No one really noticed, but Patrick Fitzgerald made an unassailable point last week about the timing of the indictment that his CIA leak investigation has produced so far.If Time magazine's Matt Cooper and The New York Times' Judy Miller, along with their employers, hadn't fought against Fitgerald's supoenas in the name of protecting sources, the results of the 2004 Presidential Election could very well have been different. Swing voters upset about Bush administration corruption easily could have tipped the balance in Kerry's favor.
''I would have wanted nothing better," he said, ''that when the subpoenas were issued in August of 2004, witnesses testified then, and we would have been here in October of 2004 instead of October of 2005."
E. J. Dionne of the Washington Post explains the idea behind the ruse and how it succeeded:
As long as Bush still faced the voters, the White House wanted Americans to think that officials such as Libby, Karl Rove and Vice President Cheney had nothing to do with the leak campaign to discredit its arch-critic on Iraq, former ambassador Joseph Wilson.In the Los Angeles Times , Robert Scheer takes the media accomplices to task:
And Libby, the good soldier, pursued a brilliant strategy to slow the inquiry down. As long as he was claiming that journalists were responsible for spreading around the name and past CIA employment of Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, Libby knew that at least some news organizations would resist having reporters testify. The journalistic "shield" was converted into a shield for the Bush administration's coverup.
It is deeply disturbing that the public was left uninformed about such key information because of the posturing of news organizations that claimed to be upholding the free-press guarantee of the 1st Amendment. As Fitzgerald rightly pointed out, "I was not looking for a 1st Amendment showdown." Nor was one necessary, if reporters had fulfilled their obligation to inform the public, as well as the grand jury, as to what they knew of a possible crime by a government official.Some say time is the most precious resource. Libby consumed enough of Fitzgerald's time to keep his man in the White House for four more years. While many in the mainstream media report on the details of Libby's indictment and its implications, few acknowledge that the worst damage was done twelve months ago. Tricky Dick Nixon would be proud.
How odd for the press to invoke the Constitution's prohibition against governmental abridgement of the rights of a free press in a situation in which a top White House official exploited reporters in an attempt to abridge an individual's right to free speech.
(also posted to HermesNews.Net)