As Attorney General Eric Holder sat before the House Oversight Committee on Thursday February 2nd, his answers were as predictable as they were unacceptable: predictable because they were the well-rehearsed answers he gives each time he’s asked about Fast and Furious (except when he gives different answers because the timeline demands it) and they were unacceptable because many of his answers were simply contrary to reality.
For example, consider how Holder continued to defend (and rationalize) the speed at which the DOJ is releasing subpoenaed documents to the committee. How he simultaneously maintained that the DOJ has “shared huge amounts of information” and promised to share more, albeit on the DOJ’s timetable rather than that of the Oversight Committee.
But the reality is that the DOJ has only released 8% of the subpoenaed documents, or approximately 6,000 documents. And according to a report from the Oversight Committee, among these 6,000 were many which consisted “of blacked-out pages containing no information,” as well as “many duplicate documents” meant only “to bolster [the DOJs] page count.” (In other words, among the measly number of documents delivered, many contain no information on them.)
At the same time, Holder & Co. have turned over 92% more materials (about 80,000 documents) to the DOJ’s in-house Inspector General. And I’m not the only one who views this through a skeptical lense, especially since the IG falls under the auspices of the DOJ. In fact, it’s easy to assume that Holder’s being more open with the DOJ’s IG because he fears them less than he fears Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and others on the Oversight Committee.
Congressman Dan Burton (R-IN) certainly believes this is so. Thus during his exchange with Holder last week he said: “I think you’re hiding behind something here. There [are] things you don’t want us to see.” Added Burton: “You ought to give us the documents.”
Stop for a moment and think about this: What would happen to the average American if they only provided a court or a federally-backed investigative committee with 8% of what that court or investigative body requested? Moreover, what if a portion of the 8% of documents they turned over were blacked-out pages “containing no information”?
Why then should Holder receive special treatment? (It’d be nice if the law were applied equally, to the ruling class as it is to the country class.)
The good news is that Issa is on record saying that if Holder hasn’t reversed course and complied with the document subpoenas by February 9th, the “committee will have no alternative but to move forward with proceedings to hold [Holder] in contempt of Congress.” Therefore, between now and the 9th Holder needs to hand over the documents and we need to remind Issa that we expect him to follow through with the contempt charges if Holder simply thumbs his nose at the Oversight Committee again.