HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
February 12, 2007, Herald Journal

Two cases, two illegals, two results

By ROZ KOHLS

There’s a saying that “politics makes strange bedfellows.” In the American justice system, you could say the same thing about two incidents Jan. 30.

In Los Angeles, an immigration judge ordered the government to halt its 20-year effort to deport two Palestinian men accused of having terrorist ties, according to the Washington Post.

They were arrested for being in a terrorist organization, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and raising funds for it. It is an offshoot of the violent Palestine Liberation Organization, which opposes peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel.

They faced two charges, they were in this country illegally, and they were members of a terrorist group.

They were released because they were in “legal limbo” for 20 years, and the government took too long to prosecute their case, the judge said.

On the same day, on the other side of the country, in Washington D.C., Scooter Libby was on trial for committing perjury in an investigation about who told a reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the Central Intelligence Agency.

The multimillion-dollar investigation lasted two years, and culminated only in the perjury trial underway now.

Here is where the contrast between the two cases gets nutty.

First, it wasn’t illegal to tell a reporter where Plame worked, because she wasn’t an undercover agent. Plame was an intelligence analyst.

Second, it wasn’t Libby who “leaked” her name to a reporter. It was former deputy secretary of state, Richard Armitage.

The prosecutor, Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, knew from the beginning that Armitage was the person who gave Plame’s name to the reporter, Bob Novak.

“I’m sure that was me,” Armitage told CBS News. “Fitzgerald, the special counsel, once he was appointed, asked me not to discuss this, and I honored his request.”

More than two years later, Libby is facing the possibility of $1.25 million in fines, and 30 years in jail, even though the prosecutor knew from the start who the “leaker” was.

And what of the two Palestinians in the country illegally? They are free to go wherever they choose, and associate with whomever they want.