Better late than never, I suppose, and this is late in more than one sense. Earlier today, the Department of Justice announced that it would finally give the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee access to documents related to Operation Fast and Furious, the bungled ATF program that lost track of thousands of weapons it sent across the border into Mexico. The decision will allow the committee to complete an investigation over a program that was linked to hundreds of deaths, including that of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry:
Today, the Department of Justice entered into a conditional settlement agreement with the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and will begin to produce additional documents related to Operation Fast and Furious. The conditional settlement agreement, filed in federal court in Washington D.C., would end six years of litigation arising out of the previous administration’s refusal to produce documents requested by the Committee.
In announcing the settlement, Attorney General Sessions said:
“The Department of Justice under my watch is committed to transparency and the rule of law. This settlement agreement is an important step to make sure that the public finally receives all the facts related to Operation Fast and Furious.”
Readers will recall that former Attorney General Eric Holder famously stonewalled Congress on these documents. Barack Obama finally claimed that executive privilege exempted these records from the committee on behalf of Holder, which resulted in a contempt charge against Holder that both ignored. That was a breathtakingly arrogant position; executive privilege usually only applies to the president, who supposedly knew nothing about Operation Fast and Furious. It also doesn’t apply at all on documents dealing with potentially criminal behavior. Other officials had at the very least misled Congress during testimony, and the Oversight Committee had a legitimate claim on those records to pursue those allegations as well as other underlying crimes and malfeasance in the scandal.
Six years later, they’ll finally get their chance to find out what really happened with Operation Fast and Furious, which some suspect was transformed by Holder’s team into a political operation to argue for more gun control legislation. However, we can also ask why this wasn’t done a year ago. It’s not as if Fast & Furious was some obscure story; it was one of the first scandals of the Obama administration, one that the White House and Holder tried very hard to bury. The use of the OF&F weapons in hundreds of murders should have made this a high priority for Sessions when he came into office, especially since he had recused himself from the most high-profile investigation at DoJ at the time, the Russia-collusion probe.
Katie Pavlich, who literally wrote the book (Fast & Furious) on the scandal, gives Townhall readers a rundown on where the story is now. Katie also includes a Fox News segment with Kent Terry, brother of the agent who lost his life to one of the lost Fast and Furious weapons, arguing that it’s about time Congress got back to work on this scandal:
During an interview with Fox and Friends Tuesday, the brother of slain Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry called on the Trump administration to reopen the investigation into the operation and to release previously withheld documents.
“We need to find out the truth, exactly what happened, how it happened, why it happened. We need Mr. Trump, President Trump, to unseal the documents, reverse executive privilege so that we know what happened, and that we can hold the people accountable that are responsible,” Kent Terry said.
It is better late than never, though? It might take months to review the material being released, assuming the DoJ releases it in a timely manner. If the House changes hands in November, there’s a very good chance that Democratic leadership will close the books on OF&F. Late, in this case, might end up being never.