Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Reality check for Matthew Yglesias

Yglesias says:

Back in the real world, of course Fitzgerald shouldn't offer up
a charge of "ambiguous perjury" or whatever it is these two are worried
about. We use a "reasonable doubt" standard of proof in the American
criminal justice system, so people charged in cases where the evidence
is equivocal will be acquitted. Maybe Fitzgerald's an idiot who for
some reason doesn't realize this and plans on bringing all sorts of
weak charges to the table so he can suffer an embarrassing court
defeat. But by all accounts he isn't and idiot and nobody likes
an embarrassing court defeat. He won't bring charges unless he thinks
he'll win -- that seems simple enough.

Umm... prosecuting attorneys bring charges that won't win in court all the time for various kinds of reasons, chief among them, to use as leverage against defendants prior to discovery to entice a plea bargain. I don't think that would be the case for all players in Treasongate, but it simply can't be ruled out.

Having said that, though, outing a covert operative even to advance a policy direction is, and should still be treated as a crime if there was fallout from it, such as compromising our intelligence on the ground on weapons of mass destruction. Going back to Aaron Burr again, if there had been two witnesses against him, I think the case could be made that Burr was indeed convictable of treason, because of the damage done to the United States.

So I'd predict that history will view Cheney as John Quincy Adams did Aaron Burr: [his] " life, take it all together, was such as in any country of sound morals
his friends would be desirous of burying in quiet oblivion.""

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