Having just watched, along with the whole hep political world, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s press conference, I think you can boil off the legalese and go with his baseball metaphor for what he was saying about the strange decision to prosecute someone for lying about a crime for which no one has been indicted.”Scooter” Libby (nicknamed, ironically, after baseball great Phil “Scooter” Rizutto) is, according to Fitzgerald, the guy who threw sand in the umpire’s face when the dark-robed arbiter was trying to figure out why the pitcher threw at the batter’s head.This implies that (1) the investigation may have in fact determined who leaked Valerie Plame’s name, even though key issues like the “pitcher’s” motives and knowledge about Plame’s undercover status have been so far obscured, making an indictment impossible; (2) Libby’s real crime was to throw the investigation off course until the Grand Jury commission expired; and most importantly (3) the underlying crime is still under investigation, and could be exposed by new information or by disclosures Libby now makes at trial, or in order to cop a plea.If that’s right, and especially if Fitzgerald is implying that Libby deliberately lied to protect somebody else, then another big shoe could later drop, even if it occurs after Fitzgerald’s investigation is concluded.So much for my analysis as a non-practicing attorney, which is free advice and worth it.As for the broader issues raised by this case and by the withdrawal of the Harriet Miers nomination, I recommend you check out the DLC’s take today, which among other things, suggests that Karl Rove has no business working in the White House whether or not he someday winds up in the hoosegow:
As for today’s news from the special prosecutor, the fact that the indictment of the vice president’s chief of staff was not accompanied by the indictment of the president’s de facto chief of staff is apparently being greeted in some quarters as a victory for George W. Bush. That’s a perfect example of a dangerously low standard of public service.We care too much about the office of the Presidency to wish indictments upon anyone. For the same reason, we believe that for the sake of that office, President Bush should not wait for Patrick Fitzgerald to tell Karl Rove to go.Whether or not he was criminally involved in the Valerie Plame leak case, there’s no doubt Rove is openly and notoriously involved in an ongoing effort to create a politics of maximum partisan polarization, infecting every institution of our democracy.From that perspective, it’s beside the point that Rove may well escape a long vacation in one of our fine federal correctional institutions. If he truly wants to clear the air, the president should direct Rove to take a permanent vacation from the White House. Let him practice his dark arts at the Republican National Committee or some other venue far from official policymaking circles, and let him be accompanied by the other permanent-campaign warriors who have infested the people’s institutions.
Those Democrats who are disappointed that on “Fitzmas” they got coal in their stockings from “Fitzy Klaus” need to keep focused on the larger story of this administration’s overall abuses of power.