No More Patrick Fitzgeralds?
That’s what an op-ed piece in the Washington Post this morning is demanding.
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?