28 Feb 2006

Fitzgerald Can’t Prove There Was a Crime, But He Wants a Conviction Anyway

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Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald argued on Friday that he is really trying a perjury case, and the question of Valerie Plame’s covert status does not matter, i.e., it doesn’t matter if any crime was ever committed in the first place.

All a prosecutor has to be able to do, in Fitzgerald’s proposed Amerika, is to demonstrate that he can contradict details of the sworn testimony of the minutiae of the activities and conversations two years back of a senior government official intensely occupied with the affairs of state, and he is entitled to a conviction.

Convictions for the crime of obstructing investigations have become a popular prosecutorial fallback in cases like this where it is found to be impossible to prove that anyone ever committed the initially alleged crime. Martha Stewart was successfully imprisoned in just such a fashion, essentially for the crime of protesting her innocence of insider trading. No insider trading was ever proven, but Martha went to jail anyway.

By a curious coincidence, Mr. Fitzgerald owes his appointment to Martha’s prosecutor, Mr. James Comey.

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