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Fitzgerald Corrects Sentence in Latest Libby Filing

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Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald has written a letter to the Judge in the Scooter Libby case correcting a sentence in his filing last week discussing Libby's disclosure of portions of the NIE report to Judith Miller.

That sentence said Libby "was to tell Miller, among other things, that a key judgment of the NIE held that Iraq was 'vigorously trying to procure' uranium." Instead, the sentence should have conveyed that Libby was to tell Miller some of the key judgments of the NIE " and that the NIE stated that Iraq was 'vigorously trying to procure' uranium."

In other words, if I'm reading this correctly, Libby didn't tell Miller that the portion of the report referring to Iraq attempting to acquire uranium was a "key judgment" of the report. As many have pointed out, it wasn't a key judgment of the report. It was not mentioned until page 24. The "key judgments" are at the beginning.

We discussed the meaning and relevance of "key judgment" here, quoting the New York Times:

The filing revealed for the first time testimony by Mr. Libby saying that Mr. Bush, through Mr. Cheney, had authorized Mr. Libby to tell reporters that "a key judgment of the N.I.E. held that Iraq was 'vigorously trying to procure' uranium."

In fact, that was not one of the "key judgments" of the document. Instead, it was the subject of several paragraphs on Page 24 of the document, which also acknowledged that Mr. Hussein had long possessed 500 tons of uranium that was under seal by international inspectors, and that no intelligence agencies had ever confirmed whether he had obtained any more of the material from Africa.

....Citing intelligence as a "key judgment" in such estimates carries great weight with policy makers, because the reports are meant to highlight the most important and solid judgments of the government's intelligence agencies.

Update: Fitz seems to be making it clear that Libby disclosed two separate portions of the NIE report -- the key judgments and the efforts to acquire uranium. Since the official declassification of the report did not occur until July 18, both disclosures had to be pursuant to the "instant" declassification in June that only Bush, Cheney and Libby knew about. One would think there would be something in writing specifying the exact statements pertaining to the efforts to acquire uranium that Bush was ordering declassified since they aren't as readily identifiable as "key judgments" which are contained in their own section of the report.

If there is no written directive, was there a meeting between Bush and Cheney at which Cheney showed him the report with the exact statements he wanted declassified? Or was there just a general conversation where Bush said "Go ahead, whatever you think best?" Did Cheney provide specific statements to Libby to declassify, or was his conversation with Libby general as well? Or is it Libby, Cheney's and Bush's contention that the entire report was orally ordered declassified? If so, why did Hadley go to such great lengths to get the July 18 declassification order for a document already declassified?

Or, was there no early, oral declassification order at all...just one made up after the fact to cover their behinds?

Update: In re-reading Fitz's entire filing, it seems this is small potatoes in the overall scheme of things. On page 29, he writes:

The question of whether defendant did anything improper in disclosing the NIE is not relevant to whether defendant committed perjury by lying about something else, and therefore it cannot constitute favorable evidence under Brady. To the contrary, proof that the disclosure was proper would not negate proof that he committed perjury by lying about something else.

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  • Re: Fitzgerald Corrects Sentence in Latest Libby (none / 0) (#1)
    by Che's Lounge on Wed Apr 12, 2006 at 09:26:48 AM EST
    So thes men would have us believe that they declassified the information, gave it to Miller et al, but never actually told anyone that they had declassified the information? Then they let Miller sit in jail for three months to protect their asses? Did I miss something or are there docs to support their claim that the info was declassified? Or are we to just take their word for it? Not too worried, tho. It's not like they lied about getting their $&*%'s sucked.

    Re: Fitzgerald Corrects Sentence in Latest Libby (none / 0) (#2)
    by Che's Lounge on Wed Apr 12, 2006 at 09:33:12 AM EST
    OK I read the update so that tells me the timeline. WTF is "instant declassification"? What's next? Super secret cone of silence declassification? How long are we going to let these criminals jerk this country around with their backstepping BS? How can any moral person defend these men? Please submit answers to... Oh f**k it.

    Re: Fitzgerald Corrects Sentence in Latest Libby (none / 0) (#3)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Apr 12, 2006 at 10:56:34 AM EST
    There's more on "instant declassification" in the New York Times article linked above, and my analysis here.

    Re: Fitzgerald Corrects Sentence in Latest Libby (none / 0) (#4)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Apr 12, 2006 at 12:54:16 PM EST
    I'll bet the "instant unitary declassification" theory came out in Libby's meeting with Addison where he deveoped his pseudo-"reliance defense" or "estoppel defense" to leaking any portion of the NIE. I just continue to wonder why he believed Addison's blessing (and Cheney & Bush's direction) could protect him from liability for leaking the NIE, but NOT for leaking Plame's ID. Why would he tell "the truth" to the Grand Jury about one leak, but not the other? Could it be that there is no even remotely credible legal theory which could protect him from criminal liability for leaking Plame's ID? Or, is it because leaking Plame's ID is simply too POLITICALLY problematic so he had to lie about that? Hmmmmmm.I'm gonna ask FDL too.

    Re: Fitzgerald Corrects Sentence in Latest Libby (none / 0) (#5)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Apr 12, 2006 at 12:56:58 PM EST
    I also think this correction is small potatoes. I think Fitz did it just to keep the Libby testimony clean, and his path to Cheney clear of any possible impeachment of Libby's credibility over the scope of Libby's authority to leak NIE material, so that if/when Libby flips on Cheney, there are no loose ends.

    Re: Fitzgerald Corrects Sentence in Latest Libby (none / 0) (#6)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Apr 12, 2006 at 01:03:00 PM EST
    Oops. Addington, not Addison @1.54PM.

    Re: Fitzgerald Corrects Sentence in Latest Libby (none / 0) (#7)
    by Dadler on Wed Apr 12, 2006 at 03:48:12 PM EST
    How'd you like to be a juror on this one? My head is spinning just trying to keep it all straight. And talk about some bone dry stuff to sift through. I don't envy Fitz, but I'm behind him.

    Re: Fitzgerald Corrects Sentence in Latest Libby (none / 0) (#8)
    by squeaky on Wed Apr 12, 2006 at 04:08:33 PM EST
    If so, why did Hadley go to such great lengths to get the July 18 declassification order for a document already declassified?
    Since no one took the bait and wrote an article that they had planted covertly (as reported by an ex WH staffer), they went overt and declassified it officially. Also I have been thinking about your comment:
    I think what is happening now is exactly what Fitz hoped would happen. Cheney's camp and Bush's camp will try to outspin each other, leading Fitz to more information and the possibility that both sides will self-destruct in the process.
    link I thought that the recent filing was meant to clearly show that outing Plame and discrediting Wilson were not side dishes easily forgotten but part of the hard to forget sumptious main course. Your analysis, even if unintended by Fitz is playing out. Colin Powell is blaming Cheney for everything. via HuffPo

    Re: Fitzgerald Corrects Sentence in Latest Libby (none / 0) (#9)
    by Dadler on Wed Apr 12, 2006 at 04:19:39 PM EST
    How can you NOT blame Cheney? Bush is like Mother Theresa compared to him. Okay, maybe a thuggish Mother Superior, but still...

    Re: Fitzgerald Corrects Sentence in Latest Libby (none / 0) (#10)
    by squeaky on Wed Apr 12, 2006 at 04:27:23 PM EST
    I would say more like good cop, bad cop. Two sides of the same coin.