Next Monday, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is scheduled to go on trial in Chicago for the second time on public corruption charges, including his alleged attempt to enrich himself by selling Barack Obama’s former Senate seat. But still-unanswered questions about who leaked the highly sensitive information that Blago was being secretly wiretapped by the Justice Department continue to bubble to the surface.
As you may recall, Blago’s first trial last summer ended with a conviction on just one court of lying to the FBI. In a devastating blow to the tough-guy reputation of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, the jury deadlocked on the remaining 23 counts.
Fitzgerald vowed to retry Blago. Now it’s show time once again.
“With the kick-off of the retrial of the United States of America vs. Milorad Blagojevich upon us, there are several questions that must be answered in our never ending battle for 'truth, justice, and the American way', Tom Bennett writes in The May Report. And one of the “most urgent” questions, he says, is this:
“At 10:29 PM, on the evening of December 4, 2008, Governor Blagojevich was 'tipped-off' via the Chicago Tribune's John Chase that he was under Federal Surveillance and Wiretap. Same Federal Surveillance and Wiretap was under seal and being guarded in strictest of confidentiality.
“Question: How did John Chase and the Chicago Tribune obtain such hyper-confidential information, and who within our Federal Government leaked same hyper-confidential Federal Surveillance and Wiretap information to the Chicago Tribune's John Chase?”
Fitzgerald himself acknowledged that the still unknown leaker forced him to fold his undercover investigation prematurely before any money could actually be exchanged, but he’s apparently not the least bit interested in finding out who blew his case. On the contrary, he even tried to block Blago’s defense team from seeking an answer to the leak question.
A 17-page motion federal prosecutors filed on April 19th stated that the government “will limit its proof regarding the Senate seat to events occurring on or before December 5, 2008, the date upon which it became publicly known that the federal government was secretly recording the defendant’s conversations, and defendant agreed that [his brother] Robert Blagojevich should cancel his upcoming fundraising meeting with Raghu Nayak, who had offered bribes in exchange for the defendant appointing Jesse Jackson, Jr. to the Senate seat….”
“Contrary to defendant's suggestion, neither the identity of the individual who leaked to the Chicago Tribune information regarding the government's wiretaps, nor the government's interest or lack of interest in the identity of the leaker, has any bearing (emphasis added) on whether the defendant's statements after it became public that defendant's conversations were being recorded by the government wiretaps are probative of defendant's state of mind at an earlier time…,” Fitzgerald's court filing argued.
Mind you, this is the same prosecutor who put New York Times reporter Judith Miller in jail for nearly three months for not revealing whoever outed CIA agent Valerie Plame – even though, as Christopher Hitchens later pointed out, no federal crime had been committed.
On the contrary, leaking details of an ongoing federal criminal investigation is itself a crime. Where's the outrage?
One unpleasant possibility comes to mind: Fitzgerald has no interest in uncovering the identity of whoever tipped off Blago because, like the Justice Department did for former deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage in the Plame affair, the leaker's identity is being protected for political reasons.