So, the Fast and the Furious investigation is moving towards its perfectly predictable conclusion:
Republicans on the House Oversight Committee took an extraordinary step on Wednesday afternoon, voting to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress after failing to reach an agreement about documents related to a failed anti-gun trafficking operation that sent weapons to Mexican drug cartels.
Was there anyone, I mean literally ANYONE, who didn’t know this would be the outcome from day 1?
I have to admit, I find it fascinating that what got the GOP to vote on this was some sort of issue with documents, rather than, you know, the AG’s astonishing claim that “due process” for ordering presidential murder of American citizens can be met through the writing of secret memos, with no notification or possibility of appeal… but whatever, I guess.
I am fascinated with these memos. What might they possibly say? The memos in questions are apparently not about the original “gun walking” operation, but about DoJ responses the Congressional inquiry. I imagine these memos and emails say something, like, “Darrell Issa is a douchebag who won’t settle for anything short of a contempt citation, so we shouldn’t cooperate with him,” or some legal-sounding version of that.
I can’t say I see what Congress wants or needs with these documents. But, by the same token, what possible public policy justification exists to deny them access? Oh yes, the nonesense about presidential advisors being able to give free and candid advice.
Well, just to prove I hold Dems to the same standards as Republicans, let me re-up my previous argument on this score (Adventures in Executive Privilege from 2007):
The other interesting development was WH Counsel Fred Fielding’s letter to Congress explaining why there would be no testimony regarding the commutation of Scooter Libby’s sentence. He argued:
“To allow such an inquiry would chill the complete and candid advice that President Bush, and future presidents, must be able to rely upon in discharging their constitutional responsibilities.”
People seem to accept this argument without much question, but really, I would love for someone to actually explain the compelling public policy reason for the President being able to receive the kind of candid advice that might actually be chilled by public disclosure. I mean, what sort of advice really would an aide refrain from making if he or she had to fear public scrutiny. Well, there are three types. The first is just the embarrassment that might arise from giving advice that is simply stupid or ignorant. I don’t think there is a compelling public policy case to allow the President to receive flippant advice from the uninformed. The second type is recommendations that are illegal or immoral, and again, frankly, chilling that kind of advice would be a service to the president and country. The third type is advice that is narrowly cynical, politically craven, and manipulative. Here there is a gap between the interests of the president and that of the country. It may serve the political purposes of the president to receive this sort of advice, but I can’t for the life of me understand why as a matter of public policy we ought to encourage it.
Short of a narrow range of classified information, everything done by anyone on a government payroll ought to be transparent. Executive privilege is the last refuge of a scoundrel.
Can’t say I disagree with a word of that, even though I am sympathetic to the view that Issa’s intentions are less than pure.