Holder Justice Dept. Coughs Up List Of “Privileged” Fast & Furious Documents To Judicial Watch

Fitton Fast and Furious Vaughn Index

Photo from Tom Fitton, President of Judicial Watch, Twitter Feed.  His words, “This is the list of Fast and Furious documents Obama is hiding from you.”

Judicial Watch does it again.  Late Wednesday evening, after over three months of waiting for the Eric Holder Department of “Justice ” to comply with a court order to produce a list of documents that the Obama Administration considers to be covered under executive privilege, Judicial Watch received a 1307 page “draft” Vaughn index from them.

Typically, a Vaughn index must: (1) identify each record withheld; (2) state the statutory exemption claimed; and (3) explain how disclosure would damage the interests protected by the claimed exemption.

What did this document, the Vaughn index, detail about Fast & Furious?

The document details the Attorney General Holder’s personal involvement in managing the Justice Department’s strategy on media and Congressional investigations into the Fast and Furious scandal.  Notably, the document discloses that emails between Attorney General Holder and his wife Sharon Malone – and his mother – are being withheld under claims of executive privilege and the deliberative process privilege.

Just so that we have this straight:

  • Eric Holder personally controlled all of the information released, to whom and when regarding Fast and Furious.  That included stonewalling Congress and developing talking points.
  • Holder managed the scandal himself (with a bad case of Foggy Bottom Amnesia if people will remember).
  • Emails between Holder and his family members are on the protected by executive privilege list.

Judicial Watch goes on to explain what they found in the first pass through the document.  (Seriously, 1307 pages will be great midnight oil reading for at least a week.)

  • Numerous emails that detail Attorney General Holder’s direct involvement in crafting talking points, the timing of public disclosures, and handling Congressional inquiries in the Fast and Furious matter.

  • President Obama has asserted executive privilege over nearly 20 email communications between Holder and his spouse Sharon Malone.  The administration also claims that the records are also subject to withholding under the “deliberative process” exemption. This exemption ordinarily exempts from public disclosure records that could chill internal government deliberations.
  • Numerous entries detail DOJ’s communications (including those of Eric Holder) concerning the White House about Fast and Furious.
  • The scandal required the attention of virtually every top official of the DOJ and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).  Communications to and from the United States Ambassador to Mexico about the Fast and Furious matter are also described.
  • Many of the records are already publicly available such as letters from Congress, press clips, and typical agency communications.  Ordinarily, these records would, in whole or part, be subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.  Few of the records seem to even implicate presidential decision-making and advice that might be subject to President Obama’s broad and unprecedented executive privilege claim.

As the Judicial Watch piece explains, executive privilege has never been used in this manner before – not even under President Richard Nixon.  Nixon’s Attorney General, John Mitchell, may have gone to prison for the Watergate scandal, but he was never held in contempt of Congress.  Eric Holder has been as a result of the Fast and Furious scandal, which now envelopes his wife, mother and the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico in the outrageous gunrunning that put American firearms in the hands of Mexican drug cartels.

This revelation comes as the United States readies for one of the most crucial midterm elections in her history.  Fast and Furious was the first of the worst Obama Administration scandals and it has taken four years just to get a Vaughn index that appears to be on a spreadsheet with no intimate details.  In some ways, it was the forgotten scandal.  No more.

Kudos to Tom Fitton and Judicial Watch for their tenacity in this case.

About the Author

Cultural Limits
A resident of Flyover Country, Cultural Limits is a rare creature in American Conservatism - committed to not just small government, Christianity and traditional social roles, but non-profits and high arts and culture. Watching politics, observing human behavior and writing are all long-time interests. In her other life, CL writes romance novels under her nom de plume, Patricia Holden (@PatriciaHoldenAuthor on Facebook), and crochets like a mad woman (designs can be found on Facebook @BohemianFlairCrochet and on Pinterest on the Bohemian Flair Crochet board). In religion, CL is Catholic; in work, the jill of all trades when it comes to fundraising software manipulation and event planning; in play, a classically trained soprano and proud citizen of Cardinal Nation, although, during hockey season, Bleeds Blue. She lives in the Mid-Mississippi River Valley with family and two cute and charming tyrants...make that toy dogs.