Obama Admin. Withholds Documents from House Fast and Furious Investigation

Candidate Barack Obama promised to be committed to transparency when he was running for office but yet again in predictable fashion President Obama has gone against his own words.

The Justice Dept has said that the president has asserted executive privilege to withhold documents from a House committee investigating the gun-smuggling program known as Operation Fast and Furious.

Under the operation 1,000s of guns were allowed to flow over the border into Mexico into the hands of criminals apart of drug cartels. One of the firearms was used in the murder of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata.

Estimates place guns linked to Operation Fast and Furious at least 200 Mexican crime scenes.

In a letter to Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., a Justice Department official said the privilege applies to documents that explain how the department learned of the problems with the program.

The likelihood of a contempt vote rose after Holder and Issa, failed to reach agreement in a 20-minute meeting at the Capitol.

Holder told reporters he would not turn over the documents unless Issa agreed to another congressional briefing on the Justice Department material. Holder wants an assurance from Issa that the transfer of the records would satisfy a subpoena from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which Issa is the head of.

The likelihood of a vote on whether to hold Holder in contempt rose after Holder and Issa failed to reach an agreement.

“If we receive no documents, we’ll go forward” with a contempt vote, Issa told reporters.

Holder says he is prepared to turn over documents detailing how the department arrived at the conclusion that federal agents engaged in a risky tactic called gun-walking in February 2011.

The Justice Dept. denied that agents had engaged in gun-walking when the operation was first disclosed.

“It’s a whole variety of material, and it’s consistent with what we have already made available — emails, documents of that nature — that really go into the way in which the department handled itself from February of 2011 until December of 2011,” Holder told reporters.

Issa and the House Republican leadership have asked whether the department’s initial denial in a Feb. 4, 2011, letter to Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, was part of a broader effort to obstruct a congressional investigation.

The material “pretty clearly demonstrates that there was no intention to mislead, to deceive,” Holder told reporters.

“The attorney general has made an unprecedented offer to turn over documents that are part of the Department of Justice’s internal deliberations and work product and to brief the committee on their contents,” said Rep. Adam Schiff of California, one of the committee’s Democrats and a former federal prosecutor. “Regrettably, Chairman Issa refuses to take yes for an answer.”

“We have offered to make materials available … to brief on those documents, to answer any questions that might come up with regard to the documents that we produced,” the attorney general said.

“The ball’s in their court,” Holder said. “We made what we thought was an extraordinary offer.”

Issa took a different view: “After this meeting I cannot say that I am optimistic” for avoiding a contempt vote.

Issa spokesman Frederick Hill said that at the meeting, “the attorney general indicated he would only be willing to produce a subset of documents that numbered fewer than 1,300 pages if the committee would first agree that the production of these documents would end the committee’s investigation of the Justice Department.”

Issa declined the offer.



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