March 9, 2007--
Non-Satirical Commentary: Open Letter to Patrick Fitzgerald re "Scooter" Libby, Joseph Wilson, Valerie Plame, Richard Armitage, Karl Rove, Robert Novak, et al.
Hon. Patrick J. Fitzgerald, Esq.
United States Attorney
U.S. Department of Justice
Your having obtained a conviction of "Scooter" Libby by a District of Columbia jury may, in the minds of some, justify your prosecution of him. However, in the minds of non-Bush/Cheney-haters, such conviction is likely to carry about as much weight as would his being convicted before a jury composed of members of MoveOn.Org or the Democratic National Committee. I have no doubt that you surely understood that almost no number of peremptory strikes by Libby's defense team would have been sufficient to permit a non-partisan jury to be empanelled. If an NFL team were to defeat a junior-varsity high-school team, no realist would deem it evidence of the brilliance of the coach or the game-plan.
In your distinguished career as a United States Attorney**, you earned a reputation as a zealous, scrupulously ethical prosecutor. Such reputation earned you the benefit of the doubt during your protracted investigation of the alleged "leak" of the alleged "covert" identity of "Valerie Plame" in July, 2003. Yet information that emerged in 2006 about those matters raise professional-responsibility questions rendering unsatisfactory (and, perhaps, unrealistic) any continuing reliance upon such benefit of the doubt.
I know that media reports are often at best marginally accurate and that traditional rules of ethics can inhibit conscientious government lawyers from fully setting the record straight. Nevertheless, the legal profession generally and government prosecutors in particular also owe a duty to the public to make relevant and truthful information publicly available to set the record straight (or explain why compelling circumstances may prohibit such disclosures in particular circumstances).
I'm not alleging or implying malicious motives on your part; rather, I'm inviting explanations from you, if there be any, of what appear to be manifestations of uncharacteristically and almost unbelievably bad prosecutorial judgment in contrast to your long track record as a prosecutor with excellent professional judgment and a reputation for impeccable integrity. I feel, as do virtually all reasonably informed Americans, tremendous gratitude to you for your previously excellent work (such as, for examples, convictions you obtained for the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center). Yet information not meaningfully in dispute that emerged in 2006 shows that your handling of the investigation of the alleged "outing" of Valerie Plame has been unworthy of your previously sterling reputation.
I'm confident you're aware that bad faith is not a sine qua non for findings of prosecutorial misconduct. Indeed, many types of prosecutorial misconduct do not involve or manifest bad motives; rather, they arise from prosecutor's loss of objectivity, bad judgment and/or political zeal. However, your handling of the matter so strongly evinces abandonment, if not abuse, of prosecutorial discretion that I hope you're willing to answer, rather than ignore or evade, reasonable questions about your handling of the matter. The common-sense foundations for those questions arise from information not reasonably in dispute:
(1) At the inception of your investigation (in December, 2003):
(a) you learned that Richard Armitage was Robert Novak's primary source for reporting that the CIA sent Joseph Wilson to Niger on the recommendation of Wilson's wife, whom Novak's column described as a CIA "operative";
(b) you knew*** that Armitage (like his then-boss, then-Secretary-of-State Colin Powell) was at best an unenthusiastic supporter of Bush's strategy in Iraq if not a person simpatico with overt critics of Bush's strategy (such as Joe Wilson, Pat Buchanan, some former government officials in "Bush 41's" administration and some conservative commentators such as Bob Novak);º¹º¹
(c) you knew*** Armitage would have correctly perceived Novak as a conservative commentator who before the Iraq war had expressed views against toppling Saddam Hussein by warº¹º²-- i.e., that Armitage would have considered Novak to be a conservative columnist simpatico with Armitage's (and Powell's) strong reservations against (and Wilson's overt opposition to) Bush's strategy to topple Hussein by warfare;
(d) you knew*** Armitage's readily apparent motive in revealing the information to Novak was to enhance Wilson's credibility in the eyes of Novak (an Armitage "ally" in opposing the toppling of Hussein) in response to Novak having asked Armitage why he (Armitage) thought the Bush Administration would have sent a person as inexperienced as Wilson on an "intelligence" mission to Niger-- i.e, you knew*** it was obvious that Armitage's revelation constituted an attempt by a government official simpatico with Wilson to give ammunition to a well-known conservative columnist simpatico with Armitage (and Wilson) to enhance the credibility of, rather than to "discredit," Wilson's public attack on Bush's strategy in Iraq.
(e) you thus knew*** before commencing interrogation of witnesses before a grand jury that an allegation that Novak's source had "leaked" Plame's CIA-employee status without any criminal intent or animus toward Wilson or Plame-- i.e., you knew*** the alleged crime had not occurred.
(f) you knew (or should have quickly learned as would have any competent prosecutor) that within the Georgetown/Beltway political/social/news-media scene, it had been known that Joe Wilson's wife's maiden name was "Valerie Plame" and that she was a CIA employee even though her exact role may not have been known;º¹º³
(g) you knew*** that long before Novak's July 14, 2003, column, Joe Wilson's own websiteº²ºº touting his former status as a U.S. Ambassador and his expertise in international relations identified his wife by her extremely rare maiden name, "Valerie Plame," which you knew Wilson had known to have been the name she had previously used as her "covert" name. Similarly, you also knew*** through Novak's columnº²º¹ that long before Novak's July 14, 2003, column, Wilson had identified his wife as "the former Valerie Plame" in his "Who's Who" biographical sketch touting himself as a former U.S. Ambassador available for consultative services in international affairs.
(h) You also knew*** that Wilson, knowing that his own website already publicly and internationally identified his wife's extremely rare maiden name known by him to have been the name she had previously used in her "covert" capacity, nevertheless had not only publicly disclosed that he'd been sent to Niger "by the CIA" but had also inaccurately claimed the CIA had done so in response to a "request" by Vice President Cheney.
(i) You therefore knew*** that even if Plame were to have technically or administratively still retained a classification as a "covert" employee, her status and circumstances would have been insufficient as a matter of law to support a charge that revelation of her status by Armitage (or anyone else) would have constituted a "crime."
(j) You also knew*** that at least five years had elapsed since the last time when she served in a covert capacity and therefore knew*** as a matter of law that no revelation of such status in 2003 could be deemed to have constituted a criminal exposure of a covert agent.
(k) In an example of prosecutorial abuse of discretion equaling, if not exceeding, that of the prosecutor procuring the rape allegations in Durham, by ordering Armitage to remain silent about his having been Novak's source, you knew*** you were thereby knowingly and willfully perpetuating a false public perception that the alleged crime had occurred.
(2) To have continued a criminal investigation into what you knew, or should have known, ab initio not to have been a crime constituted an abuse of prosecutorial judgment that could only serve to harass or maliciously injure people not guilty of any crime;
(3) Consequently, such mishandling of the investigation caused a wide range of unwarranted injuries to individuals, damage to public interests and harm to the system of justice including, inter alia:
(a) unjustifiably lending your prestige to, and thereby unjustifiably giving credence to, Wilson's and Plame's continual repetition of claims you knew to be specious (i.e., that whoever first "leaked" her status as a CIA employee did so for the purpose of politically discrediting her husband's criticism of Bush's strategy for Iraq when you knew that the "leaker's" motive was simpatico with Wilson's position rather than vice-versa);
(b) unjustifiably confronting reporters with criminal prosecution and/or criminal confinement for contempt for asserting "right to know" privileges against your demands that they identify their sources pertaining to an alleged criminal leak which you already knew had not been "criminal," which actions by you will prospectively damage prosecutorial efforts to obtain court-ordered remedies against invocations of such privileges in future cases involving real, "criminal" leaks, discovery of which may be in the national interests;
(c) unjustifiably forcing numerous individuals (including current and former government officials) to incur substantial, financially burdensome and potentially ruinous liability for extensive legal representation in response to your continuing investigation of what you already knew had not constituted a crime;
(d) unjustifiably lending your prestige to what you knew was a political witch-hunt rather than a genuine investigation of any real "crime."
Notwithstanding the applause you're hearing from the Bush/Cheney haters, the issues I've described above are serious, not trivial. Given your sterling reputation predating this investigation, I think you owe the public detailed explanations, if there be any, of why and how any of the above statements of fact may be erroneous. Given the adulation you're currently enjoying from the Bush/Cheney haters, I'm not optimistic that you'll even make the effort.
Jim Wrenn, Editor at WrennCom.Com.
** See Patrick Fitzgerald's professional biography: [http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/iln/aboutus/patrickjfitzgerald.html].
*** Regarding my use of "You knew" to characterize your state of mind, I mean your actual knowledge or knowledge you surely would have acquired by exercising the due diligence one would expect from an prosecutor not motivated by bias or prejudice.
º¹º¹ It was well-known in the media throughout 2003 that then Secretary of State Colin Powell and his deputy, Richard Armitage had strong reservations about Bush's strategy for Iraq. It was likewise well-known at that time that a number of former officials in "Bush 41's" administration as well as a number of "conservative" pundits strongly opposed Bush's strategy for toppling Saddam. These things were so well-known to ordinary citizens knowledgeable about such political issues that it's unnecessary to provide links to news-report archives to prove them.
º¹º² See, for example, Novak's February 10, 2003 column at [http://townhall.com/columnists/RobertDNovak/2003/02/10/the_american_imperium], in which he characterized (or implied his agreement with the characterization of) Bush's strategy for toppling Saddam as a manifestation of an "American Imperium"-- shades of Joe Wilson not Karl Rove.
º¹º³ This was sufficiently known within the Beltway to have been reported by Andrea Mitchell long before Fitzgerald was appointed. This seems clearly correct notwithstanding Mitchell's subsequent efforts to strain everyone's credulity by contriving a retroactive re-characterization of (http://justoneminute.typepad.com/plame/2006/01/andrea_mitchell.html) the painfully obvious meaning of her initial statement. Indeed, I remember seeing a news report for NBC News and/or MSNBC and/or CNBC by Andrea MItchell in which I heard her say that before Novak's column it was "known" in social/political circles within the Beltway that Wilson's Wife, Valerie Plame, "worked" for the CIA (even though her specific title may not have been known), but I've been unable to find a video-clip of such report in MSNBC, NBC or CNBC archives. I wonder why NBC no longer makes it available? I didn't imagine seeing it. That was a report by Andrea Mitchell-- not a statement she made responding to questions by other reporters (such as the now-defunct CNBC program, "Capital Report.") This was a direct assertion by Mitchell, not an arguably mistaken response to a misunderstood question as she later attempted to characterize her assertion. But see Dana Priest's puff-piece for Wilson and Plame, which reads like a People Magazine article about celebrities by an ardent fan: [http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A58650-2003Oct7?language=printer].
º²ºº The Wayback Machine [http://web.archive.org/] is an independent organization that preserves archives of websites, including Joe Wilson's own "biographical" sketch on a website in which he identified his status as a former ambassador for the United States in touting his available expertise on international issues in 2003: [http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.cpsag.com/our_team/wilson.html]. In February, 2003, Wilson's "bio" page identified his wife as "the former Valerie Plame": [http://web.archive.org/web/20030208060730/http://www.cpsag.com/our_team/wilson.html]. For an illustrative video, go to http://polisat.com/Wilson-Plame.htm.
º²º¹ See Novak's October 1, 2003 column: [http://townhall.com/columnists/RobertDNovak/2003/10/01/the_cia_leak].
Permanent link to this Commentary:
Use "play" button below to activate video:
Other size/connection-speed configurations are at http://PoliSat.Com/Wilson-Plame.htm.