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Libby Indicted In Plame Investigation, Rove Avoids Charges

scooter_libby.jpgkarl_rove.jpg


The chief of staff to Vice President Cheney, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Jr., has been charged with one count of obstruction of justice, two counts of making false statement, and two counts of perjury in connection with the investigation into the "outing" of CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson. Prior to the announcement of the indictment Libby submitted his resignation.

The press release (PDF) and indictment (PDF) are now available. Backup links here and here. Video of Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's press conference:

Video of Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's press conference:

If convicted on all counts Libby faces a maximum of 30 years in prison and a fine of $1,500,000 fine.

Update: Josh Marshall notes that Fitzgerald has told Congressional leaders that he does not have authority to issue a report. Left unsaid in the indictment is whether any of Libby's (or any other administration officials) actions in regards to Plame's identity were illegal. Since they noted the various laws upon which charges could have been based, but did not pursue those angles, the answer appears to be a pretty convincing "no."

Update 2: Libby's attorney has responded to the charges. (PDF)


Additional coverage:

PlameGate - Libby Lies About Lying
Worst Week Ever/Best Week Ever
Plame Meme Watch
PlameGate - Plame Name No Secret
Valerie Plame Archive
Other coverage:
The Wall Street Journal's Probe News Tracker
NRO's The Corner
Michelle Malkin
Jeff Goldstein
Jeralyn Merritt
Glenn Reynolds
Tom Maguire
Austin Bay


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» Kuru Lounge linked with Plamegate and random stuff

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» Point Five linked with Giddy Democrats Finally "Get Message Out"

» Joust The Facts linked with Five Against Libby

» Unpartisan.com Political News and Blog Aggregator linked with Report: Cheney Told Top Aide (Libby) About Exposed CIA Officer

» Donkey Stomp linked with Libby Resigns After Indictment

» The LLama Butchers linked with The Coverup is ALWAYS worse than the crime

» THE TOMO REPORT linked with LIBBY INDICTED, BUT WHO LEAKED TO NOVAK?

» Stop The ACLU linked with The Questions Not Asked About Valerie Plame

Comments (16)

Forgive me, but I'm not sur... (Below threshold)
Boyd:

Forgive me, but I'm not sure I understand your point here, Kevin:

Left unsaid in the indictment is whether any...actions were illegal.

I finally slogged my way through enough of the indictment PDF (damn legalese!) to find this particular paragraph:

In or about March 2004, in the District of Columbia, I. LEWIS LIBBY, also known as SCOOTER LIBBY, defendant herein, did knowingly and corruptly endeavor to influence, obstruct and impede the due administration of justice, namely proceedings before Grand Jury 03-3, by misleading and deceiving the grand jury as to when, and the manner and means by which, LIBBY acquired and subsequently disclosed to the media information concerning the employment of Valerie Wilson by the CIA.

That sounds pretty much like they're saying he committed a crime. Since this is a grand jury indictment, I'm not surprised since, y'know, indictments are where people are charged with violating the law.

I'm not sure why you don't think they stated whether any of Libby's actions were illegal. It seems pretty clear to me that they did.

So let me get this straight... (Below threshold)
Lew Clark:

So let me get this straight. Libby initially committed no crime, but faces 30 years in prison for lying about the source of the information he used to commit no crime.

Seems fair to me!

See M. Stewart.... (Below threshold)
Pug:

See M. Stewart.

In just reading the press r... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

In just reading the press release (i've yet to read the indictment itself), all I can say is that this sounds like a 8th grade hallway gossipfest:

"Libby said that you said that I said that she said that Libby said..."

WTF? Does any reasonable person think that the general populace will give a whit about any of this "he said, she said, they said" nonsense?

Americans think in broad, clear strokes, folks. They like their scandals and affairs clear cut and obvious, and this just won't cut it.

Remember, innocent until proven guilty...for everyone.

Boyd,It's pretty c... (Below threshold)
Sheik Yur Bouty:

Boyd,

It's pretty clear that Kevin was referring to illegal acts in reference to the original subject of the investigation. IOW, the revealing of the identity of Valerie Plame.

Well, I'll have to disagree... (Below threshold)
Boyd:

Well, I'll have to disagree that he was clear, especially for a dunce like me, but I see your point.

Fitzgerald convened this o... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Fitzgerald convened this official criminal grand jury in D.C., because he suspected crimes were being perpetrated. Tom Delay may think "conservatives are being criminalized" but this shibboleth may be more appropriate for those who don't understand that obstruction of justice and perjury are crime. I don't think the message could be much clearer, Peter F. No one, not even the governing class, may break the the law with impunity. Watergate deja vu.

Fitzgerald was very clear a... (Below threshold)
Chris:

Fitzgerald was very clear at the beginning of his press conference that he felt Valerie Plame was covert, and that her work with the CIA was not well known. This completely contradicts what the Right has been saying as the primary defense for Libby, that she wasn't covert. I notice no one is speaking to this point. We now have the prosecutor and the CIA saying she was covert. What about it?

He also made clear that one of the reasons he didn't bring an indictment for the leak itself is because his investigation was obstructed by Libby lying. That's why it's serious, no matter how much people might try to minimize it.

He's also continuing the investigation. My speculation (and a lot of other people's) is that he's leaving it open because once Scooter hires a real criminal attorney, it will become clear to him that he needs to provide more info in order to plea bargain. I'm not sure this is over. And as a side note, I think Fitzgerald's handling of the press conference is going to enhance his credibility immensely.

Now I just have to wait for all those indictments of Wilson and Plame that so many people promised were coming.

Chris, You are miss... (Below threshold)
Chad:

Chris,
You are misstating what he said. First off he said her identity was classified not that she was covert. There is a difference if she was a "NOC" as people have been claiming the CIA would not have acknowledged her employment. Second, although he said the investigation into the leak was impeded, he also said he would not comment on why no one was charged for the leak.

chadYou're right, ... (Below threshold)
Chris:

chad

You're right, he did say classified and not covert. but I think that's hair splitting. If she was a covert agent, then that was classified information. I think it's telling that he made the point that her work with the CIA was not well known, which as I've said undermines the primary point I keep reading for the argument that no crime could have been committed.

As for your second point, I think we're saying the same thing. He made clear that he couldn't pursue the leak investigation fully because Libby lied, and that's why the charges are serious. That's what he meant when he used the analogy of an umpire who can't make a call because sand was in his eyes. Not making the call is not the same as saying no offense occurred. I was paraphrasing so my wording didn't match his exactly, but I think the underlying message is the same.

Chris,I don't thin... (Below threshold)
chad:

Chris,

I don't think you understand what classified means. Classified merely means the government has an interest in keeping the information secret. There are 3 offical levels of classification in the US Government, Confidential, Secret and Top Secret. When a document is written it is possible for each individual paragraph to be classified at a different level. The document itself is classified at the level of the highest classification of the paragraphs (ex. a document has 40 confidential paragraphs and 1 Top Secret, the document is classified Top Secret). With in the individual paragraphs a the classification is assigned based on the most stringently controled item in the paragraph. The CIA routinely classifies all its employment rosters (or at least they used to). I remember when I was in high school 20+ years ago there was a big stink because the CIA had new air-conditioning installed and it wasn't working correctly, because the number of people working in the building was classified and they wouldn't tell the HVAC contractor.

Covert has another meaning entirely, essentialy not acknowledged or secret. I guess the best way to put it is one is a legal term realting to the handling of information, the other is a term of art relating to a set of actions.

My point in all this is just because Valerie Plame's name and employment status was classified doesn't mean exceptional harm was caused by her name being revealed, and dosen't mean that she was in a covert status.

As for whether or not no offense occured and the baseball anaology. My take was his analogy was aimed at explaining why he considered obstruction of justice so serious, but when actually question about the underlying act that caused the investigation he said, " We have not made any allegation that Libby knowingly/intentionally outed a covert agent." To me that says No he did not out a covert agent.

For the record if I though Plame was covert at the time this occured:

1. I would think her husband was an idiot for getting involved knowing that he was opening himself for a savage political response. As I said in another post he willingly injected himself into the political arena now he can't call foul for being subjected to political payback.

2. I would strongly support hanging Libby et al from the nearest tree for exposing her. Again if she was truly in a covert status.

So if the information Libby... (Below threshold)
Chris:

So if the information Libby revealed was at the lowest level of "Classified," it was:

"Confidential – is the lowest classification level. It is defined as information which would "damage" national security if disclosed."

I have never stated that I knew Plame was a covert agent, although I believe she was. I have never seen credible evidence that she wasn't. But I think it's setting the bar quite low (which has been the goal of right wing spin all along) to claim that if Libby can't be prosecuted under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act then he effectively has done nothong wrong. So congratulations! If we take it as you position it, with the bar at its lowest level, the Chief of Staff to the Vice President only revealed information that would 'damage national security if disclosed." You must be very proud.

Spin it any way you like, but the fact is that the White House played fast and loose with classified information for its own political ends. And I wouldn't assume because Rove wasn't indicted that he's off the hook. He may be, of course, or the "new evidence" that caused Fitzgerald to hold off on indicting him may be simply that he's offering to plea bargain.

And as for your point that "We have not made any allegation that Libby knowingly/intentionally outed a covert agent." means "that says No he did not out a covert agent." I think that's quite a stretch. If you watched the press conference, Fitz made it clear that he thinks it's irresponsible to suggest that someone committed crimes for which they have not been indicted. I don't know how you extrapolate that to mean that if someone hasn't been indicted for a crime it means they've been found innocent.

Nowhere did I say that reve... (Below threshold)
chad:

Nowhere did I say that revealing classified information wasn't wrong, what I said was classified and covert are two different things.

The original "crime" that started all this was a leak of a covert agents identity. If she wasn't covert then that wasn't a crime. Revealing classified information is also a crime, but if that was prsoecuted everytime it happened then everyone in Washington would be in jail. I think it's wrong, but like the advance of glaciers I know it can't be stopped.

I come to the conclusion that they have not conclude that Libby intentionally outed a covert agent because Fitzgerald specifically said, "We have not made any allegation that Libby knowingly/intentionally outed a covert agent."

As I have said before I am not a lawyer but it is my understanding that when an indictment is issued in which the crimes all originate from a single act all the crimes must be charged together. I believe this is for the defendants protection to keep a prosecutor from dragging a person into court on charge after charge all originating from a single act.

If I am correct then if they had evidence that would convince 2/3 of the Grand Jury (in DC one of the bluest cities in the country) they would have charged the crime.

My opinion take it for what it's worth. Most people on this blog consider me a dumbass so that should give you an idea of the value.

One thing that has gotten l... (Below threshold)
Chris:

One thing that has gotten lost in all of this is that the CIA never asked that the investigation focus on whether the Intelligence Identities Protection Act was violated. The complaint was that the White House leaked the name of an agent. I believe the White House initially tried to make the focus just on that one act, because it is almost impossible to enforce. I'd be interested to know if there are other, broader laws against revealing classified information. I'm guessing there must be, but I really don't know.

I think you are wrong, I be... (Below threshold)
chad:

I think you are wrong, I believe that when the CIA referred the case to DoJ it was for a possible violation of the IIPA.

Reading the news articles a... (Below threshold)
Chris:

Reading the news articles about the case at the time, they all say that the CIA complained that someone revealed the identity of an undercover agent (or words to that effect.) As you read more articles, the press starts to speculate that the IIPA would be the relevant statute. In my brief research I didn't come across one article that said the CIA referenced the IIPA. However, this is admittedly flimsy since I don't believe any reporter has ever seen the exact wording of the CIA's complaint. But I didn't find any articles claiming the CIA referenced the IIPA. It was a quick Google search, so if someone has contrary information I'll gladly accede the point.




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