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                                       politics + culture

Friday, October 28, 2005

first thoughts and an open thread

I am neither someone with a background in journalism, nor am I savvy or privy to beltway politics, nor am I a lawyer, nor do I know the ins and out of intelligence matters...(those links are all worthwhile)

but these things strike me from today's events, take 'em worth a grain of salt:

Patrick Fitzgerald made a no-nonsense, straightforward case for one thing today: Lewis Libby lied to the FBI and the grand jury investigating the leak of a CIA employee's identity, and his perjury and false statements noted in the indictment amount to an obstruction of justice.

Fitzgerald made two related things very clear:

#1: Fitzgerald's investigation concerned a matter that impacted our national security in a "serious" way; namely, whether present and future employees of the CIA can have the reasonable expectation that their identities will be protected by our government. Fitzgerald made clear that his indictment of Libby directly relates to that seriousness. Libby has been indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice that prevented Fitzgerald from fully investigating that national security issue.

#2: Fitzgerald is playing by the strict rules of a federal grand jury. He is investigating crimes following those strict rules. His investigation a) pursued the facts and b) where those facts merited indictments, Fitzgerald pursued them. This means that if Fitzgerald's investigation does not bring an indictment against someone, then Fitzgerald will not talk about that person. If he does bring an indictment against someone, it means that that person is in a heap of trouble.

Further, Fitzgerald indicated that his investigation is ongoing. Since he also made clear that he will not file a report, or talk about people who came up in his investigation but who are unindicted, we can only assume that he would continue his investigation only if the possiblity of further indictments, or, perhaps, if he has that discretion, plea bargains, are forthcoming.

Given the seriousness with which Fitzgerald takes the rules and his job, I think that means, at the very least, that those who are still vulnerable to prosecution in this investigation should be extremely concerned about further indictments and investigation. It seems to me that Fitzgerald has no other reason to keep his shop open.

Now, politically, I think many things happened today that will play out over time. My bet is that the political side of this will prove to be the most significant and damaging to Bush and the GOP. Here are some quick bullet points:

  • GOP push-back attacking Fitzgerald would be sheer idiocy...and in my view prove an excercise in futility. The public face this guy presented to the nation is platinum. I would say to Democrats and pundits...he may not give us everything we want, but do not mess with what he's doing. He's a guy doing his job. Let him do it.
  • This is far from over. Legally and especially, politically, today is extremely bad news for BushCo: Libby touches deep inside the White House.
  • Even when the simple political fallout of what's revealed in the Libby indictment is parsed and pursued by the press...it is utterly damning. They lied to us repeatedly when they pretended to know nothing...over and over again, the whole lot of them. These guys are crooked.
  • This is a kind of less obvious 'worst case scenario' for BushCo. Five indictments focused on one player at the heart of the administration with an "ongoing investigation" that may create further indictments, indictments that most certainly will put other figures on the stand under oath...that is just horrible news. It's better for us that the charges are ones that reportedly will "stick" in court. That means that they are deep doo-doo with little wiggle room for claiming the prosecutor overreached.

    For me, it all boils down to one question that will be asked all over the country this weekend: Why would you lie unless you were covering up something worse?

    In sum, the limited nature of Fitzgerald's investigation and Fitzgerald's limited ability to talk about things is horrible political news for Bush. It means that the public's right to know...and we do have a right to know...will create incredible political pressure on BushCo., while important Bush players remain in legal jeopardy, whether through indictment or being compelled to testify in public, from a guy who is "just doing his job."

    Though we don't get the wished for "clarity," we do get the best of both worlds: ongoing legal jeopardy to the White House from a "straight shooter" prosecutor, and political pressure of an unprecedented caliber placed squarely on the White House and touching every goddammed desk in the crooked place.

    George W. Bush has nowhere to hide here; LIbby's indictment reaches deep into the White House. My bet, Bush will come to regret that Karl Rove is still squirming in this one. If Rove did things to "throw sand" in the Ump's eyes, as Fitzgerald so ably put it...Bush will have hell to pay. If the inevitable investigation into Cheney's role dregdes up some dirt that wasn't forthcoming in the investigation, ditto.

    In sum, we saw something today in the character of Patrick Fitzgerald that marks a turning point in the history of BushCo.: we saw an honest man who understands the limits of power and the reason we have laws to protect us.

    BushCo. is in serious, ongoing political trouble.



    • Hot tip...

      Read the comments below the post "Bingo" for some great insights from &y and wg.

      Thank you both for those words!!

      By Blogger kid oakland, at 2:40 PM  

    • That Bingo comment from wg is excellent. I just read the second paragraph over my shoulder to Holly, who interrupted me several times with, "Yes! Yes!" "Rule of law!" "Yeah, I felt it, too" and similar.

      Patrick Fitzgerald, why do you love America?

      By Blogger &y, at 3:08 PM  

    • I watched the whole Fitzgerald press conference and was struck as well by his keeping the investigation "open", though I thought he gave a response to a question on the subject along the lines of "this is what we always do".

      I've already heard the Republican talking points on this, and you're right as well that they aren't going to attack Fitzgerald. They at least seem to get that message. Rather, the argument seems to be "I now what I did but look - what he did was way worse." The 'he' in that statement is Joe Wilson and the 'what he did' appears to be obfuscating who sent him to Africa and why. I actually heard a relatively unknown Republican partisan beginning to make the case that statements by Wilson and their relative truth go directly to the issue of classification and whether or not his wife's status, in the capacity under which he was travelling, would indeed be protected.

      I sounded to me like someone trying to baffle us with bullshit all while twirling flaming batons and setting off fireworks as a massive distraction. That will be their tack - distraction. They've been really successful at that in the past and I worry that the wind just came out of the sails of anticipation with such severity today that people will be more easily distracted.

      But what do I know.

      By Blogger RenaRF, at 3:43 PM  

    • Well, just got done with NewsHour and the lawyers there seemed to think that Rove will escape.

      What do I know? Depressing thought.

      By Blogger kid oakland, at 3:57 PM  

    • Chin up. It's never really been about Rove, although he would have been a nice bonus. It's always been about Libby and Cheney and the WHIG imo. I don't know if they'll ever fully out that entire thing, but I surely enjoy the idea of Cheney being called to testify.

      By Blogger RenaRF, at 5:45 PM  

    • Fitzgerald indicated that his investigation is ongoing. Since he also made clear that he will not file a report, or talk about people who came up in his investigation but who are unindicted, we can only assume that he would continue his investigation only if the possiblity of further indictments, or, perhaps, if he has that discretion, plea bargains, are forthcoming.

      Thanks. Now I can sleep. Of course. This was right in front of me and I didn't see it.

      By Blogger NYBri, at 5:51 PM  

    • Right, kid, and if Libby was covering up something worse, then you can bet there are other people he is covering for. With these charges, Libby is facing a possible 30 years. That is grade-A prime motivation for ratting out those above him in the food chain.

      By Blogger Romdinstler, at 8:32 PM  

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