April 14, 2006
A Brief History of Counsels and LeaksBy James Lewis
Who remembers Sam Dash? If you were transfixed by the Watergate hearings, the bloodsport initiation of today's drive—by media, you may remember him as the "highly respected Counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee." Sam Dash's name is now iconic, celebrated as a model of a principled lawyer.
When Kenneth Starr was appointed Special Prosecutor in the Monica Lewinsky impeachment, he hired Sam Dash to be his ethics advisor. One reason, according to Starr, was that Sam Dash was such a principled Counsel for the Watergate prosecution. Dash would never, never leak to the press.
Or, as Mr. Starr said on the PBS News Hour:
Stanley Kutler, however, recently has revealed that ole principled Sam leaked like the Titanic to the Watergate media. So did the US Attorney, Earl Silbert, and the Senate Watergate Committee itself. So did the passed—over J. Edgar Hoover contingent at the FBI, including J. Edgar Hoover's favorite son—like figure, Mark Felt, aka Deep Throat.
Together they brought down Richard Nixon, the most media—hated President ever. Until George W. Bush, that is.
From May 1973 until Nixon's resignation in August 1974, Special Prosecutors Archibald Cox and Leon Jaworski pursued Watergate through the legal process. They also regularly timed leaks to serve their purpose.
Toward the end, the House Judiciary Committee held its impeachment hearings, and it, too, leaked like a sieve. And let us not forget the White House itself. Leonard Garment, an aide and sometime counsel to the president, regularly met with reporters. His daily calendar is replete with appointments that included the best—known of the Washington press corps.
So what seemed like a spontaneous political drama to the whole country — watching breathlessly on TV — was in fact fully scripted by the media. Every move was known ahead of time.
Old Watergate news? Well, maybe.
Is it just me, or does the Libby prosecution seem suspiciously scripted to you?
Here's a President who is a hated media scapegoat, a conservative being hounded by baying liberals. Here's an accusation by proven liar Joseph C. Wilson, run around the country to cheering liberal groups like Moveon.org. Wilson is aided and abetted by the upper levels of the CIA. Including his wife, Valerie Plame, who demonstrated her Secret Agent tradecraft by wearing dark sunglasses on the cover photo for Vanity Fair.
And here's a Special Prosecutor elevated to near—saintly status by the press — a "prosecutor's prosecutor." (Not like that sleazy Ken Starr).
So the news stories are talking about getting closer and closer to the hated President, day by day.
My question is: could any of those stories be coming from Patrick Fitzgerald?
And is there any law prohibiting prosecutorial misconduct?
And what would it take to investigate such prosecutorial leaks. I mean really investigate, honestly?
Or are there no honest people left?
James Lewis is a frequent contributor.