As Counsel, Fred Thompson Walked Capital's Fine Line

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The Reagan administration was only a few months old when it faced a major test: Senators were calling for the head of the president’s new director of central intelligence, and no one knew if he would survive their investigation into his tangled past business dealings and questionable agency management.

But the White House’s worries were quickly set to rest by the man the Senate had chosen to get to the bottom of the matter, Fred D. Thompson. In July 1981, just one day into his job as special counsel to the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mr. Thompson assured the White House that there was no “smoking gun,” documents show. He had yet to interview a single witness.

Based on Mr. Thompson’s subsequent investigation, the Senate declared the intelligence director, William J. Casey, “not unfit to serve.”

“He was looking to save Casey’s job,” said Irvin Nathan, who represented the committee’s Democratic minority. “His job was to get the matter off the table for the White House. He did it well, and he did it graciously.”

Next month, Mr. Thompson is expected to join the Republican race for president. While he is perhaps best known for playing the tough-minded District Attorney Arthur Branch on the NBC show “Law & Order,” it is his real-life role as an investigator of government wrongdoing that has become a central part of the political biography he hopes will propel him to the presidency.

But the public image of the impartial, “let the chips fall where they may” prosecutor that Mr. Thompson has cultivated masks a more nuanced reality.

As Mr. Thompson’s actions in the Casey inquiry illustrate, he sometimes straddled a fine line between investigating his targets and defending them. Dozens of interviews and records from two administrations reveal a lawyer who often struggled to balance the agenda of his party against his duty to pursue the truth aggressively and independently.

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C. M. OrereasontovoteforFDT - 8/29/2007

I truly trust this man to guide our country down the right path on all subjects.
I also sincerely believe the citizens will respond when he asks us to shake the Capitol in ending this partisan nightmare in one else now running or otherwise could hope to gain our respect and support to that degree.

Run Fred, RUN!!