In a surprise move before the deadline ran out on a threat by congressional Republicans to hold U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, the president threw a curveball.
According to media outlets, including The Huffington Post, President Barack Obama invoked executive privilege Wednesday, essentially withholding documents a committee was demanding from Holder. The documents were requested for an investigation into "Fast and Furious" — the name given to an operation launched to track weapons purchased by Mexican drug cartels. It turned sour, however, when agents lost track of more than 1,000 firearms and two turned up at the scene of the murder of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. The family of the dead border agent is reportedly condemning the move not to allow for full disclosure.
While it is the first time Obama has invoked this privilege, previous administrations have done it often. President George Bush invoked it six times and President Bill Clinton 14 times. With it being used now by Obama, it brings up all the old arguments made against previous administrations that “if there is nothing to hide, why hide?” Obama, as a senator, had asked that same question of the Bush administration. His own move drew swift criticism from House Republicans, including this comment by Speaker John Boehner’s press secretary, reported in The Huffington Post:
"Until now, everyone believed that the decisions regarding 'Fast and Furious' were confined to the Department of Justice. The White House decision to invoke executive privilege implies that White House officials were either involved in the 'Fast and Furious' operation or the cover-up that followed. The administration has always insisted that wasn't the case. Were they lying, or are they now bending the law to hide the truth?"
So what do you think? Should the president have invoked executive privilege in this case? If it was indeed outside the White House and strictly an issue with the Department of Justice, should he have stayed out of it and let the chips fall where they may? Tell us what you think in comments below.