By: Wayne Brown
This week, the Department of Justice has made claims to Congress that documents to which the Committee On Government Oversight is seeking access to are protected under “executive privilege”. If this is true, President Obama is pursuing actions which make it quite clear that the “Fast & Furious” Operation carried out covertly by the ATF under direction of the Department of Justice is far more than it appears. In the same sense that the Watergate break-in was initially seen as a petty-ante burglary, “Fast & Furious” has been portrayed as simply a program which the DOJ implemented to identify movement of illegal weapons across the Mexico border. Unfortunately, that innocent little plan which led directly to the death of a Border Patrol agent may be far more than it has been portrayed.
The Congressional Oversight Committee has asked for documents outlining activities of the Fast & Furious project many times over. Until last week, the committee had been stone-walled by Holder and thus the threat of finding Mr. Holder in contempt was pronounced. As a result of the action to seek a contempt citation, President Obama has now stepped forward and declared, as did former President Richard Nixon in the Watergate Affair, that the documents are protected under executive privilege and thus cannot be viewed by the committee nor used in the pursuit of potential actions by the committee. The immediate response on the part of the committee was to indicate that the actions regarding contempt by Eric Holder will go forth as stated. Something tells me this will not satisfy the investigation into the project and a pursuit will continue to achieve the documents.
To date, Congress has been rather spineless in terms of taking the President to task on any of his actions. Some of the members on the right side of the aisle cite the potential low margin of success in any action due to the stalemate which currently exists in the legislative branch. Basically, they say that it is not worth the risk politically to pursue such actions. That was the attitude on presidential appointments without proper congressional approval and most recently it has been the attitude as the President employed executive order to alter the immigration laws established by Congress…an action he clearly does not have to power to execute under the Constitution and one which should be prosecuted in light of the potential violations of that document in terms of checks and balances. Such actions would be the “right” thing to do not the politically-prudent one. But those who populate Congress on both sides of the aisle do not have the moral fiber and courage to do what is right thus Obama plays yet another action aimed directly at the roots of this government and those we elect stand idly by.
Obviously the documents involved in Fast and Furious contain information which the President considers damaging if not criminal in nature. Otherwise, why take the stand just on principle. Nixon claimed that he was standing on principle in his rejections under executive privilege only to be exposed as the primary person directing the cover up process. In the case of Watergate, the crime itself was not so damning to the President but the cover-up and the aftermath of it became overwhelming. But that was a different time and Congress was more inclined to act at the time. Had the Congress backed down, Nixon would not have been exposed nor would he have resigned his term of office as the President. Obama is betting that with Harry Reid and Joe Biden pulling the strings in the Senate, there will not be enough momentum to raise the issue above the level of contempt. If he is correct in that assessment, the Fast & Furious issue stalls and is forgotten to history. At the same time, the actions of a sitting President and his Attorney General go unquestioned by the citizens of this country.
One might venture back to the case of Scooter Libby who worked in the Bush Administration and eventually took the fall for supposedly leaking information regarding the identity of a CIA spy and informant. Libby was convicted and did jail time as a result. Outside of the court system, it later came to light that the leak of the information actually came out of the State Department which was under the direction of Colin Powell at the time. Some speculate that Powell was aware of the leak and where it was coming from yet took no actions in notifying the President or the courts allowing Libby to be the fall guy. Here we have a case where “the right and decent thing” should have been done and it was not because the needs of cronyism and political expedience were better served.
The old adage, “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” certainly comes to mind in the case of Fast & Furious, especially in light of the recent actions. Obama, driven by ego and self-adulation is not going to throw himself under the bus for Eric Holder or anyone else in his administration. This is a case of self-preservation and a move designed to keep damaging information from the public prior to the election process of 2012. No doubt, Obama’s fingerprints are all over Fast & Furious in such a way that it would be obvious that the intent of that particular project reached far beyond just identifying the movement of illegal weapons across borders. Certainly there was interest in completing that link but the true focus was aimed toward the rights of Americans to bear arms under the Constitution of the United States. Obama knows it and Holder knows it. Both of them know that documentation concerning that project can never see the light of day or the Obama Administration may find itself on the same path which the Nixon Administration followed in the aftermath of Watergate.
As I noted earlier, Obama is betting strongly that Congress will be held in check on the issue and he will have to endure a few questions in the media in order to dispense with the concerns. If Congress indeed tucks it tail between its legs and runs for political shelter, then the entire action will have served another purpose in confirming to Obama that he has no worry of checks and balances under the current government. With that knowledge and if he can win re-election, the bridle will be off in terms of using executive order to achieve anything he desires to change. His methodology for pushing forward a “fundamental transformation” of the country and the government will be complete and all the people of this country will ever see which hinted of it is a little smoke just over the horizon.
The people of this country deserve better. Obama held forth on the “transparency” which would be evident in his administration. The only thing which has been transparent thus far is his blatant disregard for the Constitution and the structure of government in terms of checks and balances. Compromise is not even in the man’s vocabulary because he does not believe he needs to do that to achieve all that he wants. A spineless and ineffective Congress is living proof that his conclusion is correct. If the President is able to use executive privilege to hide the facts behind Fast & Furious, he will have successfully pulled off a far greater crime than that which Nixon fathered under Watergate. There is no time better than the present for Congress to do the right thing and pursue this matter until committee requests are met. If that happens, you can bet there is ice on the walls of Hell.
©Copyright WBrown2012. All Rights Reserved.
20 June 2012