Thursday, October 27, 2005

Getting Ready for Karl's Closeup

Run, Don't Walk
The prosecutor investigating the outing of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson has secured at least one indictment in the case from a majority of the 23 grand jurors, lawyers and intelligence officials close to the case have told the raw story.

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's federal probe is expected to end Friday with indictments of White House officials. The situation remains fluid, however, as multitudes of bloggers, media pundits and other Washington watchers speculate about imminent action.

For its part mainstream media is preparing to shift modes from investigation to prosecution. Photographers are staking out Washington’s district courthouse for sightings of Fitzgerald and staff. More important, however, would be an appearance by any one the White House operatives fingered by the investigation.

According to Dan Froomkin at the Washington Post, if Fitzgerald takes any indictments to a judge today, he would be accompanied by his grand jury foreperson. "So keep an eye out for that," Froomkin advises the expectant media horde. "Also keep an eye out for senior administration officials showing up at the courthouse very, very late at night."

The defining image photogs are waiting for is that most damning of spectacles: the "perp walk."

A contact within the White House press corps tells MediaCitizen that defendants-in-waiting Rove and Libby have set their legal armies maneuvering to avoid the political damage such a public display would wreak for their clients and the White House.

Whether Rove will be indicted or not is unclear, Froomkin writes. "But here's what you need to keep in mind: There is every reason to think that Rove is throwing every move he's got at Fitzgerald in an attempt to escape criminal charges."

The anticipated indictments will list the crimes the defendants allegedly committed and describe the facts the government believes support those allegations. Lawyers close to the investigation say Fitzgerald is considering perjury, obstruction of justice and false statement charges. Fitzgerald’s grand jury indictments would be returned to the DC District Court, which would then issues warrants for arrest.

How soon arrests would follow is unclear. The timing of arrests is often at the discretion of the law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction. In the case of well-represented defendants, arrests are negotiated with prosecutors to limit the public humiliation of the perp walk.

Some prosecutors are more willing to let certain defendants come to court on their own and not in manacles. In 2003, Martha Stewart was allowed to turn herself in without a public display. Six months before Stewart's arrest, authorities with guns seized 78-year-old Adelphia Communications executive John Rigas and his two sons and marched them in chains before the cameras -- even though their attorneys offered to surrender the trio. When former Enron Chairman Ken Lay surrendered following indictments in July 2004, photographers lined up by the dozens to take his picture.

Shit Eater
After a warrant was issued for the arrest of Congressman Tom DeLay (R-TX) his lawyer skillfully outflanked the media by switching DeLay’s surrender from one courthouse to another. Reporters and photographers, who had staked out the Fort Bend County Jailhouse for days, were left in their news vans as Delay waltzed into the courthouse in adjacent Harris County. But Delay's perp-walk dodge backfired when he gave the media a present from the vaults: a shit-eating mug shot that’s proved equally his undoing.

Crime media thrive on such moments. Criminal trials by their very nature don’t offer up the visual dynamics that television news craves. There are no getaway cars careening down county roads, police (and news) helicopters in tow, no flood waters washing away SUVs and mobile homes. Instead we’re left with reporters squinting before the kliegs outside a courthouse. If cameras are allowed inside, they depict a defendant dully seated at the table, lawyers and judges shuffling papers. In the often somnambulant universe of court TV, the perp walk ranks as high drama.

Karl Rove has hired "battle-tested" Washington litigator Robert Luskin to make his client's case before the cameras. Luskin -- who brings powerhouse firm Patton Boggs to Rove's aide – has a talent for burnishing client reputations before the media. Roll Call gossip columnist Mary Ann Akers writes that Fitzgerald was spotted Tuesday paying Ruskin a visit at his plush Washington offices. Could a plea deal be in the works?

Chances are high that Rove and Scooter Libby could face real prosecution. But they’ll also undergo trial by media, which, for many a seasoned politician, is a penalty far worse than incarceration. Being photographed in handcuffs is political cyanide for any hopeful entertaining a future in politics. For veterans such as Rove and Libby these images may become their tombstones.


RADdams said...

As Neo-con cheerleader Bill O'Riley said last week when referring to Libby and Rove "These are all nasty people when it comes to politics". It is clear they both tried to discredit Wilson to bolster the lies spewing out of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, the only thing that remains unclear is where they criminal in their intent and were they criminal in their conduct during the investigation. I have confidence in the Special Prosecutor that he will determine whether there appears to be evidence that will stick to these slippery characters. Ultimately, I think Dick Cheney and Robert Novak are the two most guilty of wrongdoing, but Dick appears to be too slippery and Novak "was just doing his job".

Soon enough, we will all know more of the truth behind this sad affair directly from Special Presecutor Fitzpatrick. In the least, this exercise has reminded us all that this is a government of the people, by the people and for the people and the administration has been put on notice of this fact.

RADdams said...

I failed to mention that an additional outcome of this whole process is that Dick Cheney should now know some form of shame and that he cannot continue to lie to the American people and not be found out. I never believed the man, but now he has given us all reason to question his no good word.

Robert Novak is just a fool, but he has done a fine job demonstrating that with his live potty mouth which demonstrated that he couldn't handle the pressure that resulted from his own "professional work". It's only fair that he self-destructed when he tried to destroy someone else.