Monday, July 02, 2007

Statement of Special Counsel

Patrick Fitzgerald was born into a working-class Irish American-Catholic family in Brooklyn in 1960 and grew up in the Flatbush neighborhood. His father (also named Patrick Fitzgerald) worked as a doorman in Manhattan. Fitzgerald attended Holy Cross grammar school, Our Lady Help of Christians grammar school, Regis High School, a prestigious Jesuit Catholic school in Manhattan, and received degrees in economics and mathematics from Amherst College before receiving his JD from Harvard Law School in 1985.

After practicing civil law, Fitzgerald became an Assistant United States Attorney in New York City in 1988. He handled drug-trafficking cases and in 1993 assisted in the prosecution of Mafia figure John Gotti, the boss of the Gambino crime family. In 1994, Fitzgerald became the prosecutor in the case against Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman and 11 others charged in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

In 1996, Fitzgerald became the National Security Coordinator for the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. There, he served on a team of prosecutors investigating Osama bin Laden. He also served as chief counsel in prosecutions related to the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

On September 1, 2001, Fitzgerald was nominated for the position of U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois on the recommendation of U.S. Senator Peter Fitzgerald (no relation), a Republican from Illinois. On October 24, 2001, the nomination was confirmed by the Senate.


Statement of Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald regarding today's decision by President Bush to commute the 30-month prison sentence of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby:

"We fully recognize that the Constitution provides that commutation decisions are a matter of presidential prerogative and we do not comment on the exercise of that prerogative.

We comment only on the statement in which the President termed the sentence imposed by the judge as "excessive." The sentence in this case was imposed pursuant to the laws governing sentencings which occur every day throughout this country. In this case, an experienced federal judge considered extensive argument from the parties and then imposed a sentence consistent with the applicable laws. It is fundamental to the rule of law that all citizens stand before the bar of justice as equals. That principle guided the judge during both the trial and the sentencing.

Although the President's decision eliminates Mr. Libby's sentence of imprisonment, Mr. Libby remains convicted by a jury of serious felonies, and we will continue to seek to preserve those convictions through the appeals process."

From the Federal Pardon Guidelines:

Sec. 1.3 Eligibility for filing petition for commutation of sentence.

No petition for commutation of sentence, including remission of fine, should be filed if other forms of judicial or administrative relief are available, except upon a showing of exceptional circumstances.


mikej said...

This begs some perspective:

First, let's dismiss Jesse Jackson Jr's absurd call for impeachment of the president based on his specious claims of "very serious crimes against the constitution of the United States" (love the small "C", by the way).

Article II of the Constitution gives the president broad and unreviewable power to grant "Reprieves and Pardons" for all offenses against the United States. The Supreme Court has ruled that the pardon power is granted "[t]o the [president] . . ., and it is granted without limit" (United States v. Klein).

You incorrectly conflate US Code with presidential powers conferred by the Constitution. Sec. 1.3 does not apply to the president--only to the petitioner and those filing on his behalf.

Let’s now look at Libby’s outrageous prosecution itself:

A Special Prosecutor is granted enormous powers, and with them immunities--well beyond those of US Attorneys, State Attorneys General and (local) prosecutors. So special is the position and so great are their prosecutory powers that the statute that created the position must be renewed by Congress in regular intervals. In summary, Fitzgerald's conduct would have resulted in filings of entrapment and other misconduct if he were not a SP.
What Fitzgerald did to Libby was not much different than what Mike Nifong did to the Duke lacrosse players. Just as Nifong suppressed exculpatory evidence, Fitzgerald found out not long after his investigation began that it was Richard Armitage--outspoken Bush detractor in the State Department--and not Libby--who had told Richard Novak about Valerie Plame. It was Armitage who divulged her identity to Novak and supplied and supplied him with the information that was included in the infamous "leak" story.

But…not only did Fitzgerald know that Libby was not the source of the so-called leak, but he also knew that the leak was not a criminal offense.

Fitzgerald never prosecuted Armitage for divulging her covert status because he knew neither she, nor the CIA, no longer maintained her covert status (Aldrich Ames blew her cover in the late 90’s when he identified her to his Russian handlers). In order for the divulgence of a CIA agent's identity to be a criminal offense, not only must the CIA have actively maintained cover, but the offender must have known of said agent's covert status. Libby, Armitage, and everyone in the State Department who worked with her knew she was no longer a covert agent.

Further, just months before the “leak” Plame allowed herself to be featured in a “Who’s Who” list in Washingtonian magazine, and she made political contributions to the Gore-Lieberman campaign under her own name and by listing her former front company as her employer.

Libby was exculpated from criminal wrongdoing the second prosecutor Fitzgerald discovered that he was not the source of the "leak". Yet he continued to investigate him for a crime he did not commit. This same conduct will eventually put Mike Nifong in jail.

The president did the right thing.

Tim Eby said...

The question that should be asked is, "What was the reason for Scooter lying to begin with?