Tags: attorney | power

Book Chronicles U.S. Attorney's Abuse of Power

Wednesday, 10 Jun 2009 03:45 PM

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“The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse.” -- Edmund Burke

Golden Boy U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald is having a hissy fit over a book, "Triple Cross: How bin Laden's Master Spy Penetrated the CIA, the Green Berets, and the FBI — and Why Patrick Fitzgerald Failed to Stop Him," written in 2006 by Peter Lance.

Lance had the temerity (and documentation) to question the fiction of Fitzie’s infallibility. Fitzgerald calls the book a "deliberate lie masquerading as truth."

Bullfeathers!

Fitzgerald’s efforts to kill the publication of the paperback version of "Triple Cross" crescendoed when he most recently wrote to publisher HarperCollins, “ . . . if in fact you publish the book this month and it defames me or casts me in a false light, HarperCollins will be sued.”

Patrick Fitzgerald, U.S. Attorney for Illinois’s Northern District, is a prosecutorial stud:

  • "People" magazine listed him as one of their “sexiest men alive” in 2005 in the company of Sean Connery, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, and John Kennedy

  • He took down a couple of governors, including Rod Blagojevich

  • He had New York Times’ reporter Judith Miller imprisoned during an investigation

  • He scored a conviction of Scooter Libby (and flipped off Dick Cheney in the process)

    Now he’s threatening Lance with defamation — and libel charges. However, he supposedly is fighting as a private citizen defending his public reputation . . . wink-wink/nudge-nudge.

    “What Patrick Fitzgerald tried to do,” says Lance, “is virtually unprecedented. Understand that this is arguably the most powerful federal prosecutor in America combing through the book and writing 32 pages of threat letters, none of which make a viable claim for defamation. "Triple Cross" has become Patrick Fitzgerald’s obsession.”

    I have read all of Lance’s 9/11 work (www.peterlance.com) and find it detailed, compelling and serious journalism. Lance is an adherent of the Metcalf axiom “It is not a question of who is right or wrong but what is right or wrong that counts.”

    Fitzgerald apparently disagrees and accuses Lance of being “outrageously dishonest.” Although the threatening letters have been sent from a U.S. attorney (and at least one faxed and time stamped from the U.S. attorney’s office), the feud has taken on a school yard echo: “Did not! Did to! Oh yeah! In your face! Neener-neener.”

    HarperCollins has polished/tweaked the paperback version and added a new introduction that is mostly about the U.S. attorney’s efforts to kill the book (and will probably get more attention than “How bin Laden's Master Spy Penetrated the CIA, the Green Berets, and the FBI — and Why Patrick Fitzgerald Failed to Stop Him" — which is the too-long subtitle of "Triple Cross").

    Notwithstanding the ire and angst of Fitzgerald to "Triple Cross": that Fitzgerald mucked up handling a key FBI informant who doubled as an al-Qaida spy; a bogus sworn affirmation dissing Intel from an inmate snitch; and an alleged cover-up involving an FBI agent and a mobbed-up player, there are two key overlooked elements to this soap opera. They are the abuse of power and the unintended consequences.

    Abuse of power under the color of authority is a big deal and Fitzgerald’s over-the-top efforts to kibosh an investigative book about 9/11 is open to such a charge.

    Lord Chesterfield once observed, “An injury is much sooner forgotten than an insult.” The perceived insults in "Triple Cross" probably would have faded away into the shadows of conspiracy folklore without the itching and moaning and gnashing of teeth exhibited by the star U.S. attorney.

    The hardcover version of "Triple Cross" is ranked at 15,918 by Amazon. Pre-sales of the paperback version is ranked at 47,000 by Amazon.

    In the wake of Mike Isikoff’s Newsweek story as well as the Chicago Sun and Wall Street Journal coverage, Lance and HarperCollins should be getting early Christmas presents this year — all thanks to the excessive protestations of their harshest critic.

    “That’s the ultimate irony,” Lance says. “It wasn’t reviewed by a single U.S. publication. If Patrick Fitzgerald had not attempted to kill it, it would have just gone off into publishing obscurity. This is the true lesson of censorship.”

    HarperCollins says, "We believe the book fairly raises issues of public concern," a spokesman said. Their press release for "Triple Cross" added what should be obvious to anyone who reads it, that the book “stands as an important work of investigative journalism.”

    Lance says, “Patrick Fitzgerald accuses me of making charges in the book that I never made. At the same time, he continually fails to respond to the substantive allegations documented in 604 pages, 1,425 end notes, and 32 pages of documentary appendices.”

    Fitzgerald selectively has been using “no comment” to some reporters, adding that on this personal matter, he could be reached only through a P.O. Box (unless the moon is in a certain phase and he arbitrarily chooses to talk to certain people).

    Maybe Fitzgerald is refusing to respond to allegations and press inquires so as to include them in a book of his own? Meanwhile, a point-by-point refutation of "Triple Cross" would do more good for the legend of Patrick Fitzgerald than sophomoric trash talk.

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