No More Patrick Fitzgeralds?

No More Patrick Fitzgeralds?


That’s what an op-ed piece in the Washington Post this morning is demanding.

From David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey:

Fitzgerald, a highly respected federal prosecutor from Chicago, was given the task of investigating whether Bush administration officials had violated the Intelligence Identities Protection Act by “leaking” the identity of CIA employee Valerie Plame.

It is clear that, at least by sometime in January 2004 — and probably much earlier — Fitzgerald knew this law had not been violated. Plame was not a “covert” agent but a bureaucrat working at CIA headquarters. Instead of closing shop, however, Fitzgerald sought an expansion of his mandate and has now charged offenses that grew entirely out of the investigation itself. In other words, there was no crime when the investigation started, only, allegedly, after it finished. Unfortunately, for special counsels, as under the code of the samurai, once the sword is drawn it must taste blood.

Do you see this? The authors are saying that Plame wasn’t covert, but Fitzgerald is saying she is. Who’s right people? (A commenter points out that he said she was classified, not necessarily covert. Thanks for the catch.)

However, this is an interesting point:

By being assigned to investigate one individual, or a small group, the prosecutor is deprived of normal constraints such as resource limitations and the perspective of having to choose from a range of cases to pursue. Another vital missing ingredient is supervision. Normally federal prosecutors have political superiors who review their decisions. This is supposed to be the case even with special counsels. Unfortunately, for reasons that are not entirely clear — but that may have involved some buck-passing by Justice Department officials — Fitzgerald was specifically excused from even this minimal check on his power and as a consequence was accountable only to himself.

What do you think?

  • Jeff

    Fitz isn’t saying she was covert, just classified.

    FITZGERALD: Let me say two things. Number one, I am not speaking to whether or not Valerie Wilson was covert. And anything I say is not intended to say anything beyond this: that she was a CIA officer from January 1st, 2002, forward.

    I will confirm that her association with the CIA was classified at that time through July 2003. And all I’ll say is that, look, we have not made any allegation that Mr. Libby knowingly, intentionally outed a covert agent.

  • Justin Gardner

    Oh, indeed. Thanks for the catch.

  • Samuel Alito

    There is a check on Fitzgerald, Justin. It the jury of 12 of Scooter Libby’s peers who will determine whether or not the prosecutor (Fitz or the trial prosecutor) can prove the case “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The special counsel law is open to abuse, of course, and people will always criticize reports of perjury or obstruction when no underlying charge is pled (remember that Democrats made the same argument when Kenneth Starr, investigating a land deal in Arkansas, eventually reported that someone under investigation lied about his sex life).

    However, an investigation should not be closed until it is complete (when no indictments are made, a report is standard procedure, as it was in Starr, and in January 1994 Fitz could have issued no such report). To lie to the grand jury, if indeed he did lie, shows that Libby believed he had done something worth lying to a grand jury to protect. Whether or not Plame was “covert” is a complicated question, one that Fitzgerald may simply think is beyond his ability to prove to a jury, even if he believes it’s true.

    In all, while the special prosecutor law may be questionable, even this conservative judge thinks that Fitzgerald acted with some degree of restraint.


  • RAL

    Typical of the Rove supporters in the MSM. When Clinton was investigated, no amount of fuss, money and political turmoil was enough for these partisan hacks.

    Take a real bunch of criminal bastards like Bush and his gang, and they want to shut down the investigation.

    Well, bad luck boys, the AG recused himself from this one under potential conflict of interest.

    The judge in the case dismissed libby’s recent filing that tried to challenge Fitz’s authority to try this case. So the law is clear.

    What now then, BushCo? Dancing on the gibbet seems to be the only option for them.