21Sep/111

Patrick Fitzgerald: Intrepid Crime Fighter? Or, Politically-Driven Leaker? The Untouchable Myth Is Born (Part 2)

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Hugo Floriani, Investigative Reporter

“[Joseph C.] Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an agency operative on weapons of mass destruction.” Robert D. Novak, “Mission to Niger,” The Washington Post, July 14, 2003

This sentence, written by the late columnist Robert Novak, catapulted Patrick Fitzgerald into national notoriety where he assumed the mythological stature of a relentless Special Counsel.

The key word used, or perhaps misused, by Novak was “operative.”

Once “operative” appeared, Plame assumed the image of the clandestine secret agent whose identify had been casually, and carelessly, revealed by a leaker with potentially nefarious motives.  The revealing was seen as a violation of 50 U.S.C. § 421 : US Code - Section 421: Protection of identities of certain United States undercover intelligence officers, agents, informants, and sources.  Plame quickly became a pop culture Jane Bond. 

The word “operative” triggered the appointment of a Special Counsel to investigate the leak – an investigation that stayed active in the news media, on-and-off, from September 2003 to March 2007.

At the end, when Scooter Libby, Vice President Cheney’s Chief of Staff, was convicted on four counts of making false statements on March 6, Libby was the big loser.  The Special Counsel, Patrick Fitzgerald, was the big winner.  His image as Untouchable had been cast in bronze by the mainstream media. Today, The Washington Post describes Fitzgerald with these words:

“The dogged Fitzgerald has been compared to Eliot Ness, the former head of the liquor-busting “Untouchables” in Prohibition-era Chicago… [T]he workaholic prosecutor’s most famous investigation was into the leaking of CIA agent Valerie Plame’s identity, a probe that led all the way to the Bush White House and resulted in the conviction of former vice presidential chief of staff I. Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby (President George W. Bush later commuted his sentence.)”

Information concerning the Plame Case is well-documented and easily accessible on the internet.  No need to rehash it further here.

Future historians who review the saga will encounter a very curious fact.  It’s found in this 2006 interview between CBS News national security correspondent David Martin and Richard Armitage, who was Secretary of State Colin Powell’s Deputy at the State Department.

Click here to view video: 

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/09/07/eveningnews/main1981433.shtml

So, before Fitzgerald was appointed Special Council, Armitage told the FBI that he was the leaker.  When asked why he didn’t go public as the investigation to find the leaker grew, Armitage says, “The Special Counsel, once he was appointed, asked me not to discuss this, and I honored his request.”  Now that’s interesting stuff.  And puzzling, too.

 (Why did Armitage speak up publically in 2006, long after the media spotlight had turned on Libby, and, also, Karl Rove?   After all, Bush said,in July 2005, he wanted to know who leaked the information, and that he’d fire whoever committed the crime. In any regard, Armitage’s allegiance was not to his President but to a Prosecutor who went on the hunt for the leaker he already knew. Now, really, isn’t all this bizarre, or what?)

The CBS interview wasn’t the only time Armitage confessed to the crime.

Armitage agrees it was “foolish” for him to mention Plame’s CIA employment to Novak.

That begs this question: If “foolishness” is his excuse, what was Patrick Fitzgerald’s excuse for engaging in a long and costly investigation when, even before it started, the culprit, Armitage, had confessed to the crime?  (Has the media ever asked Fitzgerald that question? Or, were they so delightedly breathless to see the evil Cheney embarrassed through Libby that they dared not ask?)

What was the Fitzgerald investigation really about?  If Armitage was guilty, why was he never prosecuted for the alleged crime? Does confessing get you a pass?

We get a hint to the back story from recent comments made by former Vice President Cheney while speaking at Union League Club Authors Group in Chicago on September 19.  According to the Chicago Sun-Times,

A block away from the office of the man who prosecuted his chief of staff, former Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter had harsh words Monday for U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.

“My friend Scooter Libby is a very good man,” Cheney said. “He gave up a very successful private life in order to serve the nation. … For his trouble, he ended up as part of a particular prosecution. I will always think that he did not deserve what happened.”

Cheney was in Chicago to discuss his new book "In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir."  In his book, Cheney wrote, “It was as though he [Colin Powell] thought the proper way to express his views was by criticizing administration policy to people outside the government.”

Armitage was the Deputy Secretary of State under Powell.  Libby was Cheney’s Chief of Staff. It’s clear now that Powell and Cheney were not blood brothers. But there may have been occasional blood spilled between them.

In the now obvious power struggle that was going on between the two top Lieutenants in the Bush administration, what was Fitzgerald’s role? Was he the Untouchable, intrepid prosecutor in search of the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth of who committed the alleged crime of exposing Plame’s employment to Novak?  Or, was Fitzgerald a political operative touched by persons within the Bush administration to embarrass and undercut Cheney.

If Judith Miller went to jail for failing to reveal her source for what she later wrote about Plame, why did Novak get a pass?  Looks like Bob Novak was the real “Untouchable” throughout the entire saga.  Nobody touched him.

Turning now to more recent events, since John Chase of the Chicago Tribune is obviously getting a pass for notifying Blagojevich that his phone conversations were being tapped, how’d he earn that pass? Was it by leaking the information to Blago?

One last question:

In the events that constituted the sudden arrest of Blago, for who might Fitzgerald have been playing the political operative, dressed, again, in the dark suit of the Untouchable Eliot Ness?

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