Only mud sticks to Karl Rove

Karl Rove gets a walk. Where is justice when you need it?

From an editorial in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Sometimes it feels like there’s no justice. That’s a sentiment likely to be shared by many Americans in the wake of last week’s announcement that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has decided not to charge top White House aide Karl Rove in his investigation of the Valerie Palme leak case.

The feelings of frustrated justice are not just partisan sour grapes, although some of that certainly exists among Democrats who were prematurely convinced of Rove’s legal complicity. The truth is that disappointment might be felt by any fair-minded person who remembers what exactly was at the heart of this case and who was involved.

This was a sleazy White House campaign to discredit Plame’s husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who had written an opinion piece in The New York Times accusing the administration of twisting intelligence to justify the war in Iraq. The apparent method of getting even with Wilson was dishonorable in the extreme. Someone in the White House decided to use the media to leak the fact that Plame was a CIA officer, thus rendering her useless for undercover work and pretty much destroying her career.

After syndicated columnist Robert Novak outted her in print, Fitzpatrick was charged with getting to the bottom of it, because blowing the cover of a CIA official’s cover is more than bad form, it can be a crime. Fitzpatrick has been on the job since December 2003 and still hasn’t got to the bottom of this case.

The American people still don’t know who leaked Plame’s name. Fitzpatrick has asserted that the office of Vice President Dick Cheney was at the thick of it, and he indicted the vice president’s then-chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby Jr., on five felony counts (but not before an affront to a free press: New York Times reporter Judith Miller having to spend 85 days in jail in order to protect her source).

Those charges were secondary, however, to the point of the investigation in the first place; they had to do with obstructing justice, perjury and making false statements in the course of the investigation. They would have been the sort of charges Rove would have faced too had he been charged.

But after five trips to a federal grand jury and intense negotiations between Rove’s attorney and the special prosecutor, the man whom Bush has called the "Boy Genius" and "The Architect" is told he can go about his business with no further fear of prosecution. The American people are left to digest the idea that the very one in the Bush administration who knows everything didn’t know anything pertinent about this and merely forgot that he had spoken to a reporter when he didn’t mention it at first before the grand jury.

Rove may yet be called as a witness in Libby’s trial _ as perhaps Cheney will too. Unfortunately, as we have lamented before, the trial won’t occur until after the November elections, so whatever is learned there won’t inform the voters in time. Optimism is limited in any case. For all his vaunted independence and thoroughness, Fitzpatrick doesn’t seem to have achieved much.

In the meantime, Rove is pictured smiling like the cat who swallowed the canary. And who can say he is wrong? Yes, sometimes it feels like there’s no justice.

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