Saturday, October 29, 2005

The Indictment

Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald is nothing if not through. The indictment of Scooter Libby left little doubt that Libby knew about Valerie Plame's identity:
# In or about early June 2003, LIBBY learned from the Vice President that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA in the Counterproliferation Division;
# On or about June 11, 2003, LIBBY was informed by a senior CIA officer that Wilson's wife was employed by the CIA and that the idea of sending him to Niger originated with her;
# On or about June 12, 2003, LIBBY was informed by the Under Secretary of State that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA;
# On or about June 14, 2003, LIBBY discussed "Joe Wilson" and "Valerie Wilson" with his CIA briefer, in the context of Wilson's trip to Niger;
# On or about June 23, 2003, LIBBY informed reporter Judith Miller that Wilson's wife might work at a bureau of the CIA;
# On or about July 7, 2003, LIBBY advised the White House Press Secretary that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA;
# In or about June or July 2003, and in no case later than on or about July 8, 2003, LIBBY was advised by the Assistant to the Vice President for Public Affairs that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA;
# On or about July 8, 2003, LIBBY advised reporter Judith Miller of his belief that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA; and
# On or about July 8, 2003, LIBBY had a discussion with the Counsel to the Office of the Vice President concerning the paperwork that would exist if a person who was sent on an overseas trip by the CIA had a spouse who worked at the CIA;
Libby's testimony, excerpted in the indictment, is at variance with the facts outlined above:
"Basically, we didn't know anything about him [Wilson] until this stuff came out in June. And among the other things, I didn't know he had a wife. That was one of the things I said to Mr. Cooper. I don't know if he's married."
Libby is going to have a hard time claiming he doesn't remember nine seperate conversations involving Wilson and his wife.
In his press conference yesterday, Fitzgerald was asked about the assertion that perjury and lying were not as serious as the underlying crime. In response, Fitzgerald spoke of the significance of the charges:
If these facts are true, if we were to walk away from this and not charge obstruction of justice and perjury, we might as well just hand in our jobs. Because our jobs, the criminal justice system, is to make sure people tell us the truth. And when it's a high-level official and a very sensitive investigation, it is a very, very serious matter that no one should take lightly.
Fitzgerald offered his reason for seeking testimony from reporters:
I understand why it is that newspapers want sources. And I read newspapers and I'm glad you have sources.
This is different. This was a situation where the conversations between the official and the reporter may have been a crime itself.
It wasn't someone saying, "Hey, so and so is doing something really, really awful down the hall, but I'm going to get fired if I tell you."
If you're transmitting classified information, it's the crime itself. But also the reporter is the eyewitness, and what I think people don't appreciate is we interviewed lots of people, very high officials, before we ever went to the reporters. And if it is apparent the grand jury was investigating to find out whether Mr. Libby lied under oath about his conversations with reporters, how could you ever resolve it without talking to the reporter?
This is a serious, sober prosecutor who does his homework.

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