Thursday, May 11, 2006

Prosecution for the Prosecutor's Sake

The perjury case against Scooter Libby continues to grow more absurd by the day. Byron York details just how:
Perhaps the key moment in the descent happened last February in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton. Fitzgerald was there, along with the Libby defense team.

Libby’s lawyers had asked Fitzgerald to produce evidence that Valerie Plame Wilson was a covert agent at the CIA. They had also asked for an assessment of the damage, if any, caused by the exposure of her identity.

In papers filed with the court, Fitzgerald refused both requests. Now, in the courtroom, Judge Walton wanted to hear Fitzgerald’s reasons.

“Does the government intend to introduce any evidence that would relate to either damage or potential damage that the alleged revelations by Mr. Libby caused, or do you intend to introduce any evidence related to Ms. Wilson’s status and whether it was classified or she was in a covert status or anything of that nature?” Walton asked.

“We don’t intend to offer any proof of actual damage,” Fitzgerald said. “We’re not going to get into whether that would occur or not. It’s not part of the perjury statute.” [...]

“We are trying a perjury case,” Fitzgerald said. “If she turned out to be a postal driver mistaken for a CIA employee, it’s not a defense if you lie in a grand jury under oath about what you said.”

So there you have it. Not only does it not matter if the Valerie Plame Wilson leak did any damage, or no damage at all. It doesn’t even matter if Wilson even worked for the CIA. What Patrick Fitzgerald set out to investigate, the alleged politically motivated, deliberate exposure of a covert CIA agent, no longer matters.
The Plame game is further proof that prosecutors should not be tasked to investigate certain "special" offenses, because inevitably, if nothing is there, they continue pursuing things purely to keep their jobs. It's better to leave such efforts to someone whose salary gets paid for other prosecutorial work as well.