Things are inching towards the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate torture. My concern all along has been that we need to ensure that the investigations don't derail important legislative battles on health care and cap-and-trade.
We need the DoJ to appoint Patrick Fitzgerald as the special prosecutor tasked with the torture investigation.
I realized recently that what matters more than finding someone congress is happy with or that the public is happy with is finding a prosecutor that the media believes to be unbiased. Without the patina of nonpartisanship, the media could turn the investigation into a daily circus, draining energy from the legislation we need passed. Fitzgerald is the right guy for the job.
The most obvious reason to pick Patrick Fitzgerald is his investigation of Blago. It shows the media that he'll go after Democrats, and since that's the most recent big corruption bust, it'll be fresh in their minds.
But he doesn't just go after Dems - let's look at his record:
- Investigation of Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) for corruption and conspiracy.
- Investigation of Dick Cheney's CoS, Scooter Libby (R) in the Plame CIA leak case. Here he went after members of the Bush administration, even though he was appointed by Ashcroft's own deputy.
- Investigation of members of Chicago Mayor Daley's (D) office for mail fraud and corruption.
- Investigation of Gov. George Ryan (R) for corruption.
- A number of other cases against mafia figures, WTC bombers, and others.
It's a strong record, and one that would give the nation, the media, and congress no reason to doubt the validity of the torture investigation. (Plus Fitzgerald knows how to handle the media during press briefings, so they won't be able to throw him off.)
The GOP won't be able to complain about him - he was their pick for the Plame CIA leak investigation, and even Bush said this about him:
"After the investigation was under way, the Justice Department appointed United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois Patrick Fitzgerald as a Special Counsel in charge of the case. Mr. Fitzgerald is a highly qualified, professional prosecutor who carried out his responsibilities as charged."
Just a few months ago the National Review was happily drooling at the notion that Fitzgerald's investigation of Blago would hurt Obama:
But that’s not the only way the incoming administration might be caught up in the Blagojevich affair. The probe is being conducted, after all, by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, the man who prosecuted one of the most intensely investigated and politically charged perjury-and-false-statements cases in Washington history. In that case, the Plame affair, no one was charged with any underlying crime, yet several Bush administration officials went through repeated sessions before a grand jury, plus interviews with investigators, with their statements subjected to extraordinarily close scrutiny. You don’t think the Blagojevich matter could cause trouble for Obama? Then you haven’t looked closely enough at the Plame affair.
But he knows, or should know, that Fitzgerald and his prosecutors won’t be nearly as accommodating as the press.
The point here isn't payback. It's that Fitzgerald is the sort of prosecutor everyone wants investigating the other team, because they know how good he is at it.