Monday, July 18, 2005

Fitzgerald is after "big game"

This piece on Bloomberg (hey, he's a Republican, too!) ought to send shivers down the spines of Bush regime apologists:

Republican Party Chairman Ken Mehlman said yesterday on ``Meet the Press'' that recent newspaper stories ``have the effect of exonerating and vindicating Mr. Rove, not implicating him. That information says Karl Rove was not Bob Novak's source, that Novak told Rove, not the other way around, and it says that Karl warned Matt Cooper about Joe Wilson.''

Others see difficulties in these arguments. They note the inherent contradiction between Rove's testimony to the grand jury that he learned Plame's name from Novak and his statement to Novak during the July 8 phone call that ``I've heard that, too.''

Potential Problem

This points toward a potential problem for Rove in the direction of Fitzgerald's investigation. It now has expanded beyond its original mission -- to determine if the 1982 law was violated -- to encompass whether any White House officials, including Rove and Fleischer, have testified falsely about the case or obstructed justice by trying to cover up their involvement in the leak, according to people familiar with the case who cite a pattern of questioning by Fitzgerald.

In addition, there is strong reason to believe that Fitzgerald is hunting big game, according to several legal experts. They say that is demonstrated by the fact that he has done something that no federal prosecutor has done in 30 years: send a reporter, Judith Miller of the New York Times, to jail for refusing to divulge with whom she spoke about the Wilson-Plame case.

``You wouldn't expect him to go to these lengths unless he thought he had something serious to look at,'' said Randall Eliason, the former chief of the public corruption section at the U.S. Attorney's office in Washington. ``You don't compel reporters to testify or jail reporters unless you have a pretty good reason.''

Tatel's Opinion

That ``pretty good reason'' was highlighted by U.S. Appellate Judge David Tatel in his Feb. 15 opinion concurring that Miller and Cooper must testify in the Plame case.

Tatel noted that the vast majority of the states, as well as the Justice Department, ``would require us to protect reporters' sources as a matter of federal common law were the leak at issue either less harmful or more newsworthy.''

However, he added, ``just as attorney-client communications made for the purpose of getting advice for the commission of a fraud or crime serve no public interest and receive no privilege, neither should courts protect sources whose leaks harm national security while providing minimal benefit to public debate.''

Which is only what I've been saying for a while.

So spin all you want righties, and make up stories about how David Corn and Joe Wilson were behind it all.

But I don't think that's the people Fitzgerald has targeted.

Targeted? Did I say that?

I meant "focused."

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation of the leaking of a Central Intelligence Agency agent's name is now focused on how Rove, one of President George W. Bush's closest advisers, and other administration officials dealt with a key fact in an equally key memo.

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