Very special counsel

What Did Fitzgerald Know and When Did He Know It? is James Taranto’s question based on a NY Times story that “hints at the possibility of prosecutorial misconduct in the Valerie Plame” case.  He quotes:

An enduring mystery of the C.I.A. leak case has been solved in recent days, but with a new twist: Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the prosecutor, knew the identity of the leaker from his very first day in the special counsel's chair, but kept the inquiry open for nearly two more years before indicting I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, on obstruction charges.

This national story is of keen interest here in Chicago, where Fitzgerald has been wielding a mighty swift sword of Justice Dept. anti-corruption activity.  Now, says NYT, there is “rich debate” about how he handled the Plame-leak business. 

Some say he “behaved much as did the independent counsels of the 1980's and 1990's who often failed to bring down their quarry on official misconduct charges but pursued highly nuanced accusations of a cover-up,” says NYT.

Armitage the Leaker would have resigned when he saw the Novak column that set things percolating, knowing he had goofed, but didn’t because it would have blown his cover.  He didn’t even tell Bush, after huddling with Colin Powell and the head State Dept. lawyer with the historic name of William H. (my guess it’s for Howard) Taft IV.

He kept Bush in the dark “because [Fitzgerald] asked him not to divulge it,” says NYT, blind-sourcing.  Taranto is not pleased:

It seems that Fitzgerald and the State Department covered up a noncrime, and the effect was to keep alive the illusion that it was a crime. We won't speculate about the prosecutor's motives, but the more we hear about the case, the clearer it is that the whole thing stinks.

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