|BuzzFlash News Analysis|
November 1, 2005
|NEWS ANALYSIS ARCHIVES|
Look Closely at the Words of Patrick Fitzgerald
A BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
Look closely at the words of Patrick Fitzgerald from his press conference on October 28, 2005. Clearly, Valerie Plame Wilson was outed. No one has been charged with it - YET. If no one is ever charged with the outing, it will be because officers at the highest levels of the Bush administration were willing to lie under oath. So far, the lies of Scooter Libby are the ones most easily demonstrated - and prosecuted.
Some operative words and key phrases the prosecutor used:
Also, Mr. Fitzpatrick, on the gravity and scope of his mission:
And, on the First Amendment:
As to damage:
FITZGERALD: It was known that a CIA officer's identity was blown, it was known that there was a leak.
FITZGERALD: And given that national security was at stake, it was especially important that we find out accurate facts.
FITZGERALD: ... it's equally important that the witnesses who come before a grand jury, especially the witnesses who come before a grand jury who may be under investigation, tell the complete truth. It's especially important in the national security area. The laws involving disclosure of classified information in some places are very clear, in some places they're not so clear.
FITZGERALD: That brings us to the fall of 2003. When it was clear that Valerie Wilson's cover had been blown, investigation began.
FITZGERALD: Let me make clear there was nothing wrong with government officials discussing Valerie Wilson or Mr. Wilson or his wife and imparting the information to Mr. Libby.
FITZGERALD: He [Libby] was at the beginning of the chain of phone calls, the first official to disclose this information outside the government to a reporter. And then he lied about it afterwards, under oath and repeatedly.
FITZGERALD: And as you sit back, you want to learn: Why was this information going out? Why were people taking this information about Valerie Wilson and giving it to reporters?
FITZGERALD: So what you were saying is the harm in an obstruction investigation is it prevents us from making the fine judgments we want to make.
FITZGERALD: I also want to take away from the notion that somehow we should take an obstruction charge less seriously than a leak charge.
FITZGERALD: This is a very serious matter and compromising national security information is a very serious matter. But the need to get to the bottom of what happened and whether national security was compromised by inadvertence, by recklessness, by maliciousness is extremely important. We need to know the truth. And anyone who would go into a grand jury and lie, obstruct and impede the investigation has committed a serious crime.
FITZGERALD: I can say that for the people who work at the CIA and work at other places, they have to expect that when they do their jobs that classified information will be protected. And they have to expect that when they do their jobs, that information about whether or not they are affiliated with the CIA will be protected.
FITZGERALD: And they run a risk when they work for the CIA that something bad could happen to them, but they have to make sure that they don't run the risk that something bad is going to happen to them from something done by their own fellow government employees.
QUESTION: Mr. Fitzgerald, the Republicans previewed some talking points in anticipation of your indictment and they said that if you didn't indict on the underlying crimes and you indicted on things exactly like you did indict -- false statements, perjury, obstruction -- these were, quote/unquote, technicalities, and that it really was over reaching and excessive. And since, when and if they make those claims, now that you have indicted, you won't respond, I want to give you an opportunity now to respond to that allegation which they may make. It seems like that's the road they're going down.
FITZGERALD: I'll be blunt. That talking point won't fly. If you're doing a national security investigation, if you're trying to find out who compromised the identity of a CIA officer and you go before a grand jury and if the charges are proven -- because remember there's a presumption of innocence -- but if it is proven that the chief of staff to the vice president went before a federal grand jury and lied under oath repeatedly and fabricated a story about how he learned this information, how he passed it on, and we prove obstruction of justice, perjury and false statements to the FBI, that is a very, very serious matter.
QUESTION: The indictment describes Lewis Libby giving classified information concerning the identify of a CIA agent to some individuals who were not eligible to receive that information. Can you explain why that does not, in and of itself, constitute a crime?
FITZGERALD: That's a good question. And I think, knowing that he gave the information to someone who was outside the government, not entitled to receive it, and knowing that the information was classified, is not enough.
FITZGERALD: You need to know at the time that he transmitted the information, he appreciated that it was classified information, that he knew it or acted, in certain statutes, with recklessness. And that is sort of what gets back to my point. In trying to figure that out, you need to know what the truth is.
FITZGERALD: So our allegation is in trying to drill down and find out exactly what we got here, if we received false information, that process is frustrated. But at the end of the day, I think I want to say one more thing, which is: When you do a criminal case, if you find a violation, it doesn't really, in the end, matter what statute you use if you vindicate the interest.
FITZGERALD: If Mr. Libby is proven to have done what we've alleged -- convicting him of obstruction of justice, perjury and false statements -- very serious felonies -- will vindicate the interest of the public in making sure he's held accountable. It's not as if you say, Well, this person was convicted but under the wrong statute.
FITZGERALD: If you're going to have a grand jury investigation into the improper disclosure of national security information and you're going to have someone in the position Mr. Libby is lying to the FBI on two occasions and going before a grand jury on two occasions and telling false testimony and obstructing the investigation, that, to me, defines a serious breach of the public trust.
QUESTION: Just to go back to your comments about the damage that was done by disclosing Valerie Wilson's identify, there are some critics who have suggested that she was not your traditional covert agent in harm's way, that she was working, essentially, a desk job at Langley. Just to answer those critics, can you elaborate on, aside from the fact that some of her neighbors may now know that she was -- and the country, for that matter -- that she was a CIA officer, what jeopardy, what harm was there by disclosing her identity?
FITZGERALD: I will say this. I won't touch the specific damage assessment of what specific damage was caused by her compromise -- I won't touch that with a 10-foot pole. I'll let the CIA speak to that, if they wish or not.
A BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS