There's been a lot of talk about this Fast and Furious program, but the facts get lost in all of the posturing. It was started under the Bush Administration, and when Holder realized it's failings and moronic premise he moved to shut it down. Since then Holder has appeared before at least eight congressional panels after a border patrol agent was killed. He presented thousands of documents on the program. So now the information Congress wants is the correspondence after the program was dissolved, to search for any kind of cover up.
The reason this wasn't pursued earlier is because the GOP wants to attach an Obama attack on second amendment rights. Using logic that suggests that the crimes committed using assault rifles from this program are so egregious that some new level of gun control would have to be proposed, and private citizens guns would be taken. All of the controversy was born from the mind of a right wing blogger and Fox News Contributor. Aside from the baseless 2nd amendment claims, there is no legal consequence for Holder as he is the Atty. General and won't prosecute himself.
The real harm is to the agents that would be exposed if the requested documents are released, that will certainly put their lives in jeopardy. So if the Administration releases the papers they risk the agents, and if they don't and go with executive privilege they give the impression that they are hiding something. Obama chose to take the hit to his reputation and protect the agents that would be exposed. For the GOP the added bonus is that the controversy, though baseless, tarnishes Holders reputation to the point that his name has to be off of the short list for the next Supreme Court Justice, whom the next POTUS will definitely choose if not more.
Holders actions to stop rampant voter discrimination sealed his fate as a top GOP target in their 2012 smear campaign. Knowing his family's instrumental role in the Civil Rights movement, he no doubt has been labeled radical. So as it stands for the Republicans, the loss of agents lives, acceptable damages, suppressing testimony from credible witness, all part of a days work. Are there no depths to low for the GOP to reach for.