Who Is CIA Leak Probe Prosecutor?

Federal Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald walks up to the Prettyman Federal Courthouse October 26, 2005 in Washington, DC. The grand jury investigating the CIA leak case might announce indictments this week before their term expires on Friday. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images) GETTY IMAGES/Mark Wilson

A man who's been bungee jumping even though he doesn't like heights, federal prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald will go a long way to challenge himself.

The attorney behind the CIA leak investigation has taken on Democrats at Chicago City Hall as well as Republicans at the White House in a career that has included chasing terrorists and the mob. An old friend called him "Elliot Ness with a Harvard law degree and a sense of humor."

CBS News correspondent Jim Axelrod reports that when it came to picking a special counsel for the high-stakes CIA leak case, , according to Fitzgerald's former boss, who says Americans should know that he is a top-notch attorney.

"What they ought to know first of all is they wish that this guy were cloned and every prosecutor in the United States could be just like him," said Mary Jo White, a former U.S. attorney.

The 44-year-old New Yorker, now Chicago's chief federal prosecutor, is digging into Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley's political empire, and corruption charges are flowing. At the same time he has been probing the disclosure of a CIA agent's identity in an investigation reaching to President Bush's top aides.

He's also behind the prosecution of former Gov. George Ryan on charges that Ryan steered contracts to friends and insiders in return for free vacations and other gifts while he was Illinois secretary of state during the 1990s.

As the hard-driving son of a Brooklyn doorman jets between Chicago and Washington, he's fast becoming one of the country's best known federal prosecutors.

So intense has been Fitzgerald's probe of payoffs and fraud at City Hall that rumors are flying about a possible effort by politicians to get Fitzgerald out of town. He brushes aside such questions.

"I'm just going to do my job until the telephone rings and somebody tells me not to," he said.

Friends say that even when Fitzgerald is not working, he stretches his boundaries.

U.S. Attorney David Kelley, his co-counsel in some New York cases, says the two of them have gone whitewater rafting, hang-gliding and even bungee jumping in New Zealand.

"Pat's not too big on heights," says Kelley. "I think that Pat likes to challenge himself and that speaks to the richness of his personality."

Axelrod reports that Fitzgerald's 100-hour work weeks became legendary — sleeping in his office and not knowing if his own stove worked since he'd never turned it on. He was even rejected when he tried to adopt a cat because he wasn't home enough.

Fitzgerald says he grew up as part of "a typical Brooklyn, Irish-American group of guys," but he also attended a small private Catholic high school where he studied Latin and Greek.
  • Stephen Smith

    Stephen Smith is a senior editor for CBSNews.com

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.