Arthur Herman, in Commentary, notes that reporter Judith Miller’s recent memoir (published in April) identifies some previously unnoted prosecutorial misconduct in the partisan-motivated judicial lynching of Vice Presidential Chief of Staff I. Lewis Libby even beyond the mere fact that Fitzgerald prosecuted Libby, knowing perfectly well that Libby was not guilty of the supposed leak.
Fitzgerald began his work already knowing who had promulgated the leak, for Armitage had confessed as much to the FBI in October. â€œI may be the guy who caused this whole thing,â€ he reportedly told a State Department official.
But Fitzgerald declined to prosecute Armitage. Indeed, he told Armitage to keep his mouth shut. … He was after bigger fish. If he could catch either Rove or Libby lying to his investigators or making misstatements that could be portrayed as perjurious, he might be able to get them to turn on their bosses and â€œexposeâ€ a conspiracy reaching up to the president and vice president to punish Wilson by outing Plame.
This was a classic prosecutor ploy in cases involving the Mafia or other RICO-style investigations. It was a new and disturbing way to proceed against men with spotless, even distinguished, public records.
But with the media firestorm about the Plame story and the war in Iraq, Fitzgerald felt free to press ahead. Throughout the 2004 election cycle, the White House and Office of the Vice President were locked in a routine of reviewing and providing thousands of documents to the FBI, Justice Department, and then Fitzgerald; providing hours of sworn depositions in front of investigators; and long bouts of grand-jury testimony for both Rove and Libby. With the violence in Iraq growing and the occupation strategy flailing, with WMD investigator David Kayâ€™s January 2004 report to Congress on the absence of stockpiles seeming to confirm Wilsonâ€™s claims that the administration had twisted intelligence about Saddamâ€™s WMDs, and with Democrats who had supported the war now arguing that â€œBush lied and people died,â€ Fitzgeraldâ€™s investigation had taken on a new importance. Its very existence was a way to portray the Bush policy in Iraq as not only the result of incompetence, but deliberate wrongdoing.
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