taking heat because of the Operation have been those much lower down the food chain. Vince Cefalu was recently fired in the parking lot of a Denny's restaurant. Special Agent John Dodson's reputation was smeared by the administration and ATF. These were men that blew the whistle on the operation.
When it comes to those that the federal government actually found guilty of wrongdoing. Holder was all too happy to announce:
“First, Kenneth Melson, the former Acting Director at ATF, has retired from the Department, effective immediately. Ken has served the Department in several important roles for over thirty years, including as a United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia and more recently as an advisor on forensic science issues. I want to thank him for his dedication and service to the Department over the last three decades.
“Second, those individuals within ATF and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona, whom the OIG report found to have been responsible for designing, implementing or supervising Operation Fast and Furious have been referred to the appropriate entities for review and consideration of potential personnel actions. Consistent with the requirements of the Privacy Act, the Department is prohibited from revealing any additional information about these referrals at this time.
“Finally, I have accepted the resignation of Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein, a longtime career prosecutor who most recently served in the Criminal Division where he led our violent and organized crime, computer crimes and intellectual property enforcement efforts. Jason has dedicated much of his career to fighting violent crime and has led highly successful efforts around the country in this effort. The American people are safer because of his work. His commitment to the Department has been unwavering, and I deeply appreciate his 15 years of distinguished service here at Main Justice as well as in Baltimore and New York.
The obvious issue in all of this is what seemingly no one is asking. If Operation was only known to the lower departments and agents in certain areas of the ATF and not known to either the Justice Deparment, Eric Holder or Barack Obama, then why was executive privilege invoked? It makes no sense to do that, unless, as Barack Obama so eloquently put it, "The only people that don’t want to disclose the truth, are people with something to hide.”