Monday, October 31, 2005

Olson on Fitzgerald

Ted Olson is a legal giant who knows at first hand the importance of the war on terror. He just tagged the prosecutor targeting the administration as a political hitman.

Olson's wife, Barbara, died on AA Flight 77, the one that hit the Pentagon - she talked with her husband on her cell as she flew to her death. Olson is a brilliant jurist, winning 20 of the 23 Supreme Court case he's argued.

Here's what he has to say about prosecutor Fitzgerald (WSJ, subscription).

The man he has indicted, Lewis Libby, was investigated, along with numerous others, to see whether someone violated a law prohibiting the intentional disclosure of the classified identity of a covert intelligence agent who'd served as such outside the U.S. during the five years preceding disclosure.

Apparently he committed no such crime -- at least the indictment doesn't charge him with that. Instead, Mr. Fitzgerald asserts, he misled investigators and grand jurors about conversations he had with reporters regarding Ms. Plame and her husband Joseph Wilson, a former ambassador engaged in a bitter dispute with the administration over its justification for the Iraq war.

If special prosecutors can be empowered to investigate allegations of conduct that isn't first established to be criminal, and to interrogate witnesses -- especially reporters -- about memories of distant conversations with sources regarding conduct that isn't plainly criminal, there is no politically motivated allegation that can't be turned into a criminal cover-up.

So, regardless of how one might feel about the administration or the war in Iraq, the circumstances of this prosecution, and the involvement of reporters such as Tim Russert as prosecution witnesses, ought to give us occasion to pause and consider the implications of Mr. Fitzgerald's redefinition of "Meet the Press."

If Olson says Fitzgerald is a political hitman, he is, and the administration can respond accordingly.