YOU HEAR A LOT about the letdown yesterday of “just Libby” and non “substantive” charges in the what is now the PlameOut prosecution. Oh, and the White Knight of Democrat and Liberal Hopes Patrick Fitzgerald pulled up short of the dark castle. No Niger documents, no connection of some WHIG conspiracy, nothing to attach this prosecution to an “illegal war?” Wasn’t Patrick Fitzgerald supposed to be some Twenty first Century Eliot Ness come to take down the White House mob with guns ablazing? [Jason Zengerle/TNR]
Maybe Fitzgerald just has a very impressive poker face, but it sure seemed from his press conference that none of those things is now going to happen. Even the talk, earlier in the day, that Rove was now in an excruciating legal limbo seems like it was overblown. The five indictments against Libby appear to be the only indictments Fitzgerald is going to bring. It seems there's a good chance Rove is off the hook and an even better chance that everyone else is, as well. And since Fitzgerald's such a stickler for rules, it's doubtful we're ever going to get much of an accounting of what else, besides the charges he's laid out against Libby, he learned about the Bush administration's shenanigans in the course of this investigation. In other words, the whole notion that the Fitzgerald investigation was going to reveal how the Bush administration led us into Iraq now seems to have been completely wrong. Democrats wanted their own Ken Starr--a prosecutor who let his investigation metastasize and whose operation leaked like a sieve. Instead, they got Elliot Ness.
WE GOT ELIOT NESS Some guns blaze more quietly than a tommy gun, but are just as deadly. For all the desire for blood to go to ground and a full on gang war now, perhaps people forget Eliot Ness’s greatest victory came not in a headline grabbing shoot out, though the television show with a Winchell voice over would have you believe it. Eliot Ness took down Al Capone with an income evasion conviction, something not much substantive nor connective to murder and mayhem the mob made happen. MORE MAY HAPPEN than just the prosecution of Libby in these months to come and the White House breathes easier for this weekend at least. But who can doubt the White House looks the better now than it did when all these lies first were sprung? Libby isn’t going to go away and the dark story within the story within the story won’t either. As has been noted before, the White House so confident when controlling the narrative no longer has rein on all good word. And as each day passes, the sky grows no lighter and more hard rain will fall.
RECOMMENDED ADDITIONAL READING HOW TO TURN NESS'S BULLET TO BLANKS [Talk Left] If Libby doesn’t go to trial, few facts beyond those alleged in the indictment may enter the public record. If the true story comes out only in conversations with reporters, the administration will blame a liberal press and could succeed in containing much of the damage that full, public exposure of the facts would bring.
THE HERETIK AGREES such a course could work. Whether it will is another matter.