Who and what is Patrick Fitzgerald? Certainly no one Karl Rove or Dick Chaney need to worry about. He's mostly Rudi Giuliani's and Karl Rove's creation -- that of a hard-working, no nonsense prosecutor of unquestionable moral character. One may wonder why he'd be walking on the Potomac after studying Roe vs. Wade in Law School -- as the old SNL joke goes. We can wonder all we want. Fitzgerald is "untouchable" at the moment. He even kinds of reminds people of Elliot Ness. Not the real one who eventually died of alcoholism or Kevin Costner one -- the Robert Stack one.
Why has no one so much as bothered to connect the dots on "Fitzy" since he was named Special Prosecutor in the Plamegate affair? For one, I suspect it's because the story's a career graveyard for any journalist who does. Such is Karl's grip on the MSM; still as potent and threatening as ever.
Jack Murtha appeared on Meet The Press with Tim Russert And GOP Pundits last Sunday (6/18). Many descriptions of his appearance sound something like this:
Now Karl's also a "chicken hawk" who dodged the draft during Vietnam -- via college deferments. It's probably driving the Pennsylvania Congressman from Johnstown to say a lot worse about Karl off-camera. Murtha's had to endure Rove's scorn about Iraq even though the Congressman spent 30 years in the Marines. As for Rove sitting in his West Wing office on his large air-conditioned posterior, Karl's only worry now is the deregulated Eastern Power Grid. Ex-flight attendants do the heavy work so Karl can plot and scheme for the November elections.
It's what Rove's sitting on that bothers me -- and it's in Karl's hip pocket. It's Patrick Fitzgerald -- the "Eagle Scout" of the legal profession. Journalists make good money -- great money by my standards -- but when comparing the sedentary way they do background on political appointees -- Rove comes out looking like a track star.
Finding a "knight in shining armor" to investigate himself? Only Karl Rove could have pulled off a coup like that. Conservative pundits and politicians are making the rounds saying that Fitzgerald -- in not pressing charges against Rove -- proves Fitzy's "above partisan politics." Go figure. All that nonsense proves is that doublethink's still all the rage in DC.
Fitzgerald had already been Ass't Federal Attorney since he first joined Rudy Giuliani's Office in 1988. No doubt he -- and other GOP talent scouts -- felt he'd in the Southern New York Office too long. True, he'd won multiple convictinos stemming from the 1998 African Ebmassy bombing linked to al-Qaeda. There was, however, one question about 9/11 that he couldn't answer. Ali Mohamed
Paddy had wanted to get out of the SO-NY Attorney's Office by the spring of 2001 and left it in August, 2001 -- just when things were about to heat up. Mohamed could have caused real trouble for Fitzgerald after the Twin Towers fell. Career-threatening trouble. A US citizen found with documents concerning the embassy bombings on his hard drive -- Mohamed escaped prosecution -- and testifying -- by plea bargaining down most of his sentence and agreeing to become a double-agent for the FBI and go back to work for al-Qaeda in Africa, and later Afghanistan.
While training al-Qaeda "operatives" Mohamed flipped again to work for Osama. Fitzgerald had arranged for the Canadian RCMP to release Mohamed in 1999 after conspiring to bring explosives into the US -- for the big Y2K attack that was eventually thwarted by American and Canadian authorities.
Defense attorneys in the Embassy cases later said that "they could sense throughout the case that something else was coming down...probably stateside" -- or words to that affect. This is admittedly a stretch but why wouldn't Fitzgerald have sensed the same thing? In any case, once in Chicago he wouldn't have to answer for Ali Mohamed.
In reality, few people are as noble as Fitzgerald and get themselves stuck in Chicago. Most prosecutors sent there pack an orange jump suit with their travel luggage. The state or the Feds may run out of them by the time a transfer needed one to wear -- if the Ryan/Warner cases he would soon try proved anything. It was obvious to many involved in the Embassy bombing cases that -- if his appointment wasn't a bit hasty it was definitely unusual. Nominations to the President by the junior Republican US Senator was a little out of the ordinary for a Federal Attorney's posting. But nominating an outsider as "Chicagoland"'s US Attorney? Dennis Hastert was in fumes. In fact, Dennis Hastert was downright cheesed off when the Administration nominated Fitzpatrick without first consulting him -- The Speaker of the US House -- of all people. We, too, ought to be a bit cheesed off. Fitzgerald's convenient appointment often implies a favor granted with an expected payback at some future date.
Here's another tipoff: Fitzgerald's role as the new US Attorney after taking office in 2001: 1) obtain a conviction of former Sec'ty of State and Governor George Ryan Ryan and his pal, Lawrence Warner and 2) keep any further damage to the state GOP to a minimum. [Eventually over 60 people were convicted of various offenses stemming from involvement with Ryan and Warner. Trust me, that was the "minimum." Contractors and campaign contributors fell like dominoes].
Even so, to get an "outsider" for the job...one also had to be whoever the Federalist Society recommended. The Federalists have priority in the Bush Administration -- and the Bushies expect the Republicans in the Illinois Congressional caucus to rubber stamp their recommendations. Hastert could fume all he wanted to; it wasn't going to go anywhere. Eventually, Fitzgerald handed down a 16-count indictment against Ryan and Warner on Dec 17, 2003.
Ryan and Warner had been great news for Illinois Democrats as the indictments and ensuing trial played as "above the fold" news for weeks. Soon, they were even better news for Patrick Fitzgerald. The State of Illinois had already been running a five-year investigation of Ryan -- "Operation Safe Road" -- about Ryan's Sec'ty of State Office selling truck drivers' licenses with hazmat certifications to trucking companies for kickbacks. Seems some family had lost several members in an accident involving an unqualified trucker. A really unqualified truck driver. Before long the investigation mushroomed into a look inside a criminal enterprise. Ryan had been using his influence over construction projects and other state services for slush money from big campaign contributors. He'd even been getting kickbacks on contracts awarded to the state's transplant organ program.
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