House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., addressed apparent stonewalling by the Republican leadership in pursuing a contempt of Congress citation against Attorney General Eric Holder on last night’s “On the Record” with Greta Van Susteren. Although Holder has not produced subpoenaed documents and information demanded by the committee, Van Susteren asked Issa about rumors that House Speaker John Boehner “isn’t wild about this,” prompting the chairman to detail his strategy for building Congressional consensus, including reaching across the aisle to concerned Democrats for support.
“We’ve sent out to every member of Congress 64 pages laying out the case for contempt.” Issa explained. “We’ve asked them do they have any questions…”
Issa is referring to the contempt citation draft the Committee sent out on May 3, and while it lends itself to many questions, one asked by Gun Rights Examiner of staffers has gone ignored after repeated requests:
“From the draft resolution,” this correspondent wrote in a May 6 email to established Committee contacts in both investigative and media capacities, “Any investigative reports prepared by the FBI or DEA relating to the individuals described to Committee staff at the October 5, 2011 briefing at Justice Department headquarters as Target Number 1 and Target Number 2. Department Response: The Department acknowledged that it ‘think[s] we understand this item.’”
This refers to item 17 in the category listing of the subpoena schedule requests on pages 19 and 20 (file pages 39 and 40 out of 64). While the reference has been public knowledge since October 12 of last year, the DoJ response, and Issa’s decision to reference it here, are curious.
Are they talking about straw purchasers/FBI confidential informants Eduardo and Jesus Miramontes here? Or someone else…?
“This is practically screaming for clarification/details,” the staffers were told. “What more can you share on this item?”
After two days of silence, this correspondent sent a follow-up email, asking “May I please have a for-the-record response to this?”
That, too, went ignored.
To further elicit an answer, the prior email attempts to obtain one were also sent to the Committee press secretary.
“Can you shake something loose on this for me?” this third email requested. “The Chairman put something out there for the public record that evidently even the DOJ says they’re not certain they understand, and it seems to me like I’m asking a legitimate question that merits public understanding.”
Over one week has passed and there has been no acknowledgement of these questions from people this correspondent has shared information with many times in the past. If there is a legitimate law enforcement reason for not providing investigation-related information, the case could be made that it should not have been referenced so intriguingly in documents the Committee made public. And if it’s no big deal, just answering the question would seem the thing to do. Besides, a response could still be crafted that did not give away specifics.
In any case, the individual staffers and their Committee have all benefited from reliable information, introductions and leads shared by Gun Rights Examiner and Mike Vanderboegh at Sipsey Street Irregulars. So it should be unnecessary at this point to have to go back to publicly decrying lack of Congressional responsiveness, but if that’s the only path left open for “Unauthorized Journalists” to get action, at least it’s a tried and true one.
This Committee, above all others, should be sensitive to the perception that ignoring legitimate requests creates.