There was anger, anguish and incredulity in the fever swamps last week when Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald made it clear he would not indict White House political guru Karl Rove in his apparently endless investigation of the outing of CIA officer Valerie Plame.
This should remind us the greater threat to our civil liberties comes not from the measures the Bush administration has taken to protect us from terrorists, but from prosecutors who abuse their power for political purposes.
Liberals wanted Mr. Rove indicted because he is a skilled political adversary.
The interest among liberals in an indictment of the person who actually told columnist Robert Novak about Ms. Plame (thought to be former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage) is zero, because there would be no political gain from it.
Their efforts to criminalize policy differences stem from two related beliefs, both inimical to democracy.
The first is the belief that anyone who disagrees with me is evil and must be punished. It's hard to find people on the moonbat left who don't think this way.
The second is the belief that whatever I do to obtain political power is legitimate. Many Democrats who recognize belief No. 1 is a crock eagerly embrace this one.
Travis County (Austin) District Attorney Ronnie Earle indicted then House Majority Leader Tom DeLay for a fundraising practice that wasn't illegal under Texas law, and which he knew Democrats were using, too.
For more than two years, the state attorney in Palm Beach tried to indict conservative radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh for a felony because of his addiction to painkillers. Contrast this with the kid-glove treatment given Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., whose substance abuse problems are more public.
For liberals, it's the accusation that matters; not whether or not it is true. Consider the liberal rush to judgment in the Duke rape case.
Duke University lacrosse players raped me, an exotic dancer claimed in March. Because the accuser is black and female, and the accused are white males, liberals needed no evidence to declare their guilt.
Among them was District Attorney Mike Nifong, who was weeks away from a hotly contested primary election.
Mr. Nifong indicted three Duke players based on a questionable identification from the accuser, despite the fact there was no DNA evidence linking them to her, and that at least one of the three had an alibi.
Mr. Nifong won his primary, but his case is falling apart. He'd concealed from the grand jury and the presiding judge that the accuser had told wildly different stories (she'd been raped by three men; she'd been raped by 20 men; she hadn't been raped at all), and that the nurse who examined her found no evidence of rape, or that she'd been beaten and strangled, as she claimed.
I suspect Mr. Fitzgerald didn't indict Mr. Rove because he doesn't want to be known as the Mike Nifong of federal prosecutors. But it may be too late.
Mr. Fitzgerald was appointed to determine whether the Intelligence Identities Protection Act had been violated. The answer was no, because the law applies only to those who are working under cover overseas, or who have done so in the five years preceding disclosure, and Ms. Plame had been manning a desk at CIA headquarters for longer than that.
Not deterred by the absence of a crime, Mr. Fitzgerald indicted Lewis Libby, then the chief of staff for the vice president, for allegedly lying about his conversations with Time magazine's Matthew Cooper. But various drafts of Mr. Cooper's story about Ms. Plame suggest it may be Mr. Cooper who has the credibility issues.
Mr. Fitzgerald is a sloppy prosecutor who rushes to judgment, and then has to backtrack, charged Washington, D.C., lawyer Clarice Feldman.
In one recent high-profile case, Mr. Fitzgerald's staff mistakenly sent 16 cartons of classified documents to attorneys for the terror suspects he was prosecuting, she said.
In another, Mr. Fitzgerald charged the victim in a financial fraud case instead of its perpetrators.
"Fitzgerald is good at creating elaborate facades which tart up the ramshackle huts to which they are affixed," Ms. Feldman said. "Once those facades are removed, it is obvious the cases behind them are rickety."
Journalists who do not wish to be cross-examined about when and from whom they learned of Ms. Plame's occupation want this case to go away. I suspect Mr. Fitzgerald does, too, but it's hard to dismount from the tiger he's riding.