Sep 02 2006

NY Times Turns On Fitzgerald

Published by at 1:16 am under All General Discussions,Plame Game

Special Prosecutor Fitz-Magoo (Fitzgergald) has had his staunchest ally, the NY Times, turn on him and now question his professionalism:

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.

Now, the question of whether Mr. Fitzgerald properly exercised his prosecutorial discretion in continuing to pursue possible wrongdoing in the case has become the subject of rich debate on editorial pages and in legal and political circles.

I posted on the deceptions in Fitzgeralds press conference, where he announced the indictments of Scooter Libby, his falsehoods in his submission to the United States Supreme Court, and those in his submission to the District Court of Appeals where he forced the testimony of reporters under the threat of jail and actual jail time for the NY Times’ Judith Miller. So is Fitzgerald now in trouble because he not only did not deliver on Fitzmas, he duped the media and forced them to give up too much for his lame investigation? The NY Times does not seem to be impressed with what they bought for the price of losing some media perks.

Mr. Fitzgerald’s decision to prolong the inquiry once he took over as special prosecutor in December 2003 had significant political and legal consequences. The inquiry seriously embarrassed and distracted the Bush White House for nearly two years and resulted in five felony charges against Mr. Libby, even as Mr. Fitzgerald decided not to charge Mr. Armitage or anyone else with crimes related to the leak itself.

Moreover, Mr. Fitzgerald’s effort to find out who besides Mr. Armitage had spoken to reporters provoked a fierce battle over whether reporters could withhold the identities of their sources from prosecutors and resulted in one reporter, Judith Miller, then of The New York Times, spending 85 days in jail before agreeing to testify to a grand jury.

Since this week’s disclosures about Mr. Armitage’s role, Bush administration officials have argued that because the original leak came from a State Department official, it was clear there had been no concerted White House effort to disclose Ms. Wilson’s identity.

Yes, the NY Times spent a lot of money and allowed their reporter to be jailed for absolutely nothing. Is reality finally becoming clear to the NY Times.? Do they now understand that they put all their hopes and aspirations into one Joe Wilson who was nothing but a blowhard fraud? Maybe. But it seems the NY Times is realizing Fitzgerald milked this for all it was worth:

Mr. Armitage cooperated voluntarily in the case, never hired a lawyer and testified several times to the grand jury, according to people who are familiar with his role and actions in the case. He turned over his calendars, datebooks and even his wife’s computer in the course of the inquiry, those associates said. But Mr. Armitage kept his actions secret, not even telling President Bush because the prosecutor asked him not to divulge it, the people said.

So now it was Fitzgerald that kept a muzzle on Armitage? Not likely. As I pointed out in an earlier post, the Armitage alibi doesn’t hold up even to casual scutiny. The problem? All of Armitage’s excuses do not address how he knew about Plame nearly a month earlier when he divulged the same “gossip” to Bob Woodward:

Mr. Armitage spoke with Mr. Novak on July 8, 2003, those familiar with Mr. Armitage’s actions said. Mr. Armitage did not know Mr. Novak, but agreed to meet with the columnist as a favor for a mutual friend, Kenneth M. Duberstein, a White House chief of staff during Ronald Reagan’s administration. At the conclusion of a general foreign policy discussion, Mr. Armitage said in reply to a question that Ms. Wilson might have had a role in arranging her husband’s trip to Niger.

Note the complete lack of addressing the Woodward meeting on June 13th, with the Novak meeting occuring on July 8th. The fact the NY Times is not addressing possible earlier exposures is because their own Nicholas Kristof, the front man for two Wilson diatribes against the Bush administration in May and June, had two sources to Wilson’s debriefing to the CIA about his trip. One source was Wilson. But the other source was never identified. Interestingly enough, the Senate determined that only 4 people attended that debriefing since it was held at the Wilsons’ home. Val, Joe and two CIA DO agents. The DO agents have testified under oath to details inconsistent with the articles written by Kristof – specifically the role of the Niger forgeries in Wilson’s report to the CIA upon returning from Niger. That leaves the only two possible sources that would confirm tthe details in the Kristof articles to be Val and Joe Wilson! Now who is going to question Fitzgerald and why his investigation missed this obvious detail?

Update: Check out Squiggler’s post for a good round up of other opinions on this article.

Update: Tom Maguire’s insights here.

Update: Clarice Feldman has a good piece here at American Thinker

14 responses so far

14 Responses to “NY Times Turns On Fitzgerald”

  1. Squiggler says:

    The fat lady sings the final refrain for Plamegate … (includes link round up)…

    Although they do not take responsibility for their own part in the Wilson/Plame scandal nor detail the genesis of the whole scandal as one cooked up by the Kerry Campaign using Wilson as their willing front man, the Washington Post does sing the final …

  2. clarice says:

    Very well done, AJ. They sure are sweet on Armitage in this bit. Why? And they sure seem to miss their role in this, don’t they?

  3. Tinian says:

    Thanks AJ. This has been a bit too convoluted for me to keep straight over the years.

    I think the Washington Post and NY Times have finally seen the writing on the wall and are subtly suggesting to Fitzgerald to drop the charges against Libby (and the Wilsons to end their civil suit) before members of the press have to give sworn testimony.

    It’s fun to see the press throw the Fitzgerald and the Wilsons under the bus now that they’re no longer of any use. And the timing (right before the election) couldn’t be better.

  4. MerlinOS2 says:


    I still think that many posts back about this whole affair, you hit on the one real question mark in this whole affair. It is not Joe or Val or any of the other named people in this spin and gin passionplay.

    You at one time questioned and I have tried in vain to research a composite history of what the heck happened in Niger while all this stuff was going on.

    I did manage to come up with some tantalizing bits hinted at in foreign press about spectulation of “abandoned” mines being worked for illicit yellowcake transactions, but have never been able to get a firm grip on the mysterious transfer of power in Niger that occured in this same timeframe.

    I sourced many international newspapers and commentary sites and think tank papers and still can’t even get a composit picture of what the chain of events were.

    It is a suprising info vaccum that crys out with a don’t look at me, there is nothing here to see mantra.

  5. AJStrata says:


    The lack of news about the power transfer is what has me convinced it was something ‘special’. Wilson went back to Niger in 2000 for a celebration of the new Democratic government – nothing nowhere in the english press about this gala. That seems completely wrong for a new, fledgling democracy in Africa.

  6. elendil says:

    Good work, AJ. Have you taken a look at Fred Barnes’ piece at Weekly Standard? People still need to take a much closer look at the role played by DoJ. Ashcroft is being raked over the coals for craven behavior, but what would have been easier than to assume his favorite position–in front of a microphone–and tell the assembled that he had a confession? No need for an outsider to be brought in. And then Armitage (and Powell) could have fielded the questions. However, if you dig deeper you’ll discover that (as Byron York has said) there was indeed a war going on between DoJ and the White House–and most particularly with the Office of the VP, where Libby and Cheney’s very influential counsel, David Addington worked. These were important guys in the legal wing of the war on terror, and Comey–Fitz’s buddy from NY–was Ashcroft’s deputy and in opposition to the legal hawks. Comey’s opposition to Addington and others is well documented, if little remarked.

    Question: could the appointment of Fitz have been a tactical move in the war on the legal war on terror? Inquiring minds want to know. Comey claimed to be taking the legal high ground in his opposition, but what kind of legal high ground sanctioned a patently unconstitutional delegation of powers and an equally patently false “ESP” affidavit–you know, Fitz and I never discussed supervision or oversight but we had this mental understanding. Uh-huh. And my dog ate the homework.

  7. MerlinOS2 says:


    From what I gathered we have the case of a dictator replaced by a military takeover, with few shots fired, who then offered up the country for a democratically elected new guy in very short order. And this is a country that had slim experience with elections, much less being able to organize and hold them in such a short timeframe. And you take into account this is in an area where a hanging chad usually means a real reference to a rope and not a punch card situation.
    Nope I am with you, this was something “special”, it has all the earmarks.

  8. MerlinOS2 says:


    We also have to take into account the presence at State of Marc Grossman who had served if memory is correct in the area of Turkey along with old Joe being posted in the same area.

    Also Joe met Val while as a WMD snooper she was taking a look see at a Turkish based influence group in the region, if you believe the press.

    Lots of wheels within wheels in play here.

  9. Sensible Mom says:

    NYT Publishes Plame Article Questioning Fitzgerald…

    Will they admit as the Washington Post did yestersday that Joe Wilson is a liar? Will the admit they bought his story hook, line and sinker?

    Will they write multiple exposes with breathless headlines about his libelous attempt to discredit the Bush…

  10. elendil says:

    Merlin, all very true: the State – CIA connection was absolutely essential for constructing the legend that got this whole thing going. But without a compliant DoJ the whole thing would have vanished into the thin air from which it arose. Armitage’s relationship with the whole Fitzgerald camp is quite interesting, since he apparently never felt that he was in any legal jeopardy. Could he have been, in essence, an informant for Fitzgerald, providing insights about the inner workings of the White House, who spoke to what reporters, tittle-tattle about reactions to various Special Prosecutorial actions, and so forth. Such information could have generated investigative leads that might help Fitz weave a circumstantial case that would increase pressure on, say, Libby to cooperate in a direction that served Fitz’ purposes. None of that would have happened if DoJ hadn’t 1) withheld the truth from the President and 2) appointed a Special Prosecutor with extra constitutional powers.

  11. elendil says:

    Over at JOM people are still expressing puzzlement at the lenience with which Fitz treated Armitage, especially with regard to Armitage withholding his contacts with Woodward (and not releasing Woodward to discuss those contacts). Try this out: Armitage is a highly skilled bureaucratic infighter with many years of experience; he probably had a pretty good feel for the type of information that Fitz would not want to know. While it may have been embarrassing for Fitz when Woodward was finally able to come forward in Summer 2006, imagine what the effect on his investigation would have been if Woodward had been allowed to go public in, say, January 2003! Because those contacts were even earlier than those with Novak, I believe the effect on the investigation would have been devestating–Fitz would have been pretty hard pressed to ethically justify and continue with his Grand Jury investigation under those circumstances. Much better to maintain at least a fig leaf of deniability. As it is, it’s pretty clear that throughout the investigation Fitz was being careful to avoid receiving testimony about contacts with Armitage, as for example was probably the case with Miller.

  12. elendil says:

    Sorry for the typos–I meant January, 2004 (not 2003), right after Fitz was appointed: “imagine what the effect on his investigation would have been if Woodward had been allowed to go public in, say, January 2004!” And regarding the SP’s powers I should have spelled it with a hyphen: extra-constitutional.

  13. The Bozo’s At The New York Times…

    Fitzgerald used his position to vindictively disparage the Bush administration. He knew who the originally leaker was from the start but decided to ignore the truth in his crusade against the Administration. If anyone should be up on the stand testif…

  14. Barbara says:

    The New York Times threw Fitzgerald under the bus rather than everyone ele in their camp. It was easier and more face saving than to say Joe Wilson fooled us all this time. The New York Times is learning we reap what we sow. I doubt if they will ever recover from all their missteps with anyone but the left.