“Well, Isn’t that Special?” – Special, Yes, Prosecutor, No

Everyone else is talking about the unfortunate Scooter Libby so I might as well add to the discordant din, but hopefully with the added value of cutting to the krux of the matter.


It doesn’t take a legal expert to know in advance that jurors like to see guys with plucky Ivy League names like “Scooter” thrown in jail.  So with the jury’s verdict there are very few legal merits to debate here.


But let me first admit, that though I’ve tried, I neither understand the Scotty Libby charges nor the defense for that matter.  Apparently the jury felt the same way, because they needed 10 days and countless poster boards and even more Post-Its to deduce some coherency of the events.  Yet, give me and the jurors a break, I doubt less than 20% of the populace in 1974 (and much less today) even understood the charges against Richard Nixon and they were subjected to years of news coverage.


So, the only meaningful thing I can possibly extract from this episode is the same thing that I learn every time a Federal Special Prosecutor is appointed. 


That is: “Special Prosecutors are bad.”


Do you hear me Special Prosecutor? “Bad, bad, bad!” “Bad political lap dog!” “I should roll up a legal brief and hit you on the nose with it for soiling our federal justice system.”


So with that unbiased and high-minded remark, allow me to further the discussion by offering a laymen’s definition:


Federal Special Prosecutor – a prosecutor with unlimited resources who can’t stop investigating until someone is charged with something (no matter how unrelated to the original allegations).


So, for example, take a normal prosecutor, say like Durham’s Mike Nifong, give him a vague mandate, unlimited time, unlimited funds, and a large staff and tell him to just go start investigating people until he finds something wrong. 


Is there anyone with a modicum of common sense that doesn’t see this as a bad idea?


So what do you do when something is a bad idea?  Well, if you are the government, the one and only thing you ever do is change the name.  In this case it was changed from “Special Prosecutor” to “Independent Counsel” to the current “Special Counsel.” 


Dystopian science fiction works offer many characters who are comparable to modern day Special Prosecutors.  I think the most fitting in this case is Jack Lint played by Michael Palin in the Terry Gilliam film Brazil.  Jack works for the Ministry of Information’s Department of Information Retrieval as a civil servant/torturer and he loves his work.  As if the Brazil comparison could not possibly get any more apt, Wikipedia reminds me that “The machinery of Brazil has no personality and exceedingly poor quality control…bureaucracy is ruthless, tyrannical, and without feelings toward the people is claims to serve.”


If I may borrow the Church Lady’s catch phase: “Well isn’t that special?!?” – a typical “Special Prosecution” that is.


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