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July 27, 2005

Republicans poised to slime Fitzgerald

Joe Conason writes about the impending fratricide of Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor investigating the White House exposure of C.I.A. operative Valerie Plame:

Circled in a bristling perimeter around the White House, the friends and allies of Mr. Rove can soon be expected to fire their rhetorical mortars at Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor investigating the White House exposure of C.I.A. operative Valerie Wilson. Indeed, the preparations for that assault began months ago in the editorial columns of The Wall Street Journal, which has tarred Mr. Fitzgerald as a “loose cannon” and an “unguided missile.”

Evidently Senator Pat Roberts, the Kansas Republican who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, will lead the next foray against the special prosecutor. This week the Senator’s press office announced his plan to hold hearings on the Fitzgerald probe. That means interfering with an “ongoing investigation,” as the White House press secretary might say, but such considerations won’t deter the highly partisan Kansan.

Fitzgerald is a Republican stalwart who was appointed by a Republican Justice Department at the behest of a Republican President. Of course, none of that will matter if the Republicans don't like the outcome of Fitzgerald's investigation. The groundwork is already being laid to savage him as a partisan abuser of power.

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Comments

Lovely. Just lovely. I predicted that this would happen, and here we go. Look for attacks of Fitzgerald's personal life and character next. Did you know he fathered a black baby while planting a bug in Rove's office and flip-flopping? Also he eats babies and wears white after labor day.

I heard he is a closet gay, islamic, liberal, who once got thrown out of a union because his wife was rumoured to have purchased a porn movie with profits derived from a union bake sale.

Will he give all the leaky traitors immunity?

I don't get why Bush inspires such loyalty in people.

Maybe it's the mafia style tactics. Maybe it's the monetary rewards. Maybe both.

But it seems to me that the hottest places in Hell are reserved for folks like this.

Of course I have a conscience. Maybe that's why I'm not a conservative. (shrug)

In moments of doubt, I imagine the Plame scandal leaving no mark on Bush's legacy. Then I hear news like this which tells me the Bush insiders are bracing for indictments. They should.

I'm dying to find out if it was an obsequious Britain, servile Italy, or the US itself, responsible for the forged documents about the Iraq-Africa uranium that Bush's pre-war State of the Union address cited. Putin, trying to embarrass Bush?

Who said Fitz was a "republican stalwart?"

I haven't read that.

Not to be an asshole...but I think it would be "politically savvy" if we were to replace "conservative" with "Right-Winger".

Really, what we are dealing with is Right-Wingers (right-wing Nihilist, to be exact).

Try to strip “conservative” from your mind and remember, they are Extreme Right-Wingers or just plain Right-Wingers, but stay away from “conservative”.

One could see this coming a mile away. We should have been organized and ready for it.

Sheesh!

I think we've been anticipating this one for a while. We couldn't really say much much until they made some concrete move against Fitz.

Thankfully, Conason is sufficiently plugged into document what's coming.

The upcoming congressional investigation may be an attempt to get immunity for some of the key players. The immunity only applies to self-incriminating testimony, but it would certainly make Fitzgerald's job a lot harder. Just a thought. It requires a 2/3 vote of the committee to grant immunity, so look for attempts to either change the rule or pack the committee. Anyone wanna take bets?

We need to do more than document it when we get rolled.

It occurs to me that the reason Fitzgerald has been so effective to date has been the lack of congressional "help" he's gotten. I remember how sick I felt watching the Iran/Contra hearings, as Democrats made fools of themselves with their grandstanding questions.

The end result, of course, was that Republicans were able to claim that the entire investigation was politically motivated (even though Walsh, like Fitzgerald, is a lifelong Republican). Worse, the Democrats had compelled Oliver North to testify, which meant that his later conviction was overturned, which meant that he had no reason to tell investigators who had ordered him to conduct the operation.

Experienced prosecutors know that they can't get to the truth by asking a couple of barbed questions, and that there must be a real threat of serious jail time in order to get underlings to finger their bosses.

A real cross-examination is not conducted by committee. A single prosecutor might question a witness for several days, and the "money" question might be set up by dozens of questions designed to close off the witness' avenues of escape. When done properly, the process reflects hundreds of hours of preparation, and it tends to be quite tedious for observers, which is why senators almost never do it properly.

Also, there are no rules of evidence at congressional hearings. You may recall the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, in which John Doggett was allowed to say that Anita Hill suffered from an extremely rare psychological condition. He had no psychological training and had spoken to Hill twice, for a total of about ten minutes. Imagine the kinds of witnesses that senators like Pat Roberts and Orrin Hatch might bring into a hearing on the Plame matter.

Finally, a real prosecutor isn't worried that his constituents might think that he's "too tough" or "partisan." Joe Biden, as always, aspires to the presidency. During the Thomas hearings, he refused to call Sukari Hardnett and Angela Wright, who were prepared to verify Hill's allegations. Can anyone think that Biden would be in any way helpful during hearings on the Plame affair?

The Republicans in congress know about the weaknesses of congressional hearings, and they know that the legendary egos and ambitions of the Democrats would undermine Fitzgerald's work. Can it be more obvious that congressional Republicans, who were content to ignore the Plame affair for so long, are calling for hearings only as a desperate attempt to obscure the truth? Let's just hope that in this case, as in the Watergate affair, the hearings are coming too late to dismantle the investigation.

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