John Dean is a cautious and pessimistic about the Special Prosecutor:
While I may be letting the air out of some rising balloons, I think Fitzgerald’s silence has fed speculation that postulates indictments way beyond the realistic potentials.
The really big fish in this case is the Vice President. And I have little doubt, based on my knowledge of the case, and of the way Cheney typically operates, that a case could be made against him.
But Fitzgerald is an experienced prosecutor, and that means only if he found himself confronted with an exceptionally egregious case (the equivalent of Spiro Agnew’s taking payoffs from Maryland contractors in his Vice Presidential Office), would Fitzgerald consider indicting Vice President Dick Cheney.
Meanwhile, James Moore (author of “Bush’s Brain,” a book about Karl Rove), thinks this is The Most Important Criminal Case in American History, well bigger than Watergate, because he thinks Karl Rove is responsible for the so-called ‘Yellowcake Forgery’:
Patrick Fitzgerald has before him the most important criminal case in American history. Watergate, by comparison, was a random burglary in an age of innocence. The investigators prosecutorial authority in this present case is not constrained by any regulation. If he finds a thread connecting the leak to something greater, Fitzgerald has the legal power to follow it to the web in search of the spider. It seems unlikely, then, that he would simply go after the leakers and the people who sought to cover up the leak when it was merely a secondary consequence of the much greater crime of forging evidence to foment war. Fitzgerald did not earn his reputation as an Irish alligator by going after the little guy. Presumably, he is trying to find evidence that Karl Rove launched a covert operation to create the forged documents and then conspired to out Valerie Plame when he learned the fraud was being uncovered by Plames husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson. As much as this sounds like the plot of a John le Carre novel, it also comports with the profile of the Karl Rove I have known, watched, traveled with and written about for the past 25 years.
I think Dean puts a little too much weight on the theory that (apparent) purity of motive might save the day for some under investigation. That’s very close to the theory that was supposed to excuse Watergate. I don’t think it will wash this time either.
But I disagree with Moore too: I think if Fitzgerald doesn’t indict, or doesn’t indict higher-ups, many people will accept it. I for one am prepared to give Fitzgerald the benefit of the doubt unless it seems very likely that foot soldiers are unfairly taking the rap to protect their bosses. And, strange at it may sound to conservatives, while I think Democrats should as a matter of tactics be prepared to milk any indictments for all they are worth, I personally will take no joy from the fact of them. It would actually be preferable — if it were the truth and not a smokescreen — to find out that the Plame leak was a rogue operation by someone rather than a concerted strategy by a gang of goons. There would be no joy, rather the reverse, in learning that one’s fears that the nation is indeed run by a gang of goons could be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
Moore does remind us of an interesting question: someone faked those documents that claimed to show Iraq was dealing to get uranium. Who faked the papers that surfaced in Italy has never been explained. But Moore’s answer seems based on the theory that nothing is beyond the power of Rove, and it will take more than that to get me to believe the false documents were a US government disinformation operation (aimed at the US public) run out of Rove’s office with the Scooter & Co. as the cut-outs.
If that were true it would indeed be the crime of the century, but I think Moore has mislaid his skepticism. If I had to pick a prime suspect for the forgery, I’d say it was the Iranians, perhaps via their triple-agent Chalabi. History may show that the Iranian’s use of Chalabi to get the US to attack their regional enemy was the greast spy ploy in history since the Germans put Lenin on a train to Russia. It seems at least as likely that the neo-cons were duped by crude forgeries because they wanted to believe them. (Worse than a crime, a blunder.)