It’s not quite the Panama papers, but one hell of a big pile of carefully guarded secrets may soon be made public.
For years now, the federal government has been quietly fighting to keep a lid on an 11,000-document cache of government communications relating to financial policy. The sheer breadth of the effort to keep this material secret may not have a precedent in modern presidential times.
“It’s the mother of all privilege logs,” explains one lawyer connected with the case.
The Obama administration invoked executive privilege, attorney-client and deliberative process over these documents and insisted that their release would negatively impact global financial markets. But in finally unsealing some of these materials last week, a federal judge named Margaret Sweeney said the government’s sole motivation was avoiding embarrassment.
“Instead of harm to the Nation resulting from disclosure, the only ‘harm’ presented is the potential for criticism,” Sweeney wrote. “The court will not condone the misuse of a protective order as a shield to insulate public officials from criticism in the way they execute their public duties.”*
So what’s so embarrassing? Mainly, it’s a sordid history of the government’s seizure of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, also known as the government-sponsored enterprises, or GSEs.
The papers being fought over concern both past and future controversies, all of them quite complicated. At the root of all of them, however…Read More