House Committee Miffed in Fast & Furious Saga

     WASHINGTON (CN) – An attempt to delay the release of government records on the bungled Fast and Furious gun-trafficking operation brought criticism from a House committee.
     Attorney General Eric Holder has until Oct. 1 to produce all “nonprivileged documents” sought by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, but Holder recently demanded a stay of the court’s order to do so.
     The committee said its opposition brief that Holder cannot demonstrate the “pressing need” for the “indefinite” stay he seeks.
     “The attorney general has not even attempted to demonstrate a pressing need for a stay,” the Friday filing states. “His stay request is predicated only on his suggestion that he might file an appeal from one aspect of the court’s August 20 Order, that in the case he might file another appeal, and that this would not be desirable.”
     The Fast and Furious program was executed by the Phoenix field office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. ATF agents knowingly allowed firearms purchased illegally in the United States to be unlawfully transferred to third-parties and transported into Mexico in hopes that the guns would lead ATF agents to the cartel leaders who purchased them.
     The mission fell apart, however, after agents lost track of thousands of guns, some of which turned up at the scene of the 2010 firefight in Arizona that resulted in the death of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry .
     Faced with an investigation by Congress, the Justice Department initially denied in a letter to the committee that guns had been allowed to walk across the border. It later informed Congress that the letter was incorrect.
     When asked to produce records as to why the department had made the denial, Holder initially released some documents, but withheld others under executive privilege, claiming that disclosure would reveal the agency’s deliberative processes, a fight that evolved into the current conflict between the Department of Justice and Congress.
     “Here, granting the Attorney General’s stay request would be the opposite of ‘advanc[ing] … for prompt consideration’ the Committee’s effort to enforce its subpoena,” the committee’s latest filing states. “Accordingly, the attorney general’s blithe pronouncement that ‘[g]ranting a stay … would not unduly prejudice the committee,’ … is demonstrably false, both as a matter of fact and as a matter of law.”
     The committee added that it does not object to Holder’s request that, in the event his stay request is denied, his product date be reset to Nov. 3, 2014.
     A demand by Judicial Watch for similar records is also ongoing in the same court.

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