Last Wednesday, the White House stunned observers by asserting executive privilege in its refusal to turn over documents related to the Fast and Furious gunrunning scandal that resulted in the death of U.S. border patrol agent Brian Terry. The day before, Barack Obama’s presidential campaign sent out a missive attacking GOP super-PACs for not revealing their donors. The message is clear: The president thinks transparency is a good thing if it allows him to bully citizens who give money to his political opponents. But what about transparency and accountability in the case of a law enforcement agent who died because his government allowed Mexican criminal gangs to acquire thousands of guns from U.S. dealers for reasons it declines to explain? According to a statement from Terry’s parents, “President Obama’s assertion of executive privilege serves to compound this tragedy.”
The extraordinary use of executive privilege suggests the administration is attempting to cover up some damning political motive behind the Fast and Furious operation. If it’s not a political cover-up, why can’t the Justice Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) give Americans a legitimate law enforcement reason for arming known criminals with sniper rifles and crates of grenades, much less failing to keep track of the weapons?