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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Libby Out of Trouble? Don't Hold Your Breath...


Here's the thing about the Libby indictment: however you read it, it's factually dense and intentionally so. And those facts, and Libby's deliberately inaccurate statements as recorded therein, point to a man who was trying to keep Patrick Fitzgerald from learning all the facts that he got anyway -- from all those other governmental officials who told him what they knew, about Libby and everyone else involved in this whole sorry mess.

Then along comes Bob Woodward yesterday. Finally opening his yap to jump up and down and wave his grubby hand in the air to stir up early interest in a new book's sales figures, to say that he heard the news about Plame a month earlier than Bob Novak. And, by the way, he hadn't bothered to tell anyone -- including his editors at the WaPo -- because he's too ethical *cough* to be bothered with discussing his information on the story of the moment with his employers.

Well, except for that mention to Walter Pincus which Pincus is saying didn't even happen the way Woodward says. (More on that catfight later.)

What does this mean for Libby? Are the charges just bunk, as his lawyers are going to be floating out over the next few days? Is Fitz just a crappo prosecutor who was throwing out charges to justify his existence, as some of the more wing-nutty folks have no doubt started saying?

Erm...not so much.

Here's the thing: when you lie under oath or to an investigator with the FBI, there's this tricky little thing we lawyers like to call a transcript. It gets made from the recordings of conversations or testimony, via this nifty little thing we call a tape recorder or from a court reporter's contemporaneous transcription in court. And, darn it all, if that transcript doesn't memorialize every single thing you say -- even the lies.

All of the lies. Every single one of them.

And the funny thing about being under oath in a courtroom: they ask you to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Not just that portion of the truth that you find useful to you, and then you can embellish or just outright lie to cover your ass. When you are on the stand, you are asked to tell the whole truth (warning PDF).
-- Did Libby testify that Grossman gave him oral updates on the investigation into Wilson that Libby requested in late May/early June 2003? Erm...no.

-- Did Libby testify that Grossman told him directly on or about June 11 or 12, 2003, that Plame worked for CIA? Erm...no.

-- Did Libby testify that a senior CIA official told him that Plame worked for the CIA around June 11, 2003? Erm...no.

-- Did Libby testify about Cheney telling him that Plame worked for CIA around June 11, 2003, and that she worked in counterproliferation and that Cheney learned this information from someone at CIA? Erm...no.

-- Did Libby testify that he told Ari Fleischer about Plame on July 7, 2003? Erm...no.
I could go on, but you get the picture. Where do I get this, since the Grand Jury testimony is secret? Directly from the Libby indictment, where the facts are laid flat out for all of the five counts -- and these facts were all pieces of information supporting indictment. Facts that Fitz and his investigators learned from governmental officials and other witnesses who were not Scooter Libby.

How do I know this? Because if Libby had been honest about all of these facts, none of them would have been included as supporting information for his indictment without direct attribution to Libby -- because it just doesn't work any other way. And had Libby been completely honest about all of this, there would have been no need to indict him on Obstruction of Justice, two counts of Perjury before the grand jury under oath, and two counts of False Statements to investigators in October of 2003.

Whatever Bob Woodward may or may not know about the case, and whichever other governmental officials talked with him about Valerie Plame Wilson, it simply does not change the facts on Libby as we currently know them via his indictment: he lied to investigators, he lied to the grand jury, and he tried to cover for himself (and likely others) as he was doing so.

And he tried to keep Fitz from taking the next steps in the investigation. All of which is illegal. Period.

As for Fitz: well, it sure as hell looks like he's still investigating the matter, whether or not Scooter Libby is cooperating. And a whole lot of other people seem to be cooperating, don't they? And Fitz sure has a whole lot of other information we know nothing about in the public domain, doesn't he?

If I were Scooter, I'd be hunkering down with my attorneys over my large batch of discovery today and trying to figure out how many of my Administration pals have been planting knives that I don't even know about yet. And I'd be thinking long and hard about what it means to be the last man standing who hasn't fully cooperated around sentencing time if I'm convicted. Ahem.

Bob Woodward sure as hell didn't volunteer to be a stand-up guy and give information because of his civic-mindedness. *snerk* Nope, he had his ass subpoened and he testified because his source cooperated and gave Fitz the information that he spoke with Woodward. (And I say "he" here, simply for a marker, not because I know the gender of Woodward's source.)

For everyone out there who has been saying that Fitz was going to fold up shop and go home, I say, "Nuh uh." Stay tuned on this one. Fitz and his staff are still digging -- and with this Administration, there is clearly a whole hell of a lot of dirt.

UPDATE: Jane reminds me that Libby did mention Cheney's revelations to the FBI investigators, as something he had forgotten when he says Russert told him about Plame. Had forgotten that (it's in the indictment on page 9, at pp. 26(a)) in my quick re-cap this morning. Have to stop blogging without adequate coffee intake.

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