Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Executive Privilege

In a breaking news story, President Obama has used the power of Executive Privilege to block a subpoena targeted at Eric Holder by Darrell Issa that was meant to force Holder to release documents about Operation Fast & Furious. As you can imagine, this is a story that is echoing loudly across the media at this very moment. Left-wingers are saying it's a reasonable use of the power, and pointing out that this is Obama's first use of said authority. Right-wingers are calling it a blatant cover-up tactic and a roadblock in the way of justice. Honestly, it's probably a little bit of both.

To be sure, the F & F investigation may be important. But, Issa has already proven to be incompetent and highly partisan in this case. After all, he defied a court order from a federal judge and released documents from the investigation. And, his subpoena would have forced Holder to provide documents of a sensitive and legally questionable nature. Given Issa's track record, this would have slipped to the media almost immediately.

And it's also worth noting that this now-infamous government operation was organized and started under Bush (yes, I'm invoking our past President, but facts back me up). Holder actually put a halt to the operation, but Issa and his Senatorial minions seem hell-bent on nailing him to a post anyway. It seems more and more like a political witch hunt than an honest investigation. After all, Holder has appeared before this committee on numerous occasions, answered all questions, and is now even facing a contempt of Congress vote, again initiated by Issa. Based on all of this, it seems Issa is only out to get Holder and to smear Obama, not actually find the truth to what happened during F&F.

On the other hand, if you want to play Devil's Advocate, you could concede that Obama is stepping in and using his authority to usurp the Senate panel. You could argue that Obama is overreaching and must therefore have something to hide. You could say that Obama and Holder seem to want to keep things private so that the rest of us don't know what really happened.

To which I say this: Bullshit.

Obama stepping in is out of character, but it's the first time he has done so, compared to the six times Bush used it and the fourteen under Clinton. Comparatively, Obama has been a hands-off Commander-in-Chief. But the nature of the subpoena itself would have forced Holder to break the law, since Issa has been known to slide this information to the media. Holder, therefore, decided to stop the subpoena before he had to do something unethical and illegal.

And the public doesn't need to know everything about the government's doings. Isn't that the argument that was used after the Patriot Act was put into effect? That we shouldn't be given full disclosure in the name of "national security"? Whatever happened to that? Why is that not being used in this case? It's funny, because this is a similar situation: information about a clandestine operation being demanded for public scrutiny, and being denied on the basis (I think) that it would compromise security or otherwise harm the interests of the country if such information was released." Seems pretty clear-cut to me. Anyone else have a problem with protecting our national interests?

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