In this week's episode of Rome (a superb HBO series which increasingly reminds me of the Nation's Capital), Servilia, whose son was killed in a power grab, knelt before the door of manipulative Attia, mother of Octavian and lover of Marc Anthony, the two men responsible, calling out in a haunting cry,
"Attia of the Julii, I call for justice."
She did so because the unavailing legal system was broken, and curses (which were taken seriously in those days) were the one remaining way most people had to redress grave wrongs.
I call for justice for Scooter Libby because he has had none in this ridiculous matter.
But at whose door do I stand to shout my curses?
Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame who cooked up a series of lies to undermine the Administration in the middle of the war?
The media, which megaphoned them and falsely suggested that someone had deliberately outed an undercover agent for political reasons, following the lead of The Nation's David Corn
Former CIA head Tenet, who insisted the Department of Justice investigate a routine referral for reasons which are still unclear but seem to be pique and revenge? Who refused to clarify the record about Wilson: who sent him, and what he found, and what happened to those findings? For dragging out the declassification of the National Intelligence Estimate which showed the Wilson report supported rather than contradicted the estimate?
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell and his Deputy Dick Armitage, who knew Armitage leaked and hid from the President and public that fact, letting Libby and the entire White House staff be put through the wringer?
The FBI which poorly investigated the matter, jiggered the notes of the interrogations and somehow lost the key inculpatory notes?
Former Attorney Ashcroft who allowed himself to be nose ringed by the mandarinate into recusing himself from looking into the matter?
Ashcroft's Deputy, Comey, who promised Senator Schumer when he was being confirmed that he would appoint a special counsel to investigate the matter and who then, in direct contravention of the Statute, made the appointment of Patrick Fitzgerald, an appointment at odds with the U.S. Constitution? Comey, who tap danced the nature of the appointment to make it appear that there was an actual crime being investigated and not-as it turns out-that he was handing an open season fishing license to a proven master angler? And who days later, after unlawfully handing Fitzgerald the powers of the Attorney General, authorized him to look into the process crimes-which in truth is all they ever were after.
Fitzgerald, who set it upon himself to find any process violation he could find, and who tricked an unsuspecting Libby, who knew he'd not leaked Plame's name to anyone into repeated FBI and grand jury interrogations in the hope of finding any memory inconsistency, no matter how immaterial or insignificant on which to hang his hat?
Shall I curse the right side of the aisle which never likes to get its skirts dusty in the forum, even if their enemies are armed to the teeth and eviscerating their allies right before their noses? You know who I mean.
Charge a Clintonite with wrongdoing and the entire Department of Justice sits on the news until his friends have worked out an appropriate spin and a time to leak it when it will do him the least harm. Consider the merest possibility that someone in the Administration might have done something wrong and Andrea Mitchell has the news of the investigation on the air in an hour and his allies flee in fright that they might get their garments dirty by speaking in his defense.
Shall I blame the judge who let the prosecution get away with introducing into evidence prejudicial news accounts of limited relevance or probative value while denying the defense an opportunity to fully make its case? Who permitted the prosecutor to make scandalous charges on his rebuttal -- for which he had not offered a shred of evidence and which went beyond the defendant's closing statement -- the last thing the jury would be allowed to hear.
Shall I blame the jury which seems to have been unable to find the pony so it reconstructed it out of flip charts and post it notes?
This entire process has been an outrage from beginning to end.
How preposterous is it to watch Nancy Pelosi strutting about the forum today-her record filled with appointments like William Jefferson's to head Homeland Security and John Conyers to head the Judiciary? A Speaker who has the chutzpah to say,
"Today's guilty verdicts are not solely about the acts of one individual. The testimony unmistakably revealed -- at the highest levels of the Bush Administration - a callous disregard in handling sensitive national security information and a disposition to smear critics of the war in Iraq."
And I explode with laughter at the Cassius-like Kerry who sneered,
"This verdict brings accountability at last for official deception and the politics of smear and fear.... This trial revealed a no-holds barred White House attack machine aimed at anyone who stood in the way of their march to war with Iraq. It is time for President Bush to live up to his own promises and hold accountable anyone else who participated in this smear. It is also well past time for Vice President Cheney, who according to the testimony was protected by Scooter Libby's lies, to finally acknowledge his role in this sordid episode."
Sordid the episode is, but not because of anything Libby did. And "a troubling picture" of Washington it is-but not of this Administration. The Bush crowd is guilty only of terminal naiveté and the foolish idea that high standards of probity will ever beat the opposition's utter unscrupulousness and willingness to misuse the legal system to their own partisan ends, even if it means the ruination of an innocent and capable man and enormous hardship to his family.
Democrats and the Media, I Call for Justice.
Clarice Feldman is an attorney in Washington, DC, who has covered the Libby Trial for American Thinker.