Last Friday, Pat Fitzgerald announced five counts of indictment against one person, Scooter Libby, charging "Cheney's Cheney" with lying under oath. It's a start, and so I am trying to restrain my anger and withhold excessive criticism until Fitzgerald finishes his work -- just in case more charges are to follow. Perhaps, as many believe, we're still early in the game and justice will eventually prevail. I want to believe that, but I am not convinced.
Maybe it's not Fitzgerald's fault he could not, after nearly two years, find incriminating evidence on anyone else in the inner circle. Maybe the grand jury was uncooperative and refused to indict others, although that's unlikely. Maybe with Libby's indictment, Fitzgerald is shaking the tree for higher fruit. Maybe he already has sealed guilty pleas from other parties who are remaining silent for personal or legal reasons. But right now I see little indication that anyone other than Libby is facing legal consequences for endangering the nation's security.
I was looking for Fitzgerald to offer a higher level of certainty that the wheels of justice are turning. Instead, he offered a baseball analogy of an umpire blinded by sand in the face. Well, surprise! Getting the truth out of professional liars is never easy. But that was the assignment, after all.
Fitzgerald sees himself not as captain of the opposition team, but as the game's umpire. Isn't that the job of the courts? To push the analogy one step too far, perhaps, the prosecutor's game looks more like softball than baseball. And if he were the batter and not the umpire, his first at bat would look more like a walk or, at best, a base hit -- but certainly not a home run.
One would hope that for the next few weeks, at least, the Fitzgerald team would give the Plame case its fully focused attention. Based on comments made at the press conference, they've apparently been moonlighting for the past twenty-two months:
I'm trying to let the public know that we're trying to do our job responsibly, we're trying to do things as quickly as we can, and we want to get things wrapped up.Does this statement provide an explanation for the fact that Wilson's neighbors were finally interviewed the last week of the grand jury's term? Was the timing of the interviews part of some grand strategy, or did it show a lack of timely attention to fundamental details? What other loose ends remain? Have too many team members been distracted by their "full-time" jobs?
I've got plenty of other cases. I've got a full-time job. Jack has a full-time job in Philadelphia. My full-time job is in Chicago. Everyone working on this case has another full-time job.
So we want to get this resolved, but I'm trying to give you just a brief read out on where we are without compromising anything on the grand jury.
I continue to hope that our trust in Fitzgerald will be justified, yet my confidence was weakened by Friday's shortage of indictments. Weeks ago, I named the people I thought could be indicted -- Cheney, Rove, Libby, Bolton and possibly others. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but I do not believe that the need for justice in full measure, in a case this important, can be exaggerated.
Now is not the time for softball: the country can't afford another failure. So come on, Mr. Prosecutor, pitch a few fast balls and let a judge and jury call the balls and strikes and fouls. America needs you.