I find it really quite amazing that, even with the results of the Fitzgerald investigation mostly all in, the liberal blogosphere is still awash with rank speculation about Fitzgerald clearing up the Niger dilemma, Fitzgerald determining for certain that Bush & Company lied about the war, even (still!) that the final result of the investigation will be the impeachment of Bush (a nice trick to pull off, with a Republican-controlled Congress!). All this and more is still being written, and it's the bunk.
In actuality, Fitzgerald is about -- 100% and totally, and regardless of what many of my fellow liberals would like to believe he is about -- prosecuting a possible leak of classified information and the possible outing of a CIA agent whose status was classified. He was quite clear on this in his press conference, and the results of his investigation -- so far, a single indictment for 5 counts of perjury, making false statements and obstruction of justice -- speak to that as well. That clear and obvious fact should be apparent to anyone who heard his press conference and reads the indictment with a clear mind unclouded by the piles and piles of speculation that have been put out about this investigation.
I think perhaps that many liberals, having put so much into their speculative house of cards, now have a vested interest in all that speculation coming true, and in Fitzgerald being the messianic figure who will bring down this terrible administration and let us get on about putting the country back together, but while some of the accumulated information that's been touted by the speculators may well be true, and a lot of the vast structure of speculation could be valid, it's more than obvious that it's not at all where Fitzgerald's head is. If there was any doubt about that before, his press conference should have put it to rest.
The fact is, when Fitzgerald was being extolled as a straight-arrow, that was absolutely correct -- but the implications of that don't seem to have sunk in for a lot of folks.
Fitzgerald is an honest and uncorrupt prosecutor whose goal it is to fulfill the mission that has been given him -- and nothing more. He's not going to solve the Niger dilemma, he's not going to expose the lies behind the war, he's not going to lead Bush to impeachment, he's not even going to frogmarch the members of the White House Iraq Group into waiting paddy wagons, as some ridiculously predicted. He's so straight-forward that it's an open issue right now whether he's going to indict anyone (Libby or Rover or anyone else) for the outing of Valerie Plame, the very crime he was tasked to investigate -- not because it didn't take place, or because he doesn't know how it happened, but because he seems not to be certain that he can get a conviction, and his straight-arrow prosecutor's conscience tells him that it's not right to indict if he doesn't think he can prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.
That kind of man, the kind I saw at that press conference, is nobody's fool, and nobody's stooge, and he's not the sort of person to skew his investigation to fulfill the fantasies of a bunch of liberals chaffing under the rule of Bush and Company.
Because, and this is something I really think some people don't understand at all, it's entirely irrelevant to Fitzgerald's case whether Bush & Co lied about the war or not.
Let's do a little gedankenexperiment. Let's assume, for the moment, that Bush & Co were not lying about the WMDs, and the yellowcake and the aluminum pipes and so on, all the evidence for Saddam being a danger and the justification for the war. Just assume that all that hogwash was actually true, and that Joe Wilson, for whatever reason (it's irrelevant to the experiment) lied about yellowcake and Niger, and went public in the Times and berated the Administration. Now, assume again, that EVERYTHING ELSE HAPPENED AS IT ACTUALLY HAPPENED. That is Cheney, Rove and Lobby (and whomever) hatched up a plot, they talked to reporters, outed Wilson's wife as a CIA agent, in an effort to trash Wilson, etc. etc. etc. Everything's the same except that Wilson lied and Bush & Co didn't. There's an investigation started, Ashcroft recuses himself, Fitzgerald is brought in, all just the same.
Here's the thought experiment: would these changed circumstances -- i.e. the Administration telling the truth and Wilson lying -- make any difference to Fitzgerald's investigation?
The clear answer, obvious to anyone without an axe to grind, is decidely "NO", because Fitzgerald is not about the war or who lied about it, Fitzgerald's all about who leaked the name and if it was a crime -- and it would be a crime even if the Adminstration never told a single lie about the war and Wilson was a dirty rotten prevaricator. It's not even relevant to Libby's intent when leaking the information, because the intent in question is a much more limited one, not at all connected with the broader issues of who lied and whether the war was justified.
So, please, people should stop bringing in stuff that is perfectly extraneous to what's going on in Fitzgerald's investigation, and continuing to speculate on what he might do. He's been perfectly clear, as clear as any man can be while laboring under strict grand jury secrecy, about what he's doing and the scope of his investigation. His scope is: did someone leak classified material, was it a crime, and did any impropriety or illegality take place during the investigation of the former. Period.
I still have hope, that within that very restricted purview, and with his understanding of the facts of what happened, Fitzgerald will eventually indict Rove, and, possibly, even bring some indictments for the underlying charge.
Update: In opposition to the view I expressed here, that Fitzgerald is tightly focused on the specific event he's been tasked to investigate, Elizabeth de la Vega makes the argument that he's focused on bigger game:
Complex cases usually take years to proceed through the courts. In addition, the indictment released today describes a chronology of close to two years and a complicated set of facts. Obviously, Fitzgerald is taking a "big picture" approach to this case. This mirrors his approach to previous cases. In December 2003, for example, Fitzgerald announced the indictment of former Illinois Governor George Ryan on corruption charges in Operation Safe Road, which began in 1998. In that year, the investigation of a fatal accident revealed that truckers were purchasing commercial licenses from state officials. Indictments were announced in stages, culminating in the indictment of Ryan, who was the 66th defendant in the case. In the Libby case, the allegations suggest he was merely one of many officials -- including an unnamed Under Secretary of State and "Official A," a Senior White House Official -- who were involved in revealing classified information about Joseph Wilson's wife Valerie Plame. No other individuals are named as defendants, and they should not be considered so at this point, but the complexity of the indictment suggests that the investigation may follow a pattern similar to that used by Fitzgerald in the Illinois corruption case.
Not surprisingly, I don't find this a terribly convincing argument. It's entirely based on drawing an analogy between two cases which are not comparable because Fitzgerald's authority in each of them is distinctly different. In the Ryan case, Fitzgerald was acting as U.S. Attorney, with general responsibility to investigate and follow the facts where they lead, and charge and prosecute for whatever crimes he came across, just as is normally the case. Fitzgerald's responsibility in the Plamegate case is much more restricted and specific: his brief is to act as the surrogate for the Attorney General in the
investigation into the alleged unauthorized disclosure of a CIA employee's identity
authority to investigate and prosecute violations of any federal criminal laws related to the underlying alleged unauthorized disclosure, as well as federal crimes committed in the course of, and with intent to interfere with, your investigation, such as perjury, obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence, and intimidation of witnesses...
And that's it.
To reiterate, his job is to investigate the outing of Valerie Plame, and prosecute any crimes that may have been involved, and, in addition, he can prosecute any crimes which obstructed his investigated. With such a tight and specific charge, there's really no chance at all that Fitzgerald is going to range far afield in the way that de la Vega predicts.
I think this is something crucial that's been almost entirely lost in the brouhaha over "Fitzmas", that Fitzgerald was *never* going to go after all the things people were speculating he would, because it's not the job he was given to do -- and he takes that limitation seriously.
Update: This piece by Marty Aussenberg argues that the purpose of Fitzgerald's indictment of Libby was to squeeze him in order to flip him on Cheney. That would go along with my estimation that Fitzgerald's focus is very tightly on crimes connected with the outing of Plame, but against my earlier argument that Rove would be the upper limit in issuing indictments.
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
out of control
Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
i've got a little list...
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Bruce Chapman (DI)
The Coors Family
William A. Dembski
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
John Gibson (FNC)
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
James F. Inhofe
Philip E. Johnson
by Joel Pelletier
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Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Sun Myung Moon
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Mellon Scaife
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
John Solomon (WaPo)
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
All the fine sites I've
Be sure to visit them all!!
Arthur C. Clarke
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Stephen Jay Gould
"The Harder They Come"
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
Michael C. Penta
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Red Shoes"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Hunter S. Thompson
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.
If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.
(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)
Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.