A federal judge ordered the Justice Department Thursday to release a list of documents it is withholding from the public related to Operation Fast and Furious within the next month.
Calling the Obama administration’s request for further delays “unconvincing,” U.S. District Court Judge John D. Bates told the Justice Department to release the list of documents—called a “Vaughn index”—that the department is withholding by Oct. 22.
“[S]eventy-five days—plus another twenty-one, based in part on Judiciary Watch’s consent—is enough time for the government to prepare the index that this Court has ordered, given that this matter has been pending for over two years,” Bates said in his ruling. “The Court will therefore extend the Department’s Vaughn index submission deadline to October 22, 2014—and no further.”
“The government argues that it must devote significant numbers of attorneys to this matter if it hopes to comply with the current Vaughn index deadline,” Bates continued. “…But the Department has known about its Vaughn index obligations since July 18, 2014 … At best, it means the Department has been slow to react to this Court’s previous Order. At worst, it means the Department has ignored that Order until now.”
The conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch sued the Justice Department in September 2012 for documents related to Operation Fast and Furious, where federal agents allowed thousands of guns to cross the border and fall into the hands of violent drug cartels.
The Justice Department has claimed executive privilege over the documents.
“The Obama administration failed to game the courts and now will have to account for its Fast and Furious lies,” Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said in a statement. “Two federal courts have now rejected Eric Holder’s election-related ploy to keep this information from the American people. This is a battle that put Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, saw Nixonian assertions of executive privilege by Barack Obama, and a hapless Congress in the face of all this lawlessness.”
Holder announced on Thursday that he is resigning as Attorney General.