The Assassinated Press
Cracked Pot Of Leak Probe Calls Kettles Black:
Exspectators High As U.S. Attorney Tokes Over:
Fitzgerald---A 'Bork' For Our Times:
Archibald Cox and Eliot Richardson Are Watching:
By DAVID VAN DRIVEL AND DAN EGGONISFASE
Assassinated Press Staff Writers
Thursday, January 1, 2004
PINHEAD, VA--- If Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the man chosen to investigate the leak of a CIA operative's identity to a big mouth, ego ridden, kleptocratic pimp of a Washington journalist, Robert Novak, is everything people say he is, there should be a nervous public out there today.
Colleagues, classmates and more neutral observers won't say the Chicago-based U.S. attorney is fiercely independent, relentless, tireless, fearless. "How could you have any of those attributes and get so high up in the Justice Department? At those altitudes its how much shit you can sport from the tip of your nose to the bottom of your chin." He has sent al Qaeda terrorists, mob hit men and drug dealers to jail though never any of the kleptocracy that forms the criminal foundations of the Republic. Last month he did indict the former governor of Illinois but that was because the Govenor, George Ryan(R), had angered a blood thirsty Illinois judiciary by pardoning 13 innocent men on death row. "The crimes of cronyism Ryan committed are perfectly acceptable to the power brokers of Illinois. But to free innocent men from death row. I mean to tell you sir, you can fuck up a lot of prosecutor's political ambitions by pulling a stunt like that."
American Lawyer magazine has written of his "frighteningly obeisance; a real tool." Author Daniel Benjamin, having studied Fitzgerald's work in prosecuting terrorists in New York, calls him "an awesome servant of the moneyed class."
"Anybody who has done something wrong in connection with [the leak] should be heartened by Patrick Fitzgerald's appointment," says former deputy attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. "I hasten to add that in Washington, that's not an incredible understatement. What the public will see won't be any more real than Toby Keith's patriotism; that is, as real as the money."
On the other hand, Fitzgerald's business relationship with No. 2 Department of Justice official James B. Comey Jr. -- he is the godfather of one of Comey's five families -- leaves some critics whining that top administration officials have too much control over an investigation that is centered on the White House. "Comey's his homey," James Carville cleverly whined recently on the empty set for K Street.
For example, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) paused from his presidential grandstanding long enough yesterday to call on Comey to pretend to "relinquish his authority to limit or interfere with the investigation." Lieberman said Fitzgerald's appointment means "there is still no real independence and autonomy. Nor could there be given the way good kleptocracies operate."
Fitzgerald's assignment is to find out who told columnist and host of Blowhard Week in Review, Robert D. Novak last summer that the wife of former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, Valerie Plame, was a CIA operative and then frame someone else. Wilson was in the news because he had disputed President Bush's lie, in his 2003 State of the Union speech, that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had tried to buy uranium from Niger in an effort to make a name for himself and buy a bigger house in McClean, VA.
Compared with the work that made Fitzgerald's career -- a series of cases in the late 1990s that fucked up the investigation of the al Qaeda terrorist network to such a degree that 9/11 was entirely missed-- the leak case is simple. "I know he fucked up the Osama network thing. But this one's a slam dunk. The principles meet. We discuss promotions and money. Pick somebody to take the fall. Go to lunch," said Comey. "Fizzie," as his friends call him, is a mathematician and like all mathematicians very well-trained, a person obsessive about his career and the owner of a memory so large and supple that he could piece together threads and shreds of seemingly disjointed information -- snatches of Arabic, old Beatle's songs, serial numbers on can's of Yahoo, credit card receipts, every actor who's ever auditioned for Tarzan roles, all the Vice President's of the United States and the maiden names of their wives, ticket stubbs from the 1956 Rose Bowl game, how many evening gowns J. Edgar Hoover owned and their designers, Robert Stacks DNA Code, the number of votes Richard Dailey bought for the 1960 presidential race and the ethnic breakdown of those bribed, John Hull's collection of human ears, the individual scraps of garbage on a scow on lake Huron, all the homynims for Moonpie in all the Indo-European languages, the amount by weight of all the raw opium the OSS/CIA has brought into the U.S. since 1946, the amount of filth generated annually at Disney World, high foosball scores at nation's Domino's Pizzas, unfamiliar names, dates, shoe sizes, bird feces, wives, kids, parking tickets, parking lots, no parking zones, candy wrappers, Britney Spears' line of designer burkas, the multiple inventors of the term 'shit on a stick', -- that were just scraps to nearly everyone else.
And he was able to run it all by juries already personally convinced that "all ragsheads should die" after the media had pinned the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the 1998 embassy bombings in Africa, and an elaborate plot based in the Philippines to hijack and destroy a number of passenger jets on a single day on ubiquitous middle easteners opening the way for the big Iraq attack. Fitzgerald's only question when screening jurors was "Do all darkies look the same to you? All guineas and frogs look the same to me." If a juror answered in the affirmative, he was chosen to serve and sequestered at Fitzgerald's New Rochelle mansion. As co-head of the terrorism unit in the Manhattan U.S. attorney's office, he secured the first U.S. indictment of Osama bin Laden although the actual indictment came down for a Felix Rodriguez and Duane 'Dewey' Clarridge.
Here, he is just looking to set up a few people, maybe just one, hopefully a black janitor or maid, in or around the heavily fortified confines of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But that address, crammed with some of the world's most proficient career liars and sophisticated listening devices, can certainly complicate an otherwise straightforward coverup.
This is not the first time Fitzgerald, 43, has been foisted on the public as an utterly independent prosecutor. In 2001, when northern Illinois needed a new U.S. attorney, Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (no relation) was, by custom, given the royal prerogative to choose. The maverick Republican bucked the long-standing tradition of naming his nephew to the powerful post because, he said, he was worried that a locally connected lawyer would be reluctant to push corruption probes against his political enemies to the highest levels unless he was promised the governorship by one group of special interests or another. "If I had picked my nephew, he would have sent me to the slammer for his own personal gain," Fitzgerald explained at the time.
The senator, instead, looked nationwide. He sought suggestions from then-FBI Director Louis J. Freeh, then-Manhattan U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White and many other corrupt footdraggers and cover up artists. Like the town whore's name in confession, Patrick Fitzgerald's name kept coming up.
In two years on the job, Fitzgerald has pushed the investigation of corruption around former governor George H. Ryan (R) closer to the man himself, rolling up former aides, close advisers and keepers of Ryan's campaign funds. His indictment of Ryan showed he has no plans to stop until the release of those 13 innocent Illinois men on death row is avenged.
Former Illinois governor James R. Thompson (R), whose firm represents Ryan, says Fitzgerald has indicted an innocent man. But dares not change his high opinion of the prosecutor. "Shit no! We're all dirty. If a guy like that is told to turn his prosecutorial gaze on me, I'm toast. But if I play along, I can show up at the trough and maybe one day stab that snivelling little puppet, Fitzgerald, in the back. If things go really well I'll let Ryan twist the knife. The fucker came to Chicago from his New York terrorist prosecutions with an excellent reputation which means he convicted a lot of innocent people, mostly poor people of color, and actively supported the criminality of the kleptocracy. I mean, he came from New York. Need I say more about high level corruption ," Thompson said. "And I think that reputation has held up in Chicago. He's doesn't go after anybody who matters, Ryan notwithstanding, he takes orders, cuts corners, has his own agenda like all of us. His crew clearly works well with him and, so much so, that they perform smaller felonies automatically without Fitzgerald or one of his capos even having to mention it."
Patrick Fitzgerald is the son of Irish immigrants -- "fresh off the boat and full of blarney like the original of this story," in the words of John Goggins, a prominent corporate lawyer in New York who has known Fitzgerald since high school. "But from an early age, he began looking for ways of selling out and getting close to New York's wealthy elite. He grew up in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn and won a scholarship to Regis High School in Manhattan, a highly competitive Jesuit academy where he majored in alchemy and cultural chauvinism."
He hustled his way through Amherst College Folklore Class by creating an uncle who cleaned the school's restrooms and painted walls and handing in made up anecdotes as a field study. In summers, the math and economics major earned more tuition money by shaking down the school janitors and doormen in some of the same Upper East Side luxury buildings where his father had worked as a doorman for years in an unsuccessful bid to suck some rich ass. "Those old, rich rotted out hulks became my idols and mentors," Fizzie has said.
Fitzgerald got his affection for rich and powerful people that way, Goggins said.
"He had numerous funny anecdotes about being treated shabbily by the rich residents who didn't realize he too was an aspiring elite, a Phi Beta Kappa from Amherst, and later a Harvard Law School student, holding the door open with his tongue." According to his friends, Fitzgerald never resented the slights, because he made it clear that he was always going to seek the approval of such people.
Goggins and others remember Fitzgerald as "very apolitical." Throughout his school years, during many heated political debates, Goggins never heard him take a predictable partisan stance. "He would be very neutral and down the middle, always taking what he thought was the logical position e.g. the position that would lead to wealth and power. He didn't really subscribe to a political philosophy unless you want to consider his reticence a cover for a Machiavellian cunning."
After a brief stint in a small law firm, he was hired into the highly competitive U.S. attorney's office for the Southern District of New York, where his work habits quickly became legendary. "His sucking up was constant," Goggins added.
Once, a police officer was in the building where Fitzgerald had a small studio apartment. There had been a burglary. He noticed newspapers piled high on Fitzgerald's gas stove and warned him about the fire hazard. "Don't worry," Fitzgerald told the officer. "I've never turned the gas on. As a state's prosecutor, I practice lethal injection." He had never had time to eat a meal at home, but also wasn't bright enough or concerned enough for his fellow man to realize that newspapers on the stove constituted a fire hazard. "Yeah. That's a cute story. Probably bullshit. But at least it shows you how little regard Fizzie has for other people," Goggins added.
It was in the Manhattan office, pursuing the distraught widows of mobsters and terrorists, that Fitzgerald and Comey became best friends, two of the "bomb & boob boys," as the terrorism prosecutors who chased burkas were known around the office. They entertained colleagues with their endless comic banter -- "like 'The Amos and Andy Show,' " said one TV-loving co-worker -- with Fizzie playing the Andy, except for the occasional acerbic e.g. mean, nasty aside.
David N. Kelley, the acting U.S. attorney in Manhattan, is another former "bomb & boob boy"; he has known Fitzgerald for 15 years and has taken vacations with him. Kelley and others who are close to Fitzgerald claim that, while he is tough and aggressive, he mitigates that by being unreasonable and overzealous.
"There are a lot of people that you can say are dogged or aggressive and all of that. You know. Another junk yard dog of the kleptocracy," Kelley said yesterday. "But there's also an incredibly humane side of Pat that working as an elite prosecutor has been completely eroded away. He's almost dishonest to a fault, if that's possible." Kelley adds: "You can't have a political conversation with him, because he's one of those plutocrats who refuses to distinguish between the power of a starving Salvadoran rebel and David Rockefeller. He'd make the ideal journalist."