21 Jun


louise Annarino

June 21, 2012

Yesterday, The House Oversight Committee chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R- CA) voted along party lines 23/17 to hold United States Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of congress despite a claim of executive deliberative process privilege by President Barack Obama to protect the unwarranted disclosure of additional documents sought by Issa and committee republicans. This executive privilege applies to a president’s executive branch officials such as Attorney General Holder. It is intended to protect strategies and procedures from falling into the hands of those who would harm the nation’s security. In this case, the documents in question are part of on-going criminal investigations, and contain strategies which would aid and abet those seeking to evade the long arm of justice by the Department of Justice, even as it is pursuing them. As a retired attorney and former Ohio assistant attorney general, I understand and applaud Holder for honoring his oath to uphold and defend the law despite the slur upon his character by Mr. Issa and the Republican leadership. The president is absolutely correct to exert executive privilege in this matter.

Mr. Issa is more interested in blaming the outcome of “Fast and Furious” on President Obama through attacks on Attorney General Holder, and dragging the president into the middle of the issue by forcing him to use executive privilege, than in bringing those at fault to justice. No one form the Bush era has been called to testify or answer his committee’s questions.Issa understands exactly why the president would use the privilege. Issa himself approved such a use for republican presidents in a 2008 hearing where he defended the right of Bush EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson not to answer committee questions.

One must admit it is a brilliant election year strategy, the usual attack where your opponent is strongest and lie to destroy all the praise he rightly deserves. Adhering to his promise to increase transparency, this is the president’s first use of executive privilege. A spokesperson for House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) quickly attacked: “The White House decision to invoke executive privilege implies that White House officials were either involved in the ‘Fast and Furious’ operation or the cover-up that followed. The administration has always insisted that wasn’t the case. were they lying,or are they now bending the law to hide the truth?”

It is also strange that Rep. Issa’s rationale for such dogged pursuit of Mr. Holder is the death of a border agent with a legally purchased and transported gun. Months ago, in his opening statements before the committee, Issa opined that gun control, not crime control is the Obama administration’s real objective. Is the NRA gunning for the two African Americans: Obama and Holder?

Pay attention to the tone. Republicans did everything but call Mr. Holder “boy” during his appearances before the committee. It was painful to watch such an accomplished professional racially demeaned in public view. Pay attention to the timing. Neither the NRA nor Issa, Nor Boehner, nor any Republican called for the resignation of anyone in the Bush administration which first orchestrated “ Fast and Furious”. This is not about executive privilege. This is not about ‘Fast and Furious”. This is not about the death of a border agent. This is about the NRA’s lobbying efforts to block gun control efforts. In his interview with NRA News Issa agrees with NRA’s Wayne La Pierre call that Holder should be resign.  The irony is that the Obama administration has not legislated stiffer gun control, to the dismay of law enforcement, big-city mayors, and citizens injured and killed by unregulated guns.

Below is an article worth reading with 5 more things you should know about the witch hunt against Attorney General Holder and President Obama.

From ThinkProgress:

Five Things To Know About The Republican Witchhunt Against Attorney General Holder
By Ian Millhiser on Jun 13, 2012 at 9:00 am

In 2006, during the presidency of George W. Bush, the Justice Department launched the first of a series of misguided “gunrunning” schemes that eventually led to the death of federal Agent Brian Terry. Rather than look to ways to prevent such a tragedy from happening again, however, House Oversight Chair Darrell Issa’s (R-CA) spent his tenure as a committee chair trying unsuccessfully to embarrass Attorney General Eric Holder.

Next week, Issa plans to escalate this witchhunt by holding an committee vote on a resolution to hold the Attorney General in contempt of Congress. Here’s what you need to know about this vote:

1. Issa Has No Case: Issa’s uncovered no evidence showing Holder bears any blame for the botched operations begun under George W. Bush, even though the Justice Department turned over thousands of pages of documents concerning the operations. Instead of accepting this fact, Issa has requested many more documents containing confidential information regarding ongoing law enforcement investigations, and is now threatening to hold Holder in contempt if these documents are not turned over. Holder is entirely correct to withhold these documents, however, because Justice Department documents are not subject to congressional subpoena if they would reveal “strategies and procedures that could be used by individuals seeking to evade [DOJ’s] law enforcement efforts.”

2. Reagan’s Justice Department Agreed With Holder: President Reagan’s Justice Department warned in the 1980s that the Constitution’s separation of powers prevents the kind of documents Issa is seeking from being revealed to Congress because of the risk that the legislature could “exert pressure or attempt to influence the prosecution of criminal cases.”

3. Law Enforcement Rejects Issa’s Witchhunt: Issa’s efforts to embarrass Holder are an unnecessary distraction that hinders the Department of Justice’s ability to do its real job. As an organization representing numerous senior law enforcement officials warned Issa, his efforts are “an impediment to the vigorous enforcement of violence and crime.”

4. Even Top Republicans Think Issa Goes Too Far: After Issa leaked his plans to pursue contempt charges to the media, the House Republican leadership pressured him to back off. Indeed, even House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) has indicated that Issa is overreaching.

5. Issa Is Fixated On A Conspiracy Theory: Perhaps the most bizarre aspect of this affair is what Issa once suggested his investigation will uncover. In an interview with Sean Hannity, Issa claimed that the Obama administration “made a crisis” when they continued the Bush-era gunrunning operations because they wanted to “us[e] this crisis to somehow take away or limit people’s Second Amendment rights.” This accusation originates from a former militiaman who supports violent resistance to imagined government attempts to seize his guns. And it amounts to an accusation that a series of botched gun stings that begun during the Bush Administration were actually part of a secret Obama plot to release guns to Mexican drug lords, so that those guns could then be used to kill federal agents, which would then cause a national uprising in support of gun control.


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