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How to Spend $57 Million on Cocktail Weenies

Larry Johnson does the math, so I don’t have to. Fitzgerald’s total costs to investigate the deliberate outing of a CIA spy, through March 31, amount to $2,396,283. Ken Starr’s total costs, to investigate a failed land deal and a blow job, amount to $59,463,703. I guess all those cocktail weenies Starr bought for the press really add up, huh?

Now that Larry pulled all these numbers together, though, I’d like to take a look at what Fitzgerald spent when–or rather, how much time he spent when. Here’s the total spent on personnel for each reporting period (click through to Larry’s post for the total amounts–I’m using personnel to get a sense of how much time these activities took). The total amount for all personnel time reported to date is $1,876,570.


Amount Activities
3/31/2004 $13,330 Review FBI case

Grand jury interviews of most witnesses, including Rove, Libby, Novak

9/30/04 $487,098 Pursue and obtain testimony from Russert, Kessler, Cooper (pertaining to Libby), and Pincus

Pursue testimony from Cooper (pertaining to Rove) and Miller

Follow-up interviews with Armitage and Novak

3/31/05 $48,536 Argue before Appeals Court to justify Cooper and Miller subpoenas
9/30/05 $169,383 Obtain testimony from Cooper and (the first appearance) Miller.
3/31/06 $297,188 Obtain testimony from Miller (the second appearance)

Last minute pre-indictment frenzy

Indict Libby

Interview Viveca Novak, Woodward

Begin discovery phase

9/30/06 $268,198 Continue discovery

Begin CIPA process

Give Armitage and Rove all (or mostly) clear

3/31/07 $592,837 Complete CIPA and other pre-trial activities

Argue trial

Now, I’m assuming that some of the costs associated with the initial grand jury testimony of everyone and their mother in February and March 2004 was cleared after March 31, and therefore shows up in the 9/30/04 report. And that therefore that figure for the 9/30/04 period–higher than any period save the actual trial period–includes activities that took place earlier. Let’s just say half that cost reflects February and March grand jury interviews. That still means roughly half a million dollars in personnel costs–well over a quarter of all total personnel costs–was spent obtaining the testimony of primary journalist witnesses. (Though note: given the logic that it may take more than a month for charges to clear, there will probably be significant charges reported in the period ending 9/30/07.)

I’m sure people will use that factoid in a variety of ways, both to criticize and celebrate Fitzgerald. But the next time some media outlet talks about the expensive Fitzgerald investigation, you might point out that it was expensive largely because of the media outlets.

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Marcy Wheeler aka Emptywheel is an American journalist whose reporting specializes in security and civil liberties.