Dipping Kay Bailey Hutchinson’s head in the water to see if it’s warm
With a decision expected this week on possible indictments in the C.I.A. leak case, allies of the White House suggested Sunday that they intended to pursue a strategy of attacking any criminal charges as a disagreement over legal technicalities or the product of an overzealous prosecutor.
Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special counsel in the case, is expected to announce by the end of the week whether he will seek indictments against White House officials in a decision that is likely to be a defining moment of President Bush’s second term. The case has put many in the White House on edge.
Karl Rove, the senior White House adviser, and I. Lewis Libby Jr., who is Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, have been advised that they are in serious legal jeopardy. Other officials could also face charges in connection with the disclosure of the identity of an undercover C.I.A. officer in 2003.
On Sunday, Republicans appeared to be preparing to blunt the impact of any charges. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Republican of Texas, speaking on the NBC news program “Meet the Press,” compared the leak investigation with the case of Martha Stewart and her stock sale, “where they couldn’t find a crime and they indict on something that she said about something that wasn’t a crime.”
Ms. Hutchison said she hoped “that if there is going to be an indictment that says something happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn’t indict on the crime and so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation was not a waste of time and taxpayer dollars.”
But allies of the White House have quietly been circulating talking points in recent days among Republicans sympathetic to the administration, seeking to help them make the case that bringing charges like perjury mean the prosecutor does not have a strong case, one Republican with close ties to the White House said Sunday. Other people sympathetic to Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby have said that indicting them would amount to criminalizing politics and that Mr. Fitzgerald did not understand how Washington works.
It’s not like they were out raping cattle and then setting them on fire…not that I would put it past them.
Unsurprisingly Official Administration Shill Michael Barone picks up the ball and runs with it:
For more than two years, many in the mainstream media have been buzzing about the prospect that White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove or Vice President Chief of Staff Scooter Libby would be indicted for revealing the name of CIA officer Valerie Plame.
The press has been full of righteous indignation that high officials in the Bush administration would endanger the identity of a covert agent. And it has been argued that administration officials did this to protect a fearless truth-teller — Plame’s husband, Joseph Wilson — a former ambassador who charged that the Bush administration purposefully ignored intelligence and lied about Iraqi attempts to obtain uranium to develop weapons of mass destruction.
The problem is that the narrative line being offered up by the press is almost entirely wrong. And it is almost certainly true that neither of the statutes that might cover the situation — the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982 and the Espionage Act of 1917 — was violated, at least by anyone in the administration.
Blah…blah…blah. Been covered before. The CIA seems to differ. And then this:
So it seems clear to me that an indictment under either of these statutes would be a gross injustice. It is a general principle of law that when the government wants to criminalize acts other than traditional common law crimes like murder or theft, it must set out with great specificity the conduct that is forbidden. To visit the rigors of criminal indictment, trial and punishment on someone who has done nothing that is specifically forbidden is unjust — the very definition of injustice.
That leaves the question of whether Rove, Libby or someone else will be indicted for perjury, obstruction of justice or making false statements in the course of the investigation. But why should there be indictments if there was no crime?
And if we back up in Barone’s column we can see why it so important that neither Rove or Libby take a fall:
Any indictment of Rove or Libby brought by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s grand jury, which is scheduled to go out of existence on Oct. 28, would in my opinion be a grave injustice. It would hurt the administration by depriving it of the services of one or more very talented and dedicated officials. But it would also set a bad precedent by creating a precedent that would obstruct the flow of information from government to the press and the people.
…whether that information is true or not or whether it was passed on in a fit of pique, because if you can’t use your position of power to ratfuck a citizen by manipulating a lubed-up and supine press…well, why go into public service at all?