The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) began an ill-fated gunwalking program known as Operation “Fast and Furious” in 2009. The operation allowed guns to be put into the hands of Mexican drug cartels, ostensibly to track them.
A disastrous plan from the start, “Fast and Furious” ultimately led to U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s murder in the winter of 2010. As with any government program that has gone awry, the U.S. Congress must investigate what happened so the same mistakes that led to the death of a federal officer, and who knows how many Mexican citizens, never happens again.
That is why it is truly alarming that President Obama has invoked executive privilege on potentially damaging documents related to the case to seemingly protect himself and Attorney General Eric Holder. If the Obama Administration really believed that these “Fast and Furious” documents fell under the executive privilege, then why did they wait until the last minute to invoke it? This reeks of politics – in the business this is known as a “frivolous claim of executive privilege.”
As we have seen, President Obama has been quite different from candidate Obama. On June 20, 2008, four years ago to the day that Obama invoked his own executive privilege, candidate Obama said in regards to President Bush invoking executive privilege during the U.S Attorney fiasco, “I think that nobody is above the law.” He continued, “You know, as I recall, Richard Nixon mounted similar arguments. That’s not how we operate. We’re a nation of laws and not men and women. So, you know — and my — that’s a precedent I don’t mind living with as President of the United States.” President Obama should live by his precedent from four years ago and come clean – if not, the American people will wonder what he is hiding from them.
As the Chief Investigator for the House Oversight Committee during the Clinton years, I have seen this bad movie play out before. President Clinton used the executive privilege as a stall tactic to try and thwart the investigations that would eventually lead to his impeachment. With last week’s actions, President Obama is clearly trying to protect his administration and the fatally flawed policies of his incompetent Attorney General Eric Holder from similar Congressional investigation.
It is plain to see that Mr. Holder played some role in “Fast and Furious” and the Obama Administration is trying its best to cover it up. For an administration that has been leaking like a sieve on life and death national security issues, invoking executive privilege on “Fast and Furious” shows they are trying to hide something that will have a negative impact on Obama’s reelection campaign. They have been stonewalling this investigation to the point that the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted to hold Holder in contempt of Congress. If the full U.S. House of Representatives votes on Thursday to hold him in contempt, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia will have to determine if criminal charges are to be filed.
The Obama Administration claims to be the most transparent in history. Attorney General Holder and President Obama can’t run and hide from the American people behind the safe-guard of executive privilege. It is incumbent upon them to now accept responsibility for their actions and be open about “Fast and Furious.” The family of slain Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry deserves to know what contributed to his death and the American people deserve to know that the persons responsible for such heinous actions will be held accountable.