Volokh makes a great point:
Why Didn’t FItzgerald Close Up Shop After Learning That Armitage Was the Leaker?: A popular argument for why Scooter Libby should never have been prosecuted is that Patrick Fitzgerald knew early on in the investigation that Richard Armitage at the State Department was the leaker. If Fitzgerald knew Armitage was the leaker, why didn’t he stop the investigation right away? Why did he continue? For some people, Fitzgerald’s decision not to close up shop after learning Armitage was the leaker proves that he was an overzealous prosecutor run amok. He must have had some irrational desire to go after Libby, the argument runs, making the entire Libby prosecution unfair from the get-go.
I don’t find this argument persuasive. To see why, imagine yourself in Fitzgerald’s shoes. Here are the relevant facts as you know them (reconstructed as best I can — please let me know if these facts are misleading or wrong and I’ll correct them). You’ve been appointed a special prosecutor to investigate intentional leaks to the media of the covert identity of a CIA agent. Early on in the investigation, you learn that one high-level political official has admitted that he leaked Plame’s identity to one reporter; he claims that it was an accident, as he didn’t realize the agent’s status was covert. You also know that a lot of other reporters were leaked the same information, but you don’t know who was behind those other leaks. The reporters won’t talk: They insist on going to jail rather than revealing their sources.
If you were Fitzgerald, would you close up shop at that point? Would you conclude without even speaking to other potential witnesses that the one high-level official was in fact responsible for all the leaks, and that he acted accidentally and entirely on his own? Or would you at least want to dig deeper to see if the story checks out?
You would close up shop, of course! Just like Ken Starr did after he convicted the McDougals! Once you have an official story from the Bushies, you just accept it and let it go! You would never ever question the President’s adherence to the rule of law. The judge and prosecutor just wanted to get Libby, they were Democrats who wanted to…
I find this argument seriously bizarre. As I understand it, Bush political appointee James Comey named Bush political appointee and career prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to investigate the Plame leak. Bush political appointee and career prosecutor Fitzgerald filed an indictment and went to trial before Bush political appointee Reggie Walton. A jury convicted Libby, and Bush political appointee Walton sentenced him. At sentencing, Bush political appointee Judge Walton described the evidence against Libby as “overwhelming” and concluded that a 30-month sentence was appropriate. And yet the claim, as I understand it, is that the Libby prosecution was the work of political enemies who were just trying to hurt the Bush Administration.
Of course. Because anyone who oppose the Dear Leader — McCain, George Will, Bill Buckley, Andrew Sullivan, Dick Lugar — is a RINO, an evil traitor who wants the terrorists to win.
Jesus, don’t you guys get it? Everything Bush does is good. He define conservatism by his acts, just like Jesus defined Christianity by his (Although my New Testament is apparently missing the sections where he stones gays, gets into politics and becomes obssessed with money. I think that’s in Hypocrites II.)
If Bush decides that conservatism supports massive spending, socialized medicine and incompetently fought wars, then that’s what conservatism is. Conservatism == platform of the GOP. And anyone who opposes Bush is just a bed-wetting liberal Democrat. It’s so simple. You don’t need to think for yourself, you poor deluded simpletons. All you need to do is fine out what Bush thinks and repeat it!
I’m sick to death of this. I’m sick of an Administration that has utter total contempt for Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, conservatism, the intelligence of the American public, the rule of law and the Constitution. I’m utterly totally sick of a “conservative” media machine at NRO, WSJ, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Neal Boortz that mindlessly repeats every meme that emerges from the West Wing no matter how bizarre it is (the VP is not in the executive) or how much it rapes every conservative principle out there (perjury isn’t a crime unless another crime was committed) or how much it flies in the face of the facts (Valerie Plame wasn’t undercover).
You can call this many things — power worship; mindless partisanship; obsequious obedience. But you’re not allowed to call it conservatism any more. We’re taking that title back.