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Obama's Catch-22

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Friday, June 22, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

In the grand scheme of things, a congressional committee's vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over documents related to the failed and fatal Operation Fast and Furious gun-running scandal doesn't amount to a hill of beans.

Even if the full House concurs next week, the matter will be referred to Mr. Holder's Justice Department. “Prosecutory discretion” being what it is these days, nothing will happen.

But President Barack Obama's invocation of executive privilege to shield those documents is another matter. In fact, it's a mountain of a mess that could topple Mr. Obama (if the electorate doesn't do it first).

By now declaring executive privilege, the administration is legally stipulating that there was direct White House involvement. And it has placed itself in Catch-22 jeopardy: It was more intimately involved in Fast and Furious than previously stated and it has been involved in nothing less than a cover-up to prevent that public disclosure.

Either the White House lied or the White House lied.

Whether it has done so to prevent being embarrassed politically or to shield criminal activity remains the question.

That question could be answered by the House filing a lawsuit against the administration to force it to comply with its subpoena for Fast and Furious documents. It's the only way to ascertain what this White House knew and when it knew it.

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