A Kinder, Gentler Libby

The New York Times Sunday profiles Lewis "Scooter" Libby. While it's intended to be a humanizing piece, and it does accomplish that goal, it's also notable for possible clues as to what Libby is planning.

  • Clue One:

Mr. Libby, 55, might face indictment in the next week on charges of misleading investigators in the case or trying to cover up the extent of his involvement, lawyers involved in the case have said.

  • Clue Two:

But friends and associates said Mr. Libby is not at heart a political animal. They suggest that whatever legal problems he faces from his role in pushing back at criticism by a former ambassador, Joseph C. Wilson IV, of the administration's use of pre-war intelligence about Iraq's weapons programs, he was acting not as a political hatchet man but in defense of ideas and policies he believed in.

The article makes no mention of any liability Libby may have for improperly disclosing that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA. It's just the cover-up. By denying he was a "political hatchet man" and maintaining he was acting from his own principles, Libby's team is signaling that Libby will maintain that no one, including his boss Dick Cheney, instructed him to discredit Wilson or out his wife.

This article leads me to believe that Libby already has cut his deal with Fitzgerald and will plead to a false statement, perjury and/or obstruction of justice charge, in exchange for not being charged with an offense regarding leaking classified information or conspiring to do so.

If Wurmser and Hannah have, as reported, cooperated, I doubt Libby has any chance of escaping Indictment. If Karl Rove, as I suspect, drove the final nail in Libby's coffin during his four and one-half hour testimony ten days ago, I think Libby has no choice but to fall on his sword for Cheney and plead guilty.

He may fall on his sword by saying that Cheney directed him, using the White House Iraq Group, to discredit Wilson's findings from his Niger trip, but that Cheney never said anything about discrediting Wilson personally or outing his wife. Libby may say that the plan to discredit Wilson by alleging nepotism through his wife was his idea, perhaps formulated with information from David Wurmser or John Hannah or someone else who also has decided to cooperate. He may say he didn't discuss with Cheney the mechanics of the plan -- calling reporters to tell them about Wilson's wife.

As to Rove, I think the pieces of the jig-saw puzzle began falling into place with the New York Daily News article reporting that Bush was angry at Rove for the clumsy way the attack on Joseph Wilson was handled.

An angry President Bush rebuked chief political guru Karl Rove two years ago for his role in the Valerie Plame affair, sources told the Daily News. "He made his displeasure known to Karl," a presidential counselor told The News. "He made his life miserable about this."

I don't think the point of this revelation was to imply that Bush lied when he said he didn't know who was behind the Plame Leak or that he'd fire that person if he found out he worked in his Administration. The point was to spare Bush from being linked to advance knowledge of the plan - and to allow Rove to 'fess up while protecting the President.

Now here's a question: How possible is it that Rove's cooperation bought him a complete pass, and among the chief honchos, Libby is left to take the fall alone?

< Judith Miller's Tenure at the Times May Be History | Sunday Open Thread >
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  • Display: Sort:
    Re: A Kinder, Gentler Libby (none / 0) (#1)
    by squeaky on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:16 PM EST
    It is most likely that it is PR spin to minimize the impending pardons.

    Re: A Kinder, Gentler Libby (none / 0) (#2)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:16 PM EST
    deleted - off-topic

    Re: A Kinder, Gentler Libby (none / 0) (#3)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:16 PM EST
    off-topic, deleted

    Re: A Kinder, Gentler Libby (none / 0) (#4)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:16 PM EST
    My take is that Libby is being set up by Rove and Bush to take the fall for the whole mess (although Cheney isn't happy about it). I know the prevailing theory is that whoever gets convicted for this wlll be pardoned by Bush. But Bush actively enjoys ruining people's lives and he's never "got" the concepts of nobesse oblige or that loyalty might run both ways. So it's completely plausible that if Libby (or whoever) is nailed for this, he'll stay nailed. And chances are, he knows it.

    Re: A Kinder, Gentler Libby (none / 0) (#5)
    by Jlvngstn on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:17 PM EST
    I ended my subscription to the NYT when Judith Miller had carte blanche to report as much fiction as she desired. It is nice to see that americas liberal bastion for news is still as left as Rush and O'Reilly claim it is. I think it is imperative before an indictment to push a puff piece on the target, it really demonstrates a sense of fairness. I hope that the next democrat about to be indicted gets the same treatment.

    Re: A Kinder, Gentler Libby (none / 0) (#6)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:17 PM EST
    "when Judith Miller had carte blanche" Carte blanche is now carte rouge. No forgiveness for the NYT until the top staff resigns over this crime against our country.