April 11, 2007

Capping the Cooper Caper - What Does Beldar Say?

Hatched by Dafydd

I was reading the statement by North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, dropping all remaining charges against the three Duke lacrosse team members, and I noticed the following passage:

The result of our review and investigation shows clearly that there is insufficient evidence to proceed on any of the charges. Today we are filing notices of dismissal for all charges against Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans.

The result is that these cases are over, and no more criminal proceedings will occur.

Had Cooper stopped right there, he would have been just about as informative -- and just about as fair -- as Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald was in concluding his lengthy, costly investigation into the Plame name blame game.

But Cooper did not stop there; he went on at some length to this effect:

We believe that these cases were the result of a tragic rush to accuse and a failure to verify serious allegations. Based on the significant inconsistencies between the evidence and the various accounts given by the accusing witness, we believe these three individuals are innocent of these charges.

We approached this case with the understanding that rape and sexual assault victims often have some inconsistencies in their accounts of a traumatic event. However, in this case, the inconsistencies were so significant and so contrary to the evidence that we have no credible evidence that an attack occurred in that house that night.

Note what Cooper said: that he believes the three former defendants are actually innocent. This goes a long way towards making them whole again after their warrentless persecution over the past thirteen months by election-driven DA Mike Nifong (who now faces his own day in court -- rather, before the bar association -- on various ethics charges).

By contrast, Fitzgerald's refusal even to say whether a crime was committed by revealing Valerie Plame Wilson's name, coupled with his tightlipped silence about the alleged violations by Vice President Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, and other high-ranking members of the administration, leaves a sword of Damocles hanging over the president's head... deliberately so, in my uninformed gut feeling.

I don't know whether Fitzgerald's animus against President Bush predates his appointment as special counsel or whether it developed during the investigation; but I honestly believe, without a shred of evidence to support it, that one reason he won't answer any questions is that he wants the administration to suffer... even though he could not find a single substantive charge to lodge against any one of them -- other than Scooter Libby's foolish perjury.

But even if I am incorrect that Fitzgerald wants a cloud of suspicion to hover over Bush's head for the next 1.75 years, few on either side would deny that that is the effect of Fitzgerald's refusal to speak. The vice president, the president's top advisors, and the president himself have all been smeared by inuendo for years, while the real liars who started everything -- "Ambassador" Joe Wilson himself, along with his duplicitous wife -- have been lionized; and the man who could lift that cloud smiles and says nothing.

A while back, you may recall that I had a lengthy go-round with brilliant lawblogger Beldar (Bill Dyer):

My position was that Fitzgerald owes the country a duty to resolve the controversy we set him to investigate. I call upon the special counsil to answer a series of general questions about the case.

Beldar's position was that prosecutors should speak only through indictments (or their lack), and that allowing them to answer such questions was too dangerous to those they may implicate without trial.

I'm curious whether Beldar will now denounce North Carolina's attorney general for his clear and unambiguous statement exonerating three young men falsely accused of a crime... thus, by definition, equally clearly implying that the false-accuser, 28 year old Crystal Gail Mangum, committed a bitter and vengeful felony against three innocent men.

Beldar may land on Cooper with both feet, for consistency's sake; or else he may be able to make a good case that Cooper is not just a prosecutor, he is an elected official, thus has a different duty. But I must confess, the circumstances seem pretty similar to me... though the decisions taken by the two principals, Fitzgerald and Cooper, are polar opposites.

Beldar, care to weigh in on this point? (Alas, he has closed comments and trackbacks on the two linked posts above, so he may never hear about this post at all. I think I'll e-mail him to let him know... I'm sure he'll be wildly appreciative!)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 11, 2007, at the time of 3:25 PM

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