Monday, August 01, 2005

Patrick Fitzgerald's reappointment as U.S. Attorney

Murray Waas at whatever already!has weighed in on a recent topic of interest in the blogosphere. Namely, the idea being floated that Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S. Attorney from Chicago and more importantly, the Special Prosecutor investigating et al. for the outing of CIA covert operative Valerie Wilson, may not be reappointed by the Bush administration to a further term as U.S. Attorney for Chicago when his term as U.S. Attorney is up in the fall. Waas indicates as follows:

I did speak to the people (at a high up enough level to know these things) at DOJ who say the likelihood of Fitzgerald not being appointed to a second term are between zero and slim.

If any prominent Republican, or Democrat, for that matter, were to lobby the White House that Fitzgerald not be reappointed, the move would appear to be (and might very well be in actuality) a blatantly political maneuver. But there is just no evidence that anything like that has been going on.

It would seem then that it is likely that Fitzgerald will be reapointed as U.S. Attorney. And that position in no way affects his status as Special Prosecutor in the Valerie Wilson affair.

Apparently all of the controversy over this issue stems from alleged "pressures" on House Speaker Dennis Hastert regarding Patrick Fitzgerald's future. Hastert denies these allegations, fanned principally by former U.S. Senator Peter Fitzgerald's comments, referenced here in the Chicago Sun Times, that he "feared for Patrick Fitzgerald's future because of his pursuit of official corruption...".

Perhaps this idea was floated by the former Senator to ensure that Patrick Fitzgerald remains in place as U.S. Attorney. His very public musings of concern for Patrick Fitzgerald's tenure may have the effect of immunizing that very tenure. Raising the possibility that political interference might be underfoot to oust Fitzgerald, by those being investigated, namely the Bush and Daley administrations, has the effect of shining a very bright light on all of these actors and any possible moves in Fitzgerald's direction. A little payback from the former Senator for the bad blood between him and the Republican machinery in Illinois and Washington? Maybe. Could be quite a clever and effective way of going about it too.

As for Bush daring to let Fitzgerald go without reappointment...the conventional wisdom appears to be that the blatant politics of it would dictate that he not do it. Me, I'm not so sure.

Nothing is conventional about Washington (or U.S.) politics anymore. There are legions of red staters who would back Bush on the move, as they would back him in anything he does. Bush's approval rating is reaching all time lows yet let's see how the special election in Ohio turns out on Tuesday. The Republican candidate looks pathetic and the Democrats are running a straight-shooting Iraq war veteran. If the Republicans win and get away with sliming this guy, it's one more brazen act they get away with. And one more reason to think they are capable of anything, including not reappointing a U.S. Attorney.

There is one-party rule in Washington and so it is left mostly to the media to levy accountability. And the noise created by the mega-news age makes it so difficult for a story, even a major one, to take hold & focus a nation for more than a few news cycles.

This is why I wouldn't put it past Bush to let Fitzgerald's reappointment languish. They can still say, "His status as Special Prosecutor remains unaffected, so clearly we're not doing it to affect the investigation..."....

So those are my thoughts on the whole deal. I am likely travelling to Chicago toward the end of August and now the trip just seems to be becoming all the more interesting.