Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Who Killed Cock Robin?

The successful prosecution of “Scooter Libby" – for lying to a grand jury – was a spectacular failure because it did not answer the question “Who outed Valerie Plame as an undercover agent?" There will be no further prosecutions in the case because the prosecutor fingered the wrong man: Scooter Libby did not blow Plame’s cover, because she was not an undercover agent. Prosecutor Fitzgerald packed his bags and went home after his flawed prosecution of the case because he fingered Libby rather than Richard Armitage, chief aide to then Secretary of state Colin Powell, as the primary leaker.

Libby’s troubles began with a column written by Sun Times columnist Robert Novak, who testified to the grand jury under oath that Libby had said nothing to him about Plame.

“While my column on Wilson's mission triggered Libby's misery,” Novak wrote in a recent column, “I played but a minor role in his trial. Subpoenaed by his defense team, I testified that I had phoned him in reporting the Wilson column and that (ITALICS MINE) he had said nothing about Wilson's wife. Other journalists said the same thing under oath, but we apparently made no impression on the jury.”

In post grand jury interviews, Novak was asked numerous times whether he had revealed to the prosecutor that he had relied upon Armitage – not Libby – as a source in disclosing information in his column that triggered the special prosecution of the wrong man.

“Actually,” Novak wrote, “in my first interview with Fitzgerald, he indicated he knew Armitage was my leaker. In fact, Armitage had turned himself in to the Justice Department (ITALICS MINE) three months before Fitzgerald entered the case, without notifying the White House or releasing me from my requirement of confidentiality.”

So then, why didn’t Fitzgerald direct his prosecution towards the initial leakier?

“The trial provided no information whatever about Plame's status at the CIA at the time I revealed her role in her husband's mission,” Novak wrote. “No hard evidence was produced Libby ever was told she was undercover.”

Because she was not undercover during this time: “Her being classified -- that is, that her work was a government secret -- did not in itself meet the standard required for prosecution of the leaker (former Deputy Secretary of State Armitage) under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982. That limits prosecution to exposers of covert intelligence activities overseas, whose revelation would undermine U.S. intelligence. That is why Fitzgerald did not move against Armitage.”

Fitzgerald moved against the wrong man. It was a fatal error. You cannot arrive at China by setting a course for the North Pole. This prosecutorial miss-step aborted further prosecutions and hot wired the case in such a way as to make it impossible to answer the question “Who killed Cock Robin?”

Even though no crime had been committed in outing a “classified” agent, the political world had been overturned by these disclosures. And just as one cannot arrive at China by setting a course for the North Pole, so one cannot finger the Bush White House as having outed Plame, a classified government worker – presumably for political reasons – without knowing who done it and why. The Fitzgerald miss-prosecution draws a discreet veil over a definitive answer to the question.
Post a Comment