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Monday, August 15, 2005

Frog March Update

I know everyone is turning cartwheels over the Murray Waas article in the Village Voice today in which he states once again that Rove lied to the FBI early on in the investigation, but there's nothing really new about the "DC cocktail circuit defense" wherein Rove claimed he couldn't remember who told him about Valerie Plame in the first place. That Ashcroft had horrendous conflicts of interests that caused to him to recuse himself from the investigation after three months is also not news, though what the exact chain of events was leading up to that decision is still not known.

But it does raise the question as to who the leakers are who are giving Murray Waas his information -- FBI? They retiring Comey? It doesn't seem to be coming from inside Fitzgerald's investigation, since by all accounts he runs a very tight ship. Which, aside from being a testament to his ethics in the situation, is also strategic -- if nobody knows what he's got, they start panicking, sweating, and making mistakes. As the always-insightful former prosecutor ReddHead writes:
There are a number of reasons why you wait on issuing indictments.  One is to complete a thorough investigation.  Once you indict, if you do so with charges that are erroneous or if you have further charges that should have been filed, your options are limited if that in terms of correcting things.  You don't want to screw up an indictment if you can help it, so you want all of your ducks in a row before you drop the hammer.  Two is that drawing things out starts to make people seriously anxious and more ready to talk or flip -- especially if Fitz and the G/J start issuing small peripheral indictments as a sort of drip, drip, drip of more to come.  I would look for that mid-September if Judy Miller hasn't started singing -- along with some action against everyone else at the NYTimes that she discussed her "sources" with at any point.  As a prosecutor, you want everything in line, you want to know the entire picture, and you want to have gathered every tiny shred of evidence before you make your theory of the case public -- as you do once you indict, because the targets are informed of the particular charges under which they have been indicted, and that is a huge sign as to what evidence the prosecutor has in hand.  You want to have all of that locked down before indicting, or you risk destruction of key bits of evidence, people covering their tracks, etc.
Once Patrick Fitzgerald hands down an indictment, he can no longer be fired. But Reddhead's post goes to show why Fitzgerald wouldn't just file some indictments in order to "inoculate" himself -- it would blow his hand. And I suspect there may have been a strong attempt to force that hand on the part of Rove and Co. in all the flurry of dis-information regarding Fitzgerald's future on the Plame case that came down last week (thank you, Michael Isikoff).

I had a chance to finally meet Mark Kleiman yesterday, and we spoke about Ashcroft's failure to recuse himself. I offered up my theory that Novak might have made his deal during the Ashcroft period, that it was a cushy one which didn't compel him to reveal very much, and Fitzgerald had to live with it. I think it made Novak feel very confident about swaggering around on television like a cadaverous swivel chair hussar (told you I'd use that one again), but now that it's apparent Novak may have lied, the deal might be off and Novak might be soon be sharing a cell with Judy Miller if he doesn't spill the beans, which is driving him over the edge. Mark thought it was quite possible, and Murray Waas's article only shores up the theory by pointing to how involved professional partisan hack John Ashcroft was early on in the case.

Also, the NYT today is singing the Threnody For the Victims of Patrick Fitzgerald, aka Love Song for Judy Miller. They can kiss my soon-to-be-tattooed ass. Really. The Times shameful defense? If she hasn't stopped breaking the law now she's never going to, so just let her go. As Atrios notes this morning, there is absolutely no reason why she should not answer the question about what she might have told Rove and Libby. None. There is no notion of journalistic privilege that gives her that right. Zero. Zip. Zilch. And any journalist making pilgrimages to the Shrine of the Blessed Martyr really ought to think about that (eh, Brokaw?)

Update: The LA Times has a good article on Patrick Fitzgerald's history of buttressing his cases with perjury charges. Evidently he takes it quite personally when he's lied to. Tee hee.