After four long years of ensuring the detail behind the US Government’s role in running guns to Mexico (aka "Fast and Furious") never saw the light of day, the "most transparent administration in history" has finally released the requested documents to the House Oversight Committee. It is not lost on anyone that this is taking place well after it could do any significant damage to the Obama administration.
The release of the documents was ordered by a US District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson on January 19th, ending a long saga that actually saw the House vote then Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of congress for withholding requested information. Of course the DOJ decided not to prosecute itself on that matter.
As Politico reports, Justice Department spokesman Patrick Rodenbush confirmed that the administration does not plan to appeal. He argued that Jackson's ruling validated Obama's initial claim of privilege. As a reminder, Obama's privilege claim was broad-ranging, seeking to cover not only internal deliberations about how to respond to congressional inquiries but also discussions about media strategy related to the congressional probes.
"The Department of Justice is pleased that the district court ... continued to recognize that the deliberative process component of the executive privilege exists and was a valid basis for the Department to withhold certain documents when requested by the House in 2011. Although the Department disagrees with the district court's conclusion that the privilege was overcome in this particular case by disclosures and statements made in other contexts, the Department has decided not to appeal the court’s judgment and has provided a production of documents to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform," Rodenbush said in a statement.
Speaking of not prosecuting, while nothing will come of this as relates to criminal charges, it remains to be seen what other information the people will allow the government to completely sweep under the rug as if it never happened.
So far, we know that in 2010 a US Border Patrol Agent was killed using a gun supplied by US as part of the program. We also know, as was more recently revealed, that a weapon owned by none other than "El-Chapo" was traced back to the program as well.
Republicans who had fought to get the upcoming disclosure for years, were delighted by the White House's long overdue retreat. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who chaired the oversight panel when the dispute arose, called on Obama to explain his actions.
"After 4 years of objection and delay, President Obama has finally been forced to give up additional documents related to why senior Justice Department officials in his administration lied to Congress," Issa said in a statement. “What we need from the President is an explanation of why he felt these documents couldn’t been seen by the American people and why there has been no real accountability for the officials involved. Was he protecting the failed gun-walking operation or the cover-up?"
As for Eric Holder who was US Attorney General from 2009 until 2015, when he quit to rejoin Covington & Burling, the law firm at which he worked before becoming Attorney General and whose clients have included many of the large banks Holder declined to prosecute for being "Too Big To Prosecute", we doubt he will i) make a statement or ii) be in any way implicated once the full severity of the Fast and Furious docs is made public.
And finally, in yet another direct insult to the intelligence of Americans everywhere, the letter sent by the DOJ to Chairman of the House Oversight Committee Jason Chaffetz notifying him that the documents had been turned over, nearly four years after the Obama administration invoked Executive Privilege (said otherwise, we don’t care if we’re supposed to answer to you or not, we’re not telling you anything), ended the following way:
"Please do not hesitate to contact this office if we may provide additional assistance regarding this or any other matter"