Jonathan Turley informs us:
The Justice Department has previously been held in contempt by Congress and hit with increasingly tough court orders from a federal judge over its obstruction of efforts to secure evidence in the notorious Fast and Furious operation. Many have accused Attorney General Eric Holder of acting blatantly political in withholding documents to protect Democrats from backlash before the elections. As if to prove that view, the Justice Department waited until late on election eve to finally dump more than 64,000 pages of documents congressional lawmakers have been seeking for years. The timing was almost taunting in its impact. Guaranteeing that the content could not be viewed before people voted, the Obama Administration’s long obstruction resulted in this troubling image of a politically timed release….The election eve dump to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee involved 64,280 pages withheld for years by the Obama Administration.
If you want to read the typical Republican outrage and the routine, “Oh, no, we are just trying to cooperate with this witch hunt” White House response, go here. Ethically, the conduct speaks for itself, however:
1. In litigation, this might be called discovery abuse. Discovery abuse is unethical.
2. The Obama Administration has mastered the art of late Friday and mid-major news development releases of information that the public might find disturbing. This was one of the more flagrant examples.
3. As in other areas, Obama borrowed this practice from the Bush administration, which took its hand-off from the Clinton White House. Then Obama took it to levels the others never envisioned. This, of course, allows Democrats to defend the practice by saying “Bush”—whom they reviled—“did it too.” I will not be kind to defenses of this sort.
4. It is flogging a dessicated horse to point this out now, but here is the President’s pledge on the White House website:
Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies
SUBJECT: Transparency and Open Government
My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.
Government should be transparent. Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing. Information maintained by the Federal Government is a national asset. My Administration will take appropriate action, consistent with law and policy, to disclose information rapidly in forms that the public can readily find and use. Executive departments and agencies should harness new technologies to put information about their operations and decisions online and readily available to the public. Executive departments and agencies should also solicit public feedback to identify information of greatest use to the public.
5. None of this apparently applies to loyal Obama hatchet man and outgoing AG Eric Holder.
6. Look up “appearance of impropriety,” and a picture of this document dump is under the entry. OK, not really, but it would be appropriate.
7. Have you heard or read about this in the major news media outlets? No, you probably haven’t, because a) most of them are too busy spinning the Democrat election losses, b) most of them aren’t interested in publicizing conduct that makes the Obama Administration look exactly as conniving and focused on covering up its botches and misdeeds as it really is, and c) the tactic works.
(Yes, I’m especially bitter, disgusted and cynical today. Personal stuff. Bear with me.)
Pointer: Jonathan Turley