A federal judge has said President Barack Obama’s claim of executive privilege to block Congress’ from acquiring the records from the botched Fast and Furious guns probe that resulted in thousands of guns to land in Mexico.
U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson issued the ruling on Tuesday that the Justice Department’s disclosures about its response to the controversial operation undermined Obama’s executive privilege assertion.
Operation Fast and Furious was a gunrunning probe conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to try and track thousands of illegal guns to Mexican drug cartels by allowing dealers to sell illegal weapons to buyers loosely connected to the cartels. Less than half of the weapons were recovered and only gunrunners have been charged with crimes.
Congress, after discovery of the botched operation, had been trying to access White House records regarding the planning and execution of Fast and Furious, so named because some of the straw buyers belonged to car clubs, but then-Attorney General Eric Holder and Obama refused to participate, citing executive privilege. Holder was later held in contempt of Congress for his failure to cooperate. The House later filed suit against Obama regarding disclosure of the files.
Jackson did leave the possibility of some records to remain sealed if they contain sensitive information on law enforcement procedures or create problems with foreign policy initiatives.
The administration can appeal the decision.