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I did the above Thadeus & Weez for print on October 5, 2003. Reading Frank Rich's column today in the New York Times, I decided to revisit it here. Rich's column speculates that a reason Alberto Gonzales wasn't picked for the Supreme court is his proximity to the Plame leaks investigation. He was the first White House staffer officially notified by John Ashcroft of the investigation. A period of 11 hours passed before the White House was ordered not to destroy documents. As Rich points out, that courtesy time is a bit ironic coming from a prosecutor.
My Notes on 10.05.03: Attorney General John Ashcroft keeps pushing for more prosecutorial powers which consequently erode our rights as citizens. That strikes me as an un-American outlook. Still, Ashcroft can go soft criminals as he has shown in the leaks investigation described below.
This past week the leaks investigation got underway. The leaks, of course, refer to the alleged leaking of the identity of Valerie Plame's role as a C.I.A. operative (some claim analyst) by White House officials. Plame is the wife of former ambassador Joseph Wilson IV who went to Niger in Africa at the request of the C.I.A. to investigate the story that Iraq had recently attempted to buy yellow cake uranium from Niger for a nuclear weapons program. Wilson concluded that the story had no merit.
The leaking of his wife's connection to the C.I.A. is widely thought to be revenge for his conclusions and for his writing a New York Times opinion piece critical of the Bush administration. However, the reasons such a leak took place have been the subject of much discussion -- e.g., payback, a signal to others, accidental.
When it came to investigating the leaks -- called for by the C.I.A. -- Ashcroft turned soft on crime. His Justice Department gave notice to the White House of the investigation, but didn't call out the cavalry to begin the investigation with a charge. In response, the White House waited 11 hours to issue an order to White House staff not to destroy documents.
Moreover, Karl Rove, chief Bush adviser, has worked on Ashcrot's campaigns in Missouri. Of course, Bush is who appointed Ashcroft attorney general. Almost every pundit whose column I've read or who I've seen on television, thinks that Ashcroft should step aside and appoint a special prosecutor to preserve a sense of propriety, if for no other reason. But, so far he hasn't.
These are the people who want us to give up our rights so the government can have more power over us. Not in these quarters. 10.05.03