"Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain": Cheney
by Last Night in Little Rock
Tomorrow's NY Times, online now, has two intriguing articles about VP Cheney: In Indictment's Wake, a Focus on Cheney's Powerful Role and Indictment Gives Glimpse Into a Secretive Operation. The first is a political story, but the second is more interesting because, reading between the lines, it focuses on a potential conspiracy in the White House.
The first article:
Vice President Dick Cheney makes only three brief appearances in the 22-page federal indictment that charges his chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby Jr., with lying to investigators and misleading a grand jury in the C.I.A. leak case. But in its clear, cold language, it lifts a veil on how aggressively Mr. Cheney's office drove the rationale against Saddam Hussein and then fought to discredit the Iraq war's critics.
The document now raises a central question: how much collateral damage has Mr. Cheney sustained?
Many Republicans say that Mr. Cheney, already politically weakened because of his role in preparing the case for war, could be further damaged if he is forced to testify about the infighting over intelligence that turned out to be false. At the least, they say, his office will be temporarily off balance with the resignation of Mr. Libby, who controlled both foreign and domestic affairs in a vice presidential office that has served as a major policy arm for the West Wing.
The second is far more interesting to me:
Over a seven-week period in the spring of 2003, Vice President Dick Cheney's suite in the Old Executive Office Building appears to have served as the nerve center of an effort to gather and spread word about Joseph C. Wilson IV and his wife, a C.I.A. operative.
I. Lewis Libby Jr., the vice president's chief of staff, is the only aide to Mr. Cheney who has been charged with a crime. But the indictment alleges that Mr. Cheney himself and others in the office took part in discussions about the origins of a trip by Mr. Wilson to Niger in 2002; about the identity of his wife, Valerie Wilson; and whether the information could be shared with reporters, in the period before it was made public in a July 14, 2003, column by Robert D. Novak.
The indictment identifies the other officials only by their titles, but it clearly asserts that others involved in the discussion involved David Addington, Mr. Cheney's counsel; John Hannah, deputy national security adviser; and Catherine Martin, then Mr. Cheney's press secretary.
Mr. Grossman, Mr. Hannah, Mr. Addington and Ms. Martin have all declined to comment, citing legal advice. The fact that they were not named in the indictment suggests that they will not be charged, but all can expect to be called as witnesses in any trial of Mr. Libby, setting up a spectacle that could be unpleasant for the administration.
I admit that I haven't been in the loop much on this because my day job has been taking too much time lately. So, I've kept my thoughts to myself and people who ask.
What is really going on here? I was driving back from court four hours away yesterday, and I was listing to Fitzgerald and the rest of the story on CNN on XM Radio. My take? Rove et al. are not out of the woods. Libby will be tempted to rat out everybody above him, but he will be a good soldier and take the fall, unless the thought of having to "being careful not to drop the soap in the shower" starts to work on him.
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