“After an egregiously long delay, Attorney General John Ashcroft finally did the right thing yesterday when he recused himself from the investigation into who gave the name of a CIA operative to the columnist Robert Novak. Mr. Ashcroft turned the inquiry over to his deputy, who quickly appointed a special counsel.”
In the recent annals of press freedom, there are few more regrettable sentences than those two from a December 31, 2003, editorial in the New York Times. The special counsel that the Times was cheering on, Patrick Fitzgerald, is now threatening a Times reporter with jail, and in a way that jeopardizes the entire press corps. This is what happens when liberals let their partisan disdain for a President obscure their interest in larger principles.
The Times was hardly alone, let us hasten to add. Well-nigh every liberal newspaper in the country was calling for Mr. Ashcroft to recuse himself and name a “special counsel,” in the hope of nailing the Bush Administration official who had “leaked” the name of CIA analyst Valerie Plame. The idea that there might be some First Amendment equities at stake was overlooked amid the partisan frenzy, and in any case Mr. Novak was expendable because he was a conservative.
If you want a crystal clear example of liberal hyperventilation regarding the Plame affair, I would recommend perusing Kevin Drum’s Calpundit archives. Kevin still, to my knowledge, will not cede that Wilson is a liar and a fraud.