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Published on Jun 23, 2012
President Obama may have to clear a high bar in order to lock down Fast and Furious documents from the prying eyes of congressional investigators. After the White House asserted executive privilege over potentially thousands of documents pertaining to the botched anti-gunrunning operation, critics of the move pointed out that the federal appeals court in the nation's capital has taken a skeptical view toward privilege claims in the past. The D.C. appeals court in 2004 rejected a privilege claim made by the George W. Bush White House pertaining to Justice Department documents dating back to the Clinton administration. That case involved a different type of claim, but a 1997 opinion from the same court made an observation that could come back to haunt the Obama administration if the current case ends up before the federal judiciary. "The privilege," the court wrote, "disappears altogether when there is any reason to believe government misconduct occurred." Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., former House Judiciary Committee chairman, released a memo earlier this week citing that very line and decrying the administration's argument as bunk.