Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Friday, October 28, 2005

All the Vice-President's Men

The NY Times has a fascinating transcript of Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald's press conference today where he outlines the charges against Libby in detail. They are neither trivialities nor technicalities. Fitzgerald said Libby's perjury and obstruction of justice were "very, very serious" crimes.

When asked why he did not indict Libby with the underlying charge of intentionally revealing the name of a CIA agent, Fitzgerald said:

FITZGERALD:The whole point here is that we're going to make fine distinctions and make sure that before we charge someone with a knowing, intentional crime, we want to focus on why they did it, what they knew and what they appreciated; we need to know the truth about what they said and what they knew.

QUESTION: Does that mean you don't feel that you know the truth about whether he intentionally did this and he knew and appreciated it? Or does that mean you are exercising your prosecutorial discretion and being conservative?

FITZGERALD: Well, I don't want to -- look, a person is charged with a crime, they are presumed innocent, and I haven't charged him with any other crime. And all I'm saying is the harm and the obstruction crime is it shields us from knowing the full truth.

I won't go beyond that.

Read between the lines. Libby prevented Fitzgerald from being able to prove what happened, and Fitzgerald knows it. The cover-up was successful, so he can only prosecute the cover up.

Fitzgerald also made a fascinating analogy to baseball.

I know baseball analogies are the fad these days. Let me try something. If you saw a baseball game and you saw a pitcher wind up and throw a fastball and hit a batter right smack in the head, and it really, really hurt them, you'd want to know why the pitcher did that. And you'd wonder whether or not the person just reared back and decided, I've got bad blood with this batter... I'm just going to hit him in the head as hard as I can.

You also might wonder whether or not the pitcher just let go of the ball or his foot slipped, and he had no idea to throw the ball anywhere near the batter's head. And there's lots of shades of gray in between...

In this case, it's a lot more serious than baseball. And the damage wasn't to one person. It wasn't just Valerie Wilson. It was done to all of us. And as you sit back, you want to learn: Why was this information going out? Why were people taking this information about Valerie Wilson and giving it to reporters? Why did Mr. Libby say what he did? Why did he tell Judith Miller three times? Why did he tell the press secretary on Monday? Why did he tell Mr. Cooper? And was this something where he intended to cause whatever damage was caused? Or did they intend to do something else and where are the shades of gray?

And what we have when someone charges obstruction of justice [is] the umpire gets sand thrown in his eyes. He's trying to figure what happened and somebody blocked their view. As you sit here now, if you're asking me what his motives were, I can't tell you... the harm in an obstruction investigation is it prevents us from making the fine judgments we want to make. I also want to take away from the notion that somehow we should take an obstruction charge less seriously than a leak charge.

Finally, when asked whether he knew the identity of the "senior official" (still not known) that told Novak about Plame, Fitzgerald said,

I'll explain this: I know that people want to know whatever it is that we know, and they're probably sitting at home with the TV thinking, I'm want to jump through the TV, grab him by his collar and tell him to tell us everything they figured out over the last two years. We just can't do that. It's not because we enjoy holding back information from you; that's the law.

When asked again about it, he said he would just repeat his earlier answer, "so I don't misstep and give you anything more than I should." So there is someone else, and Fitzgerald knows who it is.

The grand jury has expired but Fitzgerald's work will continue, although he said one would "very rarely" file more charges in such a situation.


Anonymous said...

This is just like Ollie North and Nixon. These right wingers think that, as Goldwater said, "extremism in defense of liberty is no vice." And they will lie, cheat, and steal if they think the end is justified. The end is, of course, protecting their leader, at any cost.  

// posted by LTG

Anonymous said...

Yep, and now everyone is mentioning Watergate. So it goes.

I like something I heard on NPR this morning. It is attributed to Mark Shields by Linda Wertheimer. This isn't an exact quote, but close. "There are two things you have to remember about investigations in Washington. 1: they never get you for what you did;they get you for covering it up. Number 2: No one ever remembers the difference." 

// posted by USWest

Anonymous said...

"These right wingers think that, as Goldwater said, "extremism in defense of liberty is no vice." "

This seems to me to echo the previous comments in the discussion of George Will's article  about opportunists vs. idealists.

The thing that strikes me (and infuriates me) about the current regime is that they seem to have extended the philosophy of "the ends justifies the means" to "if there's an end, that justifies the means". The Iran-Contra scandal was reprehensible, but at least the treacherous bastards thought they were doing it for a greater good.

The "end" in this affaire seems to be little more than bullying. At best, bullying to keep the fear, uncertainty, and doubt about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction as justification for the war. If this was a war to defend the free world from the Commies, we'd be in Iran-Contra territory. If it were a war that had two wisps of being about fighting terrorism, the whole WMD fraud would've been unnecessary.

As far as I can see, we went to war because the neo-cons wanted to invade Iraq. And for this, sowing baseless claims about yellowcake from Nigeria is apparently justified. As is compromising an undercover CIA agent just to discredit someone who calls those claims baseless. As is obstructing the investigation into that act of, and I think I'm being kind here, minor treason.

These people aren't even misguided, just amoral. They do what they want; if it's what they want, it's an end, and any means to achieve it is therefore justified.

My heart is weeping, that my country is being used by these people. 

// posted by Bob

Anonymous said...

LTG, without defending the Bush adminsitration, if they were actually defending liberty with all their extremism I doubt there'd be so many problems. But they are carrying out naked power politics abroad (but only to the benefit of a select group of powerful interests) and carrying out an assault on liberty here at home.

This raises the quesion. Can one defend liberty at all by extreme means? I think the answer is mostly likely no. And I think that is really LTG's point.

What Goldwater did not understand when he said that quotation but seems to have grasped late in life was that liberty is not something that can put in a jar on a shelf while you go fight for it like a trophy or something. You cannot "defend liberty" you either have it or you don't. And in the end, even tyrrants can't take it away from a population unwilling to submit (e.g. 1989 and all that). 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

The thing that disturbs me the most, is that it took two years for all of this to emerge! Sure, it takes time to dig-up details, but for the investigation to take two years, merely tells me that the administration did nothing to aid the investigation, therefore, had to have something to hide. I sincerely hope the process exposes the "man behind the curtain" in all of this! Ps. I've added this site to my blogroll. That, and a couple of bucks will buy you a fair cup of coffee. :) 

// posted by Steve

Steve said...

Great site!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Steve. Stop by any time! 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

RBR and Bob make excellent points. I would only that Liberty is a process. It evolves over time. In our system, we believe that liberty is something that we are born with, thus it is an unalienable right. I am not sure you can protect liberty so much as guide the process that enriches liberty. But to guide the process, one must understand the underlying values that lead to it in the very beginning. So you have to be very careful about the means used to guide the "liberation process". If your motives are impure, then you have already destroyed the very meaning of liberty.

The problem with neo-cons and their ilk is that they have never understood or valued the values that underpin our system. They don't get that our nation is built on the power of ideas, not brute force. Power for them is not about protecting life and liberty of the nation,or about taking a principled stance, but about getting everything we can from everyone else. This is the case with many extreme political groups. For all their pandering to the religious, they have no real soul. They are strawmen.

// posted by USWest

Dr. Strangelove said...

Eloquently put, US West!