Or, perhaps, Fractured Political Fairy Tales. I couldn't decide on the title.
U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald prosecuted the Lewis Scooter Libby case. That was the case where Dick Cheney's office orchestrated the outing of CIA agent, Valerie Plame. Cheney's office had Ms. Plame outed at the time to scare any other potential whistleblower's in the CIA, or other intelligence outfits, away from coming forward in 2003 to explain how Cheney had ginned up the fraudulent stories about Saddam Hussein and Iraq being an imminent danger to the U.S.
Fitzgerald, it was said at the time, was a "bulldog", having successfully prosecuted organized crime.
When Patrick Fitzgerald arrested former Illinois Governor, Rod Blagojevich in December, 2008....I took issue with not only the timing of the arrest, but also with Fitzgerald's rhetoric.....
Fitzgerald described the situation by saying: “We were in the middle of a corruption crime spree and we wanted to stop it.”
U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald says the corruption charges against Gov. Blagojevich represent “a truly new low,” and he says the allegations “would make Lincoln roll over in his grave.”
“This is a sad day for government,” he said at a news conference with federal prosecutors to discuss the arrest of Blagojevich. “Gov. Blagojevich has taken us to a truly new low."
Fitzgerald called Blagojevich's actions in the last several weeks as “a political corruption crime spree.”
Yesterday, Rod Blagojevich was found guilty on one count.....out of 24 counts brought against him.
Blago was found guilty of making a false statement to the FBI. Even that count is pretty weak tea. The jury was deadlocked on the other 23 charges. The judge declared a mistrial on those 23 counts. The U.S. prosecutor's office immediately announced that they would retry the case.
TPM calls the verdict a "huge defeat" for Patrick Fitzgerald. But then, Fitzgerald is the guy who permitted Karl Rove to come back and testify to the grand jury investigating the Plame case....5 times.....presumably to paper over the lies from the previous four testimonies. Fitzgerald is the guy who stated that there was a "dark cloud" hanging over the office of Vice President Dick Cheney over the Plame outing.....but bulldog or not.....Fitzgerald never went snarling after the architect of the Plame outing crime.
When Blago was arrested, I mentioned that it seemed like Fitzgerald was acting pre-emptively......before any crime was committed. George Bush and Dick Cheney convinced Americans in 2003 that pre-emptive wars.....the U.S. attacking another country BEFORE that country is an actual threat.....was the new way forward after 9-11, because
"everything had changed."
Patrick Fitzgerald, it was argued, arrested Blago pre-emptively, because Blago was about to sell the Senate seat vacated by President Obama. See...it was an emergency. Just like WMD in Iraq.
It's odd though. Old Abe was rolling in his grave because Governor Blago was in the midst of such an extensive crime spree.....so extensive and so egregious that Fitzgerald categorized it as a new low from government officials.
How egregious? How extensive?....
"We didn't even put a defense up, and the government could not prove its case," Blago said.
Fitzgerald's case against Governor Blagojevich was so overflowing with evidence of corruption and criminal scheming.....the U.S. prosecutor bemoaned that it marked a "new low" in government corruption.
Yet, when it came time to actually, you know, prosecute those "new low" crimes.....Blago didn't even have to put up a defense. That's how miserably weak Fitzgerald's case against Blago actually was.
Fitzgerald said something else back in December of 2008 when he arrested Governor Blagojevich. Something which led me at the time to speculate that Fitzgerald may have had other motives for arresting Blago when he did.
The head of the FBI office in Chicago said if Illinois isn’t the most corrupt state in the United States, it’s a strong competitor.
Reframe the timing. Barack Obama, Illinois Senator, was elected to the presidency the first week of November, 2008. Less than four weeks later, a U.S. prosecutor announced the worst elected-official-conducted crime spree in history. That official just happened to also be from Illinois..... Governor Rod Blagojevich. So bad was the crime spree by the Illinois Governor..... the same Illinois that President-elect Barack Obama hailed from.....that it marked a new low. So bad that it made Abe Lincoln, also from Illinois, roll over in his grave. So bad that the crime spree had to be pre-emptively interrupted.....or Obama's old seat would be tainted.
So bad that the Village immediately began asking the Very Serious and Professional question.....will this damage President Obama before he even takes office?
And yet.....so bad that Governor Blagojevich didn't even have to present a defense....so bad that the jury couldn't agree to convict Blago on even one of the original charges.
I still maintain today that Governor Blagojevich didn't do anything out of the ordinary for today's elected officials. Paying to play, influence peddling, bribes by other names, sweetheart deals, arm twisting, leveraging power........is what American elected officials do.
And any U.S. Attorney, bulldog or not, who tries to tell you otherwise, is simply putting on his own little personal, political theater.
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