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A Fitzgerald Press Conference Walkthrough

Logic is important in any analysis of the facts. It does require possession of the facts first, and like many Americans, Republicans have been deprived of the real facts of the case. Listening to Fitzgerald’s press conference, there were a number of facts brought up that would simply preclude many of the claims the Bush administration and their supporters in the media have made, and I think it’s important that those on the Right who are fair-minded and interested in the facts, and not just the administration’s narrative of them, become aware of some of these facts, as Patrick Fitzgerald has brought them out.

The source for this comes from The Washington Post's Transcript of Fitgerald's press conference.

The first quote should put to rest all the arguments of the legal status of Valerie Wilson:

Before I talk about those charges and what the indictment alleges, I'd like to put the investigation into a little context. Valerie Wilson was a CIA officer. In July 2003, the fact that Valerie Wilson was a CIA officer was classified. Not only was it classified, but it was not widely known outside the intelligence community. Valerie Wilson's friends, neighbors, college classmates had no idea she had another life. The fact that she was a CIA officer was not well-known, for her protection or for the benefit of all us. It's important that a CIA officer's identity be protected, that it be protected not just for the officer, but for the nation's security. Valerie Wilson's cover was blown in July 2003. The first sign of that cover being blown was when Mr. Novak published a column on July 14th, 2003. But Mr. Novak was not the first reporter to be told that Wilson's wife, Valerie Wilson, Ambassador Wilson's wife Valerie, worked at the CIA. Several other reporters were told. In fact, Mr. Libby was the first official known to have told a reporter when he talked to Judith Miller in June of 2003 about Valerie Wilson.

Valerie Wilson's identity as a CIA agent was classified, according to the prosecutor, and it was not an open secret. Word reached many of our ears of Fitzgerald interviewing neighbors and associates on this account. Perhaps some in the media have alleged otherwise, but I hardly think as meticulous and demanding of a prosecutor as this fellow would leave such stones unturned. That person was either lying, or badly mistaken.

Additionally, we see why the investigation's first casualty was Libby- he was the first leaker, as far as Fitzgerald could determine.

Another assertion on the right has been that Fitzgerald exceeded his mandate. He would differ on that. He would say he fulfilled his mandate. His point of view:

It's critical that when an investigation is conducted by prosecutors, agents and a grand jury they learn who, what, when, where and why. And then they decide, based upon accurate facts, whether a crime has been committed, who has committed the crime, whether you can prove the crime and whether the crime should be charged. Agent Eckenrode doesn't send people out when $1 million is missing from a bank and tell them, "Just come back if you find wire fraud." If the agent finds embezzlement, they follow through on that. That's the way this investigation was conducted. It was known that a CIA officer's identity was blown, it was known that there was a leak. We needed to figure out how that happened, who did it, why, whether a crime was committed, whether we could prove it, whether we should prove it. And given that national security was at stake, it was especially important that we find out accurate facts.

It's a point of view that makes sense. We may suspect a crime, but we do not know all the facts at the beginning of an investigation- thus it's necessity. If during the course of an investigation, other crimes become apparent, he would be remiss in not prosecuting what he could. Remember, Al Capone didn't fall because of convictions under the laws of prohibition. It was Tax Evasion that brought him down, and it really didn't make a difference. Heck, if you look at the sentences for the different crimes, Libby might have done better just to fess up.

In the finale of The Firm, Tom Cruise's character hands Ed Harris's FBI agent the evidence to convict a mafia-run law firm of wire fraud. the FBI agent balks. Cruise's character, Mitch McDeere rattles off the significant jail sentences that the charges and all the counts multiplying them bring, then describes it all with a classic line: It's not sexy, but it's got teeth.

I think thirty years qualifies as pretty toothy, especially if Fitzgerald can prove his case.

Why does this prosecutor want to use those teeth, though?

But as important as it is for the grand jury to follow the rules and follow the safeguards to make sure information doesn't get out, it's equally important that the witnesses who come before a grand jury, especially the witnesses who come before a grand jury who may be under investigation, tell the complete truth. It's especially important in the national security area. The laws involving disclosure of classified information in some places are very clear, in some places they're not so clear. And grand jurors and prosecutors making decisions about who should be charged, whether anyone should be charged, what should be charged, need to make fine distinctions about what people knew, why they knew it, what they exactly said, why they said it, what they were trying to do, what appreciation they had for the information and whether it was classified at the time. Those fine distinctions are important in determining what to do. That's why it's essential when a witness comes forward and gives their account of how they came across classified information and what they did with it that it be accurate.

He would later compare the investigation to what follows a batter getting hit in the head with the ball. What does lying and obstruction of justice equal to him?

And what we have when someone charges obstruction of justice, the umpire gets sand thrown in his eyes. He's trying to figure what happened and somebody blocked their view.

That's very important to understand: Fitzgerald believes that Libby threw sand in the eyes of the investigation. Whatever his reason, Libby's actions have risen to Fitzgerald's standards for criminal behavior, and a grand jury has concurred.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Why does Fitzgerald believe this?

And to be frank, Mr. Libby gave the FBI a compelling story. What he told the FBI is that essentially he was at the end of a long chain of phone calls. He spoke to reporter Tim Russert, and during the conversation Mr. Russert told him that, "Hey, do you know that all the reporters know that Mr. Wilson's wife works at the CIA?" And he told the FBI that he learned that information as if it were new, and it struck him. So he took this information from Mr. Russert and later on he passed it on to other reporters, including reporter Matthew Cooper of Time magazine, reporter Judith Miller of the New York Times. And he told the FBI that when he passed the information on on July 12th, 2003, two days before Mr. Novak's column, that he passed it on understanding that this was information he had gotten from a reporter; that he didn't even know if it was true. And he told the FBI that when he passed the information on to the reporters he made clear that he did know if this were true. This was something that all the reporters were saying and, in fact, he just didn't know and he wanted to be clear about it. Later, Mr. Libby went before the grand jury on two occasions in March of 2004. He took and oath and he testified. And he essentially said the same thing. He said that, in fact, he had learned from the vice president earlier in June 2003 information about Wilson's wife, but he had forgotten it, and that when he learned the information from Mr. Russert during this phone call he learned it as if it were new. When he passed the information on to reporters Cooper and Miller late in the week, he passed it on thinking it was just information he received from reporters; that he told reporters that, in fact, he didn't even know if it were true. He was just passing gossip from one reporter to another at the long end of a chain of phone calls. It would be a compelling story that will lead the FBI to go away if only it were true. It is not true, according to the indictment.

The defense by Libby's team is a memory defense. The old, I forget, I don't recall... You know the drill. The only problems are these:

Mr. Libby discussed the information about Valerie Wilson at least half a dozen times before this conversation with Mr. Russert ever took place, not to mention that when he spoke to Mr. Russert, Mr. Russert and he never discussed Valerie Wilson or Wilson's wife. He didn't learn it from Mr. Russert. But if he had, it would not have been new at the time

Worse, though:

But in early June, Mr. Libby learned about Valerie Wilson and the role she was believed to play in having sent Mr. Wilson on a trip overseas from a senior CIA officer on or around June 11th, from an undersecretary of state on or around June 11th, and from the vice president on or about June 12th. It's also clear, as set forth in the indictment, that some time prior to July 8th he also learned it from somebody else working in the Vice President's Office. So at least four people within the government told Mr. Libby about Valerie Wilson, often referred to as "Wilson's wife," working at the CIA and believed to be responsible for helping organize a trip that Mr. Wilson took overseas.

Memory, as one of my professors in Neuroscience would tell you, is shaped by attention and intention. In short, if you are interested in something, and it's important to you, you're much likelier to remember it. Your memory will probably be even better if you repeatedly encounter a piece of information.

What's more, if you use it, you're not as quick to lose it:

In addition to hearing it from government officials, it's also alleged in the indictment that at least three times Mr. Libby discussed this information with other government officials. It's alleged in the indictment that on June 14th of 2003, a full month before Mr. Novak's column, Mr. Libby discussed it in a conversation with a CIA briefer in which he was complaining to the CIA briefer his belief that the CIA was leaking information about something or making critical comments, and he brought up Joe Wilson and Valerie Wilson. It's also alleged in the indictment that Mr. Libby discussed it with the White House press secretary on July 7th, 2003, over lunch. What's important about that is that Mr. Libby, the indictment alleges, was telling Mr. Fleischer something on Monday that he claims to have learned on Thursday. In addition to discussing it with the press secretary on July 7th, there was also a discussion on or about July 8th in which counsel for the vice president was asked a question by Mr. Libby as to what paperwork the Central Intelligence Agency would have if an employee had a spouse go on a trip. So that at least seven discussions involving government officials prior to the day when Mr. Libby claims he learned this information as if it were new from Mr. Russert. And, in fact, when he spoke to Mr. Russert, they never discussed it. [emphasis mine]

Either Libby was in a profound state of prophetic frenzy, or he knew before the date Russert "told" him who Joe Wilson's wife worked for. What's more, with Russert having never told him in the first place, or even discussed the matter, there was no opportunity for Libby to honestly have been first told by Russert, or any reporter for that matter.

But maybe he got the dates wrong, or the reporter wrong. The meeting with Russert, according to the indictment, was on the 10th of July. Maybe it was Judith Miller, who he met with about seventeen days earlier! But Judith Miller testifies that he was the one telling, not the one being told, and others, including the Vice President say that they told him earlier, on a subject that a number of people can testify intensely interested Libby.

Here is how Fitzgerald breaks down the mistruths told by Libby:

The first occasion in which Mr. Libby discussed it with Judith Miller was back in June 23rd of 2003, just days after an article appeared online in the New Republic which quoted some critical commentary from Mr. Wilson.
After that discussion with Judith Miller on June 23rd, 2003, Mr. Libby also discussed Valerie Wilson on July 8th of 2003.
During that discussion, Mr. Libby talked about Mr. Wilson in a conversation that was on background as a senior administration official. And when Mr. Libby talked about Wilson, he changed the attribution to a former Hill staffer.
During that discussion, which was to be attributed to a former Hill staffer, Mr. Libby also discussed Wilson's wife, Valerie Wilson, working at the CIA -- and then, finally, again, on July 12th.
In short -- and in those conversations, Mr. Libby never said, "This is something that other reporters are saying;" Mr. Libby never said, "This is something that I don't know if it's true;" Mr. Libby never said, "I don't even know if he had a wife."
At the end of the day what appears is that Mr. Libby's story that he was at the tail end of a chain of phone calls, passing on from one reporter what he heard from another, was not true.
It was false. He was at the beginning of the chain of phone calls, the first official to disclose this information outside the government to a reporter. And then he lied about it afterwards, under oath and repeatedly.

Fitzgerald goes on to say this: A grand jury has already been empanelled to replace the one that expired. The investigation continues, but the bulk of it is is done. The obstruction charges is a serious charge, especially in the midst of an investigation about a national security violation like this, and the public's interest in this investigation will be vindicated by a conviction, should a Jury bring one.

He indicated that his unwillingness to speak of others he might have thought did wrongdoing is not motivated by the absence of such things, but the wish not to implicate or vindicate others falsely by what is said or unsaid. He explicitly told one reporter not to read into his comments any conclusion one way or another on Rove. He simply will not comment on grand jury matters until indictments are handed down.

I think this is an important distinction to make. There were some, especially on this blog, who said nothing would happen. The same folks, and perhaps others, are saying it's over. But if you look at the complexity of the case, and all the people who made potentially misleading statements, or who might have played a role, the conclusion can only be this: There is a great potential for more people to fall into the trap that has snared Libby. It all depends on one thing:

The facts. With all the revelations contained within the News Conference, and within the Indictment itself, it would be silly to believe that Fitzgerald doesn't have more information to bring to bear, or that this all stops with one overzealous Vice Presidential Chief of staff. If Fitzgerald was willing to fry Libby on this evidence, he's willing to fry others.

And that may be the message. Let us recall that letters were delivered to others being investigated, notifying them that they may be charged. The person who takes Fitzgerald's silence to mean vindication and minimal damage misunderstands this prosecutor. Libby may simply have been the only person in this administration that Fitzgerald believed he could indict in the days that Judith Miller's refusal to testify left him.

One thing is guaranteed: we will learn more in the next few weeks, and we will all have our notions of where the trail will lead, but as this proceeds, all our ideas of how things will go will be put to the test that all notions of the future are put: how things actually turn out. I believe personally that what has happened and been revealed up to now indicates that the future is not bright for this White House. The particulars of how that occur- well you all know my views. But in general, the manner in which this White House has conducted itself, especially with the new material in mind, indicates that they are likely not innocent of the charges, and that that our calmest most measured allegations of misbehavior have been vindicated: This administration did indeed leak Valerie Wilson's identity, for the same reason that it levels all of it's damaging blows to its opponents: They believe they have the right, the privilege, even the calling to govern this country their way, and they will be damned if they let anything get in their way.

This indictment is a stark reminder to all who think in that manner that to lead under the full authority of the law is not to rule above it, and that the system does not just exist to serve the convenience of the few who reign in high places. We did not overthrow a king in fact our nation's founding to elect a king in effect in our own time. If our elected officials can't stand the heat of inquiry, they should stay out of the kitchen.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at October 29, 2005 2:00 PM
Comments
Comment #88788

Well written article, Stephen.

Of course, there’s more to come. Rove appeared before the Grand Jury four times. I doubt he was recalled because they enjoyed his keen sense of humor. Apparently Rove’s lawyer has been meeting with Fitzpatrick’s people this past week. With any luck at all, Rove will plea bargain and resign this coming week.

Eventually Rove & Libby will receive pardons. It occurs to me Libby will cop a plea. Despite the difficulty of proving perjury- and Fitzpatrick has presented a very fine case, no doubt- I just don’t believe Libby and his lying cohorts will run the risk of a trial. A trial could entice Fitzpatrick beyond the immediate case, into a pursuit of the administration lies behind the Invasion of Iraq. Too risky for the Bush administration. There will be pay-offs under the table, promises of pardons.

An interesting side note, observed by many, is the inescapable conclusion that Cheney lied.

Cheney lied. Dick Cheney, Vice President of the United States of America. What a sack of shit. Lying to the citizenry is not a crime, I know, but it certainly calls the rest of what he says into question.

So Libby will have an opportunity to clear his fine reputation in a court of law. I hope he does 30 years. Bastard. Won’t happen, but he richly deserves it.

Because how many other smears did he conduct without ever being caught? And how many smear campaigns did Cheney lie about?

Rove next. Hopefully won’t have long to wait.

Posted by: phx8 at October 29, 2005 4:50 PM
Comment #88790

Stephen,
You did a thorough job of trying to put everything in compact order. I only hope that others will read not only your information, but follow up by checking out more.

I will admit, I’m curious to see which way this discussion goes.
Linda H.

Posted by: Linda H. at October 29, 2005 5:01 PM
Comment #88793

You left a couple of things out here Stephen,

1. Lewis Libby did not blow the cover of a covert CIA agent.

QUESTION: Can you say whether or not you know whether Mr. Libby knew that Valerie Wilson’s identity was covert and whether or not that was pivotal at all in your inability or your decision not to charge under the Intelligence Identity Protection Act?

FITZGERALD: Let me say two things. Number one, I am not speaking to whether or not Valerie Wilson was covert. And anything I say is not intended to say anything beyond this: that she was a CIA officer from January 1st, 2002, forward.

2. Being an officer of the CIA is not exactly the same as being a covert agent. She drove to Langley every day after all. And there is evidence that people knew that fact before Novaks column. Not ‘widely known’ perhaps, but known.

Long ago, on a trip to DC, I met a man and started up a conversation with him about politics. In the course of the conversation told me he worked at the CIA. Not as a secret agent, he said, but at Langley. He seemed credible to me and didn’t make a big thing about it, and I never had any reason to doubt him.

Did he ‘out’ himself?

Posted by: esimonson at October 29, 2005 5:15 PM
Comment #88796

Eric,
Did you go home, get on the phone, and start calling nationally syndicated columnists to reveal that person’s identity?

You didn’t, you never even considered it, because you’re a decent, loyal American.

You are right, Eric, in your basic point. We’ll never know for sure. Fitzgerald will never, ever confirm the exact nature of Plame’s job. We’ll never know her precise job description or duties, her activities, who she visited when she travelled abroad; we’ll never know if this leak made any difference whatsoever.

The fact this investigation occurred in the first place suggests something serious happened behind the scenes.

Purely opinion on my part, pure speculation, but I’ll bet US agents and/or foreign sources died as a result of the leak.

Posted by: phx8 at October 29, 2005 5:29 PM
Comment #88804

I believe the indictment says “secret” i.e. classified information.

Doesn’t say covert.

Posted by: womanmarine at October 29, 2005 6:20 PM
Comment #88807

esimonson:
I seriously doubt that it’s a release of classified information if a receptionist or janitor at Langley mentions their work locale to a stranger at a bar. Probably unwise, but not illegal. And doing it yourself is not the same as a goverment official doing it.

Also, just because Fitzgerald refuses to discuss Valerie Wilson’s status doesn’t mean that she wasn’t covert. In fact, as one might conclude from phx8’s statement, they would actually say she WASN’T covert if that were the case.

Posted by: Loren at October 29, 2005 6:40 PM
Comment #88813
Also, just because Fitzgerald refuses to discuss Valerie Wilson’s status doesn’t mean that she wasn’t covert. In fact, as one might conclude from phx8’s statement, they would actually say she WASN’T covert if that were the case.

Excellent point. If Fitzgerald were to discuss Valerie Plame’s status, then he would “be outing a covert agent” and have to indict himself—just like Ronnie Earle once did!

Posted by: sanger at October 29, 2005 7:09 PM
Comment #88816
Purely opinion on my part, pure speculation, but I’ll bet US agents and/or foreign sources died as a result of the leak.

And it’s that type of inflamitory ‘gossip’ that causes many people who question the motives of those on the left calling for people’s heads. And then you complain that people were out to get Clinton because, as THEY say, he caused many people to die and put our country at risk for selling national secrets involving ICBM technology to China for campaign funding.

All speculation on THEIR part, of course.

So, you see how it works both ways? That when you make those type of accusations with no evidence whatsoever, you can’t complain when it’s done to your side…

Posted by: Rhinehold at October 29, 2005 7:15 PM
Comment #88818

Ok, here’s where I have a problem.

*IF* Plame’s status was covert, then why didn’t Fitzgerald indict Libby on that charge?

The information was classified. That doesn’t mean that she was a covert agent. In fact, by not bringing the charge against Libby, one easily made if she was, I would tend to conclude that she was not.

But, then again, I don’t have an ‘axe to grind’.

Posted by: rhinehold at October 29, 2005 7:18 PM
Comment #88824

Rhinehold:

*IF* Plame’s status was covert, then why didn’t Fitzgerald indict Libby on that charge?

All charges, true or not, are just not indictable. So you take what you can get.

Posted by: womanmarine at October 29, 2005 7:48 PM
Comment #88834

Eric-
He says “I am not speaking to whether or not Valerie Wilson was covert.”

He never said she wasn’t covert. He never said she was. He simply said that her identity was a classified secret, known to few. His words:

Not only was it classified, but it was not widely known outside the intelligence community. Valerie Wilson’s friends, neighbors, college classmates had no idea she had another life.

Do you follow people to work if you don’t have suspicions about them? Because nobody knew to suspect, nobody thought to snoop. That all changes the minute you publically out her in the press.

And no, after that, she was out. Science tells you that when you burn something, it doesn’t burn again. Things changed. Otherwise, we would be investigating every newspaper that ran the column.

As for that agent, I think you might be unfamiliar with the CIA’s structure. Here is what this site said:

The CIA is divided into four major divisions: the Directorate of Operations (DO), the Directorate of Intelligence (DI), the Directorate of Administration (DA), and the Directorate of Science and Technology (DS&T). Each is headed by a Deputy Director.

Your NOC agents, like Plame was, was part of the Directorate of Operations. He could have been an analyst, a creator of disguises, or even just a paper-pusher. In which case, he’d probably just have to be careful about what he talked to you about, if he was smart.

This is why it was important whether Libby said she was WINPAC or CPD, because one was Intelligence and the other was Operations, and those in the know would know to be careful about people employed in that directorate.

I think you’re looking for reasons to discount this whole thing, even as a federal prosecutor is handing you his determinations. In addition to forgetting that he called her employment at the CIA a classified secret, you also forget that he stated that an investigation doesn’t have to stick to a mandate. If you dig up evidence that somebody embezzled while you’re investigating possible wire fraud, you don’t just let that slide because it wasn’t what you first set out to discover, to use his example.

Sanger-
She stopped being covert when Novak’s column hit print. What might be preventing him from doing that would be that such a determination would tip his hand if he were planning prosecutions along those lines.

Rhinehold-
The damage may be as bad as he says. The real question is, would the CIA necessarily let its enemies know where it had been compromised, or that it had been? You might just confirm suspicions on agents that otherwise might have been able to lie low

As for why Fitzgerald might not have indicted Libby on outing a Covert agent, I guess one could talk about it in terms of hunting an bear with a spear rather than a big old Shotgun. spear might do the job, but it would be difficult to use. The shotgun, on the other hand, would be easy, and probably do more damage.

As I pointed out, they got Al Capone on Tax Evasion, rather than try the bootlegging or accuse him of murder. I think we get perjury, making false statements and obstruction of justice because they’re damn easy to prove. Libby gets punished, and punished well.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 29, 2005 8:28 PM
Comment #88836
In fact, by not bringing the charge against Libby, one easily made if she was, I would tend to conclude that she was not.

You point would be valid IF Fitzgerald had finished.

Also, perhaps he’s holding that charge over Scooter’s head as leverage to catch bigger fish.

Posted by: Loren at October 29, 2005 8:33 PM
Comment #88837

An interesting flashback to the past to what started this all. A CNN interview with Novak.

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0310/01/wbr.00.html

Posted by: Lisa Renee at October 29, 2005 8:37 PM
Comment #88840

Rhinehold,
Point taken. What can I say? I’m making it as clear as possible that my statement is speculation. However, it is a reasonable opinion, based upon reasonable deductions.

Here is a speculative statement on Plame’s front company, Brewster Jennings & Associates, from Wikipedia:

“Since NOCs (CIA agents under nonofficial cover) usually work at companies set up by the CIA itself as fronts, it has been speculated that other employees of BJ&A may also have been NOCs, doing work similar to Plame. If that were true, the damage done by leaking Plame’s name would be vastly multiplied, as all the other NOCs would be compromised.”

Both Wikipedia and I identity the line of reasoning as speculative.

In an FEC filing, Valerie listed her occupation as “analyst” for BJ&A. BJ&A was a CIA front company established by the CIA in 1994 with a Dun & Bradstreet filing.

This is old news. We all know, anyone working as a NOC in a foreign country is at risk. Worse, when a company is exposed as a front, anyone foreigner dealing with that company or NOC is in serious trouble.

Is this an ‘accusation,’ “based upon no evidence whatsoever’?

Purely opinion on my part, pure speculation, but I’ll bet US agents and/or foreign sources died as a result of the leak.

I’ll stand by it, Rhinehold. That’s a very reasonable speculation, a conclusion which a reasonable person could reach, based upon publicly available information.


Posted by: phx8 at October 29, 2005 8:46 PM
Comment #88853

It looks to me that Mr Libby screwed the pouch on this one. If he is guilty I hope that he will cop a plea and save the tax payers money. If he isn’t guilty I hope he fights it.
I don’t think that Mr Fitzgearld would go for an indictment unless he beleives he can convict. However getting an indictment is differant than getting a conviction in court. The OJ Simpson case proved that.
The thing to remember is even though it looks like Mr. Libby is guilty, he is still inocent until proven so in court.


Posted by: Ron Brown at October 29, 2005 9:41 PM
Comment #88861

Ron,
No question, innocent until proven guilty, and as far as I’m concerned, the burden of proof rests upon the prosecution. If Libby is not guilty- not even innocent, just not guilty- then hopefully he’ll defend himself to the fullest extent.

However! Based upon the information presented by Fitzgerald, were I on the jury, Libby would be doing hard time. Forgetting information seen once, or even twice? Get out of jail free. Fly away, little bird. Forgetting information presented repeatedly, etc, with multiple witnesses presenting consistent, conflicting accounts, and motivation for lying clearly present? Hard time, dude. See ya in 2035.

Posted by: phx8 at October 29, 2005 10:07 PM
Comment #88878

Of course he is innocent until proven guilty. I just don’t think it will be that hard to prove guilt. Who knows, though. Maybe Libby’s lawyers can pull something out of their hats.

I’m not cheering for that. My emnity for these people has never been purely personal or partisan, but in large part due to their actions, which, like Fitzgerald, I find to be immoral and unethical. (He and I are very much alike in temperament) After 9/11, I figure this country had two paths: renaissance or decadence. Either we start embracing wise courses of actions or we start getting foolish, and start suffering for that.

I want an end to the foolishness that has pervaded the Bush administration. Especially this foolishness about trying to impose one’s will on the intelligence community when you need them free to give you wise answers to your questions.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 30, 2005 12:27 AM
Comment #88883

phx8,

Did you go home, get on the phone, and start calling nationally syndicated columnists to reveal that person’s identity?

You didn’t, you never even considered it, because you’re a decent, loyal American.

You are leaving out a major portion of the puzzle. I would definitely be calling columnists if that person began writing editorials, making speeches against me, calling me a liar, and eventually going on a book tour detailing nonsense about how my administration is trying to set up an empire and global hegemony and that I’m a war monger? Otherwise, you’re right, I would have no reason to.

And by the way, no one’s died according to Bob Woodward.

WOODWARD: No, no. And this is not even a firecracker, but it’s true. They did a damage assessment within the CIA, looking at what this did that Joe Wilson’s wife was outed. And turned out it was quite minimal damage. They did not have to pull anyone out undercover abroad. They didn’t have to resettle anyone. There was no physical danger to anyone and there was just some embarrassment. Bob Woodward on Larry King Live
Posted by: esimonson at October 30, 2005 1:42 AM
Comment #88888

Rhinehold

You say, “And then you complain that people were out to get Clinton because, as THEY say, he caused many people to die and put our country at risk for selling national secrets involving ICBM technology to China for campaign funding.”

Who was the Special Counsel that investigated and brought an indictment in that action? I’d like to see some credible evidence to support that charge. Where can I read a copy of the indictment? Until then, don’t try to compare those scurrilous unfounded rumors with a 22 month investigation. Until there’s an indictment its just not the same thing and to suggest otherwise indicates a lack of understanding of the seriousness of the Libby indictment.

You also say, “The information was classified. That doesn’t mean that she was a covert agent.”

This is a distinction without a difference. The Attorney General delegated to the Special Counsel “all the authority of the Attorney General with respect to the Department’s investigation into the alleged unauthorized disclosure of a CIA employee’s identity…” (emphasis mine) Don’t you think the CIA knows which of their employees are covert and which have identities that are classified? Why do you think the CIA would ask the Justice Department to investigate the “alleged unauthorized disclosure of a CIA employee’s identity” if they didn’t think it was a crime?

You ask, “*IF* Plame’s status was covert, then why didn’t Fitzgerald indict Libby on that charge?”

The only reason Fitzgerald didn’t indict Libby (and possibly others) for the leak is because he couldn’t prove that charge. Libby allegedly lied to investigators so they couldn’t get to the bottom of the leak charge. That’s why he was indicted for obstruction of justice. Its all spelled out in the indictment. I encourage everyone to read it. It can be found at thesmokinggun.com

The indictment contains some pretty compelling evidence of obstruction of justice, lying and perjury. If proven we are left to believe that White House officials used classified information to extract vengeance from their political enemies by punishing the enemy’s innocent spouse. Since that spouse was employed to help protect our national security only makes the charges that much more shocking and inexcusable.

I take no satisfaction in Scoter Libby’s indictments. To have a White House official indicted for these crimes is a sad day for all Americans.

Posted by: RMD at October 30, 2005 1:55 AM
Comment #88891

Eric,
“I would definitely be calling columnists if that person began writing editorials, making speeches against me, calling me a liar, and eventually going on a book tour detailing nonsense about how my administration is trying to set up an empire and global hegemony and that I’m a war monger?”

Eric, you’re announcing internet your willingness to break the law, reveal classified information if someone says mean things about you. Hopefully you’ll never undergo a check for a security clearance.

Posted by: phx8 at October 30, 2005 2:01 AM
Comment #88893

This is a well-written, thought-provoking post, Stephen. You’ve done a great job of putting what Fitzgerald said into context. I want to thank you for treating this matter with the seriousness and sternness it deserves, instead of treating it as a reason to celebrate. You’ve thoroughly demonstrated that, despite the beliefs of some, those in the highest office in our nation are not untouchable. You’ve done this in a manner that emphasizes the gravity of the breach of trust that Libby is accused of and that others may yet be accused of, without using it as cause for partisan celebration. Thank you for the approach and the manner you’ve used to pass along this information.

Posted by: Stephanie at October 30, 2005 2:24 AM
Comment #88894

RMD,

You say, “And then you complain that people were out to get Clinton because, as THEY say, he caused many people to die and put our country at risk for selling national secrets involving ICBM technology to China for campaign funding.”
Who was the Special Counsel that investigated and brought an indictment in that action? I’d like to see some credible evidence to support that charge. Where can I read a copy of the indictment? Until then, don’t try to compare those scurrilous unfounded rumors with a 22 month investigation. Until there’s an indictment its just not the same thing and to suggest otherwise indicates a lack of understanding of the seriousness of the Libby indictment.

Why do you insist in building a straw man?

I wasn’t talking about the indictment, I was talking about the allegation that ‘people died because of it’. Please don’t attempt to smear me or use me as a way to make a point you want to make.

I’ve posted REPEATEDLY that I support the indictment and think that Libby should be in jail for some time without a pardon. Something I shouldn’t HAVE to say, since it didn’t relate to the point being made. This is something that the left are notorious for and it’s getting old.

Why do you think the CIA would ask the Justice Department to investigate the “alleged unauthorized disclosure of a CIA employee’s identity” if they didn’t think it was a crime?

Why indeed. Has anyone asked them? Libby felt that they were trying to shift the blame for the faulty intelligence from them to the White House. Could he have been right? I’d sure like to know, but I doubt we’ll ever see an investigation…

The only reason Fitzgerald didn’t indict Libby (and possibly others) for the leak is because he couldn’t prove that charge.

Thank you.

Now, you go on to say that he couldn’t prove it because Libby lied to him. I’m sorry, but that would also mean that if Libby took the 5th and said nothing that he wouldn’t have been able to prove it either. So they only way to prove that Libby outed a CIA NOC was for Libby to confess to it…

Posted by: Rhinehold at October 30, 2005 2:33 AM
Comment #88895

RMD,

You said:

“If proven we are left to believe that White House officials used classified information to extract vengeance from their political enemies by punishing the enemy’s innocent spouse.”

(emphasis added)

Considering Plame did recommend Wilson for a job he wasn’t qualified for, really didn’t do and she didn’t really think needed being done, I wouldn’t exactly call her “innocent.”

Other than that, I agree…

“I take no satisfaction in Scoter Libby’s indictments. To have a White House official indicted for these crimes is a sad day for all Americans.”

This is a time to mourn for the lack of integrity within our government.

Posted by: Stephanie at October 30, 2005 2:41 AM
Comment #88899

Rhinehold,

I reread your original post and I did take your Clinton comment out of context. For that I am sorry it was unintentional. I haven’t read any of your posts supporting the indictment only those from this thread which seem not to support it. I’ll try not to “smear” you again if you’ll not associate me to “the left” again. I suspect you think that is also a “smear.”

I agree that it would have been even more difficult (without another witness giving Libby up) for Fitzgerald to prove Libby outed the CIA NOC had he taken the 5th. Fact is, however, he didn’t.

Posted by: RMD at October 30, 2005 3:19 AM
Comment #88905

RMD & Rhinehold,

The impression I got from what Stephen posted was that the lie came in play before Fitzgerald’s investigation started. Perhaps I’m misunderstanding things, but wasn’t the lie spoken to the FBI?

Stephen quoted Fitzgerald as saying:

“And to be frank, Mr. Libby gave the FBI a compelling story. What he told the FBI is that essentially he was at the end of a long chain of phone calls.”

Thus, Libby didn’t have to lie to Fitzgerald to commit perjury if he’d already lied to the FBI.

I don’t know if that’s the case or not, but I’d think it was a little to late to take the 5th if he’d already talked to the FBI about it.

Posted by: Stephanie at October 30, 2005 3:29 AM
Comment #88906

I’m just thinking that if the lie Libby got caught on was a lie to the FBI and not to Fitzgerald, then that would explain why some people are claiming Fitzgerald over-stepped his mandate and why Fitzgerald felt the need to make the embezzling analogy he did. Meaning, that he didn’t catch Libby in an “alleged unauthorized disclosure of a CIA employee’s identity,” but instead he caught him lying about the how the disclosure happened to another agency.

I’m not sure. If anyone care clarify this for me, please do so.

Posted by: Stephanie at October 30, 2005 3:51 AM
Comment #88907

Stephanie,

You said, “Considering Plame did recommend Wilson for a job he wasn’t qualified for, really didn’t do and she didn’t really think needed being done, I wouldn’t exactly call her “innocent.””

Since the CIA sent Mr. Wilson to Niger someone other than Mrs. Wilson at CIA felt he was qualified. Whether he did the job or how Mrs. Wilson felt about it, I can’t say. But I don’t think she deserved to have her career ruined for a political vendetta. Like you said, its a lack of integrety.

Libby’s indictment included two counts of lying to the FBI and two seperate counts of perjury for lying under oath to the Grand Jury and one count of obstruction of justice. Even after lying to the FBI Libby could have refused to testify to the GJ under oath thus saving the perjury counts.

Posted by: RMD at October 30, 2005 3:59 AM
Comment #88908

Stephen, nicely done! Great article, written in your inimitable style.

“I think you’re looking for reasons to discount this whole thing, even as a federal prosecutor is handing you his determinations. ”

Of course they are! It comes with the territory, does it not?
Chien mechant, Cherie.

“In addition to forgetting that he called her employment at the CIA a classified secret, you also forget that he stated that an investigation doesn’t have to stick to a mandate.”

In my opinion, this is going to take a long while. Its really a complicated case — and ones like this usually take years to prosecute.
I believe Fitzgerald is taking an approach to this case the way he has done with others previously (such as the ones he dealt with regarding the Mafia) which seem to have taken a long time. He’s looking at the total picture right now, but he’ll then proceed to slice it up into teeny, tiny pieces in order to look at every little bit of it. That’s this guy’s MO — meticulous and relentless. (You go Fitz!)
With Libby, the current allegations seem to imply that he should be considered only one of several officials who are in for it. The unnamed Under Secretary of State and “Official A,” (Rove) in particular, I believe are in extremely serious trouble. In fact, with the way Fitzgerald works, I think that anyone that hasn’t been already named directly, should now be very worried, indeed.

“If you dig up evidence that somebody embezzled while you’re investigating possible wire fraud, you don’t just let that slide because it wasn’t what you first set out to discover, to use his example.”

This is the thing. I think that we should expect that everyone on the right is going to try to dismiss everything they can with one talking point or another. And I believe we’re really going to have to get used to that right now. Because there’s going to be a whole sh*tload of this to come — for a long time to come. But no matter. We know (have known) that this is much Worse than Watergate, and will need to stand strong.

“My emnity for these people has never been purely personal or partisan, but in large part due to their actions, which, like Fitzgerald, I find to be immoral and unethical.”

While my own discourse since 9/11 has become more and more personal and partisan as time has gone on (growing exponentially with the attacks of people on the left by those on the right, and with their own very obvious and virulent partisanship), the bulk of my enmity too, owes it’s source to that exact same conviction.

“(He and I are very much alike in temperament)”

:^) Ah, well. Maybe that explains why you so rarely address a word to me…

“Either we start embracing wise courses of actions or we start getting foolish, and start suffering for that.”

Honestly, I think we’ve got Fools in charge, therefore, what more than foolishness should we really expect?

phx8 — as usual, I am on the exact same page as you are.
Sorry if that causes you distress! :^)

Posted by: Adrienne at October 30, 2005 4:10 AM
Comment #88909

So, how is the accusation that Fitzgerald went beyond his mandate the least bit credible? Or, if it wasn’t credible, why respond to the accusation at all?

Posted by: Stephanie at October 30, 2005 4:14 AM
Comment #88911

FYI:

Joe Wilson WAS qualified to investigate the Niger Claim. His time as Ambassador allowed him to make contacts with Officials all over South Africa. What do you think the CIA would do? Kidnap Foriegners and torture them for the Niger Data? Joe Wilson can go in quietly and find out over a cup of tea or a quiet bribe. You Republicans have gotten too used to torturing people. Not that it ever works.

Posted by: Aldous at October 30, 2005 6:14 AM
Comment #88918

Eric-
First, even if Woodward is right, Libby didn’t know that at the time he took the risk. If he did, then that only adds to the malice involved, and that reflects a sad commentary on the moral depravity of this White House.

Second, the editorials came first, and the gloves only came off when the administration outed his wife, something the prosecutor in this case has determined to be a disclosure of classified information.

This war we are in now was a big risk to take. We put a lot on the line. In business, if you put a lot on the line on poor information, your investors, creditors, and/or partners will rightly find fault with you when you fall flat on your face.

The systematic stretching and even denial of the truth was not just a means to an end with this war, but as it turns out, an additional risk added to an already risky venture.

That is why liberals like myself find fault with how Bush prepared his war. He was more interested in getting his war than making sure it was necessary, more interested in getting his way in Washington than making sure that his efforts wouldn’t fall on their face for lack of a contingency plan.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 30, 2005 8:06 AM
Comment #88947

Fitzgerald and anyone involved with him need to be investigated.

Posted by: vam at October 30, 2005 12:35 PM
Comment #88982

phx8
However! Based upon the information presented by Fitzgerald, were I on the jury, Libby would be doing hard time. Forgetting information seen once, or even twice?

From what I’ve seen so far I’d have to vote guilty. But the thing to remember is that we’ve only heard the prosecutions side. And that’s the side most grandjuries hear. The defense is very seldom given a chance to present their side to the grandjury.
However Libby did testify in the procedding, and I cann’t believe he could forget information that was repeatdly given him either. He’d have to be a moran to forget something he’s heard atleast 10 times. Even with my short memory I can remember things that I’ve been told twice.
That’s because the second time my wife tells me she dots my eyes for me. HA!

Posted by: Ron Brown at October 30, 2005 4:08 PM
Comment #88995

Ron,
Doubt this will ever go to trial. The last thing the Bush administration wants is the specter of a protracted legal process, with an open-ended opportunity for a prosecutor to expand the case. Fitzgerald has a pretty broad mandate. The Bush people would be crazy to give him the chance to use it.

Posted by: phx8 at October 30, 2005 5:16 PM
Comment #89067

phx8,

Even if it does go to trial, I doubt we’ll get much satisfaction. After all, Berger only got his security clearance revoked (and only for three years) and a fine. That doesn’t seem much like justice to me and Clinton wasn’t even in office when he faced his trial.

Posted by: Stephanie at October 31, 2005 1:48 AM
Comment #89071

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?

Link to outside blog entry

Having already been published, there’s no need to crowd out other comments with this entry, appreciated as this point of view is. If you want to publish full length entries here, membership on this blog is the better course of action.
-Contributing Editor

Posted by: kstreetfriend.blogspot.com at October 31, 2005 4:45 AM
Comment #89118
Considering Plame did recommend Wilson for a job he wasn’t qualified for, really didn’t do and she didn’t really think needed being done, I wouldn’t exactly call her “innocent.”

Stephanie,

Please provide some justification for the above comments which, to this reader, show an extreme lack of comprehension of the facts.

Posted by: Burt at October 31, 2005 10:55 AM
Comment #89129

Stephanie-
I think a great deal of criminal law is based around evident choices. It makes it easier to prosecute when you can work out a person’s mindset from provable behavior.

The FBI questioning, whether it preceded Fitzgerald’s or was part of it, presented Libby with a choice about what he was going to say to the FBI in his statement. He could chose to answer all their questions truthfully, lie, or even volunteer information. The indictment has two counts there.

The Grand Jury questioning presented another opportunity to lie, answer all questions truthfully, or volunteer information. He chose to repeat his story, this time making a claim that he did not recall being told, and so the information seemed new to him.

They were seperate choices before different bodies, and therefore separate counts and separate crimes.

As for Fitzgerald’s mandate, there was nothing limiting him to investigation of one statute in particular, just the circumstances surrounding the leak, which do include efforts to impede the investigation by Libby.

As for Fitzgerald’s decision about what to charge him with, we don’t know what he caught him with, besides the current charges. It doesn’t mean that he didn’t establish that a crime was committed there. He may have any number of reasons, if it were committed, to nonetheless charge him only on the charges currently indicted. One of those reasons could end up being that he was just going to charge him later! Other reasons could include that he believes these crimes offer an easier prosecution, that he thinks these are more provable, or that he thinks these will drop the hammer on the fellow much worse than the statute regarding revealing an agent’s identity. With limited resources, time, and information, the absence of charges directly related to leaking may not necessarily signify the lack of a crime relating to it.

As it is, Fitzgerald signifies that what was leaked was classified information, and that these people knew it was classified. What does that indicate about the leakers?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 31, 2005 12:35 PM
Comment #89242

Stephen,
This is an excellent article.

Many people have raised the idea that since Fitzgerald did not indite anyone for outing Valerie Plame that there is apparently no underlying crime. As many have already pointed there could be many reasons that Fitzgerald may have chosen not to indite on that crime. One reason might well be, that it is a very convoluted law which requires the proof of intention to out a CIA agent, and how could Fitzgerald be expected to be able prove that in the face of apparent lies and obstruction. If Libby lied, the obvious question is: What was he attempting to cover up? It is reasonable to suspect the possibility that he might have been covering up something far worse than the moral equivalent of treason by outing a CIA agent. He could be covering up the VP. He could be covering up the P. He could be covering up a deliberate wide spread conspiracy to mislead our country into war. Given these possibilities perjury and obstruction are extremely serious charges. Given the gravity of these charges Bush should clean house in order to restore “honor to the White House”.

I always liked Cheney better than Bush - far better. But it is clear that he lied to the press when he said that he knew nothing about Wilson after telling Libby Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA. If he lied, he is a liar. If he is a liar, how can we trust anything he said?

Fitzgerald is still negotiating with Rove’s lawyers - so Rove is not out of the woods yet.

Fitzgerald has a pattern of going after underlings and then squeezing them in order to get their boss - so I think that there will be no plea bargain here. Either Libby will take the “fall” - possibly getting pardoned by a corrupt President - or - bigger heads will roll. I think that he will take the fall - on the other hand - if the ship is sinking - he could be a rat.

I have always disliked and distrusted Bush the Second. I have ranted about him in other post. But this is bad for our country. Liberals such as myself should not celebrate. Scandal after scandal undermines the American people’s trust in our democratic republic.

The independent council law was used by the Republicans to play cheap Machiavellian political games against Clinton in order to cripple his Presidency. If it still existed, no doubt, it would have been used in the same way by the Democrats against Bush. Republicans and Democrats agreed that was bad for our country and so they allowed it to lapse - which was good - however the other extreme seems, to me, to have been to allow the Bush Administration to get away with bloody murder. But now the chickens (or chicken hawks) may be coming home to roost. We have to hold our Presidents accountable to the law. But how do we do that in a highly charged political environment without having it used for political purposes instead of legal accountability? Fitzgerald has done an excellent job in this regard.

Posted by: Ray G. at October 31, 2005 7:54 PM
Comment #89306

Burt,

“Please provide some justification for the above comments which, to this reader, show an extreme lack of comprehension of the facts.”

This article gives a balanced view as to whether or not Wilson is credible, and belief resides on partisan lines, predictably so.

This one is more partisan, but raises the same questions.

And here’s another one, that sheds a questionable light on the first one.

While nobody outside the government, and possibly not even them, can actually prove any of this, and if they could it’s in Fitzgerald’s hands and he’s not talking, there is JUSTIFICATION for the claim.

Posted by: Stephanie at November 1, 2005 1:09 AM
Comment #89309

Stephen,

I’ve followed your logic and it is sound. Other than disappointment with the corrupt nature of our government, I have no problem with Libby’s indictment and I hope he actually receives a suitable punishment, though I doubt that it’ll happen due to the corrupt nature of our government.

However, you assume that you can predict the route Fitzgerald is going to take. While the logic of your prediction is sound, it is not the only answer.

Considering Wilson and Plame’s activities in this, which were opportunistic at best and at worst conspiratorial, and the CIA’s cooperation in their activities, I think it is POSSIBLE that Fitzgerald might be closing this grand jury investigation of Bush & Company by skewwering Libby for lying, then turn around and investigate Wilson, Plame and/or the CIA with the next grand jury. Depending on what the facts Fitzgerald has not disclosed are, this is also a possible outcome, which would hurt the Democratic Party for their friendly coddling of Wilson and Plame.

If Wilson and/or Plame and/or the CIA were involved in their own wrong-doing that led up to Bush & Company’s wrong-doing, then this is a possibility. We don’t know, so I’m not so ready to jump on your bandwagon, despite the fact that I very much want to excise ALL corruption from our government, even if that means impeaching this President (which I don’t think is a good idea considering how unstable things are already). I don’t believe Wilson and Plame are as innocent in this as the Democratic spokespeople claim. And, I fear, if they are really guilty of their own wrong-doing, then that doesn’t reflect well on the CIA, which has already proven itself sloppy in its own fact-finding job at a time when our nation needs their expertise in a drastic way.

Basically, this could get much, much worse for all involved. I don’t want to go too much into speculation, because I’ve heard nothing believable to discredit Fitzgerald and I’d prefer to let him do his job and simply wait for the results.

Posted by: Stephanie at November 1, 2005 1:33 AM
Comment #89402

Stephanie-
I need not say what I think of the idea that Wilson or his wife would be investigate on this. If he would indict Libby, one of the Right’s sacred cows, simply for lying to him, why not the Plames?

Human beings always have holes in their picture of the truth, and times when memory fails to accuratedly recall the facts properly.

Wilson was not in on all the meetings regarding his selection. Should his credibility regarding his trip to Niger be based on his recall of information he was never let in on, likely enough? Should we not take the CIA at is word when it says that Plame conveyed the request? Why has it become so fashionable to give the benefit of the doubt to those accused of doing wrong, yet attack the credibility of those ostensibly wronged?

Those last two articles start from the premise that those poor folks are liars, or worse, manipulators. Is that the place from which to start any kind of objective search for the truth. I don’t like the mainstream press because of any favorable slant, I like it because it does much more to require people to back up conclusions they make with facts. It’s a better way to do things than going in the opposite directions. If the facts steer your point of view, it’s easier to correct mistakes in interpretation. If interpretations steer you, then facts are resisted when they don’t satisfy the preconceived notion of the world. I would rather be moderated by the facts than radicalized by the interpretation of them.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 1, 2005 11:49 AM
Comment #89986

Stephen,

After the false accusations you directed at me on the Grinch thread, I make no claims about my ability to have a rational debate with you on this matter any further. Yet, I will try to make my position clear to you here, as well as there.

Here is a press release from Senator Mitch McConnell about the matter. While I’m under no dillusion that what is said on the Senate floor is necessarily true, I am asserting that it cannot be dismissed as journalistic hackery.

FACT: Joe Wilson was investigated by a bi-partisan Senate committee and found to be LYING!!!

Now, I personally find lying to be wrong. I think people lie, because they don’t want to tell the truth. And, when people do that, it makes me suspicious of them. When it is concerning a matter of national intelligence, it makes me VERY suspicious of them.

Libby lied. Investigate the hell out of him PLEASE!!! That’s what Fitzgerald has been doing, and he found that Libby lied. He’s not done. He’s said he’s not done. But, the investigation that started with the White House staff has come to an end. Whether he’ll start up a second investigation of the White House staff, I don’t know and neither do you. If he does, because he knows there’s more to find, GREAT!!! FIND IT ALL!!!

However, that doesn’t answer these questions: Why did Wilson repeatedly lie? What was his motivation? Was it simply for personal profit (which he certainly got with that book deal)? Was he hungry for the attention? Did he really just get a kick out of the media frenzy he’d caused? It might be as simple as that, which I find disgusting, but hey, that’s not exactly illegal, except for the whole libel or slander aspect of it. However… What if there’s more to it than that? That’s what worries me. I don’t see Wilson as a victim. I see Wilson as a liar and I want to know why he lied.

You with all your claims of investigating to get to the truth, and your claims that you’re not doing this because you’re a Democrat… All your claims seem like b-s if you’re not the least bit curious about why Wilson lied.

Posted by: Stephanie at November 3, 2005 1:22 AM
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