The “lights, camera, action” press conference is a standard feature of OCDETF cases. It is discussed for weeks, if not months, on end. It has to be. The amount of funding lavished on these cases results in great pressure to bring them to a fittingly spectacular conclusion as soon as practicable — with a barrage of arrests and search warrants. But the attorney general will be made to look foolish if, after enormous sums have been spent, in addition to thousands of agent and prosecutor work hours invested, the case ends without arrests, or the suspects arrested are not the main culprits, or the main culprits manage to flee before agents can find and put handcuffs on them.
Orchestrating the “takedown” is thus no mean feat. It always results in extensive consultations among all the participating components, including Main Justice, to decide when the arrests should occur, what the state of the evidence is against the main targets, and whether the main targets are “in pocket” — covered by surveillance so agents know they can be grabbed the moment the takedown starts. This goes double when there is to be a press conference attended by the attorney general himself.
If, prior to Agent Terry’s murder, plans were already being made for Attorney General Holder to appear at the anticipated press conference to announce arrests, it is inconceivable that discussions about the case were not ongoing between the U.S. attorney’s office and Main Justice — which, of course, would already have been quite familiar with the case because of the OCDETF designation and the wiretaps.
OCDETF cases get the attention of the Justice Department’s top hierarchy. What gets that level of attention gets the attorney general’s attention. And what gets the attorney general’s attention very often gets the president’s attention.
That would be the president who just invoked executive privilege.
— Andrew C. McCarthy is the author, most recently, of The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America.