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What did Fitzgerald know, and when did he know it?
Posted by: Dale Franks on Tuesday, August 29, 2006

In an apparent response to my recent post on the Plame deal, an emailer sent this missive to all three of us:
At an Oct. 28 press conference announcing Libby's indictment, Fitzgerald claimed that "in fact, Mr. Libby was the first official known to have told a reporter when he talked to Judith Miller in June of 2003 about Valerie Wilson."

Yet, Fitzgerald lied, guys! Because he knew about Armitage already. I smell a dead rat.
Well, now that we know about Richard Armitage, even the most fair-minded observer would have to admit that Mr. Fitzgerald's 28 Oct statement now seems...incomplete. It seems that way to the editors of Investor's Business Daily, in any event, who opine:
Did Fitzgerald publicly lie? Let's look at the facts:

• The indictment of Libby that Fitzgerald extracted from the grand jury states that "on or about June 23, 2003, Libby met with New York Times reporter Judith Miller. . . . In discussing the CIA's handling of Wilson's trip to Niger, Libby informed her that Wilson's wife might work at a bureau of the CIA."

• In the Oct. 28 press conference announcing Libby's indictment, Fitzgerald claimed that "in fact, Mr. Libby was the first official known to have told a reporter when he talked to Judith Miller in June of 2003 about Valerie Wilson."

• That assertion is apparently false. A soon-to-be-released book, "Hubris," by Newsweek's Michael Isikoff and The Nation magazine's David Corn, finds that Armitage revealed Plame's identity in a meeting with The Washington Post's Bob Woodward a week before the Libby-Miller meeting in June 2003. In a Newsweek preview of the book, Isikoff cites "three government officials, a lawyer familiar with the case and an Armitage confidant" as sources for when the Armitage-Woodward conversation took place.

• Armitage is also clearly columnist Robert Novak's primary source for his July 2003 column, which was the first piece to identify Plame. On Sunday's "Meet the Press," Novak complained that "the time has way passed for my source to identify himself."

• Isikoff notes that "Armitage himself was aggressively investigated" by Fitzgerald. So Armitage fessed up at the outset. Fitzgerald long ago knew whom Armitage talked to and when. And he knew it was Armitage, not Libby, who was responsible for outing Plame (whose status as a secret CIA operative was dubious at best).

• Fitzgerald's contention in October that Libby was "the first official known to have told a reporter . . . about Valerie Wilson" may therefore have been a lie.

Fitzgerald knew in the early days of his politicized witch hunt that no crime was committed. No one intentionally revealed the identity of a truly covert agent. Yet he made a reporter, Miller, spend nearly 90 days in jail for refusing to reveal her source.

Meanwhile, Fitzgerald refused to reveal to the public the true source. From top to bottom, this has been one of the most disgraceful abuses of prosecutorial power in this country's history. That it's taking place at a time of war only magnifies its sordidness.
You know, every time we've had a special prosecutor since Watergate, the whole conduct of the prosecutions has raised serious questions about excessive prosecutorial zeal. I think of Lawrence Walsh's indictment of Caspar Weinberger suspiciously close to the 1992 election, in an investigation that had been ongoing since frickin' 1986. Did we really need to have that particular indictment come down less than a week prior to a national election? I think of Ken Starr's investigation devolving from the Whitewater mess—whatever that was about—to love ick on a portly girl's blue dress (I hasten to add that the president did, in fact, commit perjury, for which he was disbarred. But it was certainly a long, tortuous road to get there.) Now, we have Mr. Fitzgerald continuing an investigation long after he knew the identity of the actual leaker.

Something is odd. We somehow manage to investigate and convict serial killers, inside traders, corporate fraudsters, and all other sorts of evildoers in a year or two. But, when a Special Prosecutor's office is set up, we drag out these investigations for six years, spend millions of dollars of taxpayer money, and end up with convicting...almost nobody of anything.

Yet they always seem to serve as a stick with which to repeatedly whack whoever happens to be the sitting president. Which, now that I think about it, might actually be the point.

It seems to me that this whole Special Prosecutor deal has turned out to be a huge, long, costly boondoggle, more often than not. And, more often than not, the Prosecutors themselves seem to have egos that puff up like a tick at the slightest provocation.

Clearly, we need to take another look at how these politically-motivated investigations are handled.
 
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The silence from the Bush Haters, those wearer of head-gear crafted from tin (aluminum) is deafening!
 
Written By: Bush Haters Now Deer in Headlights
URL: http://
Vote for Spitzer!
 
Written By: coaster
URL: http://
I hasten to add that the president did, in fact, commit perjury, for which he was disbarred.
I forget the exact charge — obstruction of justice, perhaps — but if you look it up, I think you’ll find that Clinton wasn’t disbarred for perjury. It may’ve been perjury as far as laymen are concerned, but that wasn’t the legal charge.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
Oh please, Dale. This assertion is silly. When Fitzgerald made the statement in question, he clearly didn’t know about Armitage’s June conversation with Woodward (he only knew about the July conversation with Novak). So he wasn’t lying. Fitzgerald is the most respected prosecutor in the country. He’s not a partisan. He didn’t indict Rove or Armitage, which he clearly could have done if this was some partisan witch-hunt. He only indicted Libby because of the abundant evidence that Libby deliberately lied to and misled investigators.

Moreover, Fitzgerald is not an Indepedent Prosecutor of the type we saw in the 80s and 90s. He doesn’t have that type of power. He is merely a Special Prosecutor with a narrow charter (that he never exceeded). You have to have some mechanism in the law to allow an Attorney General with a conflict of interest to step aside. That’s all that has happened here. The media coverage of this case may have been overblown, particularly in retrospect, but I don’t think Fitzgerald himself has done anything to warrant criticism or being attacked as some sort of partisan zealot.
 
Written By: Anonymous Liberal
URL: http://www.anonymousliberal.com
Clinton admited to "testifying falsely" in a plea deal with prosecutors that allowed him to avoid an actual perjury indictment. Because of this admission, he was disbarred.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
I like Hitchens conclusions.
Perhaps for that reason, Justice sat on the referral for two months after Novak’s original column. But then, rather late in the day, at the end of September 2003, then-CIA Director George Tenet himself sent a letter demanding to know whether the law had been broken.
The answer to that question, as Patrick Fitzgerald has since determined, is "no." But there were plenty of senior people who had known that all along. And can one imagine anybody with a stronger motive to change the subject from CIA incompetence and to present a widely discredited agency as, instead, a victim, than Tenet himself? The man who kept the knowledge of the Minnesota flight schools to himself and who was facing every kind of investigation and obloquy finally saw a chance to change the subject. If there is any "irony" in the absurd and expensive and pointless brouhaha that followed, it is that he was abetted in this by so many who consider themselves "radical."

 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
Oh, this is rich. I think Fitzgerald and all the news organizations whipping up the Plame Game need to have a special prosecutor sicced on THEM to see what they knew, and when they knew it.

Great thing about a club, anyone can pick it up and use it. Maybe we can see Fitzgerald and the NYTimes editorial board frogmarched out :)
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Anonymous Liberal said: Oh please, Dale. This assertion is silly. When Fitzgerald made the statement in question, he clearly didn’t know about Armitage’s June conversation with Woodward (he only knew about the July conversation with Novak). So he wasn’t lying.

First of all, we need to verify if that’s true or not. But let’s assume for laziness’s sake that you’re correct on that one, are you saying that since Fitzgerald didn’t know about Armitage’s conversation with Woodward and only Armitage’s conversation with Novak which was a week before Libby’s conversation with Novak, that he decided to say that Libby was the first one known to speak to a reporter (Novak) about the matter? Don’t get that one.
 
Written By: Angry Republican
URL: http://
I said in the last comment "which was a week before Libby’s conversation with Novak". My bad, I take that Libby Novak thing back. Libby never talked with Novak, he talked with someone else. Sorry there.
 
Written By: Angry Republican
URL: http://
First of all, we need to verify if that’s true or not. But let’s assume for laziness’s sake that you’re correct on that one, are you saying that since Fitzgerald didn’t know about Armitage’s conversation with Woodward and only Armitage’s conversation with Novak which was a week before Libby’s conversation with Novak, that he decided to say that Libby was the first one known to speak to a reporter (Novak) about the matter? Don’t get that one.
Libby told Judy Miller about Plame in June, well before the Armitage/Novak conversation. Second, I believe Woodward himself has said on multiple occasions that his source (who we now know to be Artimage) did not tell Fitzgerald about their conversation until well after the Libby press conference. So there’s no reason whatsoever to think Fitzgerald lied. Why would he?
 
Written By: Anonymous Liberal
URL: http://www.anonymousliberal.com
Point of fact: I believe that President Clinton [was allowed to] voluntarily resigned from the Arkansas Bar (perhaps to avoid being involuntarily disbarred). Being President carries some perks.
 
Written By: Robert Fulton
URL: http://
Anonymous Liberal, you’re point is understood. But the following is interesting - Yes, I know it can be brushed away as Conspiracy theories, but, it leaves some suspicion:From Time.com:
"But it is the first time Woodward had contact with Fitzgerald, even though Woodward’s name shows up on various White House officials’ calendars, phone logs and other records during June and July, 2003, the time frame that is critical to determining whether a crime was committed when information about Plame’s employment was shared with reporters. Those White House records were turned over to Fitzgerald long ago. Woodward expressed some surprise that Fitzgerald hadn’t contacted him earlier in the probe...."

I wonder why Fitzgerald didn’t call him in earlier. Did Fitzgerald know Woodward’s info already? Possibly from Armitage who really spilled the beans to Fitzgerald about this leak earlier and not just the Novak leak? Or from someone else? Conspiracy theory? Maybe. But for a lot of people, a Libby Cheney catch would be much more enjoyable than an Armitage catch. And I’m starting to wonder if Fitzgerald isn’t one of those people. There’s something not smooth about this investigation. I mean, Fitzgerald was never too interested in the Armitage leak. Was that simply because his leak came after the Libby-Miller leak. I find that hard to believe. I mean, it was the Novak article and Armitage’s leak that got this whole thing rolling in the first place. Bottom Line, Fitzgerald realized some time ago that he would have to settle on perjury charges on Libby. If he would try to get him on leaking classified info, he wouldn’t end up snagging the guys he wants, he’d have to indict someone else responsible for that. He’settling for some loss to hold on to some profit-gain.
 
Written By: Angry Republican
URL: http://
So kiddies remember to keep all your conversations documented!, or you could be guilty of perjury for not quoting them properly during an investigation into something that isn’t a crime in the first place!

And don’t forget to drink your Ovaltine!
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
I think of Ken Starr’s investigation devolving from the Whitewater mess—whatever that was about—to love ick on a portly girl’s blue dress (I hasten to add that the president did, in fact, commit perjury, for which he was disbarred. But it was certainly a long, tortuous road to get there.) Now, we have Mr. Fitzgerald continuing an investigation long after he knew the identity of the actual leaker.
Love ick . . . leaker.

Ha ha, you said leaker . . .
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Isikoff notes that "Armitage himself was aggressively investigated" by Fitzgerald. So Armitage fessed up at the outset.
Maybe I’m missing something that’s not stated explicitly here — can someone join the dots for me? Why is it assumed that because he was "aggressively investigated", he must have confessed? I mean, I’m guessing Fitzgerald "aggressively investigated" Karl Rove too...
 
Written By: Bitter
URL: http://qando.net/
I’m guessing Fitzgerald "aggressively investigated" Karl Rove too...
Yes, I hear that there is a indictment coming out any time now.
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
If you are still wondering what Ken Starr’s investigation was about, it was this:

It was about a President who used the power of his office to subvert a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by a citizen of the United States.

If the duty of the President is to faithfully execute the office of the President, and if that includes faithfully executing the laws of the United States, then wouldn’t an investigation of the President’s subversion of the rule of law be worthwhile?

—-Tom Nally
 
Written By: Tom Nally
URL: http://

 
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