Thursday, February 2, 2012

A priviledged cover-up (UPDATE)

"The administration that took military action in Libya without any authorization from force from Congress, that appointed czars with policymaking authority without Congressional confirmation, and that made ‘recess’ appointments while Congress was not in recess is invoking executive privilege to cover how the Department of Justice reacted when Congress began asking about a gun-trafficking operation that got U.S. law enforcement officers murdered by Mexican drug cartels. All from a president who railed against a runaway imperial presidency when George W. Bush sat in the office he currently occupies." ~ Jim Geraghty

Yes, Attorney General Eric Holder is set to testify once again before Congress this morning over the gunrunning Fast & Furious scandal, and it appears that he's prepared to invoke executive privilege, or a form thereof, to cover his assets.

Ed Morrissey of HotAir reported this morning that Holder is going to "tell Congress that he doesn’t have to share his e-mails with anyone, but... A new report from Rep. Darrell Issa and Senator Charles Grassley allege that Holder deputy Lanny Breuer gave the ATF a green light on a “different approach” to interdicting weapons going across the border in 2010, and then failed to follow up — at best — on Operation Fast and Furious." He goes on to explain that access to Holder’s e-mails and other materials would clear this up, but Holder will claim that those are privileged today.

Interesting, as Gen. Michael Hayden writes for CNN:

Fast and Furious was a secretive, high-risk operation seemingly intended to deal with an intractable problem abroad. On those grounds, some may be tempted to equate it to a CIA covert action.

But even if some attributes are was definitely not a covert action since those are clearly defined in an executive order as the province of the Central Intelligence Agency.

...if it had been a true covert action, the attorney general would have had to give his opinion as to its lawfulness beforehand; the implementing agency would have been required to exhaustively articulate risk; the National Security Council would have had to judge it favorably; President Barack Obama would have had to authorize it; and the Congress would have had to have been briefed before its implementation. And all concerned would have had the opportunity to reject a bad idea, whatever its rationale.

These routine safeguards not only protect agencies, their leaders and their officers from legal and political jeopardy, they also protect the government from serious missteps.

Now Holder, without such safeguards in place, must defend himself against some very tough accusations, including one by some skeptics that the operation was intended principally to discredit, and thereby justify further regulation of, firearms dealers.

Hayden ends his piece indicating (and this is why I say 'interesting') that AG Holder was so eager to accuse CIA officials of torture, as G. Westley Clark at American Thinker adds, "even releasing secret internal documents in the name of 'transparency'," but now that diligent principle is notably lacking when it comes to the Fast and Furious cover-up.

Is there any wonder why the family of murdered Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry has filed a lawsuit against the ATF, claiming "negligence" and "a violation of ATF's own policies and procedures" resulting in their son's death? Nope.

Here's a link to the House Oversight Committee hearing at C-SPAN.

UPDATE: TheRightScoop provides some of the fireworks of those hearings: from the Mexican standoff to the clueless about a subpoena bit. Such a weasel.

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