Fitzgerald's on the case.
Attorney General John Ashcroft's decision to recluse
himself from the 'Leakgate' investigation involving
the outing of former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson
IV's wife, Valerie Plame as a CIA operative means
potential suspects currently on the table are
pretty close to the Oval Office (as in the West
this story may even rival Clinton's Whitewater,
and Hillary's Travelgate affairs.
if the ongoing guerrilla war in Iraq, and the
looming Democratic presidential nominee wasn't
occupying the political calculations of Presidential
Advisor Karl Rove and White House Chief of Staff
Andrew Card, they may have to add subpoenas and
depositions to that list.
bit of a distraction from the re-election campaign
of President Bush.
U.S. attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald is a career
prosecutor with a "relentless" demeanor for closing
cases against his legal opponents. Sending this
New York bred lawyer to Washington does give the
Ashcroft Justice Department a degree of leverage
against charges of political bias, unfortunately
as with the buddy system of up and coming professionals
on the federal level. Fitzgerald's friendship
with the number two Department of Justice official
James B. Comey Jr. (a political appointee) may
raise some eyebrows as whether he, too, could
unduly influenced by the Bush administration.
Ashcroft himself, though his sudden move to distance
himself from the case isn't turning out as "appropriate"
as he hoped for. In past comments, in the weeks
following the decision for a Justice Department
investigation previously insisting that his involvement
as its lead would not develop into a conflict
of interest with the White House.
in the previous scandals of the Clinton administration,
the questions of "what happened" and "who knew
what when" are already bubbling forth at Washington
water coolers as people (particularly Democrats)
are looking forward to any fireworks, while Republican
consultants and pollsters hedge their bets on
any broad political ramifications to the President
and possibly the Republican Party.
will this serious episode of secrecy legal violations
resonate in the minds of Americans at large? At
present, heads already filled with rising death
tolls in Iraq and the emerging contenders in Democratic
field may not have a lot left over of a trail
of witnesses and White House assurances that the
President wants to find out who did it. However,
a confluence of an uncertain war, sluggish economy,
and perhaps internal intrigue may cement the impression
of a Bush presidency as erratic and unpredictable.
view could hinder votes with soccer cum "security"
moms (post-September 11th), essential for any
presidential victory in the fall.
a practical note, more important than any outcome
of the investigation should be the creation of
new safeguards protecting the identities of national
intelligence employees from political appointees
whom, in this increasingly partisan Washington,
are becoming prone to using unorthodox, seemingly-unethical
tactics to secure votes (as in last year's House
vote on Medicare) or to ensure policy (the President's
2003 State of the Union address).
of which overseen by the Bush administration or
in Congress pursuing the success of his political
of course, the crux of the CIA operative leak
is the potential human toll.
complaints by former Ambassador Wilson regarding
his wife's compromised position underscore the
need for division between politics and intelligence,
but also security. Leaking identification information
on federal agents may not only place their lives
in jeopardy, but potentially damage our domestic
security in being reactive to threats (which foreign
or domestic) from rogue regimes to terrorist cells.
Intelligence is America's #1 weapon against the
war on terror.
the release of the ambassador's wife name to a
reporter was a crime.
attorney James Fitzgerald has not only a mission,
but ethical gravitas to find out what happened
and who may the source of the leak. No matter
where the road travels in Washington or in the
knowledge that this attorney may be "apolitical"
gives some comfort to those jaded Americans who
know all too well the power of politics to create
government gridlock, twist the truth, and corrupt
sworn office holders. Perhaps this attorney's
investigation will be the first honest one since
Iran-Contra when the affair wasn't just a game
of 'gotcha' politics, but the potential undermining
of the Constitution by politics run amok.
thing is for sure, for this case the Department
of Justice will not be playing legal 'politics
as usual.' In this election year, too much is
if Fitzgerald's career reputation as a dogged
prosecutor is any indication, if there is a solid
case against the perpetrator(s) of the CIA leak.
will build its legs.
A9 2003 Tommy
Ates. All Rights Reserved.
Posted: January 2, 2004