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Saturday, October 29, 2005

Don't be so fast to condemn "Scooter"

In case there was any doubt, the press conference by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald pretty much confirmed that the indictments handed down on I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby Jr. were likely more politically motivated or to save face rather than an effort to serve justice. Take a couple of deep breaths and take a closer look at what actually happened.

For over two years Mr. Libby and other witnesses were questioned and re-questioned by the prosecutor and his staff in front of a grand jury. Unlike a standard jury trial where the jurors get to hear both sides of the story they only got the prosecutor's take. Witnesses before the grand jury are questioned on their own without the benefit of their legal counsel being present to advise them or object to the line of questioning.

Mr. Libby had daily involvement in national security matters as an advisor in the White House during a time of war. During the time period in question he attended hundreds of meetings, received thousands of e-mails, phone calls, and documents, met with and spoke to the President, Vice President, and others in the elite circle of national security routinely and often. He turned over all documents requested by the prosecution that "proved" that his answers to questions were not always accurate. It appears that the points in dispute revolve around the sequence of some phone conversations and e-mails and who said what to who when. Also keep in mind that most of the communications in question occurred two to three years ago. Is it possible, or even probable, that Mr. Libby is "guilty" of honest mistakes in recollection or statement rather than intentionally lying?

Now consider that the original complaint being investigated has been pretty much been shown to be totally bogus. Joseph Wilson has been shown to be a liar on several fronts. His wife has been "outed" since the Clinton administration in Wilson's Who's Who entry and in a Vanity Fair piece.

Mark "the Great One" Levin, prominent lawyer and legal consultant for Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, was on with Hannity after Fitzgerald's press conference and said that the indictments are extremely weak and the melodramatic statements made by Mr. Fitzgerald are a joke. He pointed out that Mr. Fitzgerald repeatedly used the phrase "classified" agent instead of "covert" agent when discussing the original purpose of the investigation. Levin regarded this as legal weasel wording in that technically anyone's relationship with the CIA can be described as "classified" for legal purposes while the term "covert" has a much stricter legal definition. He also pointed out that, in spite of all of the overly dramatic statements to the press by Mr. Fitzgerald (e.g. "he [Libby] committed a crime against all of us"), there were no indictments made pertaining to the original question of Ms. Plame being "outed" by the White House.

After reading the indictment, Mr. Levin predicted that when Mr. Libby appears at a formal trial with a judge, rules of evidence, and competent counsel who can cross-examine witnesses the indictments will collapse like the proverbial house of cards.

This whole affair doesn't pass the smell test. Why would Mr. Libby, a highly experienced and successful attorney, risk his career and reputation by intentionally lying while knowing that he had handed over the paperwork that could prove it to a prosecutor's legal staff? How accurate would the account of the average person be when, after two or three years have passed, repeatedly asked about the sequence of details pertaining to a few phone calls and e-mails from a pool of thousands? Have lawyers ever been known to ask loaded questions for the express purpose of tripping up a witness (note that lawyers are not compelled to place their hand on a Bible and swear to tell the truth at a trial)?

Perjury is a serious matter and should be vigorously prosecuted if and when it actually occurs (e.g. as in Bill Clinton filing a false affidavit and then lying about it under questioning. This is not in dispute as der Schlicmeister's attorney, out of fear of disbarment, made a formal statement under oath to a judge that he did not know that the affidavit was false when he presented it to the court). I strongly question that any provable perjury actually occurred here. I suspect that Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald heard the banging war drums of the liberals and their cheerleaders in the mainstream media that built up the expectations of indictments to a fever pitch. I can understand that he would be anticipating a torrent of personal assaults against him in the mainstream media if his expensive multi-year investigation did not come up with any indictments.

It's been said that a grand jury prosecutor could "indict a ham sandwich". It appears that an indictment against a ham sandwich would not satiate the liberals and the mainstream media so Patrick Fitzgerald came up with some face-saving ones against Mr. Libby. I'm convinced that in the end the indictments against Mr. Libby will be shown to have about as much substance as one against a ham sandwich.

The Dean adds: It also seems odd that Libby would have so readily released Judith Miller from her duty to protect him as a source, if he had so blatantly lied to the grand jury about the timeline of events surrounding his discovery of the Plame/CIA/Niger connection. It was Miller's notes that showed her discussing Plame with Libby, prior to when Libby claimed to have learned her identity, that earned him the bulk of the indictments.

Reasonable doubt says Libby forgot about his conversation with Miller, as you suggest. It looks like a possible to crime to Fitzpatrick, but that's why we have trials. F. Lee Levin is right - he probably walks.


Blogger John said...

Multiple press outlets reported that Plame was an undercover CIA operative at the time Novak's article was published. Citing intelligence officials, Newsday first reported on July 22, 2003, that prior to her exposure, Plame worked for the CIA on weapons of mass destruction issues in an undercover capacity. An October 11, 2003, Knight Ridder article reported that Plame operated under "nonofficial cover," posing as an analyst at a CIA-created shell company, Brewster-Jennings & Associates. An October 13, 2003, Time article confirmed that Plame was involved in tracking weapons of mass destruction.

An October 1, 2003, Washington Post article also quoted intelligence officials confirming Plame's undercover status with the CIA:

Plame currently is an analyst at the CIA. But, intelligence officials said, she previously served overseas in a clandestine capacity, which means her name is kept classified to protect her previous contacts and operations, and her ability to work again undercover overseas.

But hey, if Hannity's lawyer said she wasn't undercover, then she must not have been.

10/30/2005 9:00 PM  
Blogger Right Hook said...

I don't dispute anything you say (other than the reference to Mr. Levin as being "Hannity's lawyer"--he is a respected attorney who comes on often with Hannity and Rush to help put legal stuff into perspective) but it doesn't look like the CIA was going out of its way to protect her status. In any case it appears that just about everybody knew she worked for the CIA and that she wasn't "outed" by the White House.

This whole affair has the smell of a setup. It's no secret that there are a bunch of liberal career types in the CIA and they have been at odds with Cheney since the Bush 41 administration.

10/30/2005 9:52 PM  
Blogger G-man said...

Multiple press outlets reported that Gore won Florida and that FEMA was responsible for the delays in getting aid to Katrina victims – both allegations famously made and both famously wrong.

What is most compelling is that after two years of investigations, Fitzgerald has been unable to indict anyone for “outing” a CIA agent. Either Plame was not covert, or her status as a covert agent was unknown to Libby – both of which must be true to make such an indictment (at least, against Libby).

Would it not be odd for intelligent officials to discuss with the media the alleged covert status of an agent less than three months after she was supposedly outed? If indeed there were previous contacts and operations worth protecting, why say anything?

10/30/2005 11:34 PM  
Blogger John said...

Better yet, why mention the name of a CIA agent to a reporter, undercover or not? I mean, while we're asking questions. I'm not the sharpest blade in the drawer, but even I know better than to tell people that my Uncle Ray is in the CIA. [gasp]....uh..I mean, if I had an uncle in the CIA, I would know better than to say that his name was Ray. [gasp]...Dammit!

11/16/2005 10:11 PM  

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