He criticized its invocation during the Bush years, and pledged to run the most transparent administration ever. But his hypocrisy is unlikely to hurt him.
Despite a history of skepticism toward invocations of executive privilege, President Obama -- who promised to run "the most transparent administration in history" -- has come to appreciate their utility this week. It's an election year, for Pete's sake! And who knows when Attorney General Eric Holder knew about the decision to let illegally purchased guns flow across the Mexican border? By impeding Rep. Darrell Issa's investigation, Obama can perhaps avoid the release of embarrassing information at minimal political cost, safe in the knowledge that on issues as diverse as the War Powers Resolution, the state-secrets privilege, and treatment of whistleblowers, his egregious hypocrisy hasn't cost him support among fellow Democrats. The cause of transparency will suffer. But it isn't like its champions have anywhere to go.
Said the Department of Justice in the letter explaining its latest resistance, "Such compelled disclosure would be inconsistent with the separation of powers established in the Constitution and would potentially create an imbalance in the relationship between these two co-equal branches."
Isn't that something?