Wednesday, September 27, 2006

CIA Leak Investigation Done On The Cheap

This is a good measure of the relative importance of two Washington scandals, at least to the establishment.

Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald, who investigated whether senior Bush administration officials illegally leaked the name of a CIA operative for political payback, has spent $1.4 million in his probe over the past three years, his office reported yesterday -- a figure that establishes him as remarkably frugal in the ranks of recent special investigators.

Independent Counsel Kenneth W. Starr's investigations of President Bill Clinton's affair with Monica S. Lewinsky and his ties to the failed Whitewater land investment cost $71.5 million and took eight years. Independent Counsel David M. Barrett's examination of Clinton housing secretary Henry G. Cisneros over an extramarital affair and potential illegal payments cost $21 million and lasted 10 years. ...

The true cost to taxpayers of Fitzgerald's operation is actually $333,000, according to his spokesman Randall Samborn, because Fitzgerald has relied on a handful of federal prosecutors in Chicago, where he is the U.S. attorney, and in the Justice Department in Washington, and made use of government offices in both locations.

The government would pay rent and utilities for that office space anyway, and those prosecutors would be getting a government paycheck even if they weren't now spending their work hours marshaling evidence against Libby and duking it out with his defense lawyers in pretrial skirmishes. The probe's salary and building costs total $1.1 million.

It seems that the days of loading the boat with prosecutors for a big politically tinged investigation are over.

At least until the next Democrat is suspected of wrongdoing.


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