Libby Will Seek to Use Memory Expert at Trial
Lewis "Scooter" Libby's lawyers have notified the Court and Patrick Fitzgerald that they intend to call a memory expert at Libby's trial. While it's long been known they intended to rely on a memory defense and that they have been consulting with a pre-eminent memory expert, they were mum on whether they would call an expert at trial.
In their July 17 filing (pdf), Libby's lawers said they have provided the expert's name and qualifications to Fitzgerald. They sought (and received) an extension until July 31 to outline the specific details of the expert's testimony and to file a motion requesting the admission of the expert's testimony at trial.
Libby has long maintained that memory lapses were the cause of any misstatements in his grand jury testimony and interviews with FBI agents. He says that he was too preoccupied with important national security matters to remember the details of his conversations with FBI investigators, the grand jury and reporters about Valerie Plame Wilson.
Harvard psychology professor Daniel L. Schacter tells NBC News he has been retained by Libby as a consultant. An official familiar with the Libby defense team confirms the news.
I suspect Team Libby will want Dr. Schacter to explain the concepts of memory distortion and transience to the jury. Here's a bit of a talk Dr. Schacter gave a few years ago:
....situations in which memory is present but wrong. It's not forgetting, but rather memory distortion, which we know is a fascinating and very important feature of our memories; that when we remember, we don't always remember accurately.
What I call misattribution occurs when we remember some aspect of a past event, but we attribute that memory to the incorrect source. Perhaps we think we really did something when we only imagined it. We know what that is, but we get the source wrong. We think we did it. In fact, we only imagined it.
Maybe we hear something from a friend, but we think we heard it on the radio last week. We misattribute our knowledge. This can have very important implications that we'll trace out in a few minutes, sometimes leading to a phenomenon (cut off here in that unfortunate Mac to PC translation) known as false recognition that I'll elaborate on.
So, when Libby testified he heard about Valerie Plame from Tim Russert, there was memory distortion and transience at work...he really heard it from someone else. And so on.
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