Jun 26, 2012 No Comments ›› Pat Dollard
This is step one of the process. Write a letter giving the President one last chance to cure before turning to the courts. Same thing as you most often would do before suing someone in court if they failed to cure a breach, default, offense, etc.
WASHINGTON – With a vote looming to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, a House committee chairman is challenging President Barack Obama’s claim of executive privilege, invoked to maintain secrecy for some documents related to a failed gun-tracking operation.
Obama’s claim broadly covers administration documents about the program called Operation Fast and Furious, not just those prepared for the president. But Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that recommended the contempt charge, maintains the privilege is reserved for documents to and from the president and his most senior advisers.
In a letter to the president dated Monday and made public Tuesday, Issa cited an appellate court decision to back his claim and questioned whether Obama was asserting a presidential power “solely for the purpose of further obstructing a congressional investigation.”
Holder’s offer last week to turn over some documents — the Justice Department has provided 7,600 records so far — was rejected by Issa because he contended the attorney general was demanding an end to the committee’s investigation.
In Fast and Furious, agents of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Arizona abandoned the agency’s usual practice of intercepting all weapons they believed to be illicitly purchased. Instead, the goal of gun-walking was to track such weapons to high-level arms traffickers who long had eluded prosecution and to dismantle their networks.
Issa, in his letter to the president, wrote, “Courts have consistently held that the assertion of the constitutionally-based executive privilege … is only applicable … to documents and communications that implicate the confidentiality of the president’s decision-making process.”
The letter said that while the privilege covers only the president and his advisers, it is a qualified privilege that can be overcome by a showing of the committee’s need for the documents.
Issa quoted from a 1997 case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in which the court said the privilege should not extend to staff outside the White House in executive branch agencies.
Rather, the court said, it should apply only to “communications authored or solicited and received by those members of an immediate White House adviser’s staff” with responsibility for formulating advice for the president.a href=