Friday, October 28, 2005

Probably no more indictments

Mark Kleiman remains hopeful that Rove will be indicted:
Fitzgerald did a very skilful dance in refusing, politely but persistently, to answer various versions of the question "Are you going to indict anyone else?" But he very carefully didn't say that his previous request to witnesses not to discuss their testimony was no longer in force.

When asked about this, Fitzgerald said he hadn't decided. Fitzgerald has been clear all along that he would prefer that witnesses not talk about the investigation. Now he has to think about the matter before he can say whether he still holds the position. In other words, the status of the investigation has changed enough that his previous thoughts about whether witnesses should talk about the investigation are no longer applicable. That's a pretty strong indication that he hasn't decided to indict anyone else.

In a followup article, Kleiman points out that Fitzgerald has told Rove's lawyer that no decision has been reached about whether to bring charges against Rove. So Rove isn't out of the woods yet. Fitzgerald did explain that an indictment of anyone other than Libby would have to be done by a grand jury, and that currently there are no sitting grand jurors to issue such an indictment. He also said that he had no plans to call a grand jury at this point. This suggests to me that an indictment of Rove (or anyone else) is not particularly likely.

My guess about what is going on is that Fitzgerald has decided that he cannot conclusively prove that people in the White House acted with criminal intent when they revealed Plame's employment, and that he would have closed up shop a while ago if Libby hadn't committed perjury. As for Rove, my guess is that Fitzgerald hasn't told Rove's lawyer that Rove is in the clear because Fitzgerald suspects that Rove committed perjury, and will therefore be on the lookout for evidence against Rove as he prepares to try Libby. But given the length of the investigation, it seems unlikely that conclusive evidence against Rove will emerge at this point. My prediction is that the Libby indictment is the only one.

Under the American justice system, the majority of crimes are never punished. This doesn't mean it's a bad system; it's a consequence of living in a free society rather than a police state. So I'm not going to fret about the possibility that Rove and others in the Bush Administration may get away with breaking the law.

The bigger issue is the willingness of the American electorate to tolerate the disregard of America's national security. When the Bush administration told Iran, via Chalabi, that we could intercept Iranian communications, we lost the ability to intercept those communications. When the Bush Administration informed al Qaeda that we were monitoring their cell phones, al Qaeda stopped using cell phones. And when the Bush Administration informed the world that it was more interested in domestic politics than in protecting the contacts that Valerie Plame had built up over her career, it undoubtedly made the job of collecting human intelligence harder.

Like Fitzgerald, I cannot prove that the Bush administration intended to undermine America's national security. In fact I would guess that the actions I listed were the result of a combination of indifference and incompetence. But patriotic voters don't have to explain the Bush Administrations behavior; they have to make it clear that they won't tolerate it.