Friday, October 28, 2005

The indictment of "Scooter" Libby

It's a great read, full of the narrative detail that ABC's The Note anticipated. The important paragraphs show up in Count 1 beginning on page 4.

Here we see that Scooter Libby sought out the information about the Niger/uranium probe, that he was well versed in it from State and CIA and that he knew it well before the story broke in the press. These allegations are crucial to most if not all of the charges he now faces.

4. On or about May 29, 2003, in the White House, LIBBY asked an Under Secretary of State (“Under Secretary”) for information concerning the unnamed ambassador’s travel to Niger to investigate claims about Iraqi efforts to acquire uranium yellowcake. The Under Secretary thereafter directed the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research to prepare a report concerning the ambassador and his trip. The Under Secretary provided LIBBY with interim oral reports in late May and early June 2003, and advised LIBBY that Wilson was the former ambassador who took the trip.

5. On or about June 9, 2003, a number of classified documents from the CIA were faxed to the Office of the Vice President to the personal attention of LIBBY and another person in the Office of the Vice President. The faxed documents, which were marked as classified, discussed, among other things, Wilson and his trip to Niger, but did not mention Wilson by name. After receiving these documents, LIBBY and one or more other persons in the Office of the Vice President handwrote the names “Wilson” and “Joe Wilson” on the documents.

What I found very interesting were the following discussions. Insofar as the Vice President is concerned:

8. Prior to June 12, 2003, Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus contacted the Office of the Vice President in connection with a story he was writing about Wilson’s trip. LIBBY participated in discussions in the Office of the Vice President concerning how to respond to Pincus.

9. On or about June 12, 2003, LIBBY was advised by the Vice President of the United States that Wilson’s wife worked at the Central Intelligence Agency in the Counterproliferation Division. LIBBY understood that the Vice President had learned this information from the CIA.

Yes, these are tea leaves... but they are tea leaves in an indictment. More machinations and Robert Novak's "no partisan gunslinger":

21. 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. LIBBY was advised by Official A that Novak would be writing a story about Wilson’s wife.

22. On or about July 12, 2003, LIBBY flew with the Vice President and others to and from Norfolk, Virginia, on Air Force Two. On his return trip, LIBBY discussed with other officials aboard the plane what LIBBY should say in response to certain pending media inquiries, including questions from Time reporter Matthew Cooper.

Placing all of this into context -- including what the National Journal broke yesterday about Libby and Cheney withholding documents from a Senate investigation, a potential firestorm in and of itself -- will be a long task. Many better suited than I are no doubt hard at work on it. I will do my best over the coming days to write more.

If you want to track the latest on the indictment in the blogosphere, here is the link for the Technorati of the .pdf link.

One GOP reax I can find now is from Congressman Jack Kingston via his diary:

WARNER ROBINS, GA--U.S. Representative Jack Kingston (R-GA), the vice-chairman of the House Republican Conference, released the following statement while aboard Air Force II with Vice President Dick Cheney in Warner Robins, GA:

"Mr. Libby's resignation is appropriate. The court can now decide the facts of the case. An indictment is not a statement of guilt, but simply outlines the case for the prosecutor. Keep in mind that we have not heard Mr. Libby's side of this story.

"Furthermore, the Vice President and the White House can now move forward. The Vice President has a capable staff of professionals that will step up to the plate.

"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."

Five counts and this is the response? It will be interesting to see how this counter to Fitzgerald plays out with the public. One hunch I am willing to launch into cyberspace is that Scooter's quick resignation was conducted after a White House lawyer read the indictment and thought it strong enough to potentially sway a jury.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you can be indicted for lying to the federal government about something that was not a crime why would anyone ever do anything but take the 5th amendment in front of a grand jury?

3:50 PM  
Blogger copy editor said...

I think in this case (and this is a guess) Libby believed either it was so important to lie or that he would not get caught. Lots of people lie to grand juries, lots get caught.

3:55 PM  
Anonymous F.D.S. (The Digest) said...

Anyone ever heard of Martha Stewart?

4:30 PM  
Blogger copy editor said...

Good point, FDS.

4:36 PM  

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