October 3, 2013
A federal judge has rejected Attorney General Eric Holder’s attempt to keep the courts from wading into the “Fast and Furious” documents dispute that led to him being held in contempt by the House last year.
In a ruling Monday night, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson turned down the Justice Department’s request to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee after President Barack Obama asserted executive privilege to prevent some records about the administration’s response to the “Operation Fast and Furious” gunrunning scandal from being turned over to Congress.
“This case presents the sort of question that the courts are traditionally called upon to resolve,” Jackson said in her 44-page decision, issued more than five months after lawyers argued the issue in her packed courtroom and more than a year after the House committee filed suit. “Dismissing the case without hearing it would in effect place the court’s finger on the scale, designating the executive as the victor based solely on his untested assertion that the privilege applies,” she wrote.
A Justice Department spokesman said officials there were reviewing the decision.
The legal fight arose after the Justice Department refused to comply with House subpoenas seeking information about the response to “Operation Fast and Furious,” a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives undercover operation targeting gun trafficking along and across the Mexican border.
DOJ’s Inspector General and Congressional investigators found that the operation may have resulted in as many as 2000 weapons flowing to narcotraffickers with little or no effort to track them. The weapons have shown up at crime scenes on both sides or the border as well as at the fatal shooting of a U.S. Border Patrol agent in 2010.