Putting the Cart Before the Horse

Ted Olson, former solicitor general, focuses on the danger of launching investigations before determining whether a crime has been committed:

Mr. Fitzgerald justified his subpoenas on the ground that the journalists were “eyewitnesses to the crime.” But he was unable to establish, and he certainly hasn’t charged, that there was a crime in the first place. If special prosecutors can be empowered to investigate allegations of conduct that isn’t first established to be criminal, and to interrogate witnesses — especially reporters — about memories of distant conversations with sources regarding conduct that isn’t plainly criminal, there is no politically motivated allegation that can’t be turned into a criminal cover-up. So, regardless of how one might feel about the administration or the war in Iraq, the circumstances of this prosecution, and the involvement of reporters such as Tim Russert as prosecution witnesses, ought to give us occasion to pause and consider the implications of Mr. Fitzgerald’s redefinition of “Meet the Press.”

From an article in today’s Wall Street Journal available in the print edition or to subscribers of the online edition.

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