U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald was ranked among prosecutors who had "not distinguished themselves" on a Justice Department chart sent to the White House in March 2005, when he was in the midst of leading the CIA leak investigation that resulted in the perjury conviction of a vice presidential aide, administration officials said yesterday.
Of course, Justice officials still deny that the firings had anything to do with politics.
The ranking placed Fitzgerald below "strong U.S. Attorneys . . . who exhibited loyalty" to the administration but above "weak U.S. Attorneys who . . . chafed against Administration initiatives, etc.," according to Justice documents.I'm sure they're right. After all, Fitzgerald is such a slacker.
Fitzgerald has been widely recognized for his pursuit of criminal cases against al-Qaeda's terrorist network before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and he drew up the official U.S. indictment against Osama bin Laden. He was named as special counsel in the CIA leak case in December 2003 after then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft recused himself.
Fitzgerald also won the Attorney General's Award for Distinguished Service in 2002 under Ashcroft.
Justice spokeswoman Tasia Scolinos said yesterday that "Pat Fitzgerald has a distinguished record as one of the most experienced and well-respected prosecutors at the Justice Department. His track record speaks for itself."
See there, "speaks for itself."
Now the Bushies are trying to say that this low ranking was all the work of D. Kyle Sampson, Gonzales's aide, and had nothing to do with them. Still, if Sampson's lists were used to determine who was fired, then why wasn't Fitz fired as well? Could it be because he was a little too high-profile at the time? You can't have it both ways, can you? Oh, right, double-think, I forgot.
But Fitzgerald also came under sharp criticism from many Republicans and press advocates for his aggressive pursuit of the Libby case.
TheMarch 2, 2005, memo from Sampson came in response to a proposal floated by Miers to remove all U.S. attorneys during Bush's second term. Fitzgerald was placed in a middle category among his peers: "No recommendation; have not distinguished themselves either positively ornegatively."
Although the ranking meant Sampson was not recommending those prosecutors for removal at the time, two U.S.attorneys who received the same ranking were fired last Dec. 7: Daniel G. Bogden of Nevada and Paul K. Charlton of Arizona. (emphasis mine)