Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Fast and Furious
The big news out of Washington today goes to show just how unpredictable important events--like a presidential election--can be in our world of rapidly disclosed information in our tech-rich environment. After making it seem last night as if he would hand over today the documents sought by Congress on the Fast and Furious matter, Attorney General Eric Holder has instead informed the House Committee asking for these papers that President Obama has locked them away under Executive Privilege. We don't here wish to wade into the tiresome debate about Executive Privilege (President Bush invoked it to keep from handing over documents to Congressional committees, so does that make it alright? Senator Obama thought it was wrong for President Bush to do so; does that make it wrong?). We do wish to point out, however, that so intently concerned about reelection as President Obama is at the moment, there is no way that he would risk looking like President Nixon if he didn't have to. Hence it seems clear that according to a cost-benefit analysis the White House deemed it less damaging to stonewall than to reveal what these documents contain. At the very least, that must mean that these documents indicate that Eric Holder lied to Congress when he claimed not to have known about Fast and Furious; at the most, it might mean that the President himself knew about the operation--a huge political liability because Fast and Furious was a stupid program that may well have helped kill a United States Border Patrol agent. The operation involves the emotionally charged issues of illegal immigration of the worst sort, gun ownership for criminal purposes, and drug smuggling. Therefore, being associated with Fast and Furious would be a disaster for President Obama--a bigger disaster even than appearing to cover up by means of Executive Privilege possible malfeasance in his Administration. That is the most plausible reason why a vulnerable President Obama would take the hit that he surely will for not releasing these documents.