If much of Washington is celebrating the indictment of Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the most famous vice-presidential chief of staff since Bill Kristol under Dan Quayle, the Washington Post’s op-ed page hasn’t joined in, at least not on slow Saturday. A joint op-ed by David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey blows Patrick Fitzgerald into space:
Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald’s indictment of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby should be the final proof that the system of “special prosecutors” is bankrupt and ought to be abandoned.
Fitzgerald, a highly respected federal prosecutor from Chicago, was given the task of investigating whether Bush administration officials had violated the Intelligence Identities Protection Act by “leaking” the identity of CIA employee Valerie Plame.
It is clear that, at least by sometime in January 2004 — and probably much earlier — Fitzgerald knew this law had not been violated. Plame was not a “covert” agent but a bureaucrat working at CIA headquarters. Instead of closing shop, however, Fitzgerald sought an expansion of his mandate and has now charged offenses that grew entirely out of the investigation itself. In other words, there was no crime when the investigation started, only, allegedly, after it finished. Unfortunately, for special counsels, as under the code of the samurai, once the sword is drawn it must taste blood.