An interim victory for the conservative watchdog group, Judicial Watch, which is suing the Obama administration over withheld Fast and Furious documents: a federal judge has lifted a 16-month delay in the Freedom of Information lawsuit.
That means the Department of Justice must turn over an index describing all of the material it’s been holding back since September of 2012. Judicial Watch had requested all of the documents that President Obama ordered withheld from Congress under executive privilege.
The ruling from U.S. District Court Judge John Bate orders the Justice Department to provide the so-called “Vaughn index” listing of documents by October first. The Justice Department has long claimed that allowing the Judicial Watch lawsuit to move forward would interfere with its ongoing lawsuit in which the House Oversight Committee is suing for the same documents.
The court originally agreed to put a hold on the Judicial Watch case in February of 2013 but stated, at the time, that it would:
not award an indefinite stay pending ultimate resolution of the House Committee litigation,’ and that ‘the benefits of delaying this case might well [become] too attenuated to justify any further delay”
In addition to Judicial Watch, I have longstanding Freedom of Information requests pending with the federal government in the Fast and Furious case.
“Congress is of zero help in this case…instead, the silence is deafening,” says Tom Fitton, President of Judicial Watch.
According to Judicial Watch:
On October 11, 2011, Judicial Watch sued the DOJ and the ATF to obtain all Fast and Furious records submitted to the House Committee on Oversight.
On June 6, 2012, Judicial Watch sued the ATF seeking access to records detailing communications between ATF officials and Kevin O’Reilly, former Obama White House Director of North American Affairs at the U.S. National Security Council.
On September 5, 2013, Judicial Watch sued the DOJ seeking access to all records of communications between DOJ and the Oversight Committee relating to settlement discussions in the Committee’s 2012 contempt of Congress lawsuit against Holder. The contempt citation stemmed from Holder’s refusal to turn over documents to Congress related to the Fast and Furious gunrunning scandal.
On May 28, 2014, Judicial Watch sued the DOJ on behalf of ATF Special Agent John Dodson, who blew the whistle on Operation Fast and Furious and was then subjected to an alleged smear campaign designed to destroy his reputation.