Predicting Scooter Libby's Next Move

There's a curious article in yesterday's Insight News, a conservative publication, that reports that Libby's lawyers in court filings have named three possible sources at the State Department for the Valerie Plame Leak: former Secretary of State Colin Powell, former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and then-Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman.

I say "curious" because it is based on a pleading (pdf) filed three weeks ago, on March 17, 2006, and hardly breaking news. Why write a new article on this? A thorough read of the article suggests to me that Libby's lawyers want it out there.

Let's take a closer look. Insight reports:

In September 2003, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell was reported to have identified Mrs. Plame as a CIA agent who convinced the agency to send her husband on a mission to Niger in 2002....Court papers filed by the defense suggest that Mr. Armitage leaked Mrs. Plame's identity to Mr. Novak and perhaps to The Washington Post's Bob Woodward.....Then-Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman was alleged to have told Mr. Libby of Mrs. Plame's employment at the CIA a month before her identity was leaked.

The lawyers' goal, according to the article, is to highlight the infighting among the White House, State Department and CIA over the flub over weapons of mass destructions.

"If the facts ultimately show that Mr. Armitage or someone else from the State Department was also Mr. Novak's primary source, then the State Department and certainly not Mr. Libby bears responsibility for the 'leak' that led to the public disclosure," the defense said in the March 17 filing.

Putting aside that Libby isn't charged with being the source of the leak but lying about where he learned the information and whom he told about it, that Fitzgerald will fight the introduction of this kind of evidence and it's up in the air as to whether the Court would allow it, Insight reports that Libby plans to subpoena Powell, Armitage, Grossman and Rove, and that "National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley has also been targeted by the defense."

Of course, bloggers and journalists reported this the day after the motion was filed (more here, here and here.) So what's the point of writing about it now?

I can only speak from a legal angle, but here's what I see: Libby's team is getting ready to throw Marc Grossman under the bus.

The defense has also identified another former State Department official as the possible leaker. Then-Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman was alleged to have told Mr. Libby of Mrs. Plame's employment at the CIA a month before her identity was leaked.

"If Mr. Armitage or another State Department official was in fact the primary source for Mr. Novak's article, Mr. Grossman's testimony may be colored by either his personal relationship with Mr. Armitage or his concern for the institutional concerns of the State Department," the defense said.

That says to me that Grossman is cooperating with the Government and going to be a prosecution witness, and that Libby's lawyers are publicly laying out how they intend to impeach him: by claiming he is not to be believed because (either or both) his true loyalty is to Richard Armitage rather than to the truth, or he is a self-aggrandizing government employee who thinks of himself a true patriot whose duty it is to save the integrity of the State Department. (See Jason Leopold's article last month on whistleblowers in the State Department.)

I wonder what they have in store for Colin Powell and Richard Armitage.

< The Real Cover-Up in the Valerie Plame Investigation | Amnesty Int'l Releases Report on CIA Secret Flights >
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    Re: Predicting Scooter Libby's Next Move (none / 0) (#1)
    by orionATL on Tue Apr 04, 2006 at 06:20:35 PM EST
    you may only be able to comment from the legal perspective but your writing on legal/political events is as direct, readable, and informative as josh marshalls's journalistic writing on politics. thanks

    Re: Predicting Scooter Libby's Next Move (none / 0) (#2)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Apr 04, 2006 at 06:26:03 PM EST
    Orion, thank you! That's a great compliment and much appreciated.

    Re: Predicting Scooter Libby's Next Move (none / 0) (#3)
    by rdandrea on Tue Apr 04, 2006 at 06:30:16 PM EST
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but what does the source of the Plame leaks have to do with anything? Libby isn't charged with leaking the name of a CIA agent or even disclosing classified data. He's being charged with lying to investigators and the Grand Jury. The only defense is "I didn't lie to them." Or maybe "Somebody lied to them but it wasn't me." Who REALLY leaked Plame's name is irrelevant. Did he lie to investigators and the Grand Jury or didn't he? This isn't politics. Libby doesn't get to answer a totally different question than the one that was asked.

    Re: Predicting Scooter Libby's Next Move (none / 0) (#4)
    by squeaky on Tue Apr 04, 2006 at 06:40:47 PM EST
    Maybe the 'Libby Defense Fund' placed the news regurgitation for new indictments soon to be announced. On the face of it how can they introduce evidence tangential to the charges? Fitzpatrick was very clever to limit his charges. Team Libby seems to do all but focus on what is actually charged. Hope the court don't buy into this obvious McGuffin.

    Re: Predicting Scooter Libby's Next Move (none / 0) (#5)
    by profmarcus on Tue Apr 04, 2006 at 07:17:13 PM EST
    Jason Leopold at Truthout has a major story on Fitz and Plame the thumbnail is that fitz has known the leaker's identity since february 2004 and. . .
    . . . that John Hannah, a senior national security aide on loan to Vice President Dick Cheney from then-Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs John Bolton, decided to cooperate with the investigation or face criminal charges for his involvement in the leak.
    rove may still be goin' down...

    Re: Predicting Scooter Libby's Next Move (none / 0) (#6)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Apr 04, 2006 at 10:00:43 PM EST
    ‎... I'm still waiting with bated breath for a follow up on the OVP's response to Jason ‎Leopold's article, exposing Hannah as the tattle-tell that got ole Libby indicted. ‎According to Jason Leopold no one at the White House was aware of Hannah's tendency ‎to talk. And I'm wondering --- obsessively if Hannah is finding life difficult, in spite of ‎his recent promotion due to Libby's unfortunate departure.‎

    Re: Predicting Scooter Libby's Next Move (none / 0) (#7)
    by scoop on Tue Apr 04, 2006 at 10:17:33 PM EST
    Stall, ask for more depositions, stall some more, hope that they don't need their October surprise and that the media comes through for them by November. We need that Rove-faced ace Fitz has up his sleeve.

    Re: Predicting Scooter Libby's Next Move (none / 0) (#8)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Apr 05, 2006 at 08:34:19 AM EST
    Scoop: Maybe you're on to something there. The game might be to try to drag the start of the trial until after the November elections. The President is then a true lame duck, and he can't really further damage Republican election chances...so, presto/chango, Libby gets a pardon. (Maybe lots of people do...."it's in the best interests of our national security you know.") And that sort of makes Congressional Hearings a moot point if the Dems take back one house of Congress.

    Re: Predicting Scooter Libby's Next Move (none / 0) (#9)
    by Bill Arnett on Wed Apr 05, 2006 at 10:47:45 AM EST
    What puzzles me is that there has been no mention of a "diminished capacity" or "mentally incompetent" or even a "temporary insanity" defense. A person would, unless just seriously evil, have to be crazy to betray their country by exposing its spies for mere political expediency. Of course, I could be wrong.

    Re: Predicting Scooter Libby's Next Move (none / 0) (#10)
    by William Ockham on Wed Apr 05, 2006 at 03:06:24 PM EST
    Sheesh, this almost beyond belief, even for Libby's lawyers. Grossman told Libby because Libby asked him, in an official capacity, to investigate the facts behind the May 6 Kristof column.

    Re: Predicting Scooter Libby's Next Move (none / 0) (#11)
    by oldtree on Wed Apr 05, 2006 at 08:06:11 PM EST
    if the legal defense team is publicly talking about something that has nothing to do with the charges, they either know or suspect further charges that would involve their client. it does sound like a good way of making everyone so nervous that the whole thing is called off. they may be trying to impeach other potential witnesses in advance for a different set of charges, a different trial. perhaps no impeachment at all, just who ordered what. nothing else about the statements makes sense, unless; they know conspiracy is next, they have no plea deal, they know they can't win, and they are defending that. that makes some sense, notifying those about to be publicly scrutinzed, publicly. but J. you don't go as far as to suggest that this posturing is irrelevant to the case at hand. it seems to be on the matter before the court. I would be curious as more on this, thanks

    Re: Predicting Scooter Libby's Next Move (none / 0) (#12)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Apr 05, 2006 at 08:29:23 PM EST
    Old Tree, are you suggesting that when Fitz brings his next indictments, against Rove, Hadley or whomever, that there will be a Superseding Indictment with a conspiracy charge naming the new guy(s) and Libby? And that Team Libby is giving advance notice to the cooperators of what's in store for them on cross on the as yet unfiled conspiracy charge? And because a conspiracy charge is coming who leaked first and whether there was a concerted effort will all become relevant?

    Re: Predicting Scooter Libby's Next Move (none / 0) (#13)
    by oldtree on Wed Apr 05, 2006 at 10:13:54 PM EST
    attorneys say many things to be elusive but sometimes they are very straightforward, without changing character, the perfect poker face perhaps? it sounds like PR to me, it just doesn't seem to have any relevance to Fitz's charges at all, yet they are discussing it in court? think about the fear factor all over the town right now? it is perhaps, the gauntlet they are laying down? yet Walton's rulings are strange in some ways, why is Fitz bringing info that would relate to anything except the charges he is pursuing? it would be minimal secret info and only have to relate to a few NIE's or whatever documents that have to be reviewed to prove the existing charges? just stinks of something I suppose

    Re: Predicting Scooter Libby's Next Move (none / 0) (#14)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 06, 2006 at 08:17:06 AM EST
    Hey, I am glad to find a site where participants are trying to think a few steps ahead of these bastards, as I have been for the past year or so. I am not a lawyer, but I love the discussion of possible legal strategery (sic) that Libby, et.al. are likely to employ!! We can beat these guys if we shoot down, pre-emptively, their efforts to slime out of the felonius jam(s) they are in. I will bookmark and see what I can contribute here. An aside, but on the matter of justice being our strongest weapon in this fight, there needs to be a national concerted effort to stop the election fraud that has been a mainstay of the Bush years. Any thoughts here on the issue? Might a RICO, or anti-trust action somehow disable or hamper the Diebolds, ES&S's, and Sequoia Systems' rape of the right to vote?? Thanks, Styve

    Re: Predicting Scooter Libby's Next Move (none / 0) (#15)
    by oldtree on Thu Apr 06, 2006 at 08:21:54 AM EST
    and what a new day makes, libby claims potus told him to do it. more posturing, likely but it does come closer to explain why so much interaction with Fitz and Walton with matters that just don't appear to relate to the simple factual case of perjury and obstruction?