Somehow there was no 11th-hour stonewall, no crazy claim of a hard drive crash that wiped out information covered by a judge’s orders. Judicial Watch actually got the index of Fast and Furious documents the Justice Department was instructed to provide, as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. It’s a pretty amazing list:
The Vaughn index explains 15,662 documents. 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. The Vaughn index arguably fails to provide all of this required information but does provide plenty of interesting information for a public kept in the dark for years about the Fast and Furious scandal.
Based on a preliminary review of the massive document, Judicial Watch can disclose that the Vaughn index reveals:
- 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.
15,662 documents? Emails between Attorney General Holder and his wife? All that’s covered by executive privilege, huh?
Statement from Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton:
This document provides key information about the cover-up of Fast and Furious by Attorney General Eric Holder and other high-level officials of the Obama administration. Obama???s executive privilege claims over these records are a fraud and an abuse of his office. There is no precedent for President Obama???s Nixonian assertion of executive privilege over these ordinary government agency records. Americans will be astonished that Obama asserted executive privilege over Eric Holder???s emails to his wife about Fast and Furious.
Once again, Judicial Watch has proven itself more effective than Congress and the establishment media in providing basic oversight of this out-of-control Administration. This Fast and Furious document provides dozens of leads for further congressional, media, and even criminal investigations.
No doubt we’ll hear more as the index is reviewed in detail. We still don’t get to actually read the documents, but it’s eye-opening just to know what they were.