Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Libby Verdict: A Perfect Pointlessness

Full disclosure: I didn't like what Lawrence Walsh did, and I was not crazy about what Ken Starr did-- both were examples of the dangers of appointing independent or special prosecutors.

But the Fitzgerald prosecution of Scooter Libby is unlike anything I've ever seen. A special prosecutor goes into an investigation knowing there is no underlying crime, but proceeds anyway just to see if he can catch anyone lying to him? Is that criminal justice in America today?

Somewhat surprisingly, the Washington Post has the issue dead-nuts on today. You should read the whole ting, but here's an excerpt:

It would have been sensible for Mr. Fitzgerald to end his investigation after learning about Mr. Armitage. Instead, like many Washington special prosecutors before him, he pressed on, pursuing every tangent in the case. In so doing he unnecessarily subjected numerous journalists to the ordeal of having to disclose confidential sources or face imprisonment. One, Judith Miller of the New York Times, lost several court appeals and spent 85 days in jail before agreeing to testify. The damage done to journalists' ability to obtain information from confidential government sources has yet to be measured.

Mr. Wilson's case has besmirched nearly everyone it touched. The former ambassador will be remembered as a blowhard. Mr. Cheney and Mr. Libby were overbearing in their zeal to rebut Mr. Wilson and careless in their handling of classified information. Mr. Libby's subsequent false statements were reprehensible. And Mr. Fitzgerald has shown again why handing a Washington political case to a federal special prosecutor is a prescription for excess.

Mr. Fitzgerald was, at least, right about one thing: The Wilson-Plame case, and Mr. Libby's conviction, tell us nothing about the war in Iraq.



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