The Libby Indictment

As I troll around the ‘sphere, it is interesting to me that there seem to be two distinct factions within the left wing regarding what will happen now- those who think this is it, or those who are hoping this is just the beginning. Kevin Drum is a pretty solid example of the former:

That leaves only one conclusion: Fitzgerald didn’t think he could win conviction for any charges related to the actual leak of Plame’s name. And if he didn’t think he could win a case against Mr. X, he probably didn’t think he could win a case against Libby either.

(Unless, of course, he brings further charges against Mr. X at a later date, or announces a plea deal of some kind. Based on his press conference, though, my guess is that he doesn’t plan to. He seemed pretty eager to lower expectations on that score.)

Anyway, that’s my guess. Obviously we don’t know everything yet, and we might not ever know everything. It depends on how leak free Fitzgerald’s office stays. And it says nothing about how insanely malicious and reckless it was to expose Valerie Plame’s identity in real world terms. Legally, though, if Fitzgerald thought he could bring charges against anyone for the actual act of exposing Valerie Plame’s identity, I think he would have done it today.

Kevin has more thoughts here, and Billmon seems to echo Kevin’s sentiments:

But I tend to take Fitzgerald at his word when he says his work is “substantially” complete, and that he’s “not looking expand [his] mandate or authority.” I think there’s still a fair-to-middling chance Karl Rove will be indicted. And if Rove is indicted, I wouldn’t be surprised if Stephen Hadley is too, since he also seems to be implicated in Rove’s attempt to hide his conversation with Matt Cooper. But if Turdblossom or anyone else goes down, I suspect it will be for the same perjury and/or false statement and/or obstruction charges that nailed Scooter. And once that’s done (or the decision is made not to do it) I think Fitzgerald will call it quits, just like Dean said he would…

That sure doesn’t sound like a man ready to go plunging down a rabbit hole into the wonderland of forged Niger documents, Ahmed Chalabi, “Curveball,” the Likudniks in the Pentagon, concealing evidence from Congress — or any of the other issues that enrage and agitate the Cheney administration’s critics. In that sense, Fitzgerald has, perhaps deliberately, positioned himself as the anti-Starr. His turf begins and ends with the Plame outing.

At the other end of the continuum is the Booman Tribune, who thinks this is just the beginning:

The indictment makes it clear that Libby was authorized to have access to classified information (Paragraph 1), but also takes pains to point out not only that he was obligated not to disclose that information, but that he had signed a “Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement” the primary purpose of which was to let its signatories know, in no uncertain terms, that disclosure of classified information would be a big no-no.

Voila! All of the elements, at least of the Espionage Act (if not the Intelligence Identities Protection Act), have been made out in the indictment. So, why go to all the trouble of setting up the factual predicates for violations of the classified information statutes in the indictment (especially when he didn’t have to) and then stop short of charging them? The explanation he gave during his press conference (i.e., that he was balancing the interests of the First Amendment with the wisdom of charging the crime) does’t fly. Subpoenaing reporters, sending one to jail and threatening to do the same to another one demonstrate, I suggest, his less-than-overarching concern about the First Amendment. And, his expressed concern that the U.S. statute governing classified information not become subject to the loose application which has characterized its British analog (i.e., the “Official Secrets Act”) also rings hollow, especially given the fact that he trumpeted, loud and long, during his press conference the serious violations of national security the conduct in this case appears to have constituted.

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. Let’s face it: Libby is only the consigliere to Cheney’s don. Even though the threat of spending 30 years in the pokey will be a powerful incentive for Libby to cut some kind of deal that might include turning on his boss, the possibility of the additional charges of revealing classified information, particularly against Cheney, is even more powerful since, presumably, Cheney does’t appear to be at risk of a truth-telling-related indictment.

I simply have no idea what is going to happen, and as I have limited experience in this sort of proceeding, I don;t know how useful my guesses will be. I am most alarmed that the CIA has still not even done a damage assessment:

There is no indication, according to current and former intelligence officials, that the most dire of consequences — the risk of anyone’s life — resulted from her outing.

But after Plame’s name appeared in Robert D. Novak’s column, the CIA informed the Justice Department in a simple questionnaire that the damage was serious enough to warrant an investigation, officials said.

The CIA has not conducted a formal damage assessment, as is routinely done in cases of espionage and after any legal proceedings have been exhausted. Yesterday, after a two-year inquiry into the leak, special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald issued a five-count indictment against Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, for perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements during the grand jury investigation.

Why not? This Observer piece has a bit of background on Plame, and that it was feared she had been compromised by Aldrich Ames, which would be the first time I have heard that:

Her next move was to the London School of Economics, where she began ‘being laundered’ and going undercover. After gaining a degree, she was sent to the College of Europe, an international relations school in Bruges, before moving to Brussels and into the energy business.

There, she worked out of the now closed consulting firm Brewster-Jennings, frequently traveling to Africa and other far-flung areas as an intelligence agent under non-official cover (NOC).

By then none of her friends, and not even her family and father, a retired military officer, knew of her real identity. With no diplomatic protection, the cover she had taken years to build as an energy business consultant would be all-important. Strip it away and, like any other NOC out in the field, she’d be open game for potential enemies – expendable without any official repercussion.

When, in 1997, the CIA began to fear Plame had been given away – along with other covert overseas operatives – to the Russians by the double agent Aldrich Ames, she was brought back to Washington. There, at a reception given by the then Turkish ambassador, her eyes drifted across the room to meet those of retired US ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV.

It will be nice when all the information finally comes out abut this whole case, rather than in drips and drabs and bits and pieces of unreliable rumor. At any rate, if you have anything else to add, please do so in the comments.

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40 replies
  1. 1
    Anderson says:

    The crucial incident, to me, is what Cheney said to Libby on the plane in July 2003:

    Defending the war became the animating priority aboard Air Force Two that day. According to his indictment on Friday, Libby “discussed with other officials aboard the plane” how he should respond to “pending media inquiries” about the critic, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV. Apart from Libby, only press aide Catherine Martin is known to have accompanied Cheney on that flight. * * *

    That Saturday afternoon, the indictment states, is when Libby confirmed for Matthew Cooper of Time magazine and disclosed to Judith Miller of the New York Times the classified fact that Wilson’s wife, who was known as Valerie Plame, “worked at the CIA.” Just over two weeks earlier, after a previous conversation with Cheney, Libby had told Miller more tentatively that Plame “might work at a bureau of the CIA.”

    If it’s true that Martin and Cheney were the only ones on the plane with Libby, then it becomes of paramount importance what Cheney said to Libby. Unless Martin (1) knows and (2) rolls over, I very much doubt we’ll ever know, b/c Libby won’t spill.

    So I incline to think that Libby is probably “it,” plus a guilty plea or two (the mysterious “no partisan gunslinger,” for ex).

  2. 2
    ppGaz says:

    A good roundup of material. I’m not sure about the “damage assessment” meme, though.

    Isn’t it a little like saying well, he ran the red light, but did he really kill anybody? I don’t see how proof of damage is a necessary thing here, if recklessness is the issue.

    I’m just saying. But having said it, I do find it odd that CIA has remained silent, leaving it to Fitzgerald to define the larger issue to the public. You’d think that at least the CIA cheeses would speak up for the principle.

  3. 3
    stickler says:

    Well, don’t be so sure on that last point.

    The CIA has not conducted a formal damage assessment, as is routinely done in cases of espionage and after any legal proceedings have been exhausted.

    First of all, “all legal proceedings” haven’t been exhausted. Second of all, there was something — eight pages’ worth — that has been redacted from the stuff shown to the judges overseeing the investigation. Whatever is in those eight pages must be some pretty bracing stuff, because everything Fitzgerald has asked for, including imprisoning Judy Miller for several weeks, Fitzgerald has gotten.

    I’d be careful about trusting any of the mainstream newspapers on the details of this case, since obviously they have been conducting some pretty crappy journalism for a while now. So just because the CIA hasn’t, apparently, conducted some sort of “formal damage assessment” doesn’t mean they haven’t investigated what went on. How else did they know to ask the DOJ to get involved in the first place?

    What is in those eight redacted pages? (Might have something to do with the star that went up on a wall in Langley in 2003.)

  4. 4
    Doug says:

    From your post, I can’t tell if you think a damage assessment by the CIA would contribute one way or the other in judging Libby’s culpability. I don’t think it matters, personally. If Plame personally, or the nation generally, weren’t actually harmed significantly by Libby’s action, it’s no thanks to Libby himself. The Republicans certainly aren’t entitled to use a minimal damage defense to excuse or minimize the acts of Libby, Cheney, Rove, and whoever else.

    As a practical matter separate from Libby, Cheney, Rove, et al, it would be useful for the CIA to have a handle on what damage was actually done so they could seek to mitigate it.

  5. 5
    ppGaz says:

    Well, don’t be so sure on that last point.

    Yes, your point is well taken. I was talking about the public face of CIA.

    That’s rather an oxymoron, now that I see it in writing in front of me.

    I guess what I really mean is, I’d have a warmer, fuzzier feeling if the agency would speak up publicly for itself here.

  6. 6
    rilkefan says:

    I’ve read that there has been a damage assessment – Woodward says it came up negative, I think Larry Johnson says it came up positive.

    I don’t know how much it matters to me – the difference between murder and attempted murder can be unimportant as regards the criminal.

  7. 7
    John Cole says:

    The damage assessment is irrelevant to the issue of Libby’s guilt, but is still something I want to see conducted.

  8. 8
    whatsleft says:

    I think that the change in leadership at the CIA may have something to do with the lack of damage assessment. I seriously doubt that there would have been any investigation at all in a Porter Goss-led agency.

  9. 9
    OCSteve says:

    The meme I’ve seen a lot of today is that Fitz is going to flip Libby. The indictment is all about getting him to rat out others. Facing 30 years I can see that – but I’ve also read a lot along the lines of it will be tough to get a conviction if it’s really just he says she says…

    What I have found most interesting is that the right side blogs are almost consistently saying “if he lied he should face the music”. No covering for him or sliming Fitz.

  10. 10
    Stormy70 says:

    Please, this is Plame Over. This story is going nowhere. The indictment against Libby will make for an interesting trial to only the die harders. The rest of the country is watching football and sneaking the Halloween candy out of the bowl.

  11. 11
    SLE says:

    I’d be willing to bet money that some sort of damage assessment was done, and equally willing to bet that not a word of it will ever be publicly known. It just isn’t the sort of thing an intelligence service would want public, in any way, shape or form.

    Larry Johnson makes a good case for at least some direct damage (end of Brewster-Jennings as a front) and severe indirect damage (why would you be a NOC if your own government might disclose your identity?).

  12. 12
    a guy called larry says:

    this is Plame Over. This story is going nowhere.

    Stormy, you’ve got company. That’s what Timothy Noah Said on Dec. 3, 2003.

  13. 13
    Slide says:

    This is not over by a long shot. Fitz thinks something very serious happened here and that libby OBSTRUCTED his ability to get to the bottom of it. Fitz doesn’t sound like a guy that will just give up. This is only the very first shoe to drop. A relevant part of Fitz’s newconference:

    I also want to take away from the notion that somehow we should take an obstruction charge less seriously than a leak charge. This is a very serious matter and compromising national security information is a very serious matter. But the need to get to the bottom of what happened and whether national security was compromised by inadvertence, by recklessness, by maliciousness is extremely important. We need to know the truth. And anyone who would go into a grand jury and lie, obstruct and impede the investigation has committed a serious crime.

    Ok. what do we get from this?

    1) Fitz thinks National Security was compromized
    2) Libby lied to prevent him from getting at the truth
    3) He thinks it important to know the truth.

    Over you say? lol wishful thinking.

  14. 14
    Slide says:

    John Cole:

    I am most alarmed that the CIA has still not even done a damage assessment:

    That is not what the article said.

    The CIA has not conducted a formal damage assessment

    Of course the CIA evaluated what ramifications there would be as a result of the outing of not only Valerie Plame but also the front company, Brewster & Jennings, which we can surmise was used by other CIA agents as a front company.

    One reason they may have not done a formal evaluation with a written report is that they may not want a written record which could end up in open court compounding their problems. No report nothing to supeonea.

  15. 15
    Otto Man says:

    Please, this is Plame Over. This story is going nowhere. The indictment against Libby will make for an interesting trial to only the die harders.

    I disagree. Given Fitzgerald’s comments and the fact that the grand jury expired on Friday, I’m swayed by the argument that he sees Libby as the roadblock in his investigation and he’s using these indictments to plow through it. Rove, Cheney and company are still in his sights.

  16. 16
    Walt says:

    I don’t know how you missed hearing that Plame was compromised by Ames as it got a fair amount of play on the web. For example Tom Maguire posted the following.

    http://justoneminute.typepad.c....._was_.html

    “So, let’s try for a positive case – if we accept for a moment that the neither the CIA nor Wilson were acting in a manner consistent with Valerie’s cover being a deep secret, can we establish a reason for that? Sure – per Nick Kristof, Ms. Plame was, in fact, believed to have been compromised by Aldrich Ames in 1994; her operations were, as best as possible, wound down, and by 2003 she was in transition to a liaison function.

    And per Bill Gertz of the Wash Times, the CIA accidentally outed Ms. Plame themselves:

    In a second compromise, officials said a more recent inadvertent disclosure resulted in references to Mrs. Plame in confidential documents sent by the CIA to the U.S. Interests Section of the Swiss Embassy in Havana.

    The documents were supposed to be sealed from the Cuban government, but intelligence officials said the Cubans read the classified material and learned the secrets contained in them, the officials said.”

    As you say, it will be nice when all the information comes out.

  17. 17
    John Cole says:

    Walt- I probably read it and forgot about it. I read Tom every day. Hell, I probably linked to it.

    Slide- Makes sense.

  18. 18
    KC says:

    I’ve been at a conference all weekend and have been out of the loop. At any rate, I just saw this post in Newsweek about Karl Rove. It sounds like he just barely got off, though there are still some issues the prosecutor is looking at.

  19. 19
    Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    I’m swayed by the argument that he sees Libby as the roadblock in his investigation

    Same here. The giveaway was Fitz’s lengthy baseball analogy that ended with the “sand in the umpire’s eyes” bit.

  20. 20
    DougJ says:

    Since I’ve been gone for a while, I’m going to say something that my friends on the far right — DG and Darrell — most likely agree with. Though the truly misguided on the right, i.e. Stormy, will not.

    Here goes: Bush really needs to clean house. He should fire Rove and, at the very least, read Cheney the riot act. He needs to bring in some Howard Baker type to set things in order.

    I genuinely hope that he does this. If I were an actual Democrat instead of a centrist hater of the Bush administration, though, I would hope that he does not. Bush can save his presidency if he cleans house right now. Rove is dragging the presidency down. The public is sick of his staged events, etc. He needs to go, sooner rather than later. I think Bush *does* have potential as a president and I hope he finds it, even though I think is an idiot who has harmed the country greatly. I hope he turns things around.

  21. 21
    Jon H says:

    “At any rate, I just saw this post in Newsweek about Karl Rove. It sounds like he just barely got off, though there are still some issues the prosecutor is looking at.”

    That Newsweek story sounds pretty lame and very self-serving (by Rove’s lawyer).

    Luskin’s argument is, “Right after talking to Cooper, Rove met with a White House guy about a personnel matter, and didn’t mention Cooper.” Er, so?

    There’s any number of reasons why he wouldn’t mention the conversation with Cooper. For instance, the fact he had just “said too much” to Cooper probably indicates he wasn’t feeling like he should be blabbing to every staffer about what he said.

    Luskin wants us to believe that, in minutes, the discussion with Cooper just slipped Rove’s mind. That’s a load of bollocks.

  22. 22
    KC says:

    Jon H, yeah, I find it all fishy. My point was thought that if the Newsweek article is to be believed, Rove is off the hook, at least for the moment. Of course, and as everyone has pointed out all over the net, everything could change if there is a trial and witnesses are called.

  23. 23
    Jon H says:

    “Jon H, yeah, I find it all fishy. My point was thought that if the Newsweek article is to be believed, Rove is off the hook, at least for the moment.”

    Yeah, Luskin wants that to be the impression. Probably intended to keep others from flipping on Rove, or to reassure others that Rove didn’t flip on them.

    But I go back to that “Official A”. Governor Ryan of Illinois was referred to in similar terms, in other peoples’ indictments. Ryan was finally indicted, but only after 65 other people were indicted, over the course of several years.

  24. 24
    Slide says:

    Yeah, Luskin wants that to be the impression.

    Thats an excellent point. All the leaks are coming from Rove’s lawyers as it has been very clear that Fitz does not leak. So I would take with a grain of salt anything that read about Rove’s likelihood of getting indicted. The only one that knows that is Fitz and he ain’t talking.

  25. 25
    Sojourner says:

    As long as ole Karl is twisting in the wind, I’m happy.

    What comes around, goes around.

    Fuck you, Karl.

  26. 26
    scs says:

    I didn’t read all the posts here. But maybe some of you Plame story enthusiasts can tell me more on how come Karl Rove escaped perjury? Both he and Libby implied they learned about Plame from reporters and then changed that to Cheney for Libby, and for Rove, Libby. Someone said that there wasn’t a paper trail in Rove’s case and there was for Libby. Is that true?

  27. 27
    ppGaz says:

    tell me more on how come Karl Rove escaped perjury?

    The matter is still quite open; he hasn’t escaped anything yet.

  28. 28
    Walt says:

    John Cole Says:

    “Walt- I probably read it and forgot about it.”

    Are you changing your name to Scooter?

  29. 29
    Chris Johnson says:

    Bush fire Rove? *ROFL*

    That would be suicide. These people are terrified Rove will rat on them. The guy could probably get Bush, Cheney and half Bush’s cabinet locked up for a good long time. I wouldn’t be surprised if he kept records of damning evidence, even tapes or something, as insurance. Like hell Bush is going to fire Rove. If he did, it would be his death warrant. There are no friends at the levels of power these people operate at, only expediency, and nobody beats Rove at that.

    I still say Rove will inevitably rat on Bush and co. but he’s gonna cut a really good deal for it. Rove will never see prison, or even punishment.

    Fitz’s whole endgame will be how to land Rove and use him…

  30. 30
    Gary Farber says:

    “This Observer piece”

    You have extraneous characters breaking that link, John.

  31. 31
    TallDave says:

    I just think the whole thing is hilarious. Libby is being indicted for the cover-up of a leak of a covert agent who was almost certainly outed by Aldritch Ames and removed from service by 1998. They weren’t trying very hard to keep Plame a secret once she got back, either: she was driving to Langley in plain view every day, and was set up with a “Brewster-Jennings” shell company employer that survived about 30 seconds scrutiny from the press as the address given didn’t even exist. The kicker is that Wilson lied, as the SIE report made clear, and this whole investigation is underway because someone told the truth about Wilson’s lies.

    The real question is: why was Libby stupid enough to think he had to lie about exposing Wilson and (even more stupidly) that he wouldn’t get caught doings so? Or, at an even more astounding level of stupidity, did he actually not realize he had heard the same info from Cheney before? (See, this is why you should never sleep through meetings.)

    There’s an obvious answer to why no damage assessment was done by the CIA: they already know there was no damage, because she wasn’t undercover! This whole thing was only referred by the CIA because they’re career bureaucrats who hate the GOP in general and Bush in particular.

    But anyway, regardless of the merits, I always enjoy indictments of high officials, because let’s face it: a nervous politician is the closest we’ll ever get to an honest politician.

  32. 32
    TallDave says:

    Oh, and the irony of the CIA allegedly getting upset about a meaningless leak, after they leaked everything they could in 2004 to hurt Bush and even had a guy on their payroll writing a Bush-bashing book? Priceless.

    This is why I love politics. Nothing this silly would ever make believable fiction.

  33. 33
    scs says:

    These people are terrified Rove will rat on them

    For the posters on here expecting more on this, I have my doubts. For one thing, we pretty much know what happened already. Let me sum it up again.

    Cheney got the info from the CIA after hearing about Wilson’s trip. He told Libby to get more info on Wilson. Libby did so and told Rove about it as well. No crime at this point as they are all cleared for classified info. Cheney, Libby and Rove made a plan to give “background” info to reporters about why Wilson was chosen. I doubt very strongly that Cheny actually said to Libby “We are going to GET that S.O.B. and RUIN him!” He probably said something like, “let’s go out and set the record straight on Wilson’s trip”. Libby and Rove did so, telling several reporters that Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA. I don’t believe they mentioned specifically that she was covert, as they either didn’t know it or did not mention it if they did.

    So, since the act about outing CIA agents specifically states it has to be done to “intentionally” cause harm to an undercover agent, it would nearly impossible for Fitzgerald to prove that Libby and Rove did that to harm Wilson and not just to confidentially give background on his trip to curious reputable reporters, perhaps never expecting it to go past their ears. After all, they probably never said to the reporters, “And I expect you to print that she was undercover!”

    So it all comes down to LANGUAGE. There has to be some language, either in notes or memos or witnesses, somewhere, that Cheney, Libby, or Rove wanted to specifically cause HARM to Wilson. That is the only way to judge intent. And that language will never be found. If it happened, it happened between the three of them, and they will never tell. So are far as that crime, they will get off scot free, now or in the future.

  34. 34
    stickler says:

    Tall Dave:

    Oh, and the irony of the CIA allegedly getting upset about a meaningless leak, after they leaked everything they could in 2004 to hurt Bush and even had a guy on their payroll writing a Bush-bashing book? Priceless.

    You had better pray as hard as you can that your version — improbable though it is — accords with the facts. Because if this isn’t what happened?

    Then an agent working on WMD, and her entire brass-plate firm, were blown up by sloppy and mendacious traitors in the White House.

    Even though there weren’t WMD in Iraq, I’m reasonably sure that there are WMD out in the world, with nasty men willing to use them against us at home. If you’re wrong, then the Bush Administration helped the bad guys and we may all pay the price. Even the possibility of that makes me mad as hell. You seem pretty sanguine about it. Why?

  35. 35
    Stormy70 says:

    If she was working on WMD, then she sucks. CAn she explain North Korea and Iran being much further along than the CIA thought? Did the CIA let Kahn sell nukes on the black market to the highest bidders? Libya gave up that network after we overthrew Saddam Hussein. Why did she host a meeting betweeen her husband and Nick Kristof of the Times for her media-hound of a husband? She sucks.

  36. 36
    p.lukasiak says:

    I just think the whole thing is hilarious. Libby is being indicted for the cover-up of a leak of a covert agent who was almost certainly outed by Aldritch Ames and removed from service by 1998.

    Clue time, kids.

    1) Plame was not among those known to have been compromised by Ames. The mere possibility of it happening, however, did result in the CIA taking steps to protect her.

    2) Plame was working on issues (prevention of nuclear proliferation, especially to non-state interests) in which the interests of the US and Russia coincide. These interests are also shared by the governments of the nations where Plame would be travelling undercover. Even assuming that Russia knew that Plame was “CIA”, it would not be in their interest to disclose that information to others. And even if Russia did disclose that information to other select governments, it would not be in the interest of those governments to act on that information against Plame. The primary threat to Plame was not that other governments might take action against her for working for the CIA, but that “non-state actors” would do so.

    3) Plame remained a highly valuable “covert” asset — thanks to her marriage to Wilson, she could now accompany him on trips all over the world with a diplomatic passport, keeping in touch with her contacts. (“Officially, I’m here with my husband….but I also do some ‘consulting’ on the side for companies like Bechtal and Halliburton, and you have information that might prove valuable to one of my clients. Oh, and I brought these for your wife—I remember how much she admired my diamond earrings the last time we met….”)

    The bottom line here is that Tenet and the CIA were concerned enough about the outing of Valerie Plame that they insisted that action be taken.

    Only the wingnut right is convinced that the Wilson trip (undertaken, lets not forget, in Feb. 2002, well before Bush ever publicly suggested that Iraq be invaded and occupied) was part of a vast CIA conspiracy aimed at discrediting George W. Bush because the CIA knew a year in advance that Bush would lie this country into a war, and pin the blame for the lies on the CIA.

    The rest of us have a clue about chronologies and timelines and such, and don’t confuse what happened in February 2002 with what happened well over a year later….

  37. 37
    Scoobie Litter says:

    While a damage assessment would be interesting, it is completely irrelevant to the legal case. There does need to be an institutional mechanism to make sure the CIA doesn’t abuse its powers to declare its agents covert, but Scooter Libby is not that mechanism. Valerie Wilson could have been nothing more than a bureaucrat, but it’s not for the Scooters of the world to make that determination.

  38. 38
    Sojourner says:

    I just think the whole thing is hilarious.

    I do too. The conservative right who were in such a lather over protecting the homeland are now defending the outing of an undercover CIA agent who was working in the area of, you guessed it, WMD.

    It’s both funny and pathetic watching the right bottom out on the ethics meter.

  39. 39

    A CIA officer’s name was blown, there was an apparent leak of information to friendly reporters in the national media, national security was at stake, a news reporter was eventually jailed, an administration mover and shaker called: “Scooter” has been indicted for possible obstruction of justice, perjury, and making false statements, and the federal judge assigned to the case was appointed by the same executive branch and had previously served in the White House Media Affairs Office.

    Is there just too much by happenstance for this to be just a coincidental thing?

    What a saga, sometimes humorous, sometimes crazy and gripping, but in fact, really serious, with each new segment so far finishing with a cliff hanger leaving the country eager for more information. It’s a tangled web of lies, cover-up, judgment of others, and corruption at the highest level of government (an unnecessary war with Iraq). It involves the po-po (the FBI), an assistant to the president of the United States, the chief of staff to the vice president, an assistant to the vice president for national security affairs, and a ruff neck (keeps it real and knows the streets) judge who once admitted as a junior in high school he discovered his father’s guns and straight razor and started sneaking them out of the house tucked into his pants (one of the fights escalated from punching to a boyhood friend being stabbed nine times with an ice pick). There’s also the highly unusual (August 2005) fight where this same federal judge wrestled a man to the ground during a traffic incident on the Chevy Chase Circle (Washington, D.C.).

    Maybe it’s just a part of the George W. Bush legacy? Maybe it’s just an element of indeterminacy in human actions which often works in favor of true disclosure? Nonetheless, both political parties would prefer for their own reasons not to pursue the truth, and the media will be content to go along with the typical hyperbole (cover-up), and the greater peril will be to the public’s confidence in the fair and impartial administration of justice.

    The American judiciary was placed into the frame work of our system so that no one branch of government could become too powerful and exercise its powers unduly either over the other branches or the American people. For many the separation of power has basically disappeared.

    I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, vice president Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, although indicted by a federal grand jury on five charges related to the CIA leak probe (one count of obstruction of justice, two counts of perjury, and two counts of making false statements), appears to be confident that at the end of this process he “will be completely and totally exonerated.” Karl Rove, president Bush’s top political adviser, who testified four times before the grand jury and wasn’t indicted (but not yet out of legal jeopardy), said through his attorney Robert Luskin, “We are confident that when the special counsel finishes his work, he will conclude that Mr. Rove has done nothing wrong.”

    But, how can they be so confident? Both Libby and Rove as senior government officials with responsibilities for national security matters (entitling them to access to classified information) were obligated by applicable laws and regulations, including Title 18 United States Code, Section 793, and executive Order 12958 (as modified by executive order 13292) not to disclose classified information to persons not authorized to receive such information, and otherwise required to exercise proper care to safe guard classified information against unauthorized disclosure.

    At issue is Joseph Wilson, who was married to Valerie Plame Wilson. Mrs. Wilson was employed by the CIA and her employment status was classified. Prior to July 14, 2003, her affiliation with the CIA was not common knowledge outside the intelligence community. In 2002, after an inquiry to the CIA by the vice president concerning certain intelligence reporting, the CIA decided on its own initiative to send Wilson to the country of Niger to investigate allegations involving Iraqi effort to acquire uranium yellow cake, a processed form of uranium ore. Wilson orally reported his findings to the CIA upon his return.

    On or about January 28, 2003, president Bush delivered his State of the Union Address which included “sixteen words” to justify war with Iraq asserting that “the British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. But as part of the American system of check-and-balances on May 6, 2003, the “New York Times” published a column by Nicholas Kristof of which disputed the accuracy of the “sixteen words” president Bush used in the State of the Union Address. The column reported that the ambassador sent to investigate the allegations had reported back to the CIA and State Department in early 2002 that the allegations were unequivocally wrong and based on forged documents (It’s just impossible to operate a clear conspiracy where all the pieces fit together).

    On or about June 23 and the morning of July 8, 2003, Libby met with “New York Times” reporter Judith Miller and discussed Wilson’s trip and his belief that Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA. When the conversation turned to the subject of Joseph Wilson during the second meeting, Libby asked that the information Libby provided on the topic of Wilson be attributed to a “former Hill staffer” rather than to a “senior administration official.” An under secretary of state had orally advised Libby on or about June 11 or 12, 2003, while in the White House that, in sum and substance, former ambassador and career state department official Joseph Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA. Additionally, the vice president himself had also advised Libby that Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA in the counter-proliferation division.

    Shortly thereafter, on July 10 or July 11, 2003, Libby spoke with Rowe, who advised Libby of a conversation Rowe had earlier that week with columnist Robert Novak in which Wilson’s wife was discussed as a CIA employee involved in Wilson’s trip. Libby was advised by Rowe that Novak would be writing a story about Wilson’s wife.

    On September 26, 2003, the Department of Justice authorized the Federal Bureau of Investigation to commence a criminal investigation into the possible unauthorized disclosure of classified information regarding the disclosure of Valerie Wilson’s affiliation with the CIA to various reporters in the Spring of 2003. A major focus of the grand jury investigation was to determine which government officials had disclosed to the media prior to July 14, 2003 information concerning the affiliation of Valerie Wilson with the CIA, and the nature, timing, extent and purpose of such disclosures, as well as whether any official making such a disclosure did so know that the employment of Valerie Wilson by the CIA was classified information (conducted an investigation into possible violations of federal criminal laws, including Title 50, United States Code, Section 421 – Disclosure of the identity of covert intelligence personnel; and, Title 18, United States Code, Sections: 793 Improper Disclosure of National Defense Information, 1001 False Statements, 1503 Obstruction of Justice, and 1623 Perjury).

    As part of the criminal investigation, Libby was interviewed by special agents of the FBI on or about October 14 and November 26, 2003, each time in the presence of his counsel. But, during the interviews, Libby is accused of lying about material facts related to the disclosure of Valerie Wilson’s affiliation with the CIA. Libby is said to have knowingly and corruptly endeavored to influence, obstruct, and impede the due administration of justice, namely proceedings before the grand jury, by misleading and deceiving the grand jury as to when, and the manner and means by which, Libby acquired and subsequently disclosed to the media information concerning the employment of Valerie Wilson by the CIA. He is also said to have knowingly and willfully made a materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statement and representation in a manner within the jurisdiction of the federal bureau of investigation. If convicted, the crimes charged in the indictment carry the following maximum penalties: Obstruction of Justice – 10 years in prison; Making False Statements and Perjury – each 5 years; and each count carries a maximum fine of $250,000.

    A George W. Bush appointee will determine the appropriate sentence to be imposed, if any. Judge Reggie B. Walton, with a minimal academic performance in high school, poor grades in college, and very poor showing on the law boards, enrolled into the CLEO program and somehow managed to earn an academic scholarship to American University College of Law. He graduated in 1974 and took a job as a public defender in Philly (Philadelphia). In 1976, he left that job for a position at the D.C.’s United States Attorney’s office. Here, he met Bob Bennett (brother of William Bennett Drug Czar appointed by George H.W. Bush) and in an attempt to establish credibility on minority issues the republicans appointed Walton to the number two drug czar position. For the next two years that followed, Walton traveled the country spreading the republican anti drug message to black communities.

    In 1981, Ronald Reagan appointed Walton to the D.C. Superior Court. But for unexplained reasons in 1989, Judge Walton moved to the White House Office of Media Affairs. Only to be appointed again in 1991 by George H.W. Bush to the D.C. Superior Court. President Bush appointed him to the federal bench (District of Columbia) on October 29, 2001.

    Please note Judge Walton’s tenure in the White House Communications Office (considered an element of the continuing campaign). The office often calls local radio stations, television stations, and newspapers daily to see if they’d be interested in an interview with an administrative figure. It also has a supporting element (research units) available not only for the communications head but to the chief of staff and other white house senior staffers.

    Since his appointment to the bench, Judge Walton has been assigned the majority of the most troubling legal matters involving the Bush administration. An appointed judge should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety, but Judge Walton’s willingness to often speak (for the administration it seems) on highly charged partisan issues further shakes public confidence in the judiciary. For example, following the death of Terri Schiavo, Judge Walton was dispatched to speak with NPR’s Ed Gordon about what he considered liberal “activism” in the U.S. Courts.

    In 1998, the republican appointee enumerated some of the standard racist conceptions often voiced by the right wing, telling Judy Cresanta and Kari Larney of the Nevada Policy Research Institute “bad parenting, bad neighborhoods and guns” fuels the problem with youthful offenders. However, in the book “Black Judges on Justice” Judge Walton had a black moment (said something really gangsta) and did admit as one of his major frustrations while working with the Bush administration, his inability to convince administration officials of the fact that fighting crime is ineffective without attacking social causes of crime.

    Judge Walton is the federal judge who threw out a lawsuit filed by a whistle-blower who alleged security lapses in the FBI’s translator program, ruling that Sibel Edmond’s claims might expose government secrets that could damage national security. He said that he couldn’t explain further because his explanation itself would expose sensitive secrets and disrupt diplomatic relations. Edmond’s lawyer, Mark S. Zaid, called the decision “Another example of the executive branch’s abuse of secrecy to prevent accountability.” Ms. Edmond, a former contract linguist, alleged in her lawsuit that she was fired in March 2002 after she complained to FBI managers about shoddy wiretap translations. She contended that she told the FBI an interpreter with a relative at a foreign embassy might have compromised national security. Although the government’s lawyers met with Judge Walton at least twice privately, Edmond had claimed the republican appointee dismissed her lawsuit without hearing evidence from her attorneys.

    In September 2005, Judge Walton dismissed two claims, but left open the possibility Steven Hatfill, a scientist once named by the Department of Justice as a possible suspect in the anthrax-letter attacks of 2001, could hold officials accountable (count seeking a declaration that former Attorney General John Ashcroft and others unconstitutionally deprived him of employment opportunities). A fourth claim seeking monetary damage from the federal government for alleged privacy act violations, also remains alive, but two counts to hold defendants individually responsible were dismissed. The judge had delayed the case saying that he wanted the Department of Justice investigation of the issue to proceed without interference from Hatfill’s civil suit. Many observers of the investigation dismissed the judge’s pronouncements about the case – the government had been periodically advertising impending breakthroughs since just about the time the spore-ridden letters were mailed out, some critics pointed out. Mr. Hatfill, a bio-terrorism expert, contends his reputation was ruined when law enforcement officials called him a “person of interest.” Hatfill once worked as a researcher at the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Frederick, Md. At one time the FBI had Hatfill under 24-hour surveillance.

    Judge Walton also ruled that a Missouri charity financed terrorism and is connected to a similarly named organization in Sudan, dismissing a lawsuit filed by the Islamic American Relief Agency – USA, which is based in Columbia, Mo. The charity had sought to thaw its assets which the treasury department froze in 2004. Lawyers for the Missouri charity had denied any link to terrorism and had said the charity is entirely separate from the Sudanese organization. Judge Walton said his decision was based on both public records and classified documents. Shareef Akeel, a Michigan lawyer representing the charity said nothing in the public part of the record showed that the charity had sent money out of the country for illegal purposes.

    In a case involving a request for documents on the Oklahoma City bombing which resulted in convictions of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, Judge Walton held that FOIA plaintiff (Judicial Watch) was required to file an administrative appeal for the documents, even if they were suing over the agency’s refusal to grant expedited processing. Judge Walton said the Judicial Watch was attempting to “bootstrap” its disclosure requests onto its bid for expedited processing. Although it appears that the FBI subsequently failed to timely respond to Judicial watch’s substantive request for documents within 20 days, Judge Walton said he will only consider those facts and circumstances that existed at the time of the filing of the complaint, and not subsequent events.

    A coalition of hunting supporters that included Safari Club International and numerous other sportsmen’s groups were dealt a blow by Judge Walton when in 2004 he dismissed their attempt to stop black bear hunting in New Jersey’s National Park Service Lands.

    In January 2004, Judge Walton held the longstanding ban on the sale and possession of handguns in Washington, D.C., is constitutional. The suit, brought by the National Rifle Association, challenged the constitutionality of the handgun ban on Second Amendment grounds. In the ruling, Judge Walton dismisses the suit, noting that, “The Court must conclude that the Second Amendment doesn’t confer an individual right to posses firearms. Rather, the amendment’s objective is to ensure the vitality of state militias.”

    Finally, a three-judge panel of a federal appeal court unanimously reversed Judge Walton, ruling that the public has the right to challenge an interior department official’s approval of the proposed Roundup Power Plant despite studies showing that it would pollute air in Yellowstone National Park and Wilderness areas. The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District Court of Columbia Circuit affirmed the public’s legal right to challenge a political appointee’s approval of the proposed power plant. Judge Walton had dismissed the case saying the conservation groups lacked standing because the ultimate permitting agency was the State of Montana. The National Parks Conservation Association, The Greater Yellowstone Coalition, The Wilderness Society, and a Denver resident alleged the Interior Department officials violated the Clean Air Act which prohibits degradation of air quality by man-made sources in pristine air sheds such as parks and wilderness areas.

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    Media Lies says:

    Lots of bloggers and pundits….

    ….have commented that Scooter Libby never should have lied to federal investigators and a grand jury. Some have even commented on

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  1. Media Lies says:

    Lots of bloggers and pundits….

    ….have commented that Scooter Libby never should have lied to federal investigators and a grand jury. Some have even commented on

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