The Wall Street Journal the bastion of conservative opinion in the United States has taken up the torch for Scooter Libby. In an editorial opinion on Tuesday, April 7, “The Libby Injustice” and in an op-ed “The False Evidence against Scooter Libby” it accuses Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzpatrick of refusing to provide exculpatory evidence to Libby’s lawyers and misleading Judith Miller a reporter for the New York Times in bringing about false testimony that he wanted.
Peter Berkowitz who wrote the op-ed noted that Fitzgerald stated Libby harmed national security by throwing sand in the eyes of federal investigators. Berkowitz went on: “Yet it was Mr. Fitzgerald who threw sand in the eyes of Ms. Miller and the American people, and in the gears of the U.S. legal system. As special counsel he placed his quest for a conviction above the search for truth and the pursuit of justice.”
The editorial opinion however was the one that most reminded me of the John Connolly case. It noted: “The episode also teaches lessons about the methods of modern prosecutors . . . . Mr. Fitzgerald became a Javert who wanted to get Vice President Dick Cheney for something, and he zeroed in on Mr. Libby . .. as his vehicle. . . . Mr. Fitzgerald twice told Mr. Libby’s lawyer that he would drop all charges against Mr. Libby’s (sic) if the chief of staff turned state’s evidence on Mr. Cheney. Mr. Libby had no evidence to trade, and Mr. Fitzgerald then set out to ruin Mr. Libby.“
I’ve written in my book how I talked to John Connolly (no relation) during his trial which I attended. I knew him professionally having met him a half-dozen times. I was at his trial hoping to find out something on another matter that had bothered me. Sitting in court having spent my career in the business I had the feeling there was another game being played. I sensed the trial was not about Connolly but was about someone else.
I approached Connolly during a recess after much of the evidence had come in. Up to that point we had nodded at each other – at one point he was exiting the head and he thanked me for coming in to support him. I felt bad about that because I was not there for that.
Yet sitting there, watching the cops laugh at John Martorano jokes, hearing how another’s name came up during the trial, I felt compelled to approach him. I said to him something to the effect: “You know John, you don’t have to be here. They don’t want you. They want you to give them something on Billy Bulger.” Billy is Wyshak’s Jean Valjean.
He replied: “I can’t give them anything on him. He is a man of integrity.” He also went on to say they wanted him to give him some other people higher up in the FBI but to do that he’d have to lie, and he couldn’t lie to get himself off the hook.
Like Libby, John Connolly had no evidence to trade and Mr. Wyshak set out to ruin him. The trial was back in 2002. John Connolly was sent to prison. He is still there. One can only wonder whether Mr. Wyshak and the Department of Justice (DOJ) are working feverishly behind the scene to keep him there. His conviction in Florida based on the lies of gangsters was clearly wrong. It has been reversed once by the Florida Appeals Court. It is reviewing it again. The issue is simple. The delay in an opinion is worrisome.
Unfortunately for Connolly he did not play on the national stage, only in Boston. There is no Boston paper that will be in his corner. Quite the opposite, the Boston media still cheers on the performance of Javert. It manufactured a big lie to sell newspapers and books.
One final note. Fitzgerald was appointed special prosecutor by Jim Comey. Fitzgerald is a prosecutor pal of Comey in the DOJ. He is godfather to one of his kids. Comey is now head of the FBI. I’ve written before that it was the DOJ from which Comey rose to head the FBI. It is a bad precedent to have DOJ prosecutors in charge of the FBI since they can compromise its independence to service the DOJ prosecutors vendettas.