Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Personal Aside: The Justice Department, Libby and Patrick Fitzgerald.

To this old ex-federal bureaucrat who has just completed an inside look-see at the Justice Department through several past and present sources, there was something wrong with the appointment of Alberto Gonzales as AG in the first place. Close to George Bush he may be but the indistinct image coming through of a namby-pamby on abortion has bothered social conservatives from the outset. He doesn’t speak on the square; looks shifty-eyed; acts like a junior clerk. The frequent lying, misstatements and corrections shows an insecure man at the helm. My one fear was that Bush would name him to the Supreme Court for the next opening. This call for his resignation—which may very well happen—could be a godsend.

To the same old ex-federal bureaucrat, the dust-up in the Justice Department about Patrick Fitzgerald being “mediocre” smacks of retribution—not for Libby but for political prosecutions that may well have not been favored by the White House. Everybody knows that George Ryan and his politics, apart from his corruption as secretary of state, was acceptable to the Bush people—and Fitzgerald successfully prosecuted Ryan. In Round #2, Richard M. Daley and George W. Bush are close; and U. S. Attorney Fitzgerald’s determination to weed out corruption in City Hall is not conducive to the Odd Couple friendship. Scooter Libby was not just a top aide to the vice president but a vital national security staffer who was a great resource to the president—and Fitzgerald convicted him.

Increasingly the unpopular—to conservatives—view comes: If one wants to examine the reason why Scooter Libby faces a jail term, they should forget pillorying Patrick Fitzgerald and look to administration incompetence. The age-old rule is that one never lies to an FBI agent. The fact that the initial leak on Libby came from Richard Armitage doesn’t satisfy the surety that Libby lied when lying wasn’t needed or necessary. It isn’t a matter of forgetfulness; it is a matter of needless cover-up by lying. It doesn’t matter if a lie is needless, incidental or not germane—it is a lie and the FBI doesn’t like that. I will not say where I got this but it (a) comes from Washington and (b) from a few high conservative sources who realize it’s unpopular to say this. The anger that has been generated among conservatives comes from the unassailable fact that Scooter Libby has been a great asset to the country’s national security. But increasingly the evidence I saw shows he lied. And that’s bad.

In fact the entire Scooter probe is endemic of political incompetence from an administration that has gone punchy from too many troubles. Finally the self-same old ex-federal bureaucrat knows that the CIA has become an armed camp against the Bush people, but particularly Dick Cheney, because Cheney was seen as trying to the agency a black eye. A day before Cheney became involved in the uranium-Niger story, Valerie Plame suggested her husband make an inspection trip before Cheney requested information, January 12, 2002. The beauteous Plame made the request because she had seen a document from the DIA [Defense Intelligence Agency], a rival of the CIA and wanted to scotch it in behalf of her agency.

Her husband, pretty boy Joe Wilson, a Democratic operative and one of Washington’s most inveterate party-goers and high livers, reported that there was ample evidence that Iraq had approached Niger officials for a uranium bid. Then he changed his tune out of vindictiveness. After rumors circulated that such documents that existed on the sale were forged. Coneolezza Rice, then national security director, said that low-level people in the CIA might have known they were forged but not the higher ups. Taking umbrage that he was being referred to—however anonymously—as a low-level person, Wilson blew up and decided to seek his revenge which ended up with a full-blown op ed story in the “New York Times.” Judith Miller testified that Libby was upset with the Wilson op ed, believing the CIA was trying to justify itself and discredit the administration. The vice president then reacted by saying nobody in the administration knew Wilson was going to Niger. Following which, Robert Novak reported that Valerie Plame was a CIA “operative” which was taken to mean a covert one (which she wasn’t). The charge then was made that the administration—and Cheney—was trying to pay back Wilson by uncovering his wife’s supposedly “covert” job and the fat was in the fire. But the leak to Novak came from Armitage who was a Colin Powell aide and no firm friend of either Cheney or Libby.

The CIA’s top man then reacted wildly by asking for a prosecutor to find out who leaked the story about Plame. AG Ashcroft recused himself; Fitzgerald was picked. He became aware that Libby had seemingly contradicted himself and then lied to the FBI which was a special case. He told Armitage to shut up about his leak. The ordeal went on and Libby was convicted.

All this shows that politics tore up the CIA, the vice president’s office and Justice but this doesn’t mean the system stinks, just the people. Those purists and naifs who plea piously that the Justice Department should be run by one not beholden to the political destiny of the president don’t know their history. The very first AG, Edmund Jennings Randolph, was an outsider as far as Washington was concerned and displeased the first president by ruling against the legitimacy of the National Bank so he was kicked upstairs as secretary of state after Thomas Jefferson quit in a huff after having lost a number of struggles with Alexander Hamilton. Washington tossed Randolph’s Bank ruling in the wastebasket and used his crony—a genius named Alexander Hamilton who was also treasury secretary—to justify the National Bank. Thus it has always been government of cronies—and what’s wrong with that? The only trouble today is that some of Bush’s cronies aren’t as smart as earlier cronies…Bobby Kennedy to his brother JFK, Homer Cummings, and Francis Biddle to FDR.

The trouble with Gonzales is he’s not very adroit, a little guy with a nervous tic. Besides, which he looks dumb and acts dumb.


  1. Lovie's LeatherMarch 21, 2007 at 3:15 AM

    I have got to tell you, that is probably the smartest thing I have ever read from you. As a Republican, this administration drives me absolutely crazy when it comes to how weak they are. First, Bush was cocky, then he lost his spine. There seems to be no middle ground. Plus, when you leave a prominent democrat like George Tenent as the director of the CIA, why wouldn't you expect the CIA and the Clinton cronies to be against you? All of the Clinton people stole the W's off the computer keyboards. That alone should have told you they can't be trusted.

  2. Without evaluating the cridentials of anyone, it seems U.S. Attorneys serve at the good pleasure of the President of the United States. As I recall former President Clinton fired all 93 U.S. Attorneys when he became President in 1993. So I think this investigation is a Democratic "witch hunt."

    As for your evaluation of the Bush White house and current Attorney General, I agree.

    As For Patrick Fitzgerald, the evaluation reflects the views of "The Combine."

  3. Tom-
    I agree with your observations, especially concerning Gonzales. I may be getting dimmmer, but in all this long hurricane of blather I have never heard the precise "lie" that Libby told. Can someone help me on this?

  4. Great analysis, but thought provoking. The implications are staggering.

    We have been urged to be good conservatives and support President Bush. Yet now we find that Bush 1) didn't like our Peter Fitzgerald, 2) doesn't like our Patrick Fitzgerald, 3) is protecting Gonzalez who is out for Patrick Fitzgerald, and 4) is protecting Karl Rove who is protecting Bill Kjellander.

    Don't ask me to explain where the President comes down on Scooter Libby. He promised to fire anyone in his administration who leaked, then stuck Patrick Fitzgerald on him, and now is protecting him from being fired.

    (I won't even mention Bush's, and thereby our, support of expanded government, undeclared wars and huge debts.)

    But back to the implications--is GWB part of the Combine and we have been led by conservative leaders to support him, and therefore the Combine?

    Did we do Peter Fitzgerald in ourselves?

    Did our conservative leaders do this knowingly or merely ignorantly?

  5. Have you actually read Wilson's CV? Speaks Fench, Head of African Desk at NSA, personally knew the Prime Minister of Niger, was Ambassador in another regional African country, intimately knew how the government of Iraq worked and was a hero as Ambassador-in-Charge of Iraq during 1st Gulf War when he stood up to Saddam and saved more than 100 lives -- who would have been a better representative for the Niger mission? Lets not forget that he accepted this "junket" to the armpit of Africa when his country asked him to go and he accepted the job for no pay. When you criticize such a man, you speak volumes about yourself. Let's also not for get that his findings were consistant with what the CIA and State Departments plus the Ambassador to Niger had believed. So tell me again, who's lying?

  6. JT, I shared the reaction you posted earlier: "As I recall former President Clinton fired all 93 U.S. Attorneys when he became President in 1993. So I think this investigation is a Democratic 'witch hunt.'"

    This afternoon I heard that incoming presidents typically request current US Attorneys to resign so they can appoint their own. In an interview on Democracy Now, Adam Cohen -- a lawyer and NY Times editorial writer (a member of conservative's favorite demographic group) said, "What’s unusual about this is that eight were fired in the middle of the Bush administration, six on one day. That just, you know, has not happened. And the Congressional Research Service has looked into this issue and shown that it’s incredibly unprecedented."

    More at

  7. What has Fitzgerald really accomplished anyway? He has convicted a few small fry in the Daley administration -- but so has every U.S. Attorney in the last 18 years. He convicted Ryan but we shall see if he stays convicted -- that fact that he was allowed to remain freed on appeal speaks volumes about what the appeals court thinks of the evidence. Tom, you think convicting Libby is an accomplishment? I don't know if Libby lied or not but I do know no underlying crime was charged. This was Fitzgerald trying to get publicity and favor of the media elite so that he can be Attorney General in a future Democratic adminstration.
    This U.S. Attorney dustup in nothing but politics. I had lunch two weeks ago with one of the fired U.S. Attorneys -- Paul Charlton -- U.S. Attorney for Arizona until last month. I asked him why he was fired. He told me he had long standing disagreements with the Justice Department over the federal application of the death penalty. Now whether you agree with Justice or agree with Charlton on that topic it certainly is a non-political reason to fire a U.S. Attorney who is supposed to carry out policy of the the President and the Justice Department.

  8. When I search Libby's past I find very little that is CONSERVATIVE. I DO find however that he was involved with Marc Rich who was pardoned by Bill Clinton. Hey readers study Marc Rich..... GOOGLE him and read about his background. His pardon by Clinton was very questionable at best!!!!!! Then look at Scooter's long time involvement with Marc Rich.... OR DON'T YOU CARE! So come on Tom Roeser, again put that Weekly Standard rag down and do your OWN research on Scooter... Study his connection with Marc Rich.......
    What you find is someone who certainly was NOT involved in your Social conservative causes.

    I think that ole Scooter was one of those who played us all for SUCKERS!

    Sadly Bush surrounded himself with the WRONG PEOPLE...people with a narrow agenda set in place BEFORE 911. but then he like others who are easily duped was probably impressed by glib intellectual banter that waltzed us all into an action that was far from CONSERVATIVE in IRAQ!!! A CAKEWALK TOM? Hmnnnnnnn?

    Maybe these "smart" people created the greater PERSIA .... a worse menace than Saadam. (Blessed Democracy brings in the Shiite Majority aligned with IRAN). But then these glib Chicken Hawks now have so many like you under their spell and in the process are ruining the Conservative movement and the Republican Party!

  9. Lovie's LeatherMarch 22, 2007 at 7:41 AM

    Yeah, I guess the toilet fixer in the gulf war that personally knows the prime-minister of the country that he is supposed to be investigating is the perfect person to send....