So much for the high ground

Remember former attorney general John Ashcroft’s claim that he withdrew from the Valerie Plame CIA-leak investigation because it was a potential conflict of interest? Well, he had to be pulled out kicking and screaming.

Reports Murray Waas in The National Journal:

Then-Attorney General John Ashcroft continued to oversee the Valerie Plame-CIA leak probe for more than two months in late 2003 after he learned in extensive briefings that FBI agents suspected White House aides Karl Rove and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby of trying to mislead the FBI to conceal their roles in the leak, according to government records and interviews. Despite these briefings, which took place between October and December 2003, and despite the fact that senior White House aides might become central to the leak case, Ashcroft did not recuse himself from the matter until December 30, when he allowed the appointment of a special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, to take over the investigation.

And while we’re on the subject, whatever happened to the so-called "Truthout" expose of a Rove indictment? Truthout executive director Marc Ash has stopped issuing self-righteous claims they were right, Jason Leopold has been caught in yet another case of confusing fantasy with fact and tireless self-promotor William Rivers Pitt was knocked off his pedalstal at Democratic Underground. The story and fallout from it have strained relationships between Pitt and DU. At the height of the uproar, Pitt posted the following attack on Skinner, DU’s honcho:

This was a wheat-from-the-chaff moment, and you failed. You spend a good deal of time talking about standing strong, but you publicly fucked one man who has stood stronger for you more than any other. Name for me please the New York Times and international best-selling book, translated into twelve languages, that thanks you and your site above anything else. First and foremost.

There is one. Only one. Mine. Before my own mother, I thanked you.

Yeah, yeah, we’re ‘ballsy’ if we’re right. But you made it 100% clear that you don’t think we are. You could have asked. I’d have let you in. But no, you decided to cover your own ass.

You’re in the wrong business.

I am disgusted.

You are no better than the cretins who have taken control of your site.

Pitt later apologized for his outburst (which was removed from the DU board) and posted a long, rambling "explanation" that had to be closed because of all the negative feedback. Since then he has virtually disappeared from the board. His byline has also been conspiciously absent from Truthout in recent weeks.

Some feel Pitt’s modest success has gone to his head and he is way too full of himself. He constantly refers to himself as a "New York Times bestselling author" and declares his partisan version of events as the only possible truth.

But truth is not partisan. It doesn’t belong to any party or philosophical point of view and the lesson we all should learn from the Truthout debacle is that there are differences between partisan bias and fact.