« | »

Misleading Statements By Patrick Fitzgerald

Whatever else that can be said about Mr. Patrick Fitzgerald, he sure is a slippery customer. He certainly is not above making highly misleading statements at his press conferences.

As you may recall, at his last press conference announcing the indictment of Mr. Libby, Mr. Fitzgerald made a number of highly misleading statements about his case. Including the implication that he could have prosecuted Mr. Libby and possibly others because Ms. Plame’s employment at the CIA was "classified."

In fact, that is not quite true. Yes, everyone’s employment at the CIA is classified, including the cafeteria workers and janitors. There are many levels of classification.

But there are no laws against leaking classified information such as employment status. The US does not have an Official Secrets Act, as the United Kingdom does. Or a number of people from the New York Times would still be sitting in prison after their publication of the highly classified "Pentagon Papers."

Moreover, Mr. Fitzgerald hoped he would confuse enough of the viewers into thinking that "classified" means "covert." Which would mean that exposing Valerie Plame’s status was a real physical threat to her.

But that is simply not true. Still, Fitzgerald clearly wanted to perpetuate that untrue impression.

And again today Mr. Fitzgerald went out of his way to answer some of the reporters’ questions with similarly artfully constructed but very misleading answers.

He began with the first question, which I have transcribed here from the C-SPAN video:

Unidentified Reporter: Sir, there’s been a lot of criticism for the last couple of months that Rich Armitage has come forward and said he was the first leaker. And that you knew that from the beginning. Do you think this now justifies your investigation? And what do you have to say to those critics?

Mr. Fitzgerald: I would say this. It’s not the verdict that justifies the investigation. It’s the facts. And if people would step back and look at what happened here. When the investigation began in the fall of 2003, and then we got appointed to the special counsel at the end of December 2003.

What is now clear is what we knew at that time. By that point in time we knew Mr. Libby had told a story. That what he had told reporters had come not from other government officials, but from reporter Tim Russert.

It’s also now public that by that point in time the FBI had learned that in fact Tim Russert did not tell Mr. Libby that information. In fact, Tim Russert didn’t know it. Tim Russert could not have told him.

And for us, as investigators and prosecutors, to take a case where a high level official is telling a story that the basis of his information wasn’t from government officials but came from a reporter — the reporter had told us that was not true — other officials had told us that the information came from them — we could not walk away from that…

Surely the point of the reporter’s question was Mr. Libby was prosecuted for a "process crime" that only occurred after the Department of Justice already knew Mr. Richard Armitage was the source for Mr. Robert Novak’s column exposing Ms. Plame’s employment at the CIA.

And, lest we forget, the Department of Justice and Special Counsel Fitzgerald were only tasked by the government to find out who was the source of that leak to Bob Novak.

Mr. Fitzgerald’s roundabout answer seems to be carefully constructed to mislead the casual listener into thinking that Mr. Libby perjured himself before anyone at the DoJ knew Mr. Armitage was Mr. Novak’s source. But that of course is simply untrue.

The brilliant Clarice Feldman, who has been following this case more closely than anyone since it began, has graciously provided me with the pertinent dates:

Mr. Armitage confessed to the Department of Justice his role in the matter, including that he was Bob Novak’s source, on October 3, 2003.

Mr. Libby’s first interview with the FBI was eleven days later, on October 14, 2003.

Mr. Tim Russert was not brought up in Libby’s interviews with the FBI until Nov 14 and 24 of 2003.

So, when Mr. Fitzgerald was finally hired as special prosecutor at the end of December 2003, it had already been long since known at the Justice Department that Mr. Armitage was Novak’s "leaker."

Certainly the DoJ’s investigation should have ended on October 3, 2003, with Dick Armitage’s admission of guilt in the matter.

But Mr. Fitzgerald’s answer sure didn’t make it sound that way. To the casual viewer it sounds like Libby perjured himself before anyone knew anything about Armitage’s role in exposing Plame’s CIA employment. So Mr. Fitzgerald was duty-bound to proceed with his prosecution.

And it’s hard to believe Mr. Fitzgerald doesn’t want people to think that way.

To add insult to injury, in response to a later question Mr. Fitzgerald once again brought up Plame’s job being classified in yet another attempt to make the casual viewer believe she was a "covert agent" and therefore placed at great risk by having her identity exposed.

Fitzgerald went on to strongly imply that this was another reason it was so vital that the case should be prosecuted. And of course once again this is total hogwash.

So it looks like Mr. Fitzgerald will never learn. But why should he?

The verdict today has proved to him once again the benefits of misleading people — in this case, the Libby jury.

Who, judging by the remarks of the jury "spokesman" Denis Collins, had no idea what they were really there to decide.

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, March 7th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

9 Responses to “Misleading Statements By Patrick Fitzgerald”

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.

« Front Page | To Top
« | »