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July 27, 2005

Waiting on Fitzgerald

Patrick Fitzgerald, the U. S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, is not a man you'd want on your trail.

Just ask former Gov. George Ryan, who'll soon go on trial on various corruption charges after having watched well more than 40 of his former employees and associates hustled off to jail by the relentless Mr. Fitzgerald.

Just ask Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, who has watched as Mr. Fitzgerald nailed two dozen-plus of his employees and political associates on corruption charges, and who may be in the crosshairs himself.

Now it's the denizens of Washington who are nervously looking over their shoulders at Mr. Fitzgerald, who took on an additional assignment 18 months ago: Find out who disclosed that Valerie Plame was a CIA agent and whether the leak violated federal law. The Plame story had been widely ignored outside the D.C. beltway. It was convoluted, confusing, apparently political he said-she said stuff.

No more.

A New York Times reporter is sitting in jail for refusing to testify before Mr. Fitzgerald's grand jury. (Curiously, very curiously, the reporter, Judith Miller, was not among the several who reported that Ms. Plame was a CIA agent.)

A Time magazine reporter would be in jail, too, had his bosses not ordered him to turn over his notes on the Plame leak to Mr. Fitzgerald.

Numerous White House employees have been grilled.

President Bush himself retained private counsel for a question and answer session with Mr. Fitzgerald last month, even though the president was not under oath during the 70-minute meeting in his office.

The president also has back-pedaled on a declaration that he would fire anyone in the White House who leaked Ms. Plame's name. As it's become clear that Karl Rove, his chief political advisor/hatchetman was at the very least resposible for confirming to reporters that Ms. Plame was a CIA agent, Mr. Bush changed the bar: Now, he says, he'll fire anyone convicted of a crime in connection with the leak.

Mr. Fitzgerald, in the meantime, is playing his cards close to his chest. It seems clear, though, that his report is going to shine an unwelcome spotlight on the trumped-up case for invading Iraq.

Ms. Plame was outed in July 2003, a week after her husband, former state department official Joseph Wilson, publicly debunked a key element Mr. Bush used in justifying the invasion.

The CIA was not amused. Officials there asked the Justice Department to conduct a criminal investigation into the leak. Then-attorney general John Ashcroft did so, initially as an in-house matter.

But by December, 2003, he'd decided a special prosecutor was needed. Enter Mr. Fitzgerald.

After conservative columnist Robert Novak -- citing "administration sources" -- first publicly identified her, Mr. Rove is reported to have told Chris Matthews of TV's "Hardball" that "Wilson's wife is fair game."

Mr. Fitzgerald plays hardball, too. On a field where, so far in his career, everyone is fair game.

Posted by jcb at July 27, 2005 02:19 PM

Comments

Anyone who thinks they have this solved is in fantasyland. The latest is that Judith Miller was the original leaker. The mainstream press is up to their eyeballs in this scandal, yet they pretend they are neutral and not players, and continue to report as such. Hasn't anyone in MSM heard of conflict of interest? Here's a post about the latest Plame "theory":http://www.cjrdaily.org/archives/001708.asp

Posted by: paladin at July 28, 2005 04:53 PM

There is widespread speculation that Judith Miller may have supplied the info about Plame to Rove and others who passed it along to reporters, but that still doesn't make her the 'original' leaker -- she had to get the information from somebody.

Maybe that somebody was one of the various administration officials whose pre-war propaganda she passed along as fact and original reporting. Her work was so heavily criticized that The New York Times finally ran what amounted to an apology, saying, in part "we have found a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been. In some cases, information that was controversial then, and seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged."

Through her "reporting", the NYT did as much as the administration neo-cons to beat the drums for an unjustified war. I'm having lots of trouble working up any sympathy for her.

Posted by: jcb at July 28, 2005 08:40 PM

Of course Judy Miller got the information that Plame was CIA from someone---herself. How could you forget Judy's reporting on WMD, which Plame handled for the CIA? Some wag said that Judy had a choice of pleading the 1st Amendment or the 5th Amendment, and the 1st Amendment was more noble.

But more interesting to me is the fact that the press is 1/2 the Plame story, yet they focus exclusively on the Bush Administration. Yeah, I'm shocked. Sidney Schanberg brings up something I've been wondering about; when will the press tell the story of how they were involved (probably when donkeys fly). Here's a link to Schanberg's article in the Village Voice, and notice how, when a NYTimes reporter (Jehl) attempts to get information from the Times about their involvment in Plamegate, the Times stonewalls in a way that would make any politician proud. We all know politician lie, let's see how truthful the press is when it comes down to the wire. http://www.villagevoice.com/news/0531,schanberg,66449,6.html

Posted by: paladin at August 2, 2005 12:58 PM