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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Don't Say It If You Don't Mean It, Tough Guy

Masquerading as First Amendment crusaders, the Wall Street Journal is already trying to mess with Patrick Fitzgerald's case. As Atrios would say, unleash the waaaaaahhh:
Thanks to the disastrous New York Times legal strategy, the D.C. Circuit of Appeals dealt a major blow to a reporter's ability to protect his sources. Prosecutors everywhere will now be more inclined to call reporters to testify, under threat of prison time. And if Mr. Libby's case goes to trial, at least three reporters will be called as witnesses for the prosecution. Just wait until defense counsel starts examining their memories and reporting habits, not to mention the dominant political leanings in the newsrooms of NBC, Time magazine and the New York Times. "Meet the Press," indeed.
"Dominant political leanings?" Since when did the WSJ have a problem with abject capitalism?

I've heard this several times today, it's going to be Scooter vs. the press. Hey Tweety, hey Pumpkinhead, they're calling you liars. Maybe you ought to think about that before you let the likes of Deborah Orrin float her right-wing tabloid bilge unchecked all over your network, okay?
Rather than join this parade of masochism, we thought we'd try to speed things along, as well as end one of the remaining mysteries in the probe. That's why Dow Jones & Co., this newspaper's parent company, filed a motion late Wednesday requesting that the federal district court unseal eight pages of redacted information that Mr. Fitzgerald used to justify throwing Judith Miller of the New York Times in the slammer.
In which, as ReddHedd has said on numerous occasions, Fitzgerald probably laid out his case. How helpful it would be to know exactly what he's got at this point, no? The WSJ is bleating like fair Nell tied to the railroad tracks, but their intent is pure Snidley Whiplash.
The pages were part of Judge David Tatel's concurring opinion in the ruling against Ms. Miller and Time magazine's Matthew Cooper. Judge Tatel said the eight pages showed that, with his "voluminous classified filings," Mr. Fitzgerald had "met his burden of demonstrating that the information [sought from the reporters] is both critical and unobtainable from any other source."
What helpful little GOP elves the Journal crowd are, trying to put Fitzgerald on the defensive. Who thought we'd long for days when they were happy to publish the fevered ditherings of dolphin worshipping knuckle-sucker Peggy Noonan.
The pages remain sealed, but now that Mr. Fitzgerald has indicted Mr. Libby and said "the substantial bulk" of his probe is "completed," there's no reason to keep those pages secret. The indictment itself discloses the nature and "major focus" of Mr. Fitzgerald's grand jury probe, including the fact that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA. The special counsel's own extensive public discussion of the facts in the case should also have vitiated any protection from disclosure under grand jury rule of evidence 6(e). Future prosecutors and judges trying to decide whether to throw a reporter in jail should be able to inspect the evidence in this case, which will be an influential precedent.
For the benefit of those who ride the special bus to school:

a) Fitzgerald has long said he was finished with his investigation in October, 2004. That does not mean his case is finished.

b) "Extensive public discussion of the facts of the case?" He had a press conference. He spent a whole lotta time saying a whole lotta nothing. He basically reiterated what is in the indictment. Google "held his cards close" and watch the name Patrick Fitzgerald pop up at the top. Every unimaginative goof on the internets, including myself, used that phrase.
Unsealing the eight pages would also help put to rest the wilder "conspiracy" claims that continue to circulate about the case. Residents of the Internet fever swamps can now point to the sealed pages and say, aha!, dark secrets are being covered up.
"Wilder conspiracy claims?" Mousetraps? Dust bunnies? Hey we were right.
Beyond this motion, we think Mr. Fitzgerald also has a broader duty, as well as some self-interest, in wrapping his probe up quickly. By keeping the case open even though his grand jury has been shut down, he keeps a cloud over the Bush Administration and hampers its ability to function. If after two years of digging he hasn't found any other crimes, he has an obligation to close up shop.
You have to be shitting me. Fitzgerald isn't the one who put a cloud over BushCo., they pissed it up there themselves. And how would you know he hasn't found any other crimes? His only obligation is to investigate the treasonous acts of political operatives who don't give a happy hooty who they destroy in the process. That's what the public has a right to know. If the 1600 crew are having a rough time keeping their powder dry in the midst of it, tough darts.
As for his own self-interest, Mr. Fitzgerald is going to have a hard enough time proving that Mr. Libby lied based largely on the testimony of three journalists.
Mr. Libby lied based on his own testimony. He told one whopper to the FBI and then a surgically modified whopper to the grand jury. No ho-bag reporters necessary.
Rest assured that Ms. Miller's evocative self-description, "Miss Run Amok," will surface on cross-examination.
I guess that means the job interview didn't go so well? How sad. You two were meant for each other. No, really.
Sounds like Mr. Fitzgerald has a fight on his hands.
I will leave you with the words of Tommy Corrigan, one of Patrick Fitzgerald's best friends from the NYPD who has known him for the past 11 years. I asked him point blank yesterday if he thought Fitzgerald was done. Quite emphatically, without any hesitation at all, he said "No. It's not over for him until the last bell is rung."

Unseal that, you bastards.

(extreme graphics love to Monk at Inflatable Dartboard)

Update: In the comments, PollyUSA reminds us that if the WSJ really wants to inform the public, they should start by talking abou their own role in this mess:
In my view the WSJ should be in the middle of this investigation. Three weeks after the investigation began the WSJ published an article discussing the contents of the INR memo.

This WSJ article was the first mention of the INR memo in the press. The memo was and still is a classified document. The leaking of classified material is at the heart of this investigation and the WSJ received just such a leak in October 2003. Who leaked to the WSJ?
Fess up, fellas. Won't cost you a dime.

Update 2: Several people have noted that Libby's lawyers will, over the course of time, have access to the 8 pages. This isn't about getting it to Libby's lawyers. If Redd is correct and Fitz laid out his conspiracy case in the 8 pages (and let's remember, he's known for a very long time what happened -- he's just been about proving it for the past year) this is an attempt to let BushCo. know, who up until now have been gnawing each other's tails off in the wake of Fitzgerald's maddening silence. They can't spin what they don't know and it's killing them. Nothing good can come from forcing his hand at this early...and I emphasize EARLY... stage of the game.