10/21/2005

Daily Kos: Will Fitzgerald learn from Walsh's mistakes?

Money quote: The facts are that many of the actors in the current Plame Affair have strong ties to Reagan's inner circle and/or Defense Department, including I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who served as a Director of Special Projects (1982 - 1985), Donald Rumsfeld, Reagan's Special Envoy to the Middle East (1983 - 1984) and on Reagan's General Advisory Committee on Arms Control (1982 - 1986), and Stephen Hadley, appointed by Reagan to the very important position of Counsel to the Special Review Board, aka, the "Tower Commission". They cut their obstructionist teeth on Iran-Contra, and learned long ago that the media was a powerful tool in the undermining of a special prosecutor and his pet grand jury.

Fitzgerald is a very competent guy. But so was Walsh, and he was sent packing, disgraced, for investigating a case which easily could have brought down a king, and nearly did. Walsh's targets had at their disposal a malleable Congress and self-serving press corps. But even the House of that Congress was ostensibly controlled by Democrats, and the media had yet to be fully corporatized. Thus, Fitzgerald has far more potential landmines to avoid, with much less support. A few pardons here, or Congressional investigations there, and Rove, Scooter and their bosses are sitting pretty for as long as they like.


Will Fitzgerald learn from Walsh's mistakes?
by mbw
Mon Oct 17, 2005 at 04:24:21 PM CDT

Investigations of the White House, particularly in the hands of Republican Administrations, are far from uncommon in recent US history. While much of the focus is placed on Ken Starr's two-year long witch-hunt of Clinton and associates, the longest investigation (1986 - 1993), and potentially most devastating, in the number and seniority of potential indictees, was Lawrence Walsh's inquest into the events surround the Iran-Contra scandal, plotted and carried out from the White House during the Reagan Administration.

If one considers the Plame controversy to be "too complicated", the facts surrounding Iran-Contra could make your head explode.

on December 18, 1986, that Attorney General Edwin Meese requested the appointment of an Independent Counsel. Lawrence Walsh, a life-long Republican, semi-retired former US Attorney from Oklahoma City, was selected for the job and took over the FBI's investigation, termed "Operation Front Door", initiated by William Webster in late November 26, 1986.

From the beginning, however, Walsh didn't stand a chance. Congress opened its own hearings in the weeks after Walsh arrived in Washington; the Senate Select Committee on Secret Miliary Assistance to Iran and the Nicaraguan Opposition was formally established by Senate Resolution 23 on January 6, 1987, and the House Select Committee to Investigate Covert Arms Transactions with Iran was established by House Resolution 12 on January 7, 1987.

The ranking Republican on the House Select Committee was none other than Congressman Richard Cheney of Wyoming.

Cheney successfully blocked Chairman Lee Aspin's attempts to depose Vice President George H.W. Bush on his knowledge of events surrounding Iran-Contra. He also succeeded in making the final report almost entirely partisan, without a single Republican House member and only three moderate Republican Senators signing onto it. The "minority report" completely exonerated Bush and saved his presidential bid the following year.

For his service, George Bush made Dick Cheney Defense Secretary in 1989.

Republicans on the Select Committee also sought, and received, immunity for many of their key witnesses (North, Weinberger, etc.), despite being warned that it could lead to an inability to later convict them for any discovered crimes. Of course, this is precisely what happened when the appellate court overturned all convictions...

Of course, a true watchdog press could have aided by bringing pressure on controlling politicians. However, in a 1993 article, Robert Parry, who, as a reporter for AP and Newsweek broke many of the original Iran-Contra stories, describes a media atmosphere at the time not dissimilar to today's:

The final icing on the cake which sunk the Iran-Contra investigation was Bush's pardoning of Weinberger and six others after Walsh discovered Weinberger's handwritten notes on Iran-Contra in the summer of 1988, referenced by Parry above. The notes purportedly proved that not only was Weinberger much more involved than he'd reported to Congress in 1986, but so were Reagan, Bush and Powell, who, post-Gulf War I had achieved an almost god-like status in the eyes of the electorate.

It's rather ironic that many on both the Left and Right, when analyzing the current investigations by SP Fitzgerald on the outing of Valerie Plame, look to Colin Powell as a possible "straight-shooter" whose personal integrity would trump any loyalty he might feel for Bush. That may still be case, but it appears that Powell owes a fairly significant debt to the Bush family. And of course, we have no clue as to what new transgressions might be exposed should the Plame investigation bear fruit.

Daily Kos: Will Fitzgerald learn from Walsh's mistakes?

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