The Department of Justice has filed yet another request to forestall a court order that could require the release of tens of thousands of pages’ worth of documents pertaining to the Operation Fast and Furious gunwalking scandal — a scandal that’s dogged the Obama administration since ATF whistleblowers first approached Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) with their concerns about the secret program in early 2011.
The DOJ filed a request Monday before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, asking the court to allow the department to keep under wraps more than 60,000 pages of Fast and Furious documents until the appeals process following her ruling on whether the documents are protected under executive privilege — if it is an unfavorable one for the DOJ — has run its course.
In other words, the DOJ is asking the court to let the documents stay hidden not only while it argues they’re protected under executive privilege, but even for the duration of the inevitable appeal the department would file if Jackson decides they aren’t covered under executive privilege, as both President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have maintained.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee wants the documents, but Holder and Obama have so far successfully stalled their release — even after the House held Holder in contempt for refusing to hand them over in 2012.
Jackson has previously demonstrated no special deference to the Obama administration, ordering the DOJ last month to hand over an itemized listing of the documents in question — but not (yet) the documents themselves — by Oct. 1.
The scandal came to light following the death of border patrol agent Brian Terry in 2010. Terry was murdered in a gunfight with alleged illegal immigrants; two guns connected with the Fast and Furious operation were later discovered at the crime scene.
A number of ATF agents, alarmed at Terry’s death and convinced that the gunwalking strategy was undermining its purpose, approached Grassley with their information in early 2011, leading to a congressional investigation.