Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Could A Third Rate Leak Bring Down Bush (If Not Cheney)?

A third rate burglary of the Democratic headquarters in the Watergate building by the infamous White House plumbers unit brought down the presidency of Richard M. Nixon. Could a third rate leak by members of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) bring down the presidency of George W. Bush?

Until recently, few in Washington or elsewhere in the country expected Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to find any smoking gun evidence to implicate anyone in the Bush administration in a criminal act with respect to outing the identity of a covered CIA agent, Valerie Plame. But now Washington is abuzz with rumors of impending indictments against high-ranking officials, which may happen as soon as tomorrow according to news reports today.

Further raising the stakes, news reports today suggest that Vice President Cheney may be implicated as well. This has already sparked rumors, according to U.S. News & World Report, that the Vice President will resign his office, and that Bush is poised to appoint Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice to replace him. Under the 25th Amendment to the Constitution (authored by former Indiana Senator Birch Bayh), any person Bush appointed to replace Cheney would be subject to confirmation by a majority of both houses of Congress. Rumors of Cheney’s resignation and Rice’s appointment spread so fast that conservatives have already begun mobilizing opposition to Rice, who is reported to be pro-choice according to the report.

If the Washington Post is correct, Fitzgerald may announce the findings of his investigation as soon as tomorrow. Fitzgerald has become a seasoned prosecutor of high ranking public officials. In Illinois, he is currently prosecuting former Illinois Governor George Ryan, a trial that is now in its third week. He is also investigating corruption by current Illinois Governor Rod Blagoyovich and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. Those investigations have already yielded numerous indictments, convictions and plea bargains. This guy, unlike Clinton prosecutor Ken Starr, is a serious prosecutor. Had Fitzgerald been the prosecutor in charge of the Clinton investigations, suffice it to say that both Bill and Hillary Clinton would be sitting in the klink right now.

If history is any guide, here is what to watch for with Fitzgerald. It is highly unlikely that he would announce an indictment out of the shoot against a very high ranking official such as Vice President Cheney or President Bush. Instead, he will target an immediate underling to his ultimate target that he has a solid case against. The indictment charge will refer to the ultimate target as “Public Official A” or “Public Official B.” Persons familiar with the case will have no trouble discerning who the prosecutor is ultimately targeting with his investigation.

Fitzgerald does not do much leaking of his work until he’s ready to play ball. Clearly, the leaking from people familiar with the case has escalated more in the last week than it has at any other point during the entire 2-year plus period he’s been conducting his investigation. Some of those leaks are no doubt being made at his direction. If he is indeed ready to announce his findings as early as tomorrow, as suggested by the Post, look for a leak to the Post late this evening. He typically gives a heads up to a major news media source about 12 hours before he makes his case known to the public. The New York Times is unlikely to be the beneficiary of an early leak given the entanglement of it and its reporter, Judith Miller, in the ongoing investigation. That same reason would apply to other major news sources whose reporters were ensnared by the investigation, such as Newsweek’s Matthew Cooper.

Fasten your seatbelts and enjoy the ride. It’s going to get interesting.


Anonymous said...

Well, here's a new topic! I guess recycling the stories of actual journalists isn't big business. I seem to be only one stopping by...and that's only to laugh and shake my head.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Andy (Oh yeah--that's Brian--right)

Thanks for stopping by and becoming the 128th visitor today. Your comments are always so refreshing.

Anonymous said...

128??? In one day? Honestly...that is pretty sad. Thank you reporting the low number of visitors. Andy?? What are you talking about??

Gary R. Welsh said...

Well Andy (or Brian as you prefer), how much do you want me to tell--let me start by saying your comment tracks back to senate.gov. You should know better