The National Journal's Murray Waas yesterday afternoon posted an important story about a still unexplained delay by former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft in recusing himself from the investigation into Valerie Plame-CIA Leak case. While the story does not represent any sort of a "smoking gun" against Ashcroft, it certainly doesn't give any reasonable reader the impression that the Attorney General was either particularly sensitive to the inherent conflict he found himself in during the fall of 2003 or particularly interested in doing anything dramatic (read: ethically responsible) about it.
The main theme of Waas' long take is that John Ashcroft stayed in charge of the Plame investigation for several months after he learned from the FBI that investigators "suspected White House aides Karl Rove and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby of trying to mislead the FBI to conceal their roles in the leak." This, legal experts quoted in the piece said, represented, at best, bad judgment on the part of the nation's chief law enforcement official. Rove, you may recall, had an especially close connection with the Attorney General; he had served as a political advisor for Ashcroft during some of the latter's Congressional campaigns
Like I said, the story doesn't break open the case, the story or the investigation. In the end, the feds got it right. In December 2003, they replaced the hapless Ashcroft with a special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, who has shown just about everyone in Washington that he is about as independent as they come. But Waas' fine reporting does tell us a little more about the dysfunction back then in the White House and also in the Justice Department at a time when the rest of us were being told that the feds had their act together in the war on terror.
The Waas piece also tells me that this investigation is a long way from over and that before the Libby trial is over-- it is scheduled to begin early next week-- many more embarrassing nuggets will finally see the light of day.
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Posted by: SandyK | June 9, 2006 08:30 AM
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