March 8, 2007


The Lost Scandal (Robert Novak, 3/08/07, Real Clear Politics)

"It's about time," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, rejoicing in guilty verdicts against Scooter Libby, "someone in the Bush administration has been held accountable for the campaign to manipulate intelligence and discredit war critics." But Libby was found guilty only of lying about how he learned Valerie Plame's identity. [...]

The Libby trial uncovered no plot hatched in the White House. The worst news Tuesday for firebrand Democrats was that Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald was going back to his "day job" (as U.S. attorney in Chicago). With no underlying crime even claimed, the only question was whether Libby had consciously and purposefully lied to FBI agents and the grand jury about how he learned of Mrs. Wilson's identity.

Outed CIA agent faces hurdles in suit against Libby (Associated Press, 3/09/07)
Plame's attorney acknowledges that he has to clear some tall hurdles to persuade a judge that she and her husband, ex-Ambassador Joseph Wilson, had their free speech, due process and privacy rights violated.

Several Bush administration officials leaked Plame's identity after Wilson began criticizing pre-war intelligence on Iraq.

Nobody was charged with the leak, which would have been a crime only if someone had knowingly given out classified information.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 8, 2007 12:00 AM

You mean Fitzmas is coming?

Posted by: Dave W at March 8, 2007 2:16 PM

I nominate Alec Baldwin to portray Amb. Wilson and Ellen Degeneris to portray his lovely wife. Can't wait for the movie.

Posted by: erp at March 8, 2007 3:12 PM

I'll admit I haven't followed this too closely, but from what I've read it's far from clear that Libby intentionally prevaricated. It definitely appears plausible that he just has trouble remembering specific details regarding events he originally attached little significance to. In other words, he's like most of us.

This whole yellowcake/Plame/Libby brouhaha is the biggest Nothingburger scandal I've ever seen: A media blowup about an entirely reasonable claim in Bush's SOTU leads to the "uncovering" of an anti-scandal with absolutely no ties to any actions by Karl Rove or the usual media villain-figures.

Fitzgerald knew all along it was Armitage but pursued the case until he could trap a Bush official for what was quite possibly a faulty memory about an unimportant non-crime. And now someone is going to jail. Amazing.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at March 8, 2007 7:19 PM

Matt: Right, which is why the case is an appropriate one for executive pardon.

Posted by: at March 8, 2007 8:31 PM


THAT DEFENSE MADE SENSE when it was thought her identity was common knowledge and the revelation to Novak et al accidental. It can't survive the fact that he was specifically tasked to leak it.

Posted by: oj at March 8, 2007 10:41 PM


I'm confused (keep in mind I haven't been following this obsessively). Novak said from the start that the leak was mentioned offhandedly and Rove did not do it. Armitage was the leaker to Novak, although it appears that Libby mentioned Plame to Judith Miller earlier. Folks have said that Plame's CIA employment was at most an open secret.

Libby, who probably speaks to about a dozen journalists every day, thought he had received the information from Tim Russert. Russert has said he did not know the name "Valerie Plame" but has reportedly been coy about details, leading to suspicions that he might not have known her name but might have casually mentioned that she worked for the CIA.

In any case, I don't think anybody attached too much importance to this and it's easy to see how the participants' memories could be jumbled. And as Robert Novak noted, we have testimony from a journalist who worked on the jury indicating that they were all pretty liberal.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at March 9, 2007 1:21 AM

The President testified that he specifically ordered Cheney to take on the Plames, but did not know that Libby would leak the information, just thought they'd reveal it publicly. Cheney had Libby do the leaking. Libby then lied to the feds about where he'd learned she was at CIA and about other related matters. The notion that it was all just accidental and so trivial that he can't be expected to remember anything was properly rejected by the prosecutors and jury.

Posted by: oj at March 9, 2007 9:11 AM


Any citation for the president giving an order to Cheney and Cheney telling Libby to leak the info?

Personally, take Libby out of this and I think such an order was entirely justified as long as Plame wasn't covert, considering what she had her husband do. If Libby lied (even about a rather negligible issue raised by the clowns inside the Beltway circus) he ought to be punished, although it's a sign of the times that Berger isn't doing jail time and President Clinton wasn't removed from office. I suppose I shouldn't expect any better.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at March 9, 2007 3:38 PM

Of course it's justifiable, that's why no one was charged except the guy who lied and obstructed the investigation.

Posted by: oj at March 9, 2007 4:43 PM