What is Richard Cohen thinking?

Not much...

It’s amazing what can find it’s way into the pages of a newspaper’s op-ed section. This morning, the Washington Post’s Richard Cohen was given the green light by his editors to enlighten the ignorant masses about the leftist conspiracy (or perhaps Stalinist, as he darkly hints late in the piece) to send Scooter Libby to jail.

According to Cohen, “at the urging of the liberal press,” special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was appointed to look into the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame, and ended up putting poor Scooter in jail for the negligible crime of lying under oath? After all, as Cohen says, government officials should not be “called to account for practicing the dark art of politics. As with sex or real estate, it is often best to keep the lights off.”

Is Cohen seriously advocating that government officials not be held accountable for their (illegal) actions, since they’re just practicing “politics?” While it’s an argument Richard Nixon would certainly love, it’s not only bad policy, but incredibly irresponsible journalism to suggest that such things should just be left alone. Any journalist who advocates a position like this should hand over their laptop, because it’s apparent that they don’t take their profession seriously.

And that’s not even the half of it. By portraying the driving force behind Fitzgerald’s prosecution as the “liberal media,” Cohen makes a pathetic attempt to rewrite history. I’ll leave it to Salon’s Glenn Greenwald to knock this one out of the park.

The Libby prosecution clearly was the dirty work of the leftist anti-war movement in this country, just as Cohen describes. After all, the reason Patrick Fitzgerald was appointed to investigate this matter was because a left-wing government agency (known as the “Central Intelligence Agency”) filed a criminal referral with the Justice Department, as the MoveOn-sympathizer CIA officials were apparently unhappy about the public unmasking of one of their covert agents.

In response, Bush’s left-wing anti-war Attorney General, John Ashcroft, judged the matter serious enough to recuse himself, leading Bush’s left-wing anti-war Deputy Attorney General, James Comey, to conclude that a Special Prosecutor was needed. In turn, Comey appointed Fitzgerald, the left-wing anti-war Republican Prosecutor and Bush appointee, who secured a conviction of Libby, in response to which left-wing anti-war Bush appointee Judge Reggie Walton imposed Libby’s sentence.

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Paul McLeary is senior editor of Defense Technology International magazine, and is a former CJR staffer.