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Impeach Bush

Special prosecutor appointed: CIA leak
NY Post
BRIAN BLOMQUIST
December 31, 2003

December 31, 2003 -- WASHINGTON - The Bush White House will face a special prosecutor for the first time, as Attorney General John Ashcroft yesterday removed himself from the probe into the administration official who leaked the name of a CIA operative.

Former Manhattan U.S. Attorney Jim Comey, who is now Ashcroft's No. 2, will oversee the leaks investigation. Comey's first move yesterday was to assign Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, a veteran terrorism prosecutor who worked with Comey in Manhattan, as a special prosecutor in the case.

The step is unusual because special prosecutors are typically thought of as coming from outside the Justice Department.

But Comey said Fitzgerald has "the power and authority to make any prosecutorial judgments he feels are appropriate, without going back to me."

He said the only reason Fitzgerald would have to consult with Comey at Justice headquarters is to ask for more investigators or more money.

Ashcroft is not legally able to fire Fitzgerald, but President Bush could.

In 1973, then-President Richard Nixon demanded the Justice Department fire Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox. Two top Justice officials resigned before Robert Bork stepped in and carried out the deed.

 

Ashcroft, who has previously rejected calls by congressional Democrats to recuse himself, believed that the time had come in the leaks case for him to "avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest" because of "facts and evidence developed" in the case, Comey said.

That could mean that high-level political officials are now being targeted in the leaks probe.

But Comey warned reporters not to assume that certain White House officials are now targets.

The case centers on the leak of the name of a CIA operative, Valerie Plame, by an administration official who was trying to disparage Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson. Wilson had been looking into whether Saddam Hussein bought uranium from Niger.

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Commentary:
The leak was published in July of 2003 and it took six months to appoint a special prosecutor. Watch how fast this story is buried. The chances of us hearing about it again before the election are almost zero.