Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Scooter Verdict Further Damages White House

At 30% approval in the polls and sinking with a brace of scandals about to hit the headlines, this verdict adds to the impression of the Bush-Cheney ship of state going under.

GOP talking point one has been Libby was such a good man and public servent and never lies. This reminds overly much of the way weeping aides stood up for Nixon when he left the White House. Libby lied repeatedly knowing it was a federal crime. His defense of forgetting was not credible given how many times he had been told of Wilson's wife and his making up a story of where he learned her name.

GOP talking point two - there is no underlying crime. This is false on two levels. Primarily, the crime is the lie. Libby lied. Second - Plame was a covert agent no matter how much uninformed partisans scream that she wasn't. The CIA and the Justice Department stipulated to that. It is difficult to prove case so no one was charged. Viewers of Fox News and GOP media outlets have been subjected to a repeated con game from uninformed sources that say she was not covert because they know that outing her like the administration did amounts to treason. Valerie Plame was working to stop regimes, including Iran, from acquiring nuclear materials for bombs. Fitzgerald even explained to reporters that the CIA labeled her covert but obstruction by Libby prevented him for being charged with that crime.
Valerie Wilson was a CIA officer. In July 2003, the fact that Valerie Wilson was a CIA officer was classified. Not only was it classified, but it was not widely known outside the intelligence community. Valerie Wilson's friends, neighbors, college classmates had no idea she had another life. The fact that she was a CIA officer was not well- known, for her protection or for the benefit of all us. It's important that a CIA officer's identity be protected, that it be protected not just for the officer, but for the nation's security...

QUESTION: Mr. Fitzgerald, the Republicans previewed some talking points in anticipation of your indictment and they said that if you didn't indict on the underlying crimes and you indicted on things exactly like you did indict -- false statements, perjury, obstruction -- these were, quote/unquote, technicalities, and that it really was over reaching and excessive...

FITZGERALD: I'll be blunt.

That talking point won't fly. If you're doing a national security investigation, if you're trying to find out who compromised the identity of a CIA officer and you go before a grand jury and if the charges are proven -- because remember there's a presumption of innocence -- but if it is proven that the chief of staff to the vice president went before a federal grand jury and lied under oath repeatedly and fabricated a story about how he learned this information, how he passed it on, and we prove obstruction of justice, perjury and false statements to the FBI, that is a very, very serious matter.

And I'd say this: I think people might not understand this. We, as prosecutors and FBI agents, have to deal with false statements, obstruction of justice and perjury all the time. The Department of Justice charges those statutes all the time...
A juror speaks:
At some point, the jury began to feel like they were deliberating on charges for the wrong man.

"What are we doing with this guy? Where's Rove? Where are these other bad guys," he said. "It seemed like Libby was the fall guy."

He added, "Some jurors commented 'this sucks' for Libby."

According to Collins, the jury believed that the former White House aide was "tasked by Vice President Dick Cheney to talk to reporters" about Valerie Plame and her husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson.
How important was this case - testimony from the trial:
Craig Schmall, Libby's CIA briefer at the time, testified that Libby had discussed Valerie Wilson with him. Schmall also testified that after the leak occurred, while he was briefing both Cheney and Libby, they asked him what he thought about the leak scandal. Noting that some commentators had dismissed the leak as "no big deal," Schmall explained that he considered it a "grave danger." He explained to Libby and Cheney that foreign intelligence services could now investigate everyone who had come into contact with Valerie Wilson when she had served overseas. "Those people," he said, "innocent or otherwise, could be harassed...tortured or killed

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