Libby Trial: Missing the Forest For the Trees

I'm so conflicted.

I believe that the Office of the Vice President, particularly Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby, went all out to attack Joseph Wilson after his July 6th New York Times Op-ed criticizing the intelligence relied on by the Administration to justify its decision to go to war in Iraq.

I believe the evidence at Scooter Libby's trial established that Cheney was livid over Wilson and that he used the C.I.A., the State Department and the Department of Defense to search for dirt on him. Through his inquiries, Cheney learned that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame Wilson, worked for the CIA in the counter-proliferation division on weapons of mass destruction. He received information that she might have had a role in sending Wilson to Niger to check on intelligence claims that Iraq was acquiring uranium for use in WMD's.


I believe the evidence established that Cheney decided to fight back against Wilson. He got Bush to declassify the NIE and then told Libby to leak it to reporters. Libby chose Judith Miller. Cheney dictated talking points to Libby. Cheney press aide Cathie Martin sent out her own version of Cheney's talking points. The talking points may not have included a reference to Valerie Wilson, but the message was clear: Destroy Joe Wilson's credibility.

Cheney gave Libby the nepotism card to play with reporters. Cheney and Libby probably never considered Valerie Wilson might be covert or that her employment status was classified and therefore it might be a crime to leak it to the media. Or, they knew and were too arrogant to care.

Only Libby didn't just reach out to the media. He also reached out to Ari Fleischer, who at the time was finishing his tour of duty as White House Press Secretary. According to Fleischer's testimony, Libby told him about Valerie Wilson over a farewell lunch and said it was "hush hush" and "on the Q.T."

The White House also was involved in the leak campaign. Karl Rove was a confirming source for Robert Novak's column about Valerie Plame, as well as a source for Matthew Cooper.

I have no doubt Bush Administration officials opted to destroy Joseph Wilson's credibility any way they could -- including by insinuating he was sent to Niger because his C.I.A.- employed wife suggested him for the trip.

So, why am I conflicted about whether Libby will be convicted? Because Libby isn't charged with conspiring with Cheney or White House officials to leak classified information or ruin Joseph and Valerie Wilson. He's charged with lying about discrete conversations with Matthew Cooper and Tim Russert, and thereby obstructing justice and impeding the grand jury investigation.

Memory is fragile and affected by many things, including but not limited to the passage of time. Libby was questioned in October, 2003 and March, 2004 about conversations he had in June and July, 2003. Every witness in this case had issues with memory. Ari Fleischer thinks he was not a source for Walter Pincus, while Pincus is sure he was. Fleischer testified he told reporter John Dickerson about Joseph Wilson's wife. He was so sure he had done so that he said it was a reason he sought immunity from prosecution. Yet, Dickerson is equally sure Fleischer didn't tell him.

Judith Miller forgot about her June 23 meeting with Libby until she found notes about it in a shopping bag filled with notebooks under her desk. She acknowledged hearing about Valerie Wilson from other sources, but couldn't or wouldn't identify a single one.

Matthew Cooper's notes and his first e-mailed report to his editors at Time don't match his trial recollection of his conversation with Libby. It seems more likely that Libby told Cooper not "I heard that too" but "heard something about the Wilson thing and not sure if it's even true."

Libby was grilled for 8 hours before the grand jury, at a time when the FBI had all of his notes but one, one which he didn't try to hide, but shared with investigators. He testified entirely from his memory of conversations he had months earlier.

Libby may have been hell-bent on following through on orders from Cheney to destroy Joseph Wilson's credibility. But, he's not charged with that. He may have leaked to Judith Miller but he's not charged with that. He may or may not have told Ari Fleischer about Valerie Wilson, but he's not charged with that.

As the defense pointed out in closing argument, Libby may have confused his conversation with Tim Russert with either the one he had with Robert Novak or the one he had with Matthew Cooper.

This is where reasonable doubt enters the picture. Reasonable doubt and the presumption of innocence form the bedrock of our criminal justice system. A reasonable doubt is a doubt based on reason and common sense. It can arise from the evidence presented or the lack of evidence. It's not about which side you believe more. If you think both sides could be right, or one side is probably, but not convincingly right or even that it's possibly right, Libby is entitled to the benefit of the doubt.

The Government was terrific in its closing argument on Libby's motive to lie. Peter Zeidenberg laid out a methodical case that was easy to follow and made a lot of sense. Patrick Fitzgerald had all of the case evidence so committed to memory it flew off his tongue. But, the trial isn't about Libby's motive to lie. It's about whether he actually did lie about his conversations with two reporters or was simply mistaken.

Ted Wells' closing was unfocused and meandering. But, he was emotional. The jury had to sense, as I did, that he believed with his whole heart in his argument. I think that will go a long way with the jury. William Jeffress more than adequately established the memory problems of all the witnesses in the case. The bottom line is, who's to say Libby's faulty recollections were a lie while the faulty recollections of the other witnesses were innocent mistakes?

In the end, this trial must be ruled by the presumption of innocence and reasonable doubt. The charges the Government brought against Libby are narrow and specific as to the exact statements about which he allegedly lied. In the end, no smoking gun was introduced to establish Libby lied as opposed to being mistaken. That lack of evidence presented must be held to work against the Government.

The smartest thing the defense did at trial was not to put Libby on the stand and subject him to what surely have been a withering cross-examination by Fitzgerald. The dumbest thing the Government did was charge too narrow a case and not indict Cheney along with Libby.

In other words, Fitzgerald missed the forest for the trees. Maybe he thought the case wasn't there. But in charging such a stripped down version solely against Libby, I have to believe at least one juror, like me, will have a reasonable doubt and refuse to convict.

Will I be disappointed if there's an acquittal? Yes, but in Fitzgerald, not the system. And if there's a conviction? Then I'll be disappointed in the Judge, for refusing to allow a memory expert to testify at trial. As much as I might prefer it otherwise, this case was about memory and reasonable doubt, not about the conspiracy that was proven to exist at the Administration's highest levels of power.

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    Libby is guilty as sin (5.00 / 3) (#8)
    by scribe on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 08:09:01 AM EST
    It takes extended questioning, in close detail, to pry the crafty, educated liar from his lies into the admission - willing or unwilling - of both the truth and of his lying.  So, I feel no sympathy for Scooter.  He's received far more consideration, justice, and attention than any other defendant in that courthouse will for the last, present and next year combined (save if Deadeye's indicted).  And, have no doubt, Scooter's got the wattage to be a very crafty, careful, well-thought-through liar.  

    Go read my diary on "the more things change, etc.", from yesterday;  there was also a crafty liar in that case, and it took extended, close questioning until he broke, too. And, of course, the extended, difficult and thorough questioning of prisoners in secret CIA prisons, Gitmo, and the Charleston brig took place and came into being through the efforts of his boss - who wanted to go to the "Dark Side" (his words)-  during the time Scooter was his factotum.  Those programs doubtless went across Scooter's desk.  

    Yet we should feel some sympathy for him?

    And eight hours before the grand jury was too much?

    Tell that to Jose Padilla.
    Boo f'g hoo.

    Mr. Yoo - vying for favor in this administration of criminals - proposed seriously that crushing or cutting the testicles off the young son of a terror suspect was wholly acceptable as a means of making him talk, provided the Preznit said so (at the instigation of Dark Side Deadeye).  

    And we should "give Scooter back" because he's a family man?

    And lastly - a tree no one's seemed to notice.  Or, at least it wasn't clear they did from the live-blogging.  

    It's been quite clear throughout that one of the targets Plame and her subordinates were hunting was A.Q. Khan and his network.  You remember him.  He was both the mastermind of the Pakistani (soon to be Al Quaeda) nuclear bomb program and the nexus of the black market for a lot of nuclear-capable technology (to countries like Iran and North Korea, no less).  You also no doubt remember that Scooter's successor, who came in to testify about all the weighty issues that crossed Scooter's desk (in contravention to the feathery-light issue of Wilson and Plame), to buttress the idea he was entitled to have forgotten.  What was one of the weighty topics on the list of items testified to?

    A.Q. Khan.

    I find it incomprehensible that people who have spent the last quarter century totally immersed in national security - like Scooter, Deadeye and Addington, to name three - would not make a connection between the deep concern and interest the USG had and has in A.Q. Khan, on the one hand, and the fact that the wife of someone they were putting a hit on was in charge of running (part of) the intelligence war against that same A.Q. Khan, or that (at a minimum) she worked in the section of the CIA concerned with just that issue, on the other.

    Particularly when Khan was on the list of Very Serious Topics.

    Nor do I find it comprehensible that Very Important People like Deadeye and Scooter, who would go over to Langley themselves or by proxy (like Newt) to walk into an analyst's cubicle and demand answers they liked, would fail to make the connection.  I have little doubt they had the ability to find out exactly who Plame and Wilson were, and what they did.

    And, FWIW, I think Wells blew the memory defense when his proposed expert hadn't the foggiest recollection of being cross-examined by Fitz. Whether Wells did that as a chicane to build a record for appeal or just blew it we'll likely never know for sure.  But it's spilled milk, and not worth weeping over.

    One tree at a time (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by agincour on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 08:49:23 AM EST
    Jerelyn, since you're a defense attorney, I understand why you feel the way you do, but it's also clear that Libby (and by extension Cheney) is guilty of what he was charged with: lying to the FBI and the grand jury. Everything else is just so much delicious decoration. Revealing decoration, of course.

    Frankly, I don't know if Fitz will now pursue the higher-up Cheney, a course he's taken in so many of his former prosecutions, but in a less conflicted and political world he would. Regardless, we now have a clearer picture of the Machiavellian shenanigans this administration has been using since the day the Supreme Court handed them the keys to the White House.

    The level of frustration I've experienced while watching and listening to this malevolent administration has grown as we progressed from their early actions to gut the government through the Iraq invasion and recent threats against Iran has finally received a bit of solace in a DC courtroom.

    What I found most refreshing about the trial is that for the first time in six years a small part of this administration's illegal actions were bathed in disinfecting light, and the possibility of immediate and remedial consequence. There's something especially satisfying about a situation where there's limited opportunity for the usual political obfuscation and smoke blowing that often clouds more public discourse.

    Libby is guilty and deserves what he gets. If nothing else it's a metaphor for just how liable the current administration is for their illegal and destructive actions. The singular tree (Libby) is representative of the entire forest, and an entire forest is cut down one tree at a time.

    Guilty (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by dmbeaster on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 03:23:59 PM EST
    The central question during the investigation was who blabbed Plame's ID to reporters in order to smear Wilson.  Scooter and Cheney were neck deep into and obsessed with that activity, and it is simply not believable that he forgot all about that.  He had to either acknowledge that activity, or lie about it.

    The lies were very strategic to cover up his and Cheney's role in airing the info.  Yes, the specific lie he was charged with was the tall tale about how he allegedly learned of Plame and did nto blab it to reporters, but its part of a broader obfuscation of his and Cheney's role in the whole smear.

    As was well summarized in closing, it was not the type of issue in which one could easily misrecollect.  Plus the nature of the fabrication was so obvious and strategic.  He did not misremember one detail (how he learned of Plame), but also the whole panapoly of other details concerning his involvement in outing Plame and smearing Wilson.  That is why the case has been proven.

    And the other big weirdness is: 1) I first learned it from Cheney; 2) then I forgot (although many witnesses say otherwise); 3) then I relearned it from Russert, but mistakenly thought it was the first time; and 4) went back and told Cheney that my story was that I mistakenly thought I first learned it from Russert.  To which Cheney cocks his head and says "hmmm."  Why would he go back and tell Cheney, Libby's source for the info, that he had thought Russert was his source.

    In order to coordinate the cover-up.  The stink and guild is palpable.

    'The Four Corners' (4.50 / 2) (#11)
    by JGabriel on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 08:12:14 AM EST
    Jeralyn: Will I be disappointed if there's an acquittal? Yes, but in Fitzgerald, not the system. And if there's a conviction? Then I'll be disappointed in the Judge, for refusing to allow a memory expert to testify at trial.

    Hi Jeralyn, I've been reading your posts here, at FDL, and HuffPo, for, umm, over a year (obviously, I'm finding them interesting, insightful, and informative) and finally decided to de-lurk.

    Anyway, while agreeing with some of the points you raise, I think you're missing the four corners of the indictment for the forest.

    Each of the five charges against Libby rests not just on Russert's or Cooper's testimony, but on Libby's -- in particular Libby's assertions that:

    (a) he learned about Plame from reporters and,

    (b) "as if for the first time".

    Neither of these statements is credible, given the testimony of the 5 or 6 government officials who testified about having conversations with Libby regarding Plame prior to July 8. Whether or not the 3 reporters (Miller, Cooper, and Russert) memories are reliable is kind of moot, given the way the charges are written in the indictment.

    Four of the five counts refer to the 'as if for the first time' language, and that response from Libby is simply not credible, beyond a reasonable doubt.

    All five counts refer to Libby saying he heard about or learned about Plame from reporters. Count 3 (False Statement) regarding Cooper's testimony is the only charge that relies strictly on the statement about reporters, and I suppose it's plausible that a jury could regard that charge as not being proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

    Still, I don't see how anyone could find Libby's language about learning Plame's CIA status from reporters as particulary credible either, nor do I see how a memory expert could have helped the defense on either of these statements from Libby, and suspect that Fitzgerald would have decimated the expert's testimony by focusing in on those assertions.

    So I don't think you need be disappointed by Fitz or the judge.

    Obviously, the charges laid out for the jury instructions may differ somewhat in wording from the indictments. But as long Libby's claims about learning Plame's status from reporters and 'as if for the first time' remain in the charges, I think the jury can legitimately find Libby guilty on at least 4 of the 5 counts (Count 3 - False Statements regarding Cooper is a little less certain) whether or not they regard Cooper's, Russert's, and Miller's memories as completely reliable.

    must disagree.... (4.00 / 1) (#1)
    by p lukasiak on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 02:40:52 AM EST
    Will I be disappointed if there's an acquittal? Yes, but in Fitzgerald, not the system. And if there's a conviction? Then I'll be disappointed in the Judge, for refusing to allow a memory expert to testify at trial. As much as I might prefer it otherwise, this case was about memory and reasonable doubt, not about the conspiracy that was proven to exist at the Administration's highest levels of power.

    I disagree.  it seems to me that your defense attorney instincts are interfering with your political activist insticts, and vice-versa.

    This isn't a case about "memory", it a case about whether knowingly false statements were made.   The case isn't really about whether Russert told Libby about Plame -- its whether it was possible that Libby could have heard this information from Russert "as if for the first time".   Its not about whether Libby did or did not tell Matt Cooper that he'd heard about it from other reporters--- its about whether Libby could have not known that Joe Wilson had a wife when he was speaking to Cooper.

    In other words, the relevant lies are those told by Libby regarding his state of mind that he told in order to make his lies regarding his conversations "credible".  

    As for the lack of testimony from a "memory expert", the bottom line is that if Libby brought in an expert who said his memory could have been this porous despite all the evidence, Fitz would have brought in his own experts saying that was complete hogwash -- that memory doesn't work like that (or completely destroyed the "expert" on cross by demanding that s/he provide scientific evidence of the kind of highly selective and specific memory "loss" --and creation of memories of things that never happened -- claimed by Libby.)

    I personally think that Libby will be (and should be) acquitted of charges of lying to the FBI (counts 2 & 3), because the evidence regarding Libby's statements to the FBI was ambiguous, and Fitz never established that "faulty memory" was not the reason for the false statements.  

    But by the time of Libby's Grand Jury appearances, he had been confronted with more than enough information to "jog" his memory and have him "correct" his testimony.  Libby instead chose to stick to a story that was absurd in the extreme -- his story made no sense, but admitting that mean knocking down the whole house of cards he'd constructed to protect himself and Cheney..... so he had to stick with it.

    Jeralyn - you're missing some mighty trees (4.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Carolyn in Baltimore on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 06:04:48 AM EST
    I believe Fitz proved his case -  Libby was focused on Wilson and Plame at the behest of the VP and on his own because he needed to defend 'the lie' against Wilson's accusation.
    Libby ASKED about Wilson and Plame multiple times, pulled people out of meetings, called and lunched with people he'd never done that with before. All the other witnesses may have missed details but I believe were truthful in their recollections. Libby forgot everything bad and remembered everything exonerating. He had motive. He made a cover story, and even as it fell apart he stuck to it.

    When I have been on juries we were aware of human nature. We were also aware that there were holes in the cases of the prosecution sometimes. But reasonable doubt is just that: and it was not one mistake but a collection, a pattern of mistakes that make it pretty obvious there was fabrication.

    The jury may not find on every count but Scooter will be convicted. He is clearly guilty.

    perspective (4.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Deconstructionist on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 06:59:54 AM EST
      Unsurprisingly, most people find that the trial confirmed what they wanted to believe before the trial. Pundits, bloggers, comment posters, etc. mostly seem to be using the trial to make whatever points for or against they were making before the trial. That's fine, if taken for what it is-- biased political spin intended to manipulate-- but the trial itself is not about that it is about evidence presented to a jury which has to decide if  the prosecution has proven beyond a reasonable doubt  fellow human being violated some very specific statutes and thus may be deprived of his liberty.

     I very often disagree with TL but the effort to put aside political bias and analyze a case based on the evidence and law rather than political desires is one I applaud.

      My only constructibe criticism is that the faacination with the novelty of "live-blogging" may have detracted from the coverage as the focus on typing the words people were saying may well have contributed to less discussion of the meaning, intent, and import of those words. I have to say I don't  sketchy efforts to "record" a trial provide as much important information as would thoughtful and concise summaries and analyses. That said, I think the analysis that has been provided was well done.

    trees (4.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Domino on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 07:16:31 AM EST
    What I see being argued here is with a good enough defense strategy and obfuscation, there should never be a conviction.  Justice should never be bought with waves of lawyers and strategies for the original trial and subsequent appeals.  Doubt was never meant to be introduced by trickery or confusion.

    This case should be compared to Capone.  Yes, the government could not prove murder, etc.  But, they got the conviction that they could - income tax evasion.  And a long enough sentence to put him away for the rest of his syphillitc life.  

    So, Libby cannot be convicted of treason, etc.  His lying to the feds should put him away for a long time.  And possibly his conviction will lead to bigger fish.

    Not a fair comparison (none / 0) (#18)
    by Slado on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 12:08:43 PM EST
    In your mind maybe but Libby and the administration are not the only ones responsible for the war in Iraq.  

    Other guilty parties include the democrats, the american public, the British, the Coalition, Saddam Huessain etc...

    Al Capone was criminal overlord who paid of police, politicians and even judges to keep himself out of harms way.  

    Libby was one of many men responsible for what you see as a great injustice and I see as a poorly executed war plan.

    You want him convicted for purely partisan reaons.   Capone was convicted because he was a criminal.  


    Libby' memory (4.00 / 1) (#13)
    by ding7777 on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 08:59:26 AM EST
    I don't believe Libby forgot all 9 conversations he had about Plame - especially the ones with the VP and Martin and Ari - while he remembered minor details of the same conversations with those people.

    Libby had to create a "false memory" conversation with Russert (or someone) to account for how he came to know about Plame only if he was protecting the VP.

    i think fitz is very sly -- he's methodical. (4.00 / 1) (#16)
    by the rainnn on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 11:47:29 AM EST
    it seems to me that fitz
    charged exactly what he knew
    he could prove -- at least
    four felonies.  moreover, it
    seems to me that there is
    scant doubt that he will
    get at least one conviction
    here -- once he has
    a conviction on the "low-
    hanging fruit", he can move
    north in the chain of command. . .

    so -- while i respect her
    greatly, i firmly disagree
    with jeralyn's view about
    fitz missing the forest. . .

    did you all really look at
    libby trial exhibit 802.1?

    it looks to be the
    document that places cheney
    in fitzs' cross-hairs. . .

    more here. . .

    slado (4.00 / 1) (#19)
    by cpinva on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 12:26:03 PM EST
    while i could argue (easily, the facts speak for themselves) the factual inaccuracies of your post, i needn't. none of this is at all relevant to the issue at hand in mr. libby's trial:

    did he lie to both the fbi and the grand jury?

    while i, as a member of the jury, might accept the "bad memory" defense for the fbi interviews, using that same defense for the later grand jury testimony is stretching credulity, to the breaking point. by that time, he knew what he was going to be asked, and had sufficient time to refresh his memory by reading his notes.

    as far as the war, wilson, plame, et al, none of that matters, in the context of the trial, aside from the claimed incentive for mr. libby to lie in the first place. he isn't charged with anything else, so what you think of it doesn't matter.

    Argue, don't just state. (none / 0) (#28)
    by Slado on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 05:28:13 PM EST

    Do you maintain that a crime was commited in the actual leaking of Plame's name?  Do you believe that the administration is out of bounds in trying to discredit a critic?

    My point was to Jeralyn that only if you bleieve those facts can you possibly have some moral dilemma considering the guilt of Mr. Libby.  

    "IF" he did intentionaly lie to a grand jury then he is as you say guilty of a crime.   I don't believe he did but the court will decide.

    He and the administration of guilty of no crime when it comes to the leaking of Plame's name because A) She was not covert B) Armitage was the original leaker C) Wilson was a vocal and unfactual critic of the administration so they had every right to discredit him by pointing out that he only got the job because his wife worked at the CIA.

    Argue away.


    That's a big DUH! (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by Repack Rider on Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 08:59:49 AM EST
    Do you maintain that a crime was commited in the actual leaking of Plame's name?

    The CIA said there was, and they should know better than either of us.

    Do you believe that the administration is out of bounds in trying to discredit a critic?

    Of course it is, to use the power of the federal government to attack a man's family in response to his speaking out against them.  This is not the Soviet Union of the '30s.

    Actually, I guess there are similarities.

    If the government has an argument, they should use it.  Since they didn't use an argument, but instead abused their power to "discredit" him, we can assume that they didn't have an argument to use and that Wilson was right.


    Call me a cynic (none / 0) (#34)
    by Deconstructionist on Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 09:27:41 AM EST
    ... but I don't think the "CIA saying" someone committed a crime should end the inquiry. asserting that the CIA knows best is a troubling assertion to those who oppose a police/national security state.

      Moreover, I think it is far more accurate to assert that the CIA determined there was sufficient cause to refer the matter to DOJ for investigation than to say it said a crime was committed.

      As for the implied assertion that anyone,  including a  government official, who expresses himself in a manner intended to discredit an adversary should be held to have violated criminal law simply for the expression and not because there is also sufficient proof that every essential element of a  prior enacted statute that was duly enacted and is constitutional -- that sounds every bit as "Stalinist" as anything anyone  any righties endorse.

       The only "attack" involved here was the claim that wilson was not credible because: he is a partisan politician on the other side of the debate; that he was not qualified for the mission; that he was selected for the mission because of either/both raw nepotism or partisan selection; and that he was being duplicitous in describing the results of his mission. i cannot fathom how anyone who beliegves in a free society thinks any of thuld be illegal.

       ONLY if in the rabid zealousness to make those points someone knowingly and intentionally disclosed the identity of a protected person under the statute is there a  crime. that crime would exist apart from the motive. If for example, in the pursuit of an entirely different objective someone knowingly and intentionally disclosed the identity of a protected person that would be a crime even if we liked the objective.

    Say for example an official opposed to the war  leaked the report of an investigation by a covert agent that provided ammunition to Bush's critics and to lend authority to the report disclosed the identity and impressive credentials of the author.  The issue is not the motive even where the motive was to make the report more rather than less credible the CRIME is knowingly and intentionally disclosing the protected identity.


    the dog that didn't bark (none / 0) (#35)
    by wumhenry on Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 11:11:56 AM EST
    The CIA said [that naming Plame was a crime], and they should know better than either of us.

    Who is in a better position to know than the SP? He hasn't charged anyone for naming the lady.  


    Greymail (4.00 / 1) (#36)
    by squeaky on Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 11:28:16 AM EST
    You may want to brush up on the speech that Fitz gave at the press conference announcing the charges against Libby.

    Hint: It has to do with justice.

    BTW: your echo-chamber talking points are very, very, stale.


    lay it on me (none / 0) (#37)
    by wumhenry on Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 02:27:57 PM EST
    Did "Fitz" contend in the speech that Libby broke a law by disclosing the woman's name to a reporter?

    They'll never get it ... (none / 0) (#38)
    by Sailor on Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 07:55:15 PM EST
    ... because they refuse to see that lying and obstructing justice are what prevented the facts from coming out.

    We see thru a glass darkly becaue they LIED to cover up the crime they had committed.

    when bush said he wanted to get to the bottom of it ... he lied to the American people.
    when the WH spokesmen said they'd asked and been assured that libby and rove weren't involved ... they lied to the American people.
    When rove scurried to cut a deal ... he got rewarded for lying.
    When libby lied to investigators and the GJ ... now that's a crime.

    cheney and bush decided that anyone disagreeing with them had to be punished. To institute their political payback they started an anonymous smear campaign thru willing MSM bushlickers and outed a covert CIA operative who was working on denying iran WMDs.

    The CIA and the DoJ both considered it a high crime. But because bush and cheney have the power to declassify, at will and with no regard to the cost to America, they can't be charged.

    But libby lied to the GJ and federal agents.

    That's a crime.


    answer the question (none / 0) (#39)
    by wumhenry on Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 11:04:03 PM EST
    We see thru a glass darkly becaue they LIED to cover up the crime they had committed.

    You're begging the question. What crime?


    Jeralyn? (1.50 / 2) (#17)
    by Slado on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 12:01:39 PM EST
    If the administration was invovled in trying to destroy Joseph Wilson in the court of public opinion what crime is there in that?  He was trying to do the same thing.  Why are they not allowed to attack his credibility?

    I don't believe leaking Valarie's name (wasn't Armitage the first leaker?) is a crime.

    Wilson's argument is full of holes, he's not very credible and the simple fact is the only reason he was sent was because his wife was in the CIA.

    If she was covert why did she allow her husband to write an op-ed in a world wide publication?  

    Why couldn't the administration point that out?  All sorts of horrible things are said about leakers and accusers in other political fights by both sides (see Clinton years, see Reagan years) they are politically motivated but not criminal.

    So IMHO the moral dilema you find yourslef in is of your own making.   It appears to me that you and others truley hoped that this case would be the one that would show some sort of criminal guilt that the administration commited in the run up to the war.  

    For me the war was just poorly executed and I understand the argument that it should never have happened but to make it a criminal matter and then to make this case the hinge point takes critics of the war on a strange tangent that simply has no basis in law or sense.  

    Once again a political and leagal matter has been mixed together and the only way to end it fairly in a legal sense is to aquit Libby.    The administration has already paid a political price in the court of public opinion.   I ask why on a legal blog that liberal critics would call for the scalp of Libby?  Is it for legal reason or for political ones?

    Amazing (none / 0) (#22)
    by Dadler on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 02:02:47 PM EST
    You equate an obviously unethical, unwarranted, vindictive personal and professional attack (in which the inequitable powers of the executive branch were used against merely a dissenting citizen), with a career diplomat's trip to Niger to determine whether a wildly used rumor were actually true.    

    Oh, wait, everyone knew Valerie Plame was covert at the CIA, right?  And that Joe Wilson was just a treasonous fraud, yes?


    Dadler (none / 0) (#31)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 06:11:11 PM EST
    Dadler. We have been up and down this road time and again.

    Upon his return, and during his debrief he confirmed the belief by the Nigerians that Saddam had tired to purchase yellowcake. I have linked to the Senate's report time and again where the CIA said this. He also said that Saddam had not purchased yellowcake.

    The CIA's DO gave the former ambassador's information a grade of "good," which means that it added to the IC's body of understanding on the issue, (                    ).                   SENTENCE DELETED                      The reports officer said that a "good" grade was merited because the information responded to at least some of the outstanding questions in the Intelligence Community, but did not provide substantial new information. He said he judged that the most important fact in the report was that the Nigerien officials admitted that the Iraqi delegation had traveled there in 1999, and that the Nigerien Prime Minister believed the Iraqis were interested in purchasing uranium, because this provided some confirmation of foreign government service reporting

    Hold on to those two facts, because all else spins around them.

    The trip was made in February 2002, the debief in late February or early March. His infamous NYT article was written about 16 months later.

    Although he spends a great deal of time describing the trip, and complaining about "sanctity" of information, and even says:

    The question now is how that answer was or was not used by our political leadership. If my information was deemed inaccurate, I understand (though I would be very interested to know why)

    No place does he make three simple statements.

    1. I found that Saddam had not purchased yellow cake.

    2. I confirmed that the Nigerians believed that he had attempted to purchase yellowcake.

    3. I gave all of this information to the CIA in my debrief.

    And why did he supposedly get so upset over what Bush had stated, which is that the British thought Saddam had TRIED to purchase yellowcake.

    After all, that is what he had told the CIA.

    If he had done that the article would have been accurate and interesting. But it would have been useless as an attack vehicle on the administration.

    So tell me Dadler, why didn't Wilson tell us everything?


    You are right (1.00 / 3) (#9)
    by Fritz on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 08:11:49 AM EST
    Ted Wells is going to win; the jury has a greater interest in his victory than the shabby indictments of the government.  By personally attacking Wells, the prosecution changed the focus from Libby to Wells.  DC juries are notorious nullifiers, there is no way they will allow Wells to lose a he said / she said case with no substantive crime.

    The partisan nature of independent investigations showed it's ugly head in closing.  Is it any wonder why the Independent Council statute was not reauthorized?  For partisan Democrats, the Administration had no right to respond to Wilson's charges, nonsense.   Anyone with political savvy knew Joe Wilson was a public critic of the Administration BEFORE he went to Niger.  Wilson was a Fox News contributor in 2002.  His criticism of the Administration was well known.  When his op-ed was published in July of 2003, the first question to be asked; who in the hell at the CIA sent him?  Fair question.  If the CIA wants to maintain transparency, it can not send people on important missions that may have partisan or predetermined  agendas; as this case has clearly shown.   Fitzgerald bought into the "punish Wilson" garbage and was on a fishing expedition into the Executive Branch.  Fitzgerald's close had nothing to do with the crimes in question.  My hope is that someone at the Justice Department reads his screed and puts him on the stand for prosecutorial misconduct.  Criminalization of politics is ugly, this case crossed the line of Executive Privilege.

    Ted Well's closing argument (none / 0) (#5)
    by lindalawyer on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 07:48:45 AM EST
    Jeralyn, you wrote, The jury had to sense, as I did, that he believed with his whole heart in his argument."
    So it did seem genuine rather than scripted or predictable? No objection by the government? When I read about this, my reaction was that it might have a negative effect on the jury.

    i can "genuinely" believe something, (none / 0) (#6)
    by cpinva on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 08:06:02 AM EST
    that doesn't make it true. show me your "expert", i'll show you mine. "experts" tend to negate each other, in my professional experience, especially when dealing with a non-quantifiable issue, such as memory.

    as noted above, by the time of his grand jury testimony, mr. libby had more than enough time to "refresh" his memory, and correct any mistatements he might have made during earlier questioning. he didn't. the jury will notice that as well.

    i suspect mr. libby will become a guest at one of of our finer penal institutions, for a brief period of time.

    of course, this in no way changes the fact that we are involved in a costly war, which was predicated on fraud and deceit, at the highest levels of govt., of which mr. libby was a part.

    it's a pity mr. fitzgerald couldn't try him for that.

    If this were anybody else (none / 0) (#7)
    by Mreddieb on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 08:06:34 AM EST
    There is no doubt in my mind that if this was a Democrat being charged he would have been forced to plea out a long time ago! The defense here is another well organized spin defense. It epitomizes the right's "Never surrender or admit guilt belief" when it come to anything they deem political. I can only hope the jury doesn't fall for this nit-picking about memory defense. All they have to do is step back and apply some good old common sense and they will do the right thing! Convict!

    No doubt (none / 0) (#15)
    by HeadScratcher on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 10:54:12 AM EST
    Well, it depends on what your definition of "was" was.

    There are plenty of people on boths sides who, by virtue of their power, connections, and/or money who get to take different paths toward trials, etc...

    Sort of like a certain presidential candidate who couldn't produce billing records but they appeared overnight in the White House without reason.

    It's the power that corrupts, not the political ideology.


    talk about a headscratcher (none / 0) (#23)
    by Dadler on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 02:10:14 PM EST
    How you can equate the completely minor league Rose Law Firm billing episode with the Plame affair is beyond sentient minds.

    As if jaywalking and assault are just so much of the same thing.

    Yes, people of every political stripe are guilty of many things, and should be exposed, but the kind of thinking evidenced by your post doesn't help matters any.  The tit-for-tat school of illogic is not what we need.


    still headscratching (none / 0) (#24)
    by wumhenry on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 03:11:17 PM EST
    Whitewater did involve a crime -- S&L fraud -- and it was not minor league, although the prosecutor could not pin it on Bill or Hill (thanks in no small part to Susan McDougall's stonewalling in defiance of court order).

    What is it that, to your mind, makes the Plame affair so much more momentous?  What does it all boil down to besides trying to hang a perjury rap on an official for lying about conduct that was not illegal?  The SP has not contended that it was illegal for a Bush official to disclose to the press that Wilson's wife was a CIA employee or to disclose her name and has not charged anyone for doing so.


    Keep scratching (none / 0) (#27)
    by ding7777 on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 04:39:32 PM EST
    Susan McDougal claimed the 5th for a question Starr asked about Clinton awareness of Susan's $300,000 small business loan from David Hale's investment comapany.

    Neither the fraudulent small business loan nor Susan's 5th had anything to do with the so-called Madison Guaranty's  S&L fraud.


    OK, but (none / 0) (#29)
    by wumhenry on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 05:55:04 PM EST
    Thanks for the correction.  But if McDougal had answered "yes" to the question wouldn't that have incriminated Bill Clinton?  (I assume that a "yes" answer would have been truthful, as if she could truthfully have answered "no" there'd have been no reason for her to stonewall and spend 18 months in jail for contempt.)

    correction (none / 0) (#30)
    by wumhenry on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 05:59:49 PM EST
    BTW, I don't think she invoked the 5A right to avoid self-incrimination, because answering the question she balked at wouldn't have incriminated her.

    please stay on topic (none / 0) (#32)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Feb 22, 2007 at 12:36:23 AM EST
    which is the Scooter Libby trial.

    Your Libby trial coverage was always informative (none / 0) (#10)
    by stpaulsen on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 08:12:06 AM EST
    This post so clearly explains scope and meaning of the trial, careful reading should be mandatory.  At a time when blogs are being badmouthed, TalkLeft is one I know I can come to to get straight talk.  Thanks for being out there.

    qestion for Jeralyn (none / 0) (#14)
    by wumhenry on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 10:00:52 AM EST
    Jeralyn, your comment seems to imply that it was a crime for people in the Whitehouse to tell reporters that Wilson's wife was a CIA employee and might have had, or did have, a say in his hiring.  Do you really believe that, and if so, what criminal law do you believe was violated by such communications?

    puzzlement (none / 0) (#20)
    by Coyoteville on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 12:55:33 PM EST

    I unlurked and registered to make this comment.

    I understand you had to leave the courthouse yesterday to catch a plane, and therefore missed Fitzgerald's summary. My reading of it was that it certainly was emotional, as well as logical, and clearly aimed at the bigger "conspirator" - i.e. Cheney.

    As for Wells, if you'd watched last night's PoliticsTV with Redd, Jane and Marcy, you'd have picked up that Wells' crying jag is a well-worn part of his schtick. Apparently reporters in the courthouse were voting on whether his performance was better or worse than his in other trials, and they all took the position "worse".

    Conviction (none / 0) (#21)
    by magster on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 01:04:15 PM EST
    There has been a lot of talk about nullification that favors the defense.  What has not been stated in this thread is that the jury might be inclined to convict because the whole outing of Valerie Plame was done so seedily.  There is enough evidence for a conviction, and a failure by the defense to make Libby look sympathetic.

    Conviction.  Bring on the VP!

    Sunny Side! (none / 0) (#25)
    by popeleo10 on Wed Feb 21, 2007 at 03:23:10 PM EST
    I agree!  Magster, you are such an optimist!  You've brightened my day greatly!  Thank you!