Pajamas Media has a special story on the Justice Department’s refusal to cooperate with the US Civil Rights Commission’s investigation into why it refused to prosecute alleged Black Panthers caught on video attempting intimidate voters. Jennifer Rubin writes:
In June, the Commission sent a letter of inquiry to the Justice Department demanding an explanation for the dismissal of the case against all but one defendant. In August, the Commission sent a second letter directly to Attorney General Eric Holder reiterating its demand for information on the reasons for the dismissal and advising Holder of its intention to use the Commission’s statutory authority to subpoena witnesses and documents. It also renewed its demand for records of past DOJ investigations so it could make an independent determination as to whether the New Black Panther case’s dismissal was an abrupt change in Justice Department policy, and if so, what the impact of that policy change might be on future acts of voter intimidation. However, the “most transparent administration” in history (it tells us) did not even acknowledge receipt of the letter for weeks. …
the Justice Department sent a one paragraph letter to the Commission advising that an OPR investigation would be opened and “accordingly” no answer would be forthcoming until OPR concluded its investigation. … a number of the commissioners were aghast by the response. An OPR investigation is, of course, no basis for declining to co-operate with the Commission in its statutorily authorized obligation to investigate enforcement of civil rights laws.
The Commission on Friday voted unanimously by a 5-0 margin to pursue the year-long study and to set up a separate subcommittee to handle sensitive discovery issues. The Commission also agreed to send a letter replying to the Justice Department’s announced refusal to cooperate with the Commission’s investigation.
It seems that we are therefore headed for a clash between the administration, which has bragged about its transparency, and the Commission. It remains unclear whether the Justice Department will continue to stonewall as some fear or ask the president to invoke executive privilege to block the DOJ’s cooperation with the Commission’s investigation, thereby significantly impeding the only truly independent entity examining this issue.
The most interesting thing about the DOJ’s response is that it indicates the lengths to which the administration will go not to open up a window into certain things. There are some rocks you can’t lift and the crazy thing is that they’re such small rocks. The alleged offense itself involves relatively few people (if the video is any indication). It should have been “no big deal” to go after a handful of individuals in an isolated incident and have done with it. Why didn’t it happen that way? What is truly puzzling is why the administration is prepared to go to the mat over such seemingly trivial things. Which leads to the suspicion that the incident, while tiny in itself, is the tip of some iceberg. What’s under the rock? What really makes the Obama administration so puzzling is their extraordinary sensitivity to ostensibly unimportant things.