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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

For the Greater Good

While I appreciate the WaPo's attempts to keep Traitorgate in the headlines, really I do, today's article was a useless exercise in bringing up laws that most likely will not be used against Rove and company for the Plame leak. If they had written it expressly for the purpose of making it look like Rove will skate, they could not have done a better job. Nice work with the journalism thing, guys.

In the article, they deal principally with Section 641 in Title 18 of the U.S. Code, which has to do with embezzlement of public money. It was used successfully against a Navy intelligence analyst who leaked secret U.S. spy satellite photos to a British magazine. The WaPo dragged out a bunch of attorneys who were quick to point out that the law requires that there be an "intent to convert" purloined property into a "thing of value." The analyst was paid by the magazine for the satellite photos. Rove was not paid. Hence, they conclude, he's not guilty.

He's probably not guilty of spitting orange peels on the sidewalk in Mobile Alabama either, but I really don't know why we need an article to that effect or what that has to do with anything.

Then they trot out the shopworn Victoria Toerag one more time to indulge in a bunch of bad metaphors and pronounce Rove innocent. Yet again, they fail to bring up that bugaboo the Rethugs are so loath to mention -- the Espionage Act. And of course, there's that old war horse, the Patriot Act.

Patrick J. Fitzgerald loooooves the Patriot Act. He thinks it's misunderstood, and says to its critics, "Everyone needs to take a cold shower, calm down and have a rational discussion." He has appeared in its defense before the Judiciary Committee in 2003, again before the Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism in 2005, debated in favor of it before the Federalist Society, and opposed Chicago's anti-Patriot Act resolution.

Section 802 of the Patriot Act defines domestic terrorism:
(a) DOMESTIC TERRORISM DEFINED- Section 2331 of title 18, United States Code, is amended--
(5) the term `domestic terrorism' means activities that--

(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;

(B) appear to be intended--
(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;

(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or

(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.'.
Many would argue, myself among them, that Rove, Libby, and anyone else involved in a conspiracy to expose Valerie Plame's identity have met all three criteria for being designated as domestic terrorists.

Does Fitzgerald have the nads to prosecute Rove et. al. as terrorists? Hell if I know, but I can say that the guy is a serious as a heart attack about national security -- his specialty is prosecuting terrorists, and if the eight redacted pages of Judge Tatel's decision to throw Jailhouse Judy in the slammer are any indication, much of Fitzgerald's inquiry is concerned with the breach of national security that her exposure and that of her CIA front company, Brewster-Jennings, may have caused.

October is just around the corner, when Fitzgerald must either hand down indictments, convene a new grand jury or call it quits. Never have I wanted to see him hang 'em by their huevos more than I have this week.

I know I have expressed my concerns before about the Patriot Act. About the the First Amendment and the need to protect journalists. I officially no longer care. Too many people died this week. Not that too many people didn't die last week or the week before. But it is obvious now that George Bush is tearing the country apart with his greedy little rich-kid fists and we as a nation just cannot take it any more. Every time I sit down at the keyboard I have to fight the urge to type Sweet Jesus I hate him. And I really do not want any more reason to feel that way.

I'm hearby announcing my membership in the "greater good" club. Whatever it takes, by any legal means available.

Take. Them. Down.

Update: From Reddhead:
Guess the WH forgot that people like Fitzgerald actually do exist, didn't they? What RoveCo should do is lie low, keep their mouths shut and just wait to see what happens, but they can't help themselves. They've become so addicted to spin, so used to being able to push people around with their power and so used to the press allowing them to get away with flagrant lies, that they have that invincible, I'm smarter than everyone else attitude going strong, even in the face of indictment. Here's the thing, though -- Patrick Fitzgerald could give a rat's ass and, the beautiful thing, if they committed a crime, they will be indicted for it. Period. No pass because you have friends in high places. No pass because you like people to think you have a big brain. No pass because it might make the President look bad (and we can't have that, now can we? That's unAmerican.). You do the crime, you do the time -- isn't that the phrase on every Republican candidate's lips when they act all tough on crime in gated, suburban neighborhoods in campaign season? Well, won't it be fun when that chicken comes home to roost. It's almost October, Karl...take some long walks in the sunshine while you still can.
Amen to that.

Update #2: Jen, from the comments:
Just for clarification, 18 USC 641 does not require that the purloined article be converted into a "thing of value." It merely requires that a person convert a "thing of value" belonging to the government to his own use or gain, or to that of another. .html

In other words, the thing that is taken (which need not necessarily even be a tangible thing) has to have value to the government, but doesn't have to be sold for money to someone else to be a crime.
I'm no attorney, but if you are and you have an opinion on the topic I'd love to hear what you have to say in the comments.