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The Libby Indictment: A View From A Great Distance

On Friday, Fox News' Chris Wallace calls into Howie Carr's talk show and the two of them spend 10-15 minutes kicking around the news. During yesterday's chat, a few notions about the Libby indictment came out, and started me thinking about a few things that I've noticed seem a bit odd:

1) From what I've heard so far, Libby is being indicted for lying about how he told the truth about a liar.

2) Apparently, the strongest evidence against Libby is the contradictions between he told investigators and his own notes taken at the time, notes that he provided the investigators. So, in essence, he "hung himself out to dry" by telling a different story from what he had documented, then turned in.

3) None of the things that Libby has been indicted for occurred before the start of the investigation. In other words, as of right now there was apparently no crime committed in the actions that triggered the investigation.

4) It looks right now like Libby was guilty of being either stupid, arrogant, or both. There was nothing criminal that needed covering up, but still he managed to obfuscate and obstruct enough about nothing to get his own ass in a sling.

Some people are looking at the Libby case in a historical context. They point out the case of Sandy Berger, convicted of stealing and destroying classified documents, and punished with a $10,000 fine and loss of his security clearance for three years. Or Bill Clinton's own plea-bargain on perjury charges, costing him is license to practice law in Arkansas. Others even bring up how five of Clinton's cabinet officers were criminally investigated, with two indicted and one convicted (and a third apparently escaping indictment only by dying in a plane crash).

I think it's valid to bring those cases up, and to keep them in mind in the Libby case. But I'm going to disagree with a lot of those with whom I normally side. I think that it was a disgrace that Clinton and Berger got off so lightly, and to give Libby a break based on that would merely perpetuate the dilution and corruption of our legal system. Perjury must be taken very seriously, and the price for committing it must be high enough to discourage it from happening.

That being said, I don't think that Libby should face the maximum penalty. As I pointed out above, there appears to be no crime at the core of the coverup. He merely obstructed what was looking like his exoneration.

But perjury is perjury, and must be taken very seriously. And so a man who, by at least one account, is a genuine hero, must pay the price for his misdeeds. Should he be convicted, I hope he is granted mercy at the sentencing.

I find myself having to hope for it, because I cannot in good conscience argue for it.

(Cross-posted at Loaded Mouth, just for sheer mischievousness)


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Comments (27)

Here is the Clinton Crime F... (Below threshold)
Jake:

Here is the Clinton Crime Family scorecard

Number of individuals and businesses associated with the Clintons who have been convicted of or pleaded guilty to crimes: 47

- Number of these convictions during Clinton's presidency: 33

- Number of indictments/misdemeanor charges: 61

- Number of congressional witnesses who have pleaded the Fifth Amendment, fled the country to avoid testifying, or (in the case of foreign witnesses) refused to be interviewed: 122

via prorev

I'm confused. Back in the d... (Below threshold)
Elmo:

I'm confused. Back in the day (when I stood left of center), I found it the height of amusement. That what slick did with his willie, would be of such great interest. If Bubba had simply owned up to his undone fly, he would have been the political victor. By no small margin.

Having said that, and having very litle interest in the microscopic details of Libby's caning. I also believe the current White House has done nothing wrong in the realm of service to country.

I fear the political hijinx, retribution, and skullduggery will never leave the playing field. And will intertwine with, and become a normal part of American politics. I'm tired of the endless partisanship.

But I'm still mighty psst off at them fooking spooks over at Langley joining the fray.

Sheesh,A discussio... (Below threshold)
RiverRat:

Sheesh,

A discussion of sentencing before we've even heard the defense. Very liberal thinking my friend.

I wonder if he turned in hi... (Below threshold)
Al:

I wonder if he turned in his notes, and then was unable to refresh his memory from them - that would seem like a valid reason for failing to recall information he'd already turned over...

My prediction is that Libby... (Below threshold)
Lew Clark:

My prediction is that Libby will be found not guilty, for a reason no one has mentioned. He's "Scooter". "Scooter" brings up visions of your pal in high school that was always pulling pranks. Everyone loved "Scooter". Who couldn't love someone with a nickname like "Scooter".
Now if it had been Karl. Dammit Karl with a "K". A Nazi name if I ever heard one. Herr Karl would go down. Loveable little "Scooter", he walks.

The following is a complet... (Below threshold)
Zap22:

The following is a complete fudge, and you should be ashamed you wrote it.

"From what I've heard so far, Libby is being indicted for lying about how he told the truth about a liar."

Have you read the indictment? It's damning, I mean, as far as I can tell, there's no way he'll get off this. He lied, again and again, and what's really weird is, he's a lawyer, he knows the deal with a grand jury. Moreover, his lies weren't even convincing, yet he stuck ti his grade school lies all the way through. One count of perjury arose when a GRAND JUROR asked him a question. Come on! As others have speculated, it looks like Russert has a tape of their converstaion, so Libby is well and trully screwed. And you know, conservatives who trully care about morals - right and wrong - should be castigating him and anyone else in government that behaves this way. If you lie before a Grand Jury and the FBI, you have no place in government, and you deserve to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Zap, did you feel that way ... (Below threshold)
Old Soldier:

Zap, did you feel that way about Berger? Just curious...

Yep it is that Martha Stewa... (Below threshold)
stan25:

Yep it is that Martha Stewart thing all over again. Most of the MSM media, including some at Fox News, were saying what a raw deal the she got. Now comes Scooter Libby, who basically did the same thing as Martha and they want to hang him from the nearest oak tree. Yes, I think that if Libby is found guilty, should do some time. He should get the same sentence that Stewart got. I suppose that if he was a Democrat, they would have just slapped his hand and said bad boy; don’t do it again.

Al, you think he was dumb e... (Below threshold)

Al, you think he was dumb enough to not make a copy of his notes?

Yah, I think the indictment itself looks pretty persuasive, but remember the old saw about the ham sandwich. Indictments are supposed to read that way, they are conclusions of fact that they hope a jury will find later.

Another old saw is there are at least two sides to every story. Fitzy's told his, now it's Scooter's turn (Fitzy and Scooter -- does sound like high school).

Jay thinks that Wilson in ... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Jay thinks that Wilson in his 'fact-finding mission' was a liar for exposing the crude Niger documents as forgeries, and hints as a reprisal he deserved to be smeared and his his wife outed, but the American Conservative, in its most recent issue, has a different point of view on the Niger documents on how 'the case for war was forged.' No wonder Libby and Jay, (but not all conservatives) wish that Wilson could have been discredited.

My understanding is that yo... (Below threshold)
Ken:

My understanding is that you are referring to yet another Wilson lie: he had no knowledge of these forged documents until weeks or months after his trip, and therefore could not have referenced them in his report on the trip.

However, in his column, he claimed that he had seen the documents and could tell they were crude fakes, and claimed this was known be him at the time of his trip.

I want to know why the CIA ... (Below threshold)
Berlins:

I want to know why the CIA lets one of its "Agents" send her husband on a mission. Then, lets her continue to work there after the Husband attracts attention to himself in such a high profile attack on the present Administration. Wilson brought this on himself. It was the press that was wondering why the Administration would send a man like former Ambassador Wilson to check out the charges that Iraq was trying to obtain yellow cake from Niger.
By the way, the U.S. has taken 500 ton of yellow cake from Iraq and almost 2 tons of enriched uranium. Does anyone want to guess where the yellow cake came from. Can you say Africa.
Wilson lied in his book about his wife having "nothing" to do with sending him on this mission. He lied about the analysis of his findings. He lied about implying Cheney sent him.
I want an investigation into why the CIA, an agency withing the Executive branch of our government, is trying to undermine the President for which it serves. There is a "Cabal" inside the CIA which, because of political differences, is using there authority in an unseemly if not treasonous manner.

I want to know why the CIA ... (Below threshold)
Berlins:

I want to know why the CIA lets one of its "Agents" send her husband on a mission. Then, lets her continue to work there after the Husband attracts attention to himself in such a high profile attack on the present Administration. Wilson brought this on himself. It was the press that was wondering why the Administration would send a man like former Ambassador Wilson to check out the charges that Iraq was trying to obtain yellow cake from Niger.
By the way, the U.S. has taken 500 ton of yellow cake from Iraq and almost 2 tons of enriched uranium. Does anyone want to guess where the yellow cake came from. Can you say Africa.
Wilson lied in his book about his wife having "nothing" to do with sending him on this mission. He lied about the analysis of his findings. He lied about implying Cheney sent him.
I want an investigation into why the CIA, an agency withing the Executive branch of our government, is trying to undermine the President for which it serves. There is a "Cabal" inside the CIA which, because of political differences, is using there authority in an unseemly if not treasonous manner.

Fitzgerald concluded that c... (Below threshold)
tgibbs:

Fitzgerald concluded that classified information had been divulged, and that Libby's obstruction of justice prevented him from finding out who had done it, or whether it constituted a crime. It is hard for me to understand how obstruction of a national security investigation can be regarded as a minor matter.

"From what I've heard so fa... (Below threshold)
Richard Thomas:

"From what I've heard so far, Libby is being indicted for lying about how he told the truth about a liar."

You must be joking. Patrick Fitzgerald has a tight case against Mr. Libby and to think he has fudged it in anyway is delusional since in the past Mr. Fitzgerald has handled drug-trafficking cases and in 1993 assisted in the prosecution of La Cosa Nostra figure John Gotti, the boss of the Gambino crime family. In 1994, Fitzgerald became the prosecutor in the case against Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman and 11 others charged in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. In 1996, Fitzgerald became the National Security Coordinator for the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. There, he served on a team of prosecutors investigating Osama bin Laden.[2] He also served as chief counsel in prosecutions related to the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

Humans are fallible. How m... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Humans are fallible. How many folks who post to sites like Wizbang could remember all the details of what they wrote several months ago? One of the wisest things our founders did was give defendants the right trial by a jury of their peers. Prosecutors are fond of saying that no one is above the law, but jurors sometimes reply that no law is above justice as they apply the time honored tradition of jury nullification. This is a case that calls for justice.

I think Libby should... (Below threshold)
jc:


I think Libby should use the "mentally unfit to testify before a grand jury" defense. His lawyer should submit as evidence his letter to Judy Miller, with the bit about the aspens turning in bunches because they share common roots; and then say, "Nobody that writes anything this juvenile can talk to anybody, not even a grand jury, without mostly talking out of his rear end."

Either that or say he was drunk.

Just to add to my po... (Below threshold)
jc:


Just to add to my point, go to amazon.com and search for "libby apprentice". You can read the first few pages there. Would you pay $1.95 for that crap?

Mac LorrySo I gues... (Below threshold)
houston:

Mac Lorry

So I guess you're buying the "I couldn't remember" defense. So I guess you're the one of those who buys the spin without thinking.

I'll remind you that it was less than a week after the Novak's article that the heat was on this administration for leaking Plames's name. This means that these guys had plenty of time to think about what they said and who they said it to.

Furthermore, they did not claim soon after in the investigation that they were not sure, or they couldn't remember. They specifically said they heard her name from another reporter. I know you would like to believe these guys are honest men. Seriously though, its just not realistic.

Lastly, I think Rove will be indicted soon as well. What the heck do I know, I know, but I find it interesting that Rove, through his lawyers in the recent Newsweek article, have already started that same "I couldn't remember" defense. We'll see though.

(Entire cutting and pasting... (Below threshold)

(Entire cutting and pasting of this blog entry deleted)

houston,I don't kn... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

houston,

I don't know the details of what Libby testified to and neither do you. My point is that scientific studies have shown that honest people have false memories about incidents they were involved in. That's why eye witness accounts of airplane crashes are considered the least reliable of all evidence.

The first duty of this prosecutor should have been to prove that a crime had been committed in the first place without knowing who did it. Put Wilson and his wife in front of the grand jury and ask them about the claims that they often told people at social gatherings the she worked for the CIA. Then interview people at those events. Only when the prosecutor can show that she was still undercover should he proceed to find out who was responsible for the leak.

Not having shown any crime was committed, the "process" crimes should carry little weight and the entire case should be thrown out, if not by a judge, then by jurors.

Mac Lorry,I disagr... (Below threshold)
jc:

Mac Lorry,

I disagree that perjury is not a serious crime. You can't have people lying to the grand jury and then saying, well I'm innocent of the original charge anyway so it's okay.

I do agree that the investigation should have been expanded, though. If Plame was indeed a Non-Official Cover, how come Larry Johnson can go around saying that and not get his butt indicted for it?

Using the baseball analogy Fitzgerald used, why were only people from one team questioned? Novak said she worked for the CIA, everything else that's been said about her to trump up her covert credentials was either a lie or another leak.

jc,Sentencing guid... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

jc,

Sentencing guidelines relate the seriousness of perjury and obstruction of justice to the initial crime. My point is that if there's no initial crime, then the process crimes should be dismissed. In this age where people lose their jobs when indicted, the process may needed to be changed to allow targets to present their side of the story to the grand jury before there's an indictment.

Check out this blog with ca... (Below threshold)
George:
Sentencing guidelines re... (Below threshold)
jc:

Sentencing guidelines relate the seriousness of perjury and obstruction of justice to the initial crime.

I'll have to take your word for it since I'm certainly no lawyer. Are the guidelines related to the seriousness of the initial crime committed or the initial crime investigated?

The reason only one side wa... (Below threshold)
Chris:

The reason only one side was questioned is because only one side was under suspicion. Are you suggesting that if someone robs a bank, investigators should look for the robber, but should also investigate every teller, every bank officer and the board of directors? The White House did the wrongdoing. The problem with the right is that they've tried so hard to portray this investigation as a case of "Who lied? Libby or Wilson?" that they're dumbfounded when they find out that Wilson was never the one under suspicion, no matter how much wishing and hop9ing and dissembling the right does.

I guess the philosophy from now on should be, if I commit a crime, but lie about it enough that I escape conviction, it should just be "no harm, no foul" and I get to walk, even when it's obvious that I lied? Great law and order philosophy there. Fitzgerald made it clear. When an investigation is obstructed, it affesct the investigator's ability to do their jobs.

Just a postscript on all th... (Below threshold)
epador:

Just a postscript on all this debate: I wonder ho many of us realize that this indictment is the product of several years conflict between certain liberal factions of the CIA that the Bush administration has attempted to flush out and replace with new blood. If there is truly to be an investigation about this "leak" then it must include how this all came about, and the dirty laundary from both the CIA and the White House needs to be exposed. If we insist on a myopic view of this issue, we'll be tools of the CIA faction mentioned above.




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