Fitzgerald, the “overzealous prosecutor”

As indictments loom imminent, the Republicans are scrambling to get their talking points down pat, and it appears their strategy is simple and straighforward.

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.”

Where are those Republicans who six years ago were salivating over the impeachment of Bill Clinton for the exact same “technicality” as described by Hutchinson? Since when was perjury and obstruction of justice a technicality?

And if they try to portray Fitz as an out-of-control, activist prosecutor, they may have a bit of trouble. Even the Queen of Darkness Michelle Maglalang is repulsed by Hutchinson’s implication that Fitzgerald will indict simply for the sake of doing so.

Um, has anyone suggested that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is a “gotcha” kind of guy who would throw away his good reputation by pursuing “technicalities” instead of “real” crimes? I haven’t heard anyone on our side suggest anything of the kind. Andrew McCarthy, a former U.S. attorney and NRO contributor whose opinion I have the highest respect for, said this about his former co-worker Fitzgerald (via MSNBC):

“He’s a pit bull and he’s also the best and most honorable guy I know. I think that the country is in good hands having this particular investigation, in particular in his hands.”

I’ll take McCarthy’s first-hand knowledge over Sen. Hutchison’s insinuations.

But for the ultimate in sheer hypocrisy, check out what Hutchinson herself had to say about perjury and presidents back in 1999, when the president was a Democrat. You literally won’t believe the brazen double standard.

I don’t think this sort of talking-points-based whisper campaign will get very far this time. Those days appear to be over – the days when Karen Hughes and Karl Rove could set the world on fire with a magical meme (Kerry lied about Christmas in Cambodia! McCain had an illegitimate black Child! Arlene Richards, a grandmother, is a lesbian!). With Katrina, Iraq, Harriet Miers and Plamegate exploding over their heads, the media has stopped being afraid, and are finally doing their jobs. Fitzgerald’s record as a selfless, diligent, non-partisan prosecutor is simply too outstanding, and instead of regurgitating the lies they are fed (as they did with the Iraqi mushroom cloud BS), the reporters are going to challenge and expose them. I really think it’s come to that; there’s been a tipping point, a seismic shift, and the ditry tricks of yesteryear simply won’t work. And it doesn’t say much for our media that they allowed this crap to go on for the past five years.

This post has sort of rambled, so apologies if it lacks my usual tighter-than-a-noose coherence. I’ve been writing it in bits and pieces throughout the afternoon.

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