July 06, 2007

The Libby Commutation Sullies America

The commutation of Lewis Libby’s sentence presents yet another fetid example of the Bush Administration treating the Executive Branch merely as vehicle for governance by quasi-autocratic fiat. There are reasons, after all, that the Framers attempted to inject checks and balances, not only to escape the legacy of monarchical England, but also because they realized concentrated power too often corrupts terribly. The gross over-reaching of the Executive in the Bush Administration, in areas ranging from detainee treatment, to a politically inspired putsch of federal prosecutors, to the Vice-President’s primitively brazen ‘argument’ his office is not even a part of the Executive Branch, all have conspired to badly shake the public’s trust in our system of government. (And as I argue below, while it is certainly a presidential prerogative to commute sentences, this specific instance failed to meet the spirit with which such powers were imparted).

Indeed what all these excesses showcase, particularly when combined with a dismal dearth of intelligent policy-making, is that errors of judgment tend to cascade one on top of the other, thus imperiling the national interest, with long-standing protections previously afforded our citizens, and others whose care is entrusted us, steadily eroded. What is left is a profoundly damaging legacy that historians will likely view as one of the true nadirs in America’s overall standing in the history of the Republic (sadly, I write this knowing full well matters could turn even worse, perhaps with another reckless military adventure, this time in Iran).

In short, we have an Executive Branch still staffed at senior levels, despite some notable comings and goings, with pugnacious ideologues, many of them manifesting a frequent tendency towards lawlessness, a Legislative Branch only now beginning to stir from its prior supine slumber, and a Supreme Court increasingly oriented towards potentially too expansive views of Executive Power. Throw in the constant threat of a new terror attack (real or perceived) precipitating a re-invigorated round of jingoistic sloganeering (witness the hysteria surrounding pitiable plots on the order of Piccadilly, Glasgow, JFK, and Fort Dix, and imagine what would come if another truly professional attack were to transpire on the ‘homeland’), Patriot Act Part Deux (this time, on even greater steroids), and preemptive, or ginned up, expeditions to new fronts in the “Global War on Terror”, one must conclude our nation finds itself in a perilous place.

But this prologue aside, it must be said there is something to the Libby commutation that still manages to jar mightily despite this extensively grim backdrop of too aggressive Executive Branch encroachments on our constitutional order of late. And I say this not as one of those who relished some Lewis Libby auto-de-fe, eager for another neo-con scalp, and poised to jubilate in the streets if the man were incarcerated. Who regales in the plight of others during times of immense professional disaster, after all? Even the angriest of us must try to temper the schadenfreude we feel at the utter debacle that is modern neo-conservatism today, with its leading financial backers (Conrad Black) and intellectual lights (Paul Wolfowitz) badly bruised and bloodied, despite the unconvincing noises all’s just peachy, with the public countenances rich with forced cheer, playing pretend the house of Podhoretz and Kristol has never been stronger. (In reality, it’s tottering mightily, and Americans are getting angrier and angrier, as soi disant policy and regional experts are increasingly being unmasked as agenda-ridden charlatans, for whom incidentally summoning a genuine mea culpa now and again appears to simply not be part of their basic DNA).

But yes, the noxiousness of the Libby commutation nonetheless rankles on so many levels it’s hard to know where to begin. Perhaps it is the grotesque transparency that Libby very likely took the bullet for Cheney (metaphorically, in this case, not as per the fabled hunting party), and so was rewarded with a vacating of his entire jail term (rather than a reduction of half of it, say, to 15 months, with lawyers now scurrying to determine what probation really means precisely when you don’t even serve a de minimus portion of your sentence)? Or is it instead the breathtaking hypocrisy of this President, who assured us that anyone who was involved in the outing of a CIA agent would no longer serve in his Administration (save, it would appear, Karl and Dick)? Or is it rather the titanic disingenuousness shown by the President when, at the very moment he announces the Libby commutation to the world, he has the gall to aver that he “respect(s) the jury’s verdict”, only to then totally hurl over-board the logically-mandated sentencing the verdict would demand in the very next breath?

But no, perhaps it is instead the aggressive insults to our intelligence that disturb the most? Say, for instance, the notion, as the Washington Post recently reported, that there had been wide-ranging and intensive discussion occupying various Administration players, about what to do about Scooter, as if weighty deliberations were undertaken by all hands with utmost responsibility and judiciousness. Come now. The minute the going was about to get nasty, with hard jail time imminent, the President dutifully stepped in to protect the man whose fealty so ably protected Papa Dick. It’s just that simple, I fear. No consultations with the Department of Justice, save perhaps furtive calls to the supremely over-employed Alberto Gonzalez (whom Gore Vidal quipped recently--in a crude manner obnoxious to Mexicans and Mexican-Americans, but nevertheless too delicious to pass up--would have made a fine Attorney General of Mexico, if not these United States). And, surprise, no one deigned to consult with Special Counsel Fitzerald, the very man charged with prosecuting the case on behalf of the Government. Thus Fitzerald, son of an Irish working class Catholic family, whose father was a doorman in Manhattan, was all but spat on by the President, in a display of pugnacious arrogance perfectly in keeping with this repugnant Administration.

And as we’re dealing with amorally devious types of the Cheney/Addington variety, there is always a particularly galling coup de grace, no? In this case, it’s that with the appeal still pending with regard to the probation and fine (a $250,000 slap on the wrist, and with $5MM already in the defense fund coffers, and more doubtless to come, the relatively minor blow is cushioned even more), a commutation rather than a full-blown pardon serves to preserve Libby’s 5th Amendment privileges as the appeals process grinds on, not unhelpful either given the civil suit the Wilson family has mounted. Meantime, ongoing appeals and legal machinations serve to provide Cheney with a continued convenient rationale to refrain from commenting on the case, or better yet, being hauled before the klieg-lights of the Congress.

But yes, it gets even better, with the anti-climatic ‘coming soon’ coda--that is, the President, fresh on the heels of a scandalous commutation, follows this by swiftly putting us—ye pitiable masses fiddling about this increasingly fief-like neo-monarchy--on notice that he rules nothing in, nor out, with regard to later granting a full pardon to Libby. Translation: Libby got his get out of jail free card when things were about to get hot and heavy, meantime Dick Cheney’s been adequately mollified and protected (not to mention perhaps the President himself, to the extent he was sentient on matters surrounding the Plame outing, or indeed, Iraq policy generally), and then, when the time is ripe come January 2009, Libby gets the all-clear via a full-fledged pardon.

There are rewards for silence, after all. Not only in the wilds of Palermo, but also in Bush’s pestiferous Washington. Of course, in Mondo Bush, Team Rove will have prevailed, that is, ‘won.’ After all, who but a weak-kneed rule of law type cares a whit if the credibility of our jury system, where every man is meant to be an equal before the law, is severely wounded by having an important jury’s findings and resultant sentence ingloriously dismissed, with for good measure, the criticality of ensuring truth-telling under oath before the nations’ courts dealt another body-blow by our titular ‘leaders’?

Now, it’s true, there have been myriad pardons bestowed these past decades Administration after Administration, whether Ford of Nixon, Bush 41 of the Iran-Contra crowd, and of course Clinton’s notorious one of Mark Rich. (This last I found particularly sleazy, not least given Clinton’s New York Times op-ed at the time defending it--recall he even stooped to employing, en passant, the ‘blame the Jews!’ canard, stating a major reason for the Rich pardon was that the Israelis were hankering for it so).

But here’s the rub. None of the above pardons involved obstruction of justice issues impacting higher-ups still being potentially shielded from the special prosecutor’s inquiry (like Cheney and Bush, say). We must never forget that Libby was not only charged with perjury, as serious a charge as that is, but also obstruction of justice. That is, he was facilitating a cover-up with his lies (sorry, lapses of memory, after all, how could Fouad Ajami’s Fallen Soldier ever stoop to lie?). As Patrick Fitzerald said: “There is a cloud over the vice president…That cloud is there because the defendant obstructed justice."

I was angry when I believed Clinton was perjuring himself during the Paula Jones going-ons (how surreal and silly it nevertheless now seems), and I’m angry too to see Libby's jail sentence annulled (it might more defensibly have been halved given his long-standing public service, however dubious at times). A digression: George Bush and Lewis Libby both went to Andover for secondary school. So did I. The first rule you learn in the disciplinary code enshrined in the so-called “Blue Book” passed out to new students is the paramount import of honesty. Without it, the integrity of any community crumbles, whether 14 year olds in dorms in New England, or elite policy-makers in the Executive Branch. Lies feed on themselves and dishonesty prevails. But to lie to protect your superiors or close friends (and I am not an ethicist), one might argue that loyalty is thereby pitted against the importance of telling the truth. So, while never thinking of perjury as a ‘process crime’ or such, in this instance, I can understand the moral turmoil Libby might have had to grapple with.

But, and this must carry the day, the bottom line is that a jury of his peers found he was guilty of obstructing justice. His sentence was reasonable, per relevant benchmark sentencing guidelines. If Bush disagrees with this verdict, he should have pardoned him, full stop. This commutation, to doubtless be followed by a pardon at a more convenient time, does not evoke, as David Brooks writes (rather incredibly): “(j)ustice only rear(ing) its head at the end”. It smacks of the continuation of a cover-up, with a corrupt Vice-President asking the President for a favor to spare his former loyal aide jail time, and in the process, help protect his own skin as well. It stinks to high heaven, but, sad to say, it happened in the America we live in today. As Andrew Sullivan has said, get angrier.

Forget Libby, a historical footnote ultimately. It’s about the Vice-President, and the President who went along with his perniciously obsessive penchant for secrecy and Executive Branch over-reaching. It is about an Administration that has repeatedly violated its trust with the American people, whether because of its utter lack of competence, its abuses of power, or its epidemic violation of our best traditions. It is an Administration that has sullied our national repute and standing with abandon. I am deeply pained and embarrassed to have ever supported them.

Posted by Gregory at July 6, 2007 07:42 PM
Comments

Horseshit.

Posted by: xixi at July 6, 2007 08:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Hm. Apparently xixi is convinced you're NOT deeply pained and embarrassed ever to have supported them.

Posted by: Jim Henley at July 6, 2007 09:06 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

random phrase without context or explanation.


Just following suit. (damn, had to go and ruin it)

Posted by: socratic_me at July 6, 2007 09:15 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Another victim of the notorious Bush Derangement Syndrome malady. At least he can keep time now with Miss Andi.

Posted by: J Cole at July 6, 2007 09:23 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
Another victim of the notorious Bush Derangement Syndrome malady.

The nice thing is, with three quarters of the country presently afflicted, we have plenty of magazines to trade here in the ward. Helps pass the time.

Hey wait!! What *if* . . . "Bush Derangement Syndrome" as a label best applies to the sad fringe of Americans still *loyal* to the Clown Princes of Governance?

Whoah. Heavy!

Posted by: Jim Henley at July 6, 2007 09:40 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

You reformed righties crack me up! The simple fact is that you all got conned by Bushco. And believe me, there are not too many things more shameful and humiliating than admitting to youself that you've been conned. So buck up! Its okay to be outraged, you're in good company.

Posted by: Stooleo at July 6, 2007 10:19 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Thanks for the post. Yeah, it's pretty grim right now. What I don't get is that with the country opposed to Bush (and in particular this commutation) and so many newspaper editorials sharing the same view, why hasn't the pundit set made the pivot move away from Bush?

Yeah, I know about the various factors (corporate media, beltway social structure, politics as show biz), but I would think that there has to be a breaking point, and that we've reached it.

Apparently not.

Posted by: Quiddity at July 6, 2007 11:44 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
It’s about the Vice-President, and the President who went along with his perniciously obsessive penchant for secrecy and Executive Branch over-reaching. It is about an Administration that has repeatedly violated its trust with the American people, whether because of its utter lack of competence, its abuses of power, or its epidemic violation of our best traditions. It is an Administration that has sullied our national repute and standing with abandon. I am deeply pained and embarrassed to have ever supported them.
I count myself lucky that I had too much going on in my life -- divorce, job change -- in the 2000-2005 period to get engaged and vote in the 2000 and 2004 elections. Couldn't stand Gore and Kerry, and couldn't stomach Bush & Co either, so I had the additional apathy of not believing any of them.

The Bush presidency has always been the tail wagging the dog, as I see it. You get it dead on when you say, "It's about the Vice President." A more disloyal, self-aggrandizing, power-grabbing swine has never walked the halls of power in Washington, D.C. I consider the man to be a criminal.

Posted by: Redhand at July 7, 2007 12:16 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Thank you for being "deeply pained and embarrassed" and admitting it. I imagine that it is some consolation to those people, like me, who have opposed Bush since 1999 and have been deeply pained by his words and deeds.

Posted by: wtf at July 7, 2007 02:59 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Fact : Clinton did not commit perjury.

Posted by: bal at July 7, 2007 03:23 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The favoritism, bad as it is, is even worse when you juxtapose it with the brutish mercilessness the Bush Administration insists on for convicted felons not named Scooter Libby.

For Libby: a walk in the park, with 5th Amendment rights intact, the better to protect his patron(s).

For everyone else: Maximum sentences, with trials moved to more punitive jurisdictions where possible, and judges forbidden to use their own discretion when pronouncing sentence.

However - one quibble with one part of your post - IANAL, but I don't think one can plead the 5th in a civil suit. Unless you're saying he can refuse to testify, even in a civil suit, on the grounds that anything he says there might adversely affect the appeal of his felony conviction?

Posted by: CaseyL at July 7, 2007 05:54 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

As always, you so eloquently state the obvious. Just wish you would post more often.

Posted by: John at July 7, 2007 07:34 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg-

Time for a new pair of undershorts, my friend, when cathartic mudslinging masks itself as political analysis; otherwise, the stench soon begins to overcome the substance.


Odors and puragatives aside, your latest and becoming-terminal Bush antipathy asks us to view the Libby commutation as the latest instantiation of Bush behaving as King George. Executive power run amok.

But crimes of process-wasn't it Armitage who is our de facto devil?-don't exactly shake the roots of democracy nor disturb its conscience. If compassion not now, when? Libby was more deserving of the gallows when he played Rasputin to Marc Rich and the Clintons than for his current evil. That Bush allowed him to dodge prison is less about George as the King than it is about the more serious criminality being displaced.

Sorry to ruin the party, but Plame was outed by the doves, not by the hawks.


-resh

Posted by: reshufflex at July 7, 2007 01:27 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

edit purgatives

Posted by: reshufflex at July 7, 2007 01:31 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

So why commutation of only the prison term and not complete pardon? I'll explain; this development still allows Libby to make his case in the appellate court or on retrial.

Here's a thought problem for you. If this is sent back for retrial, will Fitz dare?

Read about Chalabi, the Master of the Bazaar, in today's Opinion Journal.
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Posted by: kim at July 7, 2007 02:31 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

And Val and Joe outed themselves, to journalists and Democratic Senators in early May, 2003, when they were both pretty sure no Nuclear WMD would be found in Iraq.

The weasels.
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Posted by: kim at July 7, 2007 02:37 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

All you poor saps have hallucinated a conspiracy to out Plame. When Libby heard about Plame on June 12 from Cheney, she was the low-level CIA person who had dispatched the lying Ambassador. When Libby heard about Plame in mid-July from some journalist, maybe not Russert, she was the wife of Joe Wilson, the lying A, and now media star. It would be as if for the first time for you, too.
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Posted by: kim at July 7, 2007 02:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Please remember, too, that it was apparently Val Plame's unit that is partially responsible for all the mishigas that was represented as intelligence from the CIA to the Executive about WMD and the run-up. Remember, too, that Joe Wilson is an Arabist, and was in the employ of middleastern interests.

Now, try to renconcile all of Joe's and Val's disparate stories.

Especially the three stories that Val Plame has on record now for how Joe Wilson got sent to Africa in 2002. This was his fourth trip for the CIA to Africa, in three years.
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Posted by: kim at July 7, 2007 02:53 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Is there some sort of subconscious pun with 'sullies'?
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Posted by: kim at July 7, 2007 02:55 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Good post.

We have not seen the end of the outrages. These guys are hell bent on wreck America. I remember the not so distant past when conservatives were in favor of a weak central government and the power of the states. My guess is the few flamers posting comments identify themselves as conservatives but probably have very few traditional conservative attitudes.

Posted by: tegen at July 7, 2007 03:14 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Righto, Boo. I'm a neocon and a social moderate.
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Posted by: kim at July 7, 2007 03:21 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

My 2:47 post has an important error. When Cheney and Libby discussed Plame on June 12, she was the low-level CIA person who had sent the lying critic expressing himself through reporters in the NYT and the WaPo. They did not know the lying critic was an Ambassador. A month later, shortly after the lying critic was identified as Ambassador Wilson, Libby heard from the press, as if for the first time, that the low-level 'operative', was the lying critic's wife.

I happen to believe he heard it from Russert, because Russert's perjury over their conversation is obvious, but he may have gotten the insight from another reporter.
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Posted by: kim at July 7, 2007 03:32 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

How do I know? Three months later, when Libby told Cheney that he'd first heard her name from Cheney, in June, Cheney said "From me?" Even in all that uproar, three months later, Cheney had forgotten that he'd mentioned her in June. At that time, she, or her role, was forgettable.

No longer.
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Posted by: kim at July 7, 2007 03:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I do have to take issue with this statement

But here’s the rub. None of the above pardons involved obstruction of justice issues impacting higher-ups still being potentially shielded from the special prosecutor’s inquiry (like Cheney and Bush, say).

because the Weinberger trial was expected to result in revelations concerning GWH Bush's own involvement in Iran-Contra.... and at a point where he would no longer be protected from indictment by his position as President.

In other words, like father, like son.

Posted by: p_lukasiak at July 7, 2007 04:49 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Was it Hamilton who argued that the President should not be given the power of the pardon, lest a tyrant use it to shield his own subordinates executing his own crimes? Surely that is what has now happened...

Posted by: John Jay at July 7, 2007 06:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

As always, most of Libby's defenders -- including, now, Bush -- make the very peculiar argument that Libby DID perjure himself, but for no significant reason; he was just temporarily possessed by the Devil, or possibly by the spirit of Michael Moore. Right. Skilled lawyers do that kind of thing all the time.

Matt Yglesias ( http://matthewyglesias.theatlantic.com/archives/2007/07/were_crimes_committed.php ) has provided a, shall we delicately say, more plausible scenario:

"...[T]he reason why Armitage, Libby, and the other leakers weren't prosecuted under the IIPA is that the IIPA requires proof, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the leaker had actual knowledge that the CIA agent's employment was classified at the time of the leak.

"To prove that, you need to be able to prove how the person found out about the fact of CIA employment. In the case of Armitage, it was clear that he didn't know; he found out from a document that said nothing about Plame's covert status. In the case of Libby, it was less clear what he knew, but Fitzgerald nonetheless concluded that he couldn't prove anything beyond a reasonable doubt.

"The real issue is what Cheney knew and when he knew it. Libby's lies were intentionally designed to keep Fitzgerald from getting a closer look at Cheney and determining what role Cheney had in the leak campaign and whether he knew Plame was covert. That's why the obstruction was a big deal. That's why no one was charged; the IIPA requires that you prove knowledge and Fitzgerald couldn't."

Now, as for the Great Liberal Conspiracy to Frame Libby, let us consider Yglesias (and Andrew Sullivan) again ( http://matthewyglesias.theatlantic.com/archives/2007/07/politically_motivated.php ): "The prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, became a US Attorney when appointed to that post by George W. Bush on the advice of the Republican Senator from Illinois. The decision to name a special prosecutor was made by James Comey, who was appointed by George W. Bush to be a US Attorney and then appointed by George W. Bush to be Deputy Attorney General. Fitzgerald made the decision to prosecute. The jury undoubtedly had members of both political parties. The judge who offered the 'especially harsh sentence' (actually: a sentence in line with federal sentencing guidelines) was appointed to his seat on the federal bench by . . . George W. Bush. The appellate court that unanimously rejected Libby's claims contains -- at last! -- a Democratic appointee. And also two Republicans."

Let us also quote Orin Kerr's identical-in-theme but considerably more detailed comments over at that hotbed of left-wing bias, the Volokh Conspiracy (in which he mentions that the two appellate court Republicans who denied Libby's appeal happened to be "Federalist Society favorite David Sentelle and solid conservative Karen LeCraft Henderson". He didn't mention that Sentelle has always been one of Jesse Helms' closest sidekicks.)

http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2007_07_01-2007_07_07.shtml#1183437010

http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2007_07_01-2007_07_07.shtml#1183503159

It really is time for Kim and Reshufflex to stop emulating Monty Python's Black Knight.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at July 7, 2007 08:22 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

As always, most of Libby's defenders -- including, now, Bush -- make the very peculiar argument that Libby DID perjure himself, but for no significant reason; he was just temporarily possessed by the Devil, or possibly by the spirit of Michael Moore. Right. Skilled lawyers do that kind of thing all the time.

Matt Yglesias ( http://matthewyglesias.theatlantic.com/archives/2007/07/were_crimes_committed.php ) has provided a, shall we delicately say, more plausible scenario:

"...[T]he reason why Armitage, Libby, and the other leakers weren't prosecuted under the IIPA is that the IIPA requires proof, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the leaker had actual knowledge that the CIA agent's employment was classified at the time of the leak.

"To prove that, you need to be able to prove how the person found out about the fact of CIA employment. In the case of Armitage, it was clear that he didn't know; he found out from a document that said nothing about Plame's covert status. In the case of Libby, it was less clear what he knew, but Fitzgerald nonetheless concluded that he couldn't prove anything beyond a reasonable doubt.

"The real issue is what Cheney knew and when he knew it. Libby's lies were intentionally designed to keep Fitzgerald from getting a closer look at Cheney and determining what role Cheney had in the leak campaign and whether he knew Plame was covert. That's why the obstruction was a big deal. That's why no one was charged; the IIPA requires that you prove knowledge and Fitzgerald couldn't."

(2nd part of my original comment -- which Greg's site snared onn the grounds of length -- coming up.)

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at July 7, 2007 08:25 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Kim-

"All you poor saps have hallucinated a conspiracy to out Plame. When Libby heard about Plame on June 12 from Cheney, she was the low-level CIA person who had dispatched the lying Ambassador. When Libby heard about Plame in mid-July..."

I'm not sure your dates reflect who knew what, when. To wit, in 2002 February, the CIA was asked by its ultimate boss, Cheney, to confirm the Yellowcake-WMD story re Iraq and Niger.

Joe Wilson was promptly sent, and it was no big secret. We all now know what he found...ah, didnt find.

More to your point. Upon his return, about a week latre, he told enough of the world of his detailed findings. That was in 2002 March. He told the US ambassador to Niger, Kirkpatrick; he told the CIA; he told the State Department.

Those departments also circulated their own reports of his Niger mission.

A conspiracist I aint. Plame and Wilson owe their cause celebre, if not their ruin, to the gab-hound himself, Armitage. He alone spilled the beans. Loose tongues win wars, perhaps. Still, asking anyone to accept that Cheney-or his lapdog Libby- only knew of Plame 14 months after Wilson gave his WMD NO-NO report to the VP's office invites more than mindless credulity.

Posted by: reshufflex at July 7, 2007 09:02 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Kim-

"All you poor saps have hallucinated a conspiracy to out Plame. When Libby heard about Plame on June 12 from Cheney, she was the low-level CIA person who had dispatched the lying Ambassador. When Libby heard about Plame in mid-July..."

I'm not sure your dates reflect who knew what, when. To wit, in 2002 February, the CIA was asked by its ultimate boss, Cheney, to confirm the Yellowcake-WMD story re Iraq and Niger.

Joe Wilson was promptly sent, and it was no big secret. We all now know what he found...ah, didnt find.

More to your point. Upon his return, about a week latre, he told enough of the world of his detailed findings. That was in 2002 March. He told the US ambassador to Niger, Kirkpatrick; he told the CIA; he told the State Department.

Those departments also circulated their own reports of his Niger mission.

A conspiracist I aint. Plame and Wilson owe their cause celebre, if not their ruin, to the gab-hound himself, Armitage. He alone spilled the beans. Loose tongues win wars, perhaps. Still, asking anyone to accept that Cheney-or his lapdog Libby- only knew of Plame 14 months after Wilson gave his WMD NO-NO report to the VP's office invites more mindless credulity.

Posted by: reshufflex at July 7, 2007 09:03 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Kim-

"All you poor saps have hallucinated a conspiracy to out Plame. When Libby heard about Plame on June 12 from Cheney, she was the low-level CIA person who had dispatched the lying Ambassador. When Libby heard about Plame in mid-July..."

I'm not sure your dates reflect who knew what, when. To wit, in 2002 February, the CIA was asked by its (near)ultimate boss, Cheney, to confirm the Yellowcake-WMD story re Iraq and Niger.

Joe Wilson was promptly sent, and it was no big secret. We all now know what he found...ah, didnt find.

More to your point. Upon his return, about a week latre, he told enough of the world of his detailed findings. That was in 2002 March. He told the US ambassador to Niger, Kirkpatrick; he told the CIA; he told the State Department.

Those departments also circulated their own reports of his Niger mission.

A conspiracist I aint. Plame and Wilson owe their cause celebre, if not their ruin, to the gab-hound himself, Armitage. He alone spilled the beans. Loose tongues win wars, perhaps. Still, asking anyone to accept that Cheney-or his lapdog Libby- only knew of Plame 14 months after Wilson gave his WMD NO-NO report to the VP's office invites mindless credulity.

Posted by: reshufflex at July 7, 2007 09:16 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sorry for the repeat postings. Not me doing it.

Posted by: reshufflex at July 7, 2007 09:21 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

As for the Great Conspiracy to Frame Libby, let us also consider the point made not only by Yglesias and Andrew Sullivan, but by Orin Kerr at that hotbed of left-wing bias the Volokh Conspiracy:

http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2007_07_01-2007_07_07.shtml#1183437010 : "I find this argument seriously bizarre. As I understand it, Bush political appointee James Comey named Bush political appointee and career prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to investigate the Plame leak. Bush political appointee and career prosecutor Fitzgerald filed an indictment and went to trial before Bush political appointee Reggie Walton. A jury convicted Libby, and Bush political appointee Walton sentenced him. At sentencing, Bush political appointee Judge Walton described the evidence against Libby as 'overwhelming' and concluded that a 30-month sentence was appropriate. And yet the claim, as I understand it, is that the Libby prosecution was the work of political enemies who were just trying to hurt the Bush Administration.

"I find this claim bizarre. I'm open to arguments that parts of the case against Libby were unfair. But for the case to have been purely political, doesn't that require the involvement of someone who was not a Bush political appointee? Who are the political opponents who brought the case? Is the idea that Fitzgerald is secretly a Democratic party operative? That Judge Walton is a double agent? Or is the idea that Fitzgerald and Walton were hypnotized by 'the Mainstream Media' like Raymond Shaw in the Manchurian Candidate? Seriously, I don't get it."

http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2007_07_01-2007_07_07.shtml#1183503159 : "Alan Dershowitz makes the case that the D.C. Circuit judges who denied Libby's appeal — a panel that included Federalist Society favorite David Sentelle and solid conservative Karen LeCraft Henderson — are anti-Bush political hacks who only denied Libby's appeal for partisan political reasons." (Kerr fails to add that Sentelle is one of Jesse Helms' longest-term political sidekicks.)


Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at July 7, 2007 09:33 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Let us also consider Kerr's defense of Fitzgerald's behavior on rather obvious grounds ( http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2007_07_01-2007_07_07.shtml#1183476772 ):

"A popular argument for why Scooter Libby should never have been prosecuted is that Patrick Fitzgerald knew early on in the investigation that Richard Armitage at the State Department was the leaker. If Fitzgerald knew Armitage was the leaker, why didn't he stop the investigation right away? Why did he continue? For some people, Fitzgerald's decision not to close up shop after learning Armitage was the leaker proves that he was an overzealous prosecutor run amok. He must have had some irrational desire to go after Libby, the argument runs, making the entire Libby prosecution unfair from the get-go.

"I don't find this argument persuasive. To see why, imagine yourself in Fitzgerald's shoes. Here are the relevant facts as you know them (reconstructed as best I can -- please let me know if these facts are misleading or wrong and I'll correct them). You've been appointed a special prosecutor to investigate intentional leaks to the media of the covert identity of a CIA agent. Early on in the investigation, you learn that one high-level political official has admitted that he leaked Plame's identity to one reporter; he claims that it was an accident, as he didn't realize the agent's status was covert. You also know that a lot of other reporters were leaked the same information, but you don't know who was behind those other leaks. The reporters won't talk: They insist on going to jail rather than revealing their sources.

"If you were Fitzgerald, would you close up shop at that point? Would you conclude without even speaking to other potential witnesses that the one high-level official was in fact responsible for all the leaks, and that he acted accidentally and entirely on his own? Or would you at least want to dig deeper to see if the story checks out?

"In that setting, I don't understand what was so overzealous about wanting to talk to Libby. An experienced prosecutor is going to wonder if the guy who rushes forward and claims the leaks were an accident is telling the truth. Maybe he is. But you don't want to close up shop and then read in someone's memoirs ten years from now that the official (Armitage) was the fall guy who came up with the 'accident' story to cover up something -- and that he got away with it because the naive prosecutor bought the story and closed the investigation without even verifying the facts. Or maybe someone was using Armitage as an unknowing intermediary, making his story accurate from his perspective but only part of the picture. Or maybe there were other leakers -- either more leakers to the one reporter (Novak) who reported to the public about Plame, or other leakers to the other reporters. None of these are certainties, of course. But it is really so unreasonable to look into them?"

No indeed. And this meshes nicely with a major fact noted last year by the Associated Press: Even if there was no actual LEGAL offense by anyone in the Administration regarding Plame, Libby had a very strong POLITICAL motive to perjure himself -- for throughout the 2004 campaign, the White House solemnly denied that Rove and Libby had contacted any reporters AT ALL to confirm Armitage's initial story (after all, the revelation of that fact could very easily have swung that very close election). In that case -- just as in the case that Libby perjured himself to protect Cheney from actual legal prosecution -- the initial plan would have been for Libby and Rove to agree with that lie in their official testimony to Fitzgerald -- but then Fitz unexpectedly cracked the reporters involved, too late for Libby to hastily change his own testimony, but not quite too late for Rove to do so. (As the article points out, Rove spent October 2004 officially telling Fitz that he had helped leak Plame's identity at exactly te same time that the White House was continuing to publicly insist that he hadn't.)

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at July 7, 2007 09:49 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Good post Greg, but I'm sorry, I must take exception to this statement.

Now, it’s true, there have been myriad pardons bestowed these past decades Administration after Administration, whether Ford of Nixon, Bush 41 of the Iran-Contra crowd, and of course Clinton’s notorious one of Mark Rich. (This last I found particularly sleazy, not least given Clinton’s New York Times op-ed at the time defending it--recall he even stooped to employing, en passant, the ‘blame the Jews!’ canard, stating a major reason for the Rich pardon was that the Israelis were hankering for it so).

But here’s the rub. None of the above pardons involved obstruction of justice issues impacting higher-ups still being potentially shielded from the special prosecutor’s inquiry (like Cheney and Bush, say).

What type of mental origami is required to determine that the "I hearby pardon Cap Weinberger for all the things he didn't do that I didn't know about" wasn't a blatant case of obstruction of justice?

Especially since old Cap hadn't yet been convicted of a crime.

Posted by: Davebo at July 7, 2007 10:50 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
A conspiracist I aint. Plame and Wilson owe their cause celebre, if not their ruin, to the gab-hound himself, Armitage. He alone spilled the beans

Obviously you aren't very familiar with what occurred. Because Armitage was only one of at least 3 to "spill the beans".

Posted by: Davebo at July 7, 2007 10:53 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Armitage was only one of at least 3 to "spill the beans".

Irrelevant.

Dear Valerie's covert virginity went bye-bye with Armitage's wild tongue. Whatever Cheney-Libby-Rove said before or after is moot; the non-process crime itself was singularly committed by Armitage.

Posted by: reshufflex at July 7, 2007 11:49 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Take a look at what Orin Kerr and Yglesias pointed out in my comments above, Reshufflex. I don't think it's that hard to understand.

As for Kim's continuing plaints that Wilson "lied": one of the more curious aspects of the GOP majority report on the matter from the Senate Intelligence Committee (under Pat Roberts, that is) has always been that it quotes the CIA as saying flatly that what Wilson told them at the time is not what he later told the NY Times he had told them at the time -- but if it was this easy to expose Wilson as a liar, then why didn't the Bushites simply do so, instead of going through that Byzantine (and legally very dangerous) rigmarole of trying to smear his reputation indirectly by claiming that his wife the Covert CIA Agent had arranged his selection for the mission?

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at July 8, 2007 12:13 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Reshufflex, look more closely at the February, 2002 timeline, particularly a Val Plame memo in the record one day before Cheney's request is in the record. Look, too, to the three accounts Val Plame has now on record for how her husband got sent. Remember that this was the fourth trip to Africa Joe Wilson made for the CIA; the first was in 1999. Now what was this about Cheney behesting him?

Bruce, that was not a Byzantine smear. Joe misrepresented what he'd said when he returned, and his wife probably did send him. However, the actions of the White House in this whole mess are almost inconceivable except if you look upon them as innocents expecting to be found not responsible for outing her, since they hadn't. And the sixteen words should have stayed. Joe Wilson's report, itself, the one he made when he came back, was ambiguous, but did report the 1999 contact between Iraqq and Niger.

In other words, his whole trip vaguely supported the idea that Iraq had sought Yellow Cake, but Joe had little enough credibility, that his trip was a wash as far as convincing anyone of anything.

Until he spilled to Nick Kristof and then the Democratic Senate Policy Committee meeting in May of '03. He and Val Plame, too, spilling beans and lies all over the floor.

And those who think Armitage was the first to spill the beans, please look up his quote, as taped by Woodward. It's very close to this, that the asshole Wilson was spreading his wife's name all over town. It is clear to Armitage and Woodward, that Joe outed his wife, probably with her illegal permission.
==================

Posted by: kim at July 8, 2007 04:25 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

In other words, the process problem, reshufflex, was Val letting Joe's tongue loose, especially with lies. The CIA understands this but doesn't know what to do. That's why you don't see a legal opinion from the CIA about Val's covertness, and that's why you don't see the referral from the CIA to the DoJ on this matter. Aren't you curious why you don't see them. Pertinent, wouldn't you say?
==============================

Posted by: kim at July 8, 2007 04:29 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Bruce, that these were Bush appointees is virtually irrelevant. The politics of this case are labyrinthine. Sentelle, and the others, immediately ignored Dershowitz and the rest of the Dirty Dozen, probably because they wanted to not look persuaded by outsiders, and probably denied the bond decision appeal in order to keep it as clean as possible for the Appellate Court. Bits of this may end up at SCOTUS and everyone is ducking to stay out of the line of fire to Walton and Fitzgerald, who may not have, but appear to have conspired to deny Libby a fair trial.

So, that many of these were purportedly Bush supporters is misleading in this case. Comey and his pal, Fitzgerald, have more loyalty to their compadres of the Southern District of New York, and with Senator Schumer of the Senate Judiciary Committee, than they do to the administration of George Bush. McNulty and McCarthy did too.

But I've told many of you much of this before. Remember?
===========================================

Posted by: kim at July 8, 2007 04:45 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

So, Gregory. are you arguing for impeachment?
And how about War Crimes prosecution?
C
(BTW, in Houston)

Posted by: Poicephalus at July 8, 2007 07:31 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

So, Gregory. are you arguing for impeachment?
And how about War Crimes prosecution?
C
(BTW, in Houston)

Posted by: Poicephalus at July 8, 2007 07:32 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Ya, I find this all amusing as well. Bush declares he'll hunt down the offender, then stonewalls and lies endlessly, then pardons the only offender caught. Typical whitewash for this Admin -- they're so against any responsibility for crimes or immorality. Then, they put out the absolutely hilarious talking points that all these Republicans and Bush-appointees are out to get them for political reasons. Their own hacks are their fall guys now?

But, still not as funny as when Bush wanted to put that little hanger-on woman onto the Supreme Court, to ensure he could control his new judge, and to ensure his new judge had no actual knowledge of law :) :)

Posted by: Frederick Ryson at July 8, 2007 08:02 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Jim Henley wrote (in reference at least in part
to the US past history of supporting unsavory
dictators in the Middle East, and some posters
apparently having never noticed):

> But when the tree falls in the forest, other people know
> damned well it hit the ground, because they live in the woods.


Very entertainingly & well put

"blowback is a bitch" -- while true, and somewhat apt
(as the US was being hit by mujadin using urban
terrorist tactics that the CIA specifically trained them
in so they could hit superpower armies), is becoming
less apt as the US has invested itself heavily into this
Iraq quagmire (which really doesn't involve Afghani
mujadin nearly so much as locals fighting back against
the various militias, unfortunately including the US Army
militia, and the various terrorist infighting becoming so
popular amongst all these militia)

Or did you mean the blowback of the US supporting
the Israeli occupation and its unfortunate creation of
the walls to hold the Palestinians captive in those
concentration camps? I'll grant you that is surely
causing terroristic blowback, but it has been for
many years as well.

Posted by: Franklin Mint at July 8, 2007 08:19 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

[B]ut if it was this easy to expose Wilson as a liar, then why didn't the Bushites simply do so, instead of going through that Byzantine (and legally very dangerous) rigmarole of trying to smear his reputation indirectly by claiming that his wife the Covert CIA Agent had arranged his selection for the mission?

Excellent question (which will never be answered).

Indeed, if Plame wasn't covert, why didn't Bush-Cheney et al simply say so? Why didn't Libby simply say so? Why rely on their mad-dog wingnut echo chamber to create and spread the "She wasn't covert!" meme?

In fact, if - as the mad-dog wingnut echo chamber also likes to claim - Wilson and Plame not only "lied," but were themselves saboteurs of American policy, why didn't the Bush Administration hauled them up on charges, instead of treat them to a smear operation operated out of the OVP?

Posted by: CaseyL at July 8, 2007 08:40 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Is there any explanation for the terrible corruption of Fitzgerald's investigation and prosecution except for power illegitimately concentrated in the bureaucracy of DoJ and the Senate Judiciary Committee? We can talk Constitutional, here.
=========================

Posted by: kim at July 8, 2007 12:59 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Good question, CaseyL. It may be instructive to remember the time. These charges didn't initially come from Wilson and Plame, but through Kristoff and Pincus. By the time the affair started erupting, and all the reporters knew, suppressing Joe Wilson was frought with political difficulty. Remember, shortly thereafter there were calls for the independent prosecutor. Subsequently, the White House expected Fitzgerald to figure out that Joe Wilson was lying and Val Plame was not covert. Many of us who followed this, initially expected Fitzgerald to end up prosecuting Val Plame and Joe Wilson. Fitz came highly recommended, remember. What a fraud.

Chris Matthews likens this to a boxing match, now into round three, but he left Armitage, Grossman, and the entire DoS out of his analysis. You all know about Armitage, except you think he was the first leaker. Now, check out Grossman.
====================

Posted by: kim at July 8, 2007 01:08 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Remember, too, it was difficult to attack Joe politically about the intelligence. The CIA, perhaps reluctantly, but reflexively protected Val, see the referral to the DoJ, but they couldn't trash Joe too much without also generally exposing tremendous CIA ignorance and incompetence about WMD. You didn't see Powell, or Tenet, leaping to the defense of the administration, did you? They were among the ones responsible for the dearth of good intelligence.

And no matter what you may think, Joe Wilson did not come back from Africa and tell his senders that the Iraqis could not have dealt, or tried to deal, with Niger. Look to the record, not what you've absorbed from the MSM over the last four years. They are out to lunch, too.
=============================

Posted by: kim at July 8, 2007 01:15 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

This is almost inevitable. When Joe and Val are exposed, unambiguously, as the liars they truly are, the Democrats who believed them initially, Rockefeller and Kerry, are going to have to throw them under the bus in order to retain any ongoing credibility.

Kerry already has thrown them under the bus, once. Isn't it curious all the public pronouncements heard from Kerry and Rockefeller about the Plame Affair. If they still believed them, wouldn't they be shouting it from the rooftops?

You are being sandbagged, folks. My original question? Why commutation of prison, not pardon? The political damage to the President is about the same with either. It's because justice can be done with this course, through the Appellate Court.

It's called rope-a-dope, and the only current politician with the inside skinny on this is Fred Thompson.
======================================

Posted by: kim at July 8, 2007 01:23 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I don't expect to persuade you; my style precludes my being taken seriously. The march of events will convince you.
=====================================

Posted by: kim at July 8, 2007 01:26 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Think about it. Why would Bush, and Libby, want to drag this out?

Bang, bang, bang, doubloon on the masthead for the first one with a none risible answer to that one.
===============================

Posted by: kim at July 8, 2007 01:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

You know the press doesn't want Fitzgerald's precedents re: journalist's privileges to stand. They will delegitimize him, for excellent reason, once NBC, Russert, Gregory, and Mitchell, cave.
========================================

Posted by: kim at July 8, 2007 01:39 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

You know NBC was bullied, too. They'll turn.
============================

Posted by: kim at July 8, 2007 01:41 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Y'all fell for this because you liked what Joe Wilson had to say. Liars do that, tell you what you want to hear. Kerry and Rockefeller are mum because they regret believing him. And his meme, despite your partisan belief, is more and more hollow every day.
==============================

Posted by: kim at July 8, 2007 01:45 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Oh my, the freak show has returned. With all the attention given to filtering spam out of blog comments, you'd think they'd give a rambling nutjob filter a shot. Clearly, it's an idea whose time has come.

Posted by: vg at July 8, 2007 03:51 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Just as the unindicted war criminals Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon ordered the illegal carpet bombing of Cambodia, so too, their modern-day counterparts Bush/Cheney, are the scofflaws who will no doubt escape prison. But their legacy shall live on.

Just as Cap Weinberger and Adm Poindexter fulminated international hijinks, in the name of National Security of course, so too Bush/Cheney
had a vision which superseded the Law and once again, the ends justify the means.

Yes, folks. All roads lead to Iraq. People seem to forget the Libby
trial, conviction and sentencing is all about the lies that took us into
the miserable clusterfuck. And the worthless prognosticators who felt their expertise and prescience supplanted any need for laws which
are inconvenient, made a decision then organized a Madison Avenue
Ad program designed to win over the american public. It worked.
But now some of them are a little nervous and seek to plug every
leak in this earthen dam built in criminal haste. They think everything is a election campaign. Winning is the only important thing and it is not necessary to concern yourself with what is true or verifiable.
They will do anything to get to the goal line.

When they reached it, they saw
their mistake and sought to correct the situation by directing blame elsewhere. Iraq is lost because we don't support the troops. Iraq is lost because the MSM is liberal and doesn't support it. Iraq will be a disaster if we leave, and IF it does get worse it's not our fault because we wanted to stay until the job was done.

Pol Pot killed millions because we left VN. If we had stayed, we would have averted that tragedy. It's always someone else's fault when
plans don't work out the way our National Sociopaths expect it to.

Nothing changes. The liars are still in power.

Posted by: Semanticleo at July 8, 2007 04:04 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

BTW; An IPSOS poll has 50% approving of Bush Impeachment.

Posted by: Semanticleo at July 8, 2007 04:14 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Heh, heh. Schumer is talking about calling Fitzgerald before the Senate Judiciary Committee. What fun that might be.
====================

Posted by: kim at July 8, 2007 05:13 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"What fun that might be."

Wait until impeachment favorables reach 54%

Now THAT will be something to behold.

Posted by: Semanticleo at July 8, 2007 05:20 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Semant-

Is there a reason why you left out the JFK/LBJ nexus that lead to the senseless slaughter of millions? That's the problem with history, it keeps hanging around to let us know what really happened. BTW, the last time I checked, I didnt see any Vietnamese suicide dopes running airplanes into the Twin Towers or heaping their species of communism onto every corner of the new world. Not exactly a Jihad now, was it?

Are you suggesting we impeach JFK and Johnson in absentia?

Nobody minds the anti-neocon cant, quotidian as it's become; but at least have the balls to indict the masters of neoconism if that's your bitch.

Posted by: reshufflex at July 8, 2007 06:51 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

JFK saw through the layers of lies to the real agenda and sought to get out of VN. The CIA was a more competent prevaricator in the 50's and 60's and he fell prey. As a result he intended to break the CIA 'into a million pieces.'

LBJ, on the other hand was a knowing shill for the MIC and should have been indicted.

I am a non-partisan in the war against war-profiteers and war-criminals.

Posted by: Semanticleo at July 8, 2007 06:59 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

You guys are just too clever to make me laugh at Libby's 5th Amendment rights.
==========================================

Posted by: kim at July 8, 2007 08:04 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Semant, I think you need to read the Cambodia Vietnam history. Pol Pot killed millions, yes, but the US did was his friend. Pol Pot was only stopped because the North Vietnamese consolidated control over Vietnam and then stopped him.

Posted by: Le Phuong at July 8, 2007 08:40 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Pol Pot was only stopped because he was a nihilist and ran out of stuff to destroy, but yes, the Vietnamese administered the coup.
===========================

Posted by: kim at July 8, 2007 08:46 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

FYI: Kim is a low-level summer intern at the Heritage Foundation, something she neglected to mention in her prior posts.

Posted by: John P. Normanson at July 9, 2007 12:14 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

: "Kim is a low-level summer intern"

Is she blonde like Monica Goodling or Dana Perino?

They need more double digit intellects.

Posted by: Semanticleo at July 9, 2007 01:28 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Funny you bring up Goodling. She kinda wrecked McNulty, huh? Dumb.
===============================================

Posted by: kim at July 9, 2007 03:33 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Subsequently, the White House expected Fitzgerald to figure out that Joe Wilson was lying and Val Plame was not covert. Many of us who followed this, initially expected Fitzgerald to end up prosecuting Val Plame and Joe Wilson. Fitz came highly recommended, remember. What a fraud."

"FIGURE OUT?" Fitz ASKED the CIA whether Plame was covert, and the answer was "yes". As for his "figuring out" that Wilson was lying, once again: why the hell didn't the White House discredit Wilson in the first place by simply having the CIA reveal that little supposed fact? One guess.

Now, since Kim seems determined to emulate Monty Python's Black Knight, it's time to cut off his last remaining limb by quoting Michael Isikoff's account today of Bush's, er, deliberations in the Libby question ( http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19649910/site/newsweek/ ):

"Behind the scenes, Bush was intensely focused on the matter, say two White House advisers who were briefed on the deliberations, but who asked not to be identified talking about sensitive matters. Bush asked Fred Fielding, his discreet White House counsel, to collect information on the case. Fielding, anticipating the Libby issue would be on his plate, had been gathering material for some time, including key trial transcripts. Uncharacteristically, Bush himself delved into the details. He was especially keen to know if there was compelling evidence that might contradict the jury's verdict that Libby had lied to a federal grand jury about when—and from whom—he learned the identity of Valerie Plame Wilson, wife of Iraq War critic Joe Wilson. But Fielding, one of the advisers tells NEWSWEEK, reluctantly concluded that the jury had reached a reasonable verdict: the evidence was strong that Libby testified falsely about his role in the leak.

"The president was conflicted. He hated the idea that a loyal aide would serve time. Hanging over his deliberations was Cheney, who had said he was 'very disappointed' with the jury's verdict. Cheney did not directly weigh in with Fielding, but nobody involved had any doubt where he stood. 'I'm not sure Bush had a choice,' says one of the advisers. 'If he didn't act, it would have caused a fracture with the vice president.' (White House officials and Cheney declined to comment. 'As you know, we don't discuss internal deliberations," a Cheney spokeswoman tells NEWSWEEK.)'...

"In part, Bush may have stopped short of a full pardon precisely to keep Libby and other White House aides away from Democrats on Capitol Hill. Investigators in Congress are eager to call Libby to testify about the Plame case and prewar Iraq intel—an invitation Libby can continue to resist by claiming he can't talk as long as his appeal remains alive in the courts.

"The White House has used the same line to shield itself from questions about the case. When the effort to discredit Wilson surfaced in 2003, Bush vowed to fire anyone on his staff who leaked classified information about Plame to the press. Last week a reporter asked White House Press Secretary Tony Snow why Bush hadn't dismissed Karl Rove—who was found to be one of the White House leakers. 'We are not going to make comments in detail until the legal process is over,' Snow responded. 'And it is not—there is still an appeal.' Nobody at the White House would be disappointed if that appeal just happened to drag on until Jan. 20, 2009."

'Nuff said? Except that -- once again -- someone like Libby doesn't perjure himself unless there is some kind of VERY strong reason for it. The only remaining question is exactly what that reason is.

"

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at July 9, 2007 06:06 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

(That final quotation mark is a typo.)

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at July 9, 2007 06:10 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Cleo, tell me about AfterDowningStreet.org
=============================

Posted by: kim at July 9, 2007 07:14 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Bruce, do you think Fitz will talk to Schumer's committee? And why do give me Isikoff with the standard talking points about the legitimacy of the jury's decision? We know this prosecution was a fraud.

The FBI one morning
Lost its notes suborning.
Eckenrode,
Where is that toad?
He's wanted at a harrowing.

The summary of Eckenrode's lost notes claims that Russert was unsure that Plame had not come up in their conversation. How did his memory improve at trial when he testified under oath that she could not have come up? Why was Eckenrode not testifying at the trial, when his summary of his interview with Russert contradicts Russert's sworn testimony?

Novak book out soon. Russert teased Novak about caving to Fitz so easily. Did Russert say that before or after he knew that Fitz knew about his interview with Eckenrode? If it was after, why did he file a false affidavit in responding to Fitz's subpoena?
====================================

Posted by: kim at July 9, 2007 07:25 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Bruce, show me the legal opinion from the CIA that Val was covert. You can't, because she wasn't; not for purposes of prosecution.
=================================

Posted by: kim at July 9, 2007 07:30 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

There is an important error in my earlier analysis. I think Cheney told Libby on June 12 that Plame was the lying critic's wife; what was new to Libby in July was that she had sent him.
===================================

Posted by: kim at July 9, 2007 07:37 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Take it up with Fred Fielding, Kim. No doubt he'll be gratified to learn of your detective genius.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at July 9, 2007 09:14 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I read Bush's commutation statement to say that he understands exactly what is going on, and expects relief in the Appellate Courts.

And justification for the war.
=================

Posted by: kim at July 9, 2007 09:59 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Hey Fred, get Bush to pardon everyone Fitzgerald has blackmailed. Watch the real story come out. Ready, get set, Pearlstine.
============================================

Posted by: kim at July 9, 2007 10:58 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Bruce, do you think Fitz will talk to Schumer's committee? And why do give me Isikoff with the standard talking points about the legitimacy of the jury's decision? We know this prosecution was a fraud.

Kim is also appearing in the role of Charlotte Corday in the Belgravia Theatre's production of Marat/Sade.

Posted by: p_lukasiak at July 9, 2007 02:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Those "standard talking points about the legitimacy of the jury's decision" came from the White House staff members themselves that Isikoff talked to. When this is combined with Kim's insistence that Bush's staff are the victims of a Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy by the entire CIA and Justice Department (presumably with Fielding in on it), may we reasonably conclude at this point that he has shuffled off the coil of sanity completely?

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at July 9, 2007 04:51 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Funny you bring up Goodling. She kinda wrecked McNulty, huh? Dumb."

Computers are dumb. They just do what the code writer tells them.

Posted by: Semanticleo at July 9, 2007 06:37 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Can someone write a Greasemonkey script that purges kim's rants from the page?

At least until she goes on meds.

Posted by: Jon H at July 9, 2007 08:43 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

By pardoning Libby, George W Bush has committed a crime of obstruction of justice. And as John Mica Mashall has pointed out over at Talking Points Memo, we are missing the bigger picture here. What was the ultimate source of the Italian forgery that allowed those 16 words into the state of the Union address? If you can answer that I am willing to bet my left kidney that you can prove that this administrated colluded with rogue security officials to provide a bogus casus belli for the Iraq conflict. Ie the mushroom cloud scenario. Iraq tried to buy Uranium! Recently! OMG we must invade now!

Grounds for impeachment? Grouds for hanging I'd say.

Posted by: Northern Observer at July 9, 2007 09:39 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

By pardoning Libby, George W Bush has committed a crime of obstruction of justice. And as John Mica Mashall has pointed out over at Talking Points Memo, we are missing the bigger picture here. What was the ultimate source of the Italian forgery that allowed those 16 words into the state of the Union address? If you can answer that I am willing to bet my left kidney that you can prove that this administrated colluded with rogue security officials to provide a bogus casus belli for the Iraq conflict. Ie the mushroom cloud scenario. Iraq tried to buy Uranium! Recently! OMG we must invade now!

Grounds for impeachment? Grounds for hanging I'd say.

Posted by: Northern Observer at July 9, 2007 09:40 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Grounds for hanging I'd say.

I agree.

That's why Bush-Cheney are intent on concealing, destroying, and locking away all the notes and documents pertaining to the war - and, I'd also bet an important body part, any records of what the Administration knew about 9/11 and when it knew it, along with the records of Cheney's meeting with the energy companies back in the spring and summer of 2001.

I'm very sure that, should the full record ever be known, Bush & Co. would be revealed as the worst traitors in American history. Worse than Benedict Arnold, the Rosenburgs, and Aldrich Ames combined.

Bush & Co. would have to spend the rest of their lives in Paraguay, never daring set foot in any country that has an extradition treaty with the US.

Posted by: CAseyL at July 10, 2007 01:57 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Hyperbole is rarely becoming, Bruce. Not the entire CIA, and not the entire DoJ, and certainly not Fielding. But yes, Kristoff, Pincus, Kerry, Rockefeller, and the Wilson's conspired to push Joe's story. It seems clear from Novak's account that Armitage, in the Department of State, was pushing this story, possibly for Powell. And I asked you earlier to check out Marc Grossman.

Where did Eckenrode come from, and why was he assigned three months before Fitzgerald?

Look at your responses to my contentions. They are not substantive. It is degenerate rhetoric.
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Posted by: kim at July 10, 2007 05:03 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

What about AfterDowningStreet.org Cleo? Cat got your tongue?
=================================

Posted by: kim at July 10, 2007 05:10 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Then why, Kim, did the White House not use the CIA's (supposed) account of Wilson's real report (as described in the report by the Intelligence Committee's Republicans) to discredit Wilson immediately, instead of going through all that absurd indirect rigmarole (which Rove and Libby did independently of Armitage, lest we forget)? And why did Fielding conclude that the jury was perfectly on target in convicting Libby of large-scale perjury -- and why DID Libby perjure himself? In response to your complaint, I can only say that degenerate logic deserves an appropriate response.

Regarding that Intelligence Committee report, by the way, let us also remember that it declared -- with a straight face -- that the big bad hawkish CIA led the innocent, peace-loving Bush Administration into a unwise war with Iraq by exaggerating the evidence of Saddam's WMDs. This, of course, after the Cheney faction had spent years screaming at the top of their lungs that the CIA was controlled by dangerous peaceniks who were rigging the evidence to keep us OUT of a war with Iraq. (Laurie Mylroie wrote an entire book excoriating the CIA for that -- which, with spectacular bad timing, was published on the same week that the Administration suddenly decided to completely reverse its tune about the CIA.)

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at July 10, 2007 05:14 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Good question, Bruce. The White House didn't have Wilson's original report to the CIA, and Tenet was dragging feet on declassifying the NIE.

You have Isikoff's take on the thinking in the White House. I repeat, I read Bush's commutation statement to mean that he understands exactly what is going on and expects the Appellate Court to reverse, remand, or order a new trial, or whatever. Personally, I hope for a new trial, but I like my new idea of Bush pardonning all the principals whom Fitz has blackmailed. Oh boy, would the truth come out without fear of a Federal Prosecutor, unsupervised, loose on the decks.

Please remember that it was not just Cheney who thought Saddam ought to be taken out. Don't insult yourself in such a manner.

It seems clear that the CIA, Plame's unit or whoever's, was sadly remiss during the run-up to the war. They no longer have the job they flubbed.
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Posted by: kim at July 10, 2007 06:03 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Instead of Twelve Angry Men, Bruce, that jury was One Angry Woman; that's why the 11-0 verdict. But Fielding and Bush have got to bow before the alter of jury decisions. They'll need that when the next trial produces an innocent verdict.

"Massive perjury"? Might that not be 'hyperbolic perjury'? Libby and Russert differ over the contents of one conversation, and that is the meat of a perjury charge? The next trial will blow Russert, and Mitchell, and Gregory, and NBC out of the water unless they start claiming Fitz victim status, too, which I believe they should.
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Posted by: kim at July 10, 2007 04:34 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Valentine Tee Shirts, forsooth. This was a parody of a jury decision. Russert was a dead man walking until Walton accepted a stipulation from Mitchell's lawyer, one that couldn't be cross-examined.

The Peacock is a zombie until they shake the Fitzgerald Curse.
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Posted by: kim at July 10, 2007 04:40 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Hey Cleo, why don't they immunize Taylor for tomorrow? Maybe she's as dumb as Goodling.
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Posted by: kim at July 10, 2007 04:48 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Wilson under oath tomorrow, too. It might be some fun.
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Posted by: kim at July 10, 2007 04:50 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"What about AfterDowningStreet.org Cleo? Cat got your tongue?:

I know you think I should know what you are referring to, but I don't.

Posted by: Semanticleo at July 11, 2007 01:21 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Push-polling outfit. Who funds it?
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Posted by: kim at July 11, 2007 02:54 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Did you catch Joe Wilson claiming Cheney ordered Libby to disclose Val's name? Did you catch what Powell said in Colorado?
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Posted by: kim at July 11, 2007 06:14 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Wilson claimed Cheney colluded with the SSCI. Can we say he's now a shark-jumper?
====================

Posted by: kim at July 11, 2007 10:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Issa called Val Plame a perjuror. Someone else suggested she and Joe Wilson would be applying for pardons.

Endgame, folks. All these Republicans came prepared. There is blood in the water.
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Posted by: kim at July 11, 2007 11:48 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

What price 'lied us into war' now? Do you hear Zawahiri echoing your lies?
=================================================

Posted by: kim at July 12, 2007 04:04 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

About Belgravia Dispatch

Gregory Djerejian comments intermittently on global politics, finance & diplomacy at this site. The views expressed herein are solely his own and do not represent those of any organization.


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