"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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    I bet he pleads not guilty, they drag the pretrial motions long enough to get over the 2006 election than Bush pardons him. The story ends with no one admitting any wrongdoing. You can add Rove to the scenario. There is no reason to plea if you know a pardon is around the corner. Fitz has zero pressure.

    Re: "Pay no attention to that man behind the curta (none / 0) (#2)
    by profmarcus on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:32 PM EST
    i feel like i'm being sent back to square one while our country continues to be trashed by a gang of criminals... now i see that robert parry feels the same...
    The larger conspiracy – to punish an Iraq War critic for telling the truth about false intelligence used to take the United States to war – will go unpunished and unexplained, at least for now. In street terms, it looks a lot like the White House got a walk.

    Re: "Pay no attention to that man behind the curta (none / 0) (#3)
    by learned hound on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:32 PM EST
    Fitzgerald is obviously very very cautions. But if you read the indictment it sounds like Rove (Official A) and Cheney at the very least acted in concert with Libby's obstruction. It's not a big jump to think that Libby leaked at their direction. That would be conspiracy. The best is yet to come...

    hope.... --John Cleese, in "Clockwise" Just when I think my pessimism has borne fruit and I am reassured that nothing will be done and we're all going to hell, stuff like this turns up. From gadfly, a former SEC enforcer, who looks over the indictment with a very experienced eye: The Libby indictment goes considerably beyond what the rule requires, or even envisions. It is what's called, in courthouse vernacular, a “speaking indictment.” The purpose of a “speaking” filing, in any court proceeding, is to show the other side some of the stronger cards you're holding in your hand, and this indictment is no exception. [snip] No, the real reason to lay out as much factual detail as he did was for Fitz to show the world (and in particular, the world within the White House) that he has the goods, and that he won't hesitate to drop the dime on some additional malefactors, particularly, Cheney. I.e., they're not out of the woods yet. Everything is there for charges based on the leak itself. That sword is still hanging, and Fitz is letting them see it. Libby hasn't just been charged, he's still being squeezed. Hard. That's the theory anyway. Dunno. If this and similar things I've read are accurate, Fitz is playing a hell of a long game involving sophisticated between-the-lines or even nonverbal communication. I don't like that kind of triple-bankshot argument, but gadfly's perspective is hard to dismiss. And what was Fitz doing letting himself be seen standing outside Bush's criminal lawyer's office? This is one of the most sealed-up, close-mouthed prosecutors around. Sending a message? Hard not to think so. Certainly Fitz has got to know it's going look that way from inside the WH.

    System ate my John Cleese quote dammit: "It's not the despair. I can handle the despair. It's the hope..."

    Ah, a troll's life is truly never done (they just recycle): Posted by pepsigold at October 29, 2005 05:58 PM I bet he pleads not guilty, they drag the pretrial Posted by pepsigold at October 29, 2005 05:50 PM I bet he pleads not guilty, they drag the pretrial

    Re: "Pay no attention to that man behind the curta (none / 0) (#7)
    by Dadler on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:33 PM EST
    A potential conspiracy? How about a conspiracy that will either be proven or go unproven. Either way it will still have existed. Then again, I'm probably wrong, and it all just happened by accident.