WHAT WOULD FITZ DO?
Given the revelations over the weekend that the government is back in the business of spying on American citizens, and the gauntlet-throwing admission by Bush that he authorized such action, and would do it again, the question now is, who can reign in this outlaw administration, and who can do it before any more damage is done. My answer to that question is: Patrick Fitzgerald.
Sadly, the Special Prosecutor's mandate does not include violations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which criminalizes domestic spying, but count me among those who believe that this straight-shooting, law-enforcing, righteous American hero was probably one of the most shocked, and possibly even outraged, recipients of the news that our President believes he is above the law. As Fitzgerald has already concluded, this attitude of arrogance and nose-thumbing is endemic in the Bush White House. It manifests itself in the leaking of national security information and in the belief that truth and the rule of law are considered dispensable by the current occupants of the White House.
Fitzgerald already knows that Libby and Rove lie when it suits them (and, of course, we all know that Bush, Rice, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al. have a history of doing so as well), and that they regard the law as something that applies to them only when they decide it does. He also knows that Cheney was in the Plame leak up to his ears, and that he knew, when he told Libby about Plame's employment, that she was a covert CIA operative (Paragraph 9 of the Libby Indictment). Whether Fitzgerald has enough now, with the benefit of his second grand jury (and remember, I predicted that he wasn't finished when he announced his first go-round of indictments -- to modify the Libby indictment, or to indict Rove and/or Cheney, he clearly has the power to send an arrow through the lying heart of the renegade White House. An indictment of Rove, even if it's only for lying to federal agents and/or to a grand jury, will burst the balloon inflated by the hubris of an administration that recognizes no strictures on its conduct, legal or otherwise.
Remember, too, that we still don't know what Fitzgerald knows about Bob Novak's source for the leak which first appeared in his column, and set off the firestorm that culminated with Fitzgerald's appointment. But, we now have a clue about that, given Novak's surprising revelation that Bush knows who his source was, raising the possibility that Bush himself may have been involved in the leak, and if so, that he may have some criminal responsibility for breaking that law. And while Bush can't be indicted by a grand jury, he can certainly be named an unindicted co-conspirator, which is, after all, the treatment Cheney received in the Libby indictment.
Given that the Republican congress has shown itself to be nothing more than a rubber stamp for Bush's policies, whether it was treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo, sweetheart contracts with Halliburton, kissing the oil companies' butts or the other demonstrable excesses of this administration, there is absolutely no reason to believe the congress will be any more effective at reigning in, much less holding to account, the Bush domestic wiretapping program. This is especially so given that some congressional leaders were, in fact, informed of this illegal program and did nothing to stop it. The last thing we need here is another congressional show hearing, as Senator Specter is promising to do.
Mr. Fitzpatrick, where are you now that we need you?