« "Up or Down" Dead, Dead, Dead | Main | Patrick Fitzgerald »

October 28, 2005

Comments

Our friends on the right are already screaming about how this is unfair to Rove (the irony is intoxicating).

Which friends are those, Edward, and...is that the royal "our"?

Mostly folks on RedState.

Nothing royal about me, unless you take "royal pain in the ass" literally.

"Offical A"

it has a nice ring to it. not as evocative as "Deep Throat" or "unindicted co-conspirator", but i predict it will be with us for a good long time.

I'll repeat the substance of my comment on RedState here:

Libby is, of course, innocent until proven guilty. You can't read this five count indictment, however, and conclude that this was a technicality or some mere memory lapse. As alleged, Libby told a knowing, material lie with an intent to deceive the public and the grand jury. If the allegations are proven, it's a serious offense.

I had hoped, however, that a 22 month investigation into an alleged leak of a matter of national security would reach a conclusion as to whether there was or was not such a leak.

I had hoped, however, that a 22 month investigation into an alleged leak of a matter of national security would reach a conclusion as to whether there was or was not such a leak.

Likewise, but it's not over yet.

I'm not sure that you can conclude anything from the length of the investigation. There may be tactical and strategic reasons for not indicting on the leak itself....yet. (We've all seen enough LAW AND ORDER to know that this is a dynamic, not a static, process).

As alleged, Libby told a knowing, material lie with an intent to deceive the public and the grand jury.

Agreed. I'd just finished reading this, when I heard some people talking about what a load of crap it was. So I filled them in on the details. It looks like Fitzgerald has the goods on Libby as far as perjury and obstruction go, insert IANAL disclaimer here. I'd say at this point the right thing for Bush to do is dismiss Libby.

On the issue of the disclosure of classified information, there's not enough in the indictment for me to tell how much of a case Fitzgerald has, but I'd guess that it's harder to support things of that kind in an indictment. I did notice that he wasn't indicted on more serious charges relating to exposure of undercover agents, but I'm unsure of what conclusion I should be drawing from that.

So, what's just about a gimme is perjury and obstruction. The rest is a question mark. And, again, I think we're at the point where Bush absolutely must dismiss Libby. And if Fitzgerald indicts Rove with anything resembling what he's got on Libby, Rove has to go even more quickly. If not, not.

Of the 22 months, at least 12 of them were given over to a protracted legal battle of whether or not Cooper and Miller needed to testify. As this indictment made it clear, Fitzgerald could not even determine the veracity of Libby's claims until they did so.

Furthermore, these are the easiest charges to make, so it's unsurprising they're the first to be levied. Fitzgerald and the Grand Jury were, basically, present when Libby broke those laws.

Given standard prosecutorial practice, and Fitzgerald's reputation, I would no be surprised at all to find that he plans to bring more charges later. Preliminary indictments such as these make for an excellent lever to extract plea bargains and testimony.

Then, of course, there's the inductive argument -- why would Libby perjur himself so badly if he wasn't covering criminal behavior? He had a lawyer who undoutably gave him excellent advice on his legal jeopardy. Perjury is a crime you tend to commit when to tell the truth will make you criminally culpable, but are unwilling to take the fifth.

However, I am disappointed. According to several conservatives, today was the day I'd learn no one in the White House did ANYTHING wrong and that Joe Wilson would be indicted.

I had hoped, however, that a 22 month investigation into an alleged leak of a matter of national security would reach a conclusion as to whether there was or was not such a leak.

The facts, as the investigation has determined them:

On or about July 7, 2003, LIBBY had lunch with the then White House Press Secretary and advised the Press Secretary that Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA and noted that such information was not widely known.

On or about the morning of July 8, 2003, LIBBY met with New York Times reporter Judith Miller. When the conversation turned to the subject of Joseph Wilson, 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,” as had been the understanding with respect to other information that LIBBY provided to Miller during this meeting. LIBBY thereafter discussed with Miller Wilson’s trip and criticized the CIA reporting concerning Wilson’s trip. During this discussion, LIBBY advised Miller of his belief that Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA.

Not earlier than June 2003, but on or before July 8, 2003, the Assistant to the Vice President for Public Affairs learned from another government official that Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA, and advised LIBBY of this information.

On or about July 10 or July 11, 2003, LIBBY spoke to a senior official in the White House (“Official A”) who advised LIBBY of a conversation Official A had earlier that week with columnist Robert Novak in which Wilson’s wife was discussed as a CIA employee involved in Wilson’s trip.

On or about July 12, 2003, in the afternoon, LIBBY spoke by telephone to Cooper, who asked whether LIBBY had heard that Wilson’s wife was involved in sending Wilson on the trip to Niger. LIBBY confirmed to Cooper, without elaboration or qualification, that he had heard this information too.

On or about July 12, 2003, in the late afternoon, LIBBY spoke by telephone with Judith Miller of the New York Times and discussed Wilson’s wife, and that she worked at the CIA.

I do not think it is accurate to imply that the investigation has not reached a conclusion regarding whether or not there was a leak of a matter of national security.

Agreed, felix.

what's with the baseball analogy?

Von: "I had hoped, however, that a 22 month investigation into an alleged leak of a matter of national security would reach a conclusion as to whether there was or was not such a leak. "

Horrifying, I know. Imagine the outrage on the right if, taking an exemple totally at random, an investigation in a $30,000 land deal were to take 22 months and $750,000. That is, after the original investigator had found that there was no wrong-doing on the part of the targets.

Gosh, the right would be *furious* at the waste of taxpayer dollars, and the clearly deliberate stringing out of legal matters.

Oh, and now Bush doesn't have to fire him. Or is it "ask for his resignation"?

I was feeling kinda bad for Libby - figured he was just being a loyal henchman - but looks like he's plain nailed. Oh well.

This is an interesting tidbit from deep inside the indictment.

Considering Libby's role in tricking America into war, Rilkefan, I don't feel especially sorry for him. He's lower than Rove, in a way.

reading between Fitz's lines, it sounds as if he feels someone is indeed guilty of the original crime.

I'm disappointed. I was hoping that Rove would get indited. Oh well.

Preliminary indictments such as these make for an excellent lever to extract plea bargains and testimony.

The indictments do seem to give Fitzgerald some powerful leverage:

If convicted, the crimes charged in the indictment carry the following maximum penalties on each count: obstruction of justice – 10 years in prison, and making false statements and perjury –5 years in prison, and each count carries a maximum fine of $250,000, making the maximum penalty for conviction on all counts 30 years in prison and a $1.25 million fine.

Scooter, you're 55 years old, do the math. Want to make a deal?

Oops. Indicted. Indicted. Indicted.

Yeah, now that I reread it, the indictment says quite a bit about the classified material leak up front, but doesn't actually indict on that. Curious.

In the press conference, Fitzgerald essentially said that due to the obstruction of justice it had not been possible to determine with certainty whether Libby was aware of Plame's covert status when he told reporters about her. That's what the baseball analogy was about.

Over on RedState, Congressman Jack Kingston shares with the readers a statement released (impressively) from Air Force II:

"It's significant that the indictment does not mention the outing of Valerie Plame. It appears that after two years of investigation, Mr. Fitzgerald does not agree with the administration's critics that her situation is what this is all about."

This is patently untrue. Mr. Fitzgerald went to great lengths to indicate he's offering no opinion whatosever (neither agreeing nor disagreeing) with the administration's critics. This is a thoroughly dishonest spin.

I first suggested two years ago, when Wilson first anointed himself King of the Republic. That the whole thing weren't more an a pissing match between Dub, and some prissy spooks with some big britches.

http://www.aim.org/special_report/4112_0_8_0_C/

Today, enjoy your wheedle ponies (everyone deserves one at least once). But after that, it's back to biz as usual :-)

I'd agree that Libby now has some incentive to set his record straight, unless in doing so he'd expose himself to charges that would get him thrown in the clink for an even longer stint. And I'd guess that he perjured himself to avoid being charged with things of that nature to begin with.

If I was a very careful prosecutor, and someone was obstructing my investigation, I might ALSO convict the lying little weasel on perjury and obstruction before going on to make my original case.

"He said, she said" is a little harder to play for a jury when the prosecutor can pipe up with "Yes, but 'He' has been convicted of perjury for those statements".

I'm VERY interested in what Rove gave up at the last minute, and whether it keeps him out of the legal hot water. I can't help but think Rove perjured himself just as much, or at least aided in Libby's perjury.

That Rove's lawyer is admitting his client is still under investigation, and narrowly adverted an indictment is pretty telling. Whatever Rove gave up had to be pretty good to get Fitzgerald to yank back from an indictment.

Still, who leaked the name? Will we ever know?

Do you mean who leaked it to Libby, or who leaked it to the press?

a conversation Official A had earlier that week with columnist Robert Novak in which Wilson’s wife was discussed as a CIA employee involved in Wilson’s trip.

We've replaced the press corps usual diet of non-news news with an actual story, let's see if they notice.

Still, who leaked the name? Will we ever know?

As one of the reporters in the press conference noted, from what Fitz said, it sounds as if he already knows.

It just occured to me, if Fitz charges one person with leaking Plame's status, does that preclude him from charging anyone else with it? (Because if a cover's blown, it's blown?)
Maybe he's saving the charge of "cover-blowing" for someone special. *hopeful*

let's see if they notice

hillarous. :)

Excellent point, Morat. I hadn't though of that; I figured that Fitzgerald just didn't have the evidence (yet). The other possibility was the bringing an indictment against Libby now for the actual leak would tip his hand too much; perhaps he'd like to use it to flip Libby. With any luck, against Rove.

Yes, I imagine that's still a possibility, although the language in the indictment seems to point right at Libby as the leaker.

OTOH if Libby leaked because Karl told him to, new ballgame.

Still, who leaked the name? Will we ever know?

According to the indictment Libby learned it from (near-certain guesses in parens) the State Department (Bolton), the CIA, another official, and Cheney. Libby and Official A (Rove) leaked it to the press - at least Miller, Cooper, and Novak, but not Russert.

This list is incomplete, as the indictment only discusses information directly related to the charges being brought, and thus leaves out a lot of information about "Official A", among others.

So we know some of the story now. Whether we know the rest will depend on whether there are more indictments, or whether a special counsel is appointed to determine what happened. A special counsel would, at the end of an investigation, prepare a report that would answer questions that Fitzgerald is (rightly, given his assignment) answering by saying, "We have not charged that person, so I can't talk about that".

Fitzgerald's press conference has been pretty amazing. The guy hasn't weaseled, being forthright with what he can and cannot say. He has also smacked down a few of the GOP "Perjury is no big deal" talking points.

As to further indictments, he is being VERY cagey. Hugely so. He's spent the last few weeks rattling the cages of the people on his list, and he's gotten a lot of new information out of them. Having thought about it a bit, I'm not surprised he's playing his cards to close to the vest. Keep your targets guessing as to what you know and who you've rolled.

He might have no plans to bring further charges, but Rove's lawyer is acting like Rove is still under the gun, and Fitzgerald's indictment has a lot of places where it appears he knows exactly who did what and when, but he still refuses to confirm or deny whether he intends to charge.

We're used to prosecutors who seek the limelight. Being faced with one whose real concern is prosecuting crime is very different. It's got to be making Rove wet his pants.

Who told libby/reporter/the world plame was a cia agent?

I hope I don't give the wrong impression by saying I think Fitzgerald is doing a heck of a job.

Who told libby/reporter/the world plame was a cia agent?

A little birdie who was then employed as Undersecretary of State.

Well, given Fitzgerald's performance, I think most liberals and progressives will be satisified that the evidence wasn't there to do more and that every effort was made to find out the truth.

Hm. Competency and diligency. What a pair of concepts...

Actually, it was multiple people. From this, we can infer that Libby had the requisite need to know, because it's just too damned much to imagine that both the CIA and State are that sloppy with the exact same piece of classified information, in the same month.

Hm. Competency and diligency. What a pair of concepts...

Now you see why the Bush administration seems to fear those qualities so much...

Oh, and Cheney. The indictment has Libby learning this from Bolton (taken as a given), a "senior CIA officer", and Cheney, all within about a 24 hour span.

gwangung: See, that's always been the most interesting fact about Fitzgerald's nomination. He's probably the ONLY guy they could have picked who would have the guts to go where the case took him, yet could end the case without indictments and see most people accept it.

Do I think today's indictments will be the last? No, I don't -- judging solely by the information IN the indictment and the actions of Rove's lawyer. Will I be satisified that the best possible job was done if there are no more indictments (or if no one had been indicted at all)? Yes.

How the hell did we get an honest man? Not only that, but a tenacious one? He's like the freakin' poster boy for prosecutors -- ethical, straightfoward, tenacious, couragous....

I didn't know those existed outside of Hollywood, much less imagine one might end up on a case this big.

von:

I had hoped, however, that a 22 month investigation into an alleged leak of a matter of national security would reach a conclusion as to whether there was or was not such a leak.

Two points:

1. As Fitz hmself said today, he has no authority to issue reports or make conclusions -- he is not an independent prosecutor in the past mold. So he cannot reach "conclusions" unless the Bush Justice Dept. gives him the authority to issue reports. Of course, if you concern was shared by Republicans in Congress, they could investigate...

2. From the factual allegations of the indictment, it is crystal clear that a leak occurred, and that Libby was part of it. At least one other person was also, since Libby did not leak to Novak (who is Official A?).
________

The factual allegations of the indictment (assuming they are true, which they are very likely to be -- the only issue being beyond a reasonable doubt for crimnal purposes), it is a stunning condemnation of White House conduct. Its not just the slime and leak campaign, but the enormous amount of lying by Bush and everyone else afterwards to cover it up.

The next conclusion, that this crowd was willing to lie about numerous other national security matters (i.e., the entire Iraq nonsense), seems clear. These people are serial liars -- the lowest sort of scum.

Fitzgerald is criticism-proof, it seems to me. Seeing him meticulously define what he could say and, with discipline, refuse to talk about the rest was a breath of fresh air.

(I wouldn't kick him out of bed for eating crackers.)

Hey! Stay on point!

Anyway, I thought he was quite clear that Libby's continued lies had made it impossible to tell whether the requisite intent for the nat'l security-related charges was present. He in no way wanted to leave the impression that Libby was absolved of more serious charges.

Further, I loved the relative passion with which he spoke about both the seriousness of the charges and how wrong it was for people in high places to be so cavalier about classified information, no matter what.

Meanwhile, we are going to find out now if Libby is a True Believer. If he is (and that's my guess), he'll go down for this (or trust in a pardon). Otherwise, this story is far from over.

I had hoped, however, that a 22 month investigation into an alleged leak of a matter of national security would reach a conclusion as to whether there was or was not such a leak.

The indictment makes it clear that the outing occurred, even though it did not indict for that exact crime.

After all, what's the perjury claim about? -- Libby pretended that he did not tell reporters and allegedly first learned about Plame from reporters. For that to be perjury, the converse must be true -- Libby learned from inside and leaked to the reporters.

The perjury was lying about not doing it -- this indictment is about leaking Plame's CIA status to reporters even though the indict is for perjury, etc.

Politically, the other big story is the extent of Bush administration lying after the fact to cover it up. It's not believable that Libby was simply out on his own, or that afterwards, Bush and crew were in the dark about the conduct.

A few things:

1. I would like to nominate Patrick Fitzgerald for the post of Permanent Investigator of all things Stinky in the Administration (PISA).

2. At his press conference (as reported by Drum on pseudo-live blogging), Fitzgerald was asked why no charges for leaking. He said that he would have to prove knowledge that the info was classified, which is hard to do.

3. The indictment says her status as a CIA employee was "classified." This does not make her a "covert agent" under the IIPA (but obviously does not rule it out either). Also, I'm not sure it actually makes her unique as a CIA employee, IIRC unless you're part of the face of the agency (e.g. Director, DDI, DDO, spokesperson, etc.) you're automatically classified.

4. Fitzgerald might use this indictment to get Libby to divulge his knowledge of her covert/classified status (though I suppose if employment is routinely classified, then he should have known, but maybe not). The carrot being he can tell who told him about it, and whether they knew what he was up to. Likely candidate: Cheney?

He said that he would have to prove knowledge that the info was classified, which is hard to do.

What I don't get is that it mentions explicitly in the indictment that Libby was informed during one of his many conversations that Wilson worked for the Counterproliferation Division - part of the Directorate of Operations.

Isn't that by default "classified"?

I've been mopey that Rove wasn't indicted, but I've since reconsidered.

Rove is scum, of course, but he's not the architect of a vanity war that's claimed so many lives, so much treasure, and so much of our national honor. He might not the one who decided to waste a CIA op in order to sell the vanity war.

It looks more and more as if All Things Iraq were run from the Veep's office. Libby was Cheney's. Bolton (a strong who-really-outed-Plame candidate) is Cheney's. The PNAC neocons were Cheney's. The stovepiping operation was Cheney's. And so on and so forth.

So perhaps, during Libby's trial (if he doesn't plea bargain; if he isn't pardoned) some light will be cast on the stygian stink of Cheney's office, and the part he played in selling out the US.

Look at it like this -- ultimately, this is a VERY political case. Fitzgerald's indictment, and his press confernce, was meticulous in his adherence to both the letter AND the spirit of the law and prosecutorial guidelines. (Which, I understand, is a habit for him).

By doing so, he removes the bulk of the ammunitition that can be used to smear him and -- probably FAR more important to him -- taint his case. He spent today's press conference slowly and carefully demolishing each and every possible talking point that Libby's supporters might use, every avenue they had to attempt to smear him or taint his case.

If further indictments are coming, they will be just as meticulous.

I suspect more are coming, solely from the jittery way Luskin is acting.

One thing I have no complaints at all about is Fitzgerald himself. Totally professional; not bombastic; knows his stuff and says it straight out. That rarest of rarities in DC: an intelligent, diligent, honest man who lives up to the highest possible standards.

I would love to see this go to trial, and to tell you the truth, I want that just as much for the joy of watching Fitzgerald at work is as the hope of seeing the Bush Admin deconstructed.

Leaving Fitzgerald's performance and the legalities aside for a moment, and concentrating on what we have actually learned about the actions that sparked all this, here's what we know:

Libby and Rove participated in a scheme to discredit a political opponent by outing a CIA agent's classified identity.

At the very least, they were grossly negligent about determining whether her identity was or was not classified.

To a high level of certainty, the Vice President participated in or was aware of this scheme.

Although there is no proof they knew that her identity was classified, Libby and Cheney knew that the agent worked in the Counter-Proliferation Division of the CIA's Operations Department, i.e., the spooks department, not the analysis department.

The only reason the special prosecutor didn't bring a disclosure of classified information charge was because he didn't have proof that Libby knew the agent's identity was classified, evidence that is obviously very difficult to obtain unless all the participants are ratting each other out like fiends. To state the obvious, the lack of such evidence does not prove that Libby, Cheney and/or others did not know that the agent's identity was classified, much less that they were reasonably diligent in determining the status of the identity of this agent who worked in an intelligence area vital to national security before they outed that identity for political purposes.

Many White House insiders, very possibly including the President, knew what had happened by the end of 2003, with the only question being whether there was a technical legal defense to the charges, and have stonewalled the press and public about their knowledge throughout the 2004 Presidential campaign and up til this date.

This might sound biased against clueless white preppy frat boys, but my sense is, unless a male person works as the Mentally Deficient Good Humor Man selling Frosty Pops in your neighborhood, anyone over the age of 5 whose real name is Lewis but chooses instead to be called "Scooter" deserves indictment for attempted criminal cuteness.

And speaking only for myself, I hope to hell Rove gets nailed/jailed. Just to lessen the vermin quotient at the federal level.

Fitz for SCOTUS anyone?

Anarch, wouldn't that be interesting? Heh.

Trickster:

Many White House insiders, very possibly including the President, knew what had happened by the end of 2003, with the only question being whether there was a technical legal defense to the charges, and have stonewalled the press and public about their knowledge throughout the 2004 Presidential campaign and up til this date.

Its stronger than "stonewalled." There was a lot of very active lying in order to pretend that the source of the leak was not in the White House. And also phony baloney about how seriously they viewed the situation, and their alleged intent to help get to the bottom of it.

Well, talk about role models.....

True, dmbeaster. I was trying to be conservative in my claims and word-efficient, but yeah, you're right, "stonewalled" doesn't cover the full spectrum of White House statements over the last couple of years.

Fitz for SCOTUS anyone?
Posted by: Anarch | October 28, 2005 at 07:50 PM

Anarch, wouldn't that be interesting? Heh.
Posted by: Opus | October 28, 2005 at 07:56 PM

Anarch, that's indeed an interesting idea. But someone beat you to it by some three and a half hours, on the next thread down (on SCOTUS):

May I be the first - at least on this thread - to put Patrick Fitzgerald's name in nomination?

Posted by: dr ngo | October 28, 2005 at 04:09 PM

Dr Ngo,

I learned, from my father (through the medium of Tom Lehrer), the one word that is the secret of success in academia:

Plagiarize.

Plagiarize!
Let no-one else's work evade your eyes!
Remember why the good Lord made your eyes,
so don't shade your eyes
but plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize...

...only be sure always to call it please: research.

IOW: I blame the parents.

Why am I not surprised?

"Fitz for SCOTUS anyone?"

I think he'd be bored out of his mind.

Libby now has some incentive to set his record straight, unless in doing so he'd expose himself to charges that would get him thrown in the clink for an even longer stint. And I'd guess that he perjured himself to avoid being charged with things of that nature to begin with.

Just want to pause here to savor a possibly never-to-be-duplicated moment in which:

1)Slarti makes a comment that is not opaque, does not parse or obscure.

2)I agree unreservedly with his comment.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad