Wednesday :: Oct 12, 2005

Who is Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald?

by eriposte

As the Plame case appears to be reaching its conclusion and as the GOP attack dogs set their sights on Patrick Fitzgerald, I thought a quick rundown of what we know about him is in order. Frankly, I have no idea whether Fitzgerald will issue indictments in this case or not, but those on both sides of the political aisle may want to make note of his background and reputation.

1. Politics

  • Fitzgerald is a political independent
  • Fitzgerald has prosecuted cases involving both prominent Democrats and Republicans
  • He was appointed by former Bush Administration Attorney General John Ashcroft, nominated by President Bush and unanimously confirmed in the Senate to the position of United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. More details on his bio, here.

2. Key Backers

  • One of Patrick Fitzerald's biggest backers is former GOP Senator Peter Fitzgerald (no relation) who said of Fitzgerald that he is "someone who couldn't be prosecute someone unfairly". In fact, Sen. Fitzgerald has said that he supported Patrick Fitzgerald particularly on the recommendation of long-time Clinton-hater (and former FBI chief) Louis Freeh who, in response to this question: "Who's the best assistant U.S. attorney you know of in the country?", said "Patrick Fitzgerald in the Southern District of New York". Sen. Fitzgerald got the same answer from Mary Jo White at the New York office (of the FBI?).
  • Sen. Fitzgerald also said the following about him: "I thought, 'He is the original Untouchable,' ... You could just see it in his eyes that he was a straight shooter. There were no levers that anyone had over him. He had no desire to become a partner in a private law firm. He has no interest in electoral politics. He wanted to be a prosecutor."
  • A former Deputy Attorney General in the Bush administration who appointed him to his current role, James Comey, said: "What's been interesting is seeing the media accounts and the columnists portray him as some sort of runaway prosecutor. That makes me smile...Because there is no prosecutor who is less of a runaway than this guy."

3. Claim to Fame

  • He is known for his integrity and superior legal skills in prosecuting serious national security related cases (including Al Qaeda) and organized crime/mafia cases (not to mention he is known to be an "extreme workaholic").
  • He was the first lawyer to build a criminal indictment against Osama bin Laden, even before 9/11. As the Washington Post noted: "...The staff of the 9/11 commission called him one of the world's best terrorism prosecutors. He convicted Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and all four defendants in the embassy bombings, which had left 224 people dead. He extracted a guilty plea from Mafia capo John Gambino and became an authority on bin Laden, whom he indicted in 1998 for a global terrorist conspiracy that included the African bombings..."
  • As Chicago magazine noted: "Within 48 hours of the bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998, Fitzgerald was in Nairobi personally taking the case’s key confession."
  • Daniel Benjamin, a terrorism expert and former NSC member said of him: "His thoroughness, his relentlessness, his work ethic are legendary".

This Chicago magazine article provides a reasonably balanced (i.e., not overly fawning) profile of Fitzgerald.

More: See Prairie Weather, Truthout

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