February 20, 2007


What the CIA Leak Case Is About (Byron York, February 17, 2007, Washington Post)

After the testimony of star prosecution witness Tim Russert, Walton scanned the jurors' queries and announced, "There is going to be one question I'm not going to ask. I've concluded that that question is not appropriate and therefore you should not speculate as to what the response would have been."

What was he talking about? A moment later, Walton told the jurors: "What Mrs. Wilson's status was at the CIA, whether it was covert or not covert, is not something that you're going to hear any evidence presented to you on in this trial."

"Whether she was, or whether she was not, covert is not relevant to the issues you have to decide in this case," he said.

It is The Thing That Cannot Be Spoken at the Libby trial.

From the first day, Walton has said that jurors will not be allowed to know, or even ask, about the status -- covert, classified or otherwise -- of Valerie Plame Wilson, the woman at the heart of the CIA leak case. "You must not consider these matters in your deliberations or speculate or guess about them," he told jurors in his opening instructions.

A few days later, on Jan. 29, Walton told everyone in the courtroom that the jurors are not the only ones in the dark about Mrs. Wilson's status. "I don't know, based on what has been presented to me in this case, what her status was," Walton said. Two days later, he added, "I to this day don't know what her actual status was."

Walton's reasoning is this: The trial is about whether Libby lied to the grand jury in the CIA leak investigation. Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald never charged anyone with leaking the identity of a covert or classified agent. Libby isn't on trial for that, so jurors -- and judge -- don't need to know.

It's never the non-crime that gets you in trouble but the cover-up.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 20, 2007 1:16 PM

Were you singing this tune when Clinton was harrassed about Lewinsky?

Posted by: NFB at February 20, 2007 3:06 PM

Clinton was president, not an aide to the vice-president.

Posted by: erp at February 20, 2007 3:08 PM

There was a crime in the Clinton case. Perjury, just like this case. And yes Clinton should have been held to the same standards that Libby is.

Posted by: h-man at February 20, 2007 3:47 PM

The comments miss the point of the article. The issue is that of the materiality of the allegedly false statements. Keep in mind that Libby is charged with having given false testimony about the source of his knowledge of a fact not even alleged to have been material. This is two steps removed from materiality.

The piggy mantality has been going after post-event false statements for many years. It is something the learn in sleazy D.A. school. Of course this why the proper course of action is to forebear to say "good morning," to an investigator, lest one's wristwatch be off, and a criminal prosecution for false stesatements to law enforcement follow.

Before a grand jury, if the privilege against self-incrimination is inapplicable, the witness must be careful to qualify answers with the correct degree of certainty or uncertainty.

If you are not sure who told you something, you had best say so up front. As a matter of perception, our knowledge of the source of what we know is much sketchier that the knowledge itself.

Posted by: Lou Gots at February 20, 2007 4:40 PM

Clinton likewise got in trouble for obstructing justice. He was given a pass on the rape and sexual harassment.

Posted by: oj at February 20, 2007 4:44 PM