Outside editorial: House should hold attorney general Holder in contempt

The following editorial appeared in the Seattle Times:


Executive privilege is a principle dangerous to democracy, whether invoked by a Republican or Democratic president. The Obama administration has invoked it and now is threatened with retaliation: House Republicans say unless the administration hands over subpoenaed documents, they will vote Thursday to declare Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. If that is what it takes, they should do it.

It is an election year, so the administration’s defenders are saying that a call for disclosure is “all politics.” Of course there is political hay in it, but the request is still valid. Congress needs to know about botched government programs.

This was one. Called “Fast and Furious,” it was a sting operation run out of the Phoenix, Ariz., office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from 2009 to 2011. Its aim was to allow Mexican drug organizations to buy illegal guns so that U.S. agents could follow the guns, arrest the people who had them and destroy the cartels.

The U.S. agents lost track of hundreds of guns. In 2010, two of the guns were found at the killing scene of U.S. border agent Brian Terry. The Mexican government also said Fast and Furious guns were found at 170 crime scenes in Mexico.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, followed with an investigation, which led to the testimony of Holder and the release of 7,000 pages of Department of Justice documents.

An additional 1,300 pages under House of Representatives subpoena were the subject of a presidential order of executive privilege, the first such order of Obama’s presidency. That is what the argument is about.

Obama has said he did not know about Fast and Furious, and Issa does not claim the president knew. That is not the issue.

The issue is whether Congress has the right to learn about it, and it does.


  • Switchboard: 907-586-3740
  • Circulation and Delivery: 907-586-3740
  • Newsroom Fax: 907-586-9097
  • Business Fax: 907-586-9097
  • Accounts Receivable: 907-523-2230
  • View the Staff Directory
  • or Send feedback






Fri, 08/18/2017 - 07:59

Include Chilkat River in mining conversation

Alaska’s congressional delegation clearly understands that Alaska has much to lose and little to gain from Canadian mines in the headwaters of major Southeast Alaska... Read more

Stay strong, Sen. Murkowski

Alaskans aren’t known for choosing the easy road.

Read more

The EPA should remedy past misdeeds

On most issues there are multiple perspectives. This is the case with Pebble. Read more

Sex and bigotry remains an important issue

I have been trying to write about sex and religion, because I’m convinced that Catholic teaching about sex is all wrong and would, if it... Read more