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Fast and Furious Editorial Round-Up

From the office of John Boehner:

Last week, President Obama exerted executive privilege to shield Department of Justice documents that can help provide answers about the reckless Fast and Furious operation that cost an American border patrol agent his life.  Editorial boards across the country are blasting the administration’s stonewalling, and calling on the White House and Attorney General Eric Holder to disclose the documents subpoenaed by the Oversight & Government Reform Committee.  As Speaker Boehner said last week, the family of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, and the American people, deserve answers from this administration.  Here’s a roundup of editorials echoing that view:

  • “Full Public Disclosure…Would Have Been the Best Way to Defuse this Crisis Long Ago.” “Full public disclosure on F&F would have been the best way to defuse this crisis long ago…Instead, the administration slow-walked document disclosures and invited more questions about who knew what and when. … Fast and Furious needs to be explored. And this standoff between the administration and Capitol Hill won’t vanish with Obama’s wave of the executive privilege wand. We’d like to hear him explain why he has claimed such a shield. Until then, we’re with George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, who describes Obama’s privilege claim as ‘over-broad and excessive.’ … The more administration officials stonewall, the furiouser this scandal will grow.” (Chicago Tribune, 6/22/12)

  • “How Can the President Invoke a Privilege to Protect Documents He and the White House Are Supposed to Have Had Nothing to Do With?” “How can the President invoke a privilege to protect documents he and the White House are supposed to have had nothing to do with? And what is so damaging or embarrassing in those documents that Mr. Obama is now willing to invest his own political capital to protect it from disclosure—at least until after the election? … These columns have long defended the ability of executive branch officials to advise Presidents freely, and to protect that advice from Congressional trawling operations. But Congress also has every right to investigate a policy failure, especially one that cost an American law enforcement agent his life.” (The Wall Street Journal, 6/20/12)

  • Congress Is “Entitled To Disclosure.” “But Congress’s authority to gather information is broad — as broad as its sweeping powers to legislate, spend public money and hold executive officials accountable through impeachment. … Absent very strong countervailing considerations — stronger than some of those the administration has asserted in this case — Congress is generally entitled to disclosure.” (The Washington Post, 6/21/12)

  • The President “Has Stepped In to Help Resist Finding Those Answers. That Is Wrong.” “Attorney General Holder and his top aides…have tried to point fingers, implausibly, at their own Justice Department operatives in Phoenix to deflect responsibility. They have tried to impugn the reputations of whistle-blower agents. But they decidedly have not provided honest answers to basic questions. Now, President Barack Obama has stepped in to help resist finding those answers. That is wrong. … This desire on the part of the self-proclaimed ‘most open administration in history’ to hide documents may be more troubling than anything save the economy.” (The Arizona Republic, 6/21/12)

  • “Holder Should Turn Over the Justice Department Documents Congress Has Demanded.” “Holder should turn over the Justice Department documents Congress has demanded. … Holder and the administration have not made a convincing case that there are national-security or law- enforcement secrets at risk in the materials, which consist primarily of e-mails exchanged within the administration. All that matters in the end is for the public — and the family of Brian Terry — to know as much as possible about what went wrong with Operation Fast and Furious.” (Bloomberg, 6/20/12)

  • Presidents Should Not “Invoke Executive Privilege Merely In A Fit of Pique.” “Obama’s entry into the dispute raises the stakes considerably, allowing House Speaker John Boehner to wonder aloud what the White House has to fear in all this. Presidents don’t – or at least shouldn’t – invoke executive privilege merely in a fit of pique. Justice for Brian Terry surely won’t be served this way.” (The Boston Herald, 6/21/12)`

  • “Congress Is Right to Demand Answers.” “Now, Obama’s puzzling first privilege assertion leads to fresh questions about what he or top advisers knew or said and now want hidden. If these documents warrant privilege now, wasn’t that as true months ago? … Congress is right to demand answers.” (Dallas Morning News, 6/22/12)

  • “The GOP Is Right. Holder Ought to Disclose the Documents. … The Gamesmanship Must End.” “The administration has been inexcusably holding out on fully disclosing who knew what and how high that knowledge went up the food chain. … The GOP is right. Holder ought to disclose the documents. Also, the use of executive privilege is questionable, based on what has been disclosed thus far. … The administration can avoid a full House vote on the contempt charge by turning over the requested documents, and it should. The gamesmanship must end.” (The Denver Post, 6/21/12)

  • “The Obama Administration Should Cooperate with Congress.” “Congress has every right to demand to know how this ill-conceived project was allowed to happen and why it wasn’t throttled before the illegally obtained guns were used in, by one estimate, hundreds of murders in Mexico and the death of a U.S. Border Patrol agent. … Bringing a contempt action against a member of the president’s Cabinet is a serious move, and Congress should not do it lightly. That does not appear to be the case in the Fast and Furious investigation. The Obama administration should cooperate with Congress to get to the bottom of this story.” (The Des Moines Register, 6/21/12)

  • “The Justice Department Owes Congress and the Country More Than the Stonewalling that Has Marked Its Behavior.” “But the assertion of privilege comes only after the threat of a contempt citation. Holder and the administration ought to be eager to shed as much light as possible on this situation. After all, a federal officer with Michigan roots has been killed, Mexican drug cartels have been armed and relations with Mexico soured as a result of this operation. The Justice Department owes Congress and the country more than the stonewalling that has marked its behavior.” (The Detroit News, 6/22/12)

  • “Brian Terry’s Family and the American People Deserve Answers.” “President Obama’s contempt for the rule of law hit a new low when, on the eve of a vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, he granted his AG’s 11 th-hour request to hide sought-after documents on Operation Fast and Furious under the cover of executive privilege. … Executive privilege, as Issa noted in his opening remarks, can only be asserted when it involves direct presidential decision-making and communications. It cannot be invoked, legally, to prevent others in the chain of command from explaining their actions or responding to requests for information on their decisions in which the president is not involved. … Just what is in those documents that Obama and Holder so desperately want to hide? Brian Terry’s family and the American people deserve answers.” (Investor’s Business Daily, 6/20/12)

  • “Hard to See What Legitimate Reason” White House Has for Exerting Executive Privilege.” “[T]he administration’s claim of executive privilege as a basis for withholding documents nonetheless makes the department — and the White House — look like they have something to hide. They ought to recognize that this isn’t a stance they’ll be able to maintain for long. And it’s hard to see what legitimate reason they would have for trying.” (Newsday, 6/21/12)

  • “The American People Deserve an Accounting of What Went Wrong and How.” “The simple fact of the matter is that the Department of Justice is answerable to the American people, through the elected Congress, and that the president may not invoke executive privilege to hide wrongdoing. …  The American people deserve an accounting of what went wrong and how. An overreaching claim of near-imperial legal immunity is very much the wrong answer to what are legitimate questions of how a  U.S. agent and many innocent civilians in our neighboring nation came to be killed by guns the American government shipped to drug lords.” (North County Times, 6/21/12)

  • Congressional Subpoena the “Only Way to Ascertain What This White House Knew and When It Knew It.” “By now declaring executive privilege, the administration is legally stipulating that there was direct White House involvement. … Whether it has done so to prevent being embarrassed politically or to shield criminal activity remains the question. That question could be answered by the House filing a lawsuit against the administration to force it to comply with its subpoena for Fast and Furious documents. It’s the only way to ascertain what this White House knew and when it knew it.” (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 6/22/12)

  • “Thanks to President Obama … It Apparently Will Take a While Longer to Get to the Total Truth About Fast and Furious.” “And thanks to President Obama riding to Mr. Holder’s rescue this week, it apparently will take a while longer to get to the total truth about Fast and Furious. But regardless of when presidents should and should not invoke executive privilege, attorneys general should be sure that they’re telling the truth — especially when answering questions from Congress.” (The Post and Courier, 6/22/12)

  • “Err on the Side of Disclosure.” “As with leak investigations, err on the side of disclosure. … The operation was botched from the get-go. Except for Agent Terry, no one has paid much of a price for it. Mr. Holder’s Justice Department has not been fully forthcoming. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 6/22/12)

  • President Obama’s Assertion of Executive Privilege “Is Not Defensible and Undermines the Rule of Law.” “But President Barack Obama’s response – to shield Justice Department records from the public’s view – is not defensible and undermines the rule of law. The administration should turn over the documents in question or provide further justification for withholding them. The president is not above the law, and his claims of executive privilege will not, and should not, suffice.” (Tampa Bay Times, 6/22/12)

  • “President Obama Shouldn’t Be Using Executive Privilege to Hide the Truth.” “The U.S. Department of Justice needs to own up to the mistakes made in the ill-fated ‘Fast and Furious’ sting operation, and President Obama shouldn’t be using executive privilege to hide the truth. … When our government allows thousands of state-of-the-art weapons to get into the hands of Mexican drug lords, the American people have the right to straightforward answers, not political foot-dragging.” (Telegraph Herald, 6/22/12)

  • “Difficult to See How Obama’s Preference for Secrecy In This Case Will Result In Any Benefit to the Public.” “At best, Obama’s action prevents Congress and the American people from understanding how and why Attorney General Eric Holder misled Congress about the operation in 2011. At worst, Obama has inserted himself personally into a scandal in order to protect his political appointees from the consequences of their actions. … It is difficult to see how Obama’s preference for secrecy in this case will result in any benefit to the public. It is equally difficult to see how he can square this executive privilege claim with his lofty promises of transparency.” (Washington Examiner, 6/20/12)

  • Executive Privilege Claim “Elevates the Dispute Between the Administration and Capitol Hill to a New and Troubling Level.” “President Obama’s attempt to invoke executive privilege to forestall contempt-of-Congress proceedings against Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. failed. Instead, the claim elevates the dispute between the administration and Capitol Hill to a new and troubling level. The operative question now is, what did the president know and when did he know it? … White House intervention gives the appearance that Mr. Holder’s stonewalling was not to protect himself from a perjury charge, but to conceal hitherto unknown Oval Office involvement in Fast and Furious. This also may explain why Mr. Holder said that what should have been a routine investigation could lead to a ‘constitutional crisis.’” (The Washington Times, 6/21/12)

  • “Mr. Holder’s Credibility – and That of the Administration – Has Been Seriously Undermined.” “It is long past time that the Justice Department provide full disclosure to Congress and the American people on exactly who approved of Fast and Furious, and what Mr. Holder’s role was. … Mr. Holder’s credibility – and that of the administration – has been seriously undermined. They were either ignorant of a major policy gaffe for far too long, or were aware of it and failed to act soon enough. Whatever the case, the American people, beginning with the family of Agent Brian Terry, deserve better answers than they have received to date. Those answers should begin. Yesterday, they got only stonewalling.” (Worcester Telegram & Gazette, 6/21/12)

  • “[T]he Assertion of Executive Privilege Should Be Reserved for Extraordinary Instances … This Imbroglio Fails that Test.” “[T]he assertion of executive privilege should be reserved for extraordinary instances of constitutional conflict between the legislative and executive branches. This imbroglio fails that test. … Operation Fast and Furious was a debacle, a violation of the government’s own policies. At least one American agent is dead. The Justice Department told Congress something that was untrue. All of that warrants an investigation. The White House’s resistance, and its claim of executive privilege, makes the need for one more urgent.” (The Virginian-Pilot, 6/22/12)

This week, the House will vote on a resolution of contempt against Attorney General Eric Holder for failing to turn over the documents that he is inexcusably withholding from Congress.  Learn more and follow the floor action on the Oversight & Government Reform Committee website at:


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