Saturday :: Oct 29, 2005

Incomplete - and Insulting

by Marie

Read the indictment. Watch Fitzgerald’s press conference, including the Q&A. Having served on a criminal juries, it is easy for me to state that Fitzgerald has presented on open and shut case on the charges against Libby. A defense attorney could raise doubts about the veracity of Russert’s statements and make some noise about Fitzgerald’s statement that Wilson told the CIA that the Niger yellowcake claims were forgeries, but no defense can get around the false statements Libby made to FBI investigators and the grand jury. No question that those are crimes. However, Fitzgerald’s refusal to indict on the central crime of releasing the classified identity of a CIA agent to the press suggests that there was no reason for the investigation. (As Bu$hCo rolled out their talking points last Sunday that correctly anticipated what Fitzgerald would issue, it doesn’t look as if he conducted a leak proof investigation – it’s just that the pipeline went directly to the WH and not the people. That’s insulting.)

If the Chief of Staff of the VP and assistant to the President on national security can blow the cover of a CIA agent and not be charged with that crime, then nobody can ever be charged with it. It doesn’t matter if Libby is ignorant of the specific statute --ignorance is no defense. It was sufficient that he knew she was a CIA classified employee -- and he knew that from four different sources, including the State Department NIE that he requested that we know included the notation that the information on Mrs. Wilson was “secret.” Libby had that information and he disclosed Mrs. Wilson’s employment status to at least two reporters, Miller and Cooper. His multiple meetings with Miller in which he talked about Mrs. Wilson is sufficient to indicate that Libby wanted her to write about this. The story Libby concocted for the investigation further confirms that he knew that he had committed a crime -- otherwise he wouldn’t have needed a cover story.

We still don’t know the identity of the “two senior administration” sources for Novak’s article. The indictment is completely silent on this material witness. Odd that Cooper and Miller could be compelled to testify but Novak is allowed to skate. Or maybe Fitzgerald didn’t find his information material to any indictment he was willing to issue. If he wasn’t going to charge Libby with outing Plame, why would he bother with Rove on this?

It is also odd that Fitzgerald even bothered to lay out the facts about Wilson’s trip to Niger and his statements to reporters and his own Op-Ed about what he didn’t find in Niger. He treated it as if it was only relevant as to why the investigation was mounted and didn’t go to the motive of Libby and others in the White House as to why they would expose his CIA agent wife. As far as Fitzgerald is concerned, Plame’s specific CIA status was irrelevant. Since he didn’t indict on the 1917 Espionage Act, her classified status didn’t matter either. As he included that information, it’s insulting that he didn’t bother also to include a statement that would have referred to the other statute at issue and in which her status as a NOC was relevant. Thus the wing nuts will take this as vindication that she was only a “desk jockey”.

It’s troubling to me that the indictment claimed that in Wilson’s oral report to the CIA that he said the Niger documents were forgeries. In Wilson’s public statements, he’s always maintained that these documents were never shared with him. Therefore, he was not in a position to declare that they were forgeries. He could only speak to the claims that were made. Wilson has also publicly claimed that he was never interviewed in Fitzgerald’s investigation. If that’s correct, then Fitzgerald relied on second hand information for that statement when it could have been confirmed directly. This might seem like a minor point, but for someone like Fitzgerald with a reputation for detail, this statement seems sloppy.

I’m also troubled by Fitzgerald’s reluctance to make a distinction between releasing government classified information and releasing the identity of a CIA classified employee. The former exposes secret actions on the part of the government that the public has a right to know about and the latter exposes one person (in
Plame’s case, possibly many people). Not for anything they’ve done but for their mere existence. And that exposure puts that individual, family and associates at personal physical risk. Fitzgerald’s failure on this makes a joke of the classified status of any CIA agent. It reinforces the message the White House originally intended for the CIA when Plame was outed. “Don’t fuck with Bu$hCo or we’ll take you down. And next time they’ll do it better.

What is most bizarre about the information in the indictment is Libby’s cover story. Exactly why would they have decided to use Russert? Was this a gamble that Russer would either not talk or if he did, it would be a “he said/he said”? Or is it possible that Libby accurately reported his conversation with Russert and Russert was the one that lied? Libby would’t be the first person to disclose secrets to some people and then play dumb and surprised when somebody else looking for confirmation brought the information to them. Hell, I’ve even done that (although it was industry scuttlebutt and no criminal statutes were at issue). Seems to me that Russert has some s’plainin to do.

From the DNC headquarters break-in until the resignation of Nixon took all of twenty-six months (and contrary to historical revisionism, the Watergate break-in was only a small aspect of the scandal). Those twenty-six months felt like Chinese water torture for those of us who read Nixon’s fingerprints on the burglary. It never occurred to us that that was as good as it gets. There was the trial of the burglars with Maximum John on the bench. Congressional hearings. An Independent Prosecutor. A couple of rookie journalists with nothing to lose. And “Deep Throat.” Twenty-eight months into l’affaire Plame and all we’ve got is a five count cover-up indictment against a WH employee. Like then, I have no doubt that Bush and Cheney were in on this from day one. I also suspected that the loathsome Tenet identified Plame for them. What I got wrong is that I expected a couple of loyal lower level administration employees would take the rap for it and keep their traps shut. As such, I was somewhat surprised that they would have used Libby and Rove to do the deed. I’m not sure what that indicates. Arrogance? That loyalty in the WH isn’t as deep as advertised? Or the lesson of Watergate and Iran-Contra, a cabal can have no degrees of separation? One thing it does suggest is that WH control of the press since 1/01 has been controlled from the top. (God only knows how much shit they have shoveled at us.

There will be no speedy trial of Libby. This whole sorry story will drift out of the national consciousness as fast as the horror in New Orleans after Katrina. Never underestimate the ability of Americans to simplify moral equivalence. Bu$hCo escaped criminality for politicizing Homeland Security by appealing to our racism. The charges against Libby are more serious than those leveled against Clinton, but Libby isn’t the President and therefore, equivalence between the two will sell well enough for GOP political purposes. (The Democratic Party has been hobbled since 1968for refusing to unite and reject the Vietnam War -- that would have deprived the GOP of the ability to get a pass on the disaster Nixon made in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos and the subsequent ability to paint the left as “soft” on defense which really means “soft” on squandering US treasure on irrational and illegal wars and war making weaponry. It will also be hobbled for a bit longer for our defense of Clinton’s perjury. Might even make it impossible to impeach any GOP for high crimes.) Libby will cop a plea, do some time and when convenient receive his Presidential pardon. (He’ll also be justly compensated by his patrons.)

Watching, studying, and thinking and writing about all the nefarious doings of Bu$hCo now seems so completely meaningless. From the moment the SCOTUS decision in Bush v. Gore was released until a week or so after the disaster in New Orleans, I retained hope that America would be shaken out of their comfort zone and begin to see what Bu$hCo was doing and still had on their “to do” list. Seeing how quickly they were willing to overlook the Bu$hCo destruction of FEMA left me speechless. Deficits, war, disasters -- can Bu$hCo do anything that disturbs the country enough that we want them out of there before they wreak more havoc? I held out with one slender thread of hope; this country and our democracy was reduced to hinging on one man, Patrick Fitzgerald. I hoped but couldn’t write. In retrospect, my inability to articulate anything over the past few weeks indicated the disconnect between my conscious hope and intuition. I’m still somewhat speechless that a twenty-two month federal prosecutor work product is so limited. However, if my head hadn’t gotten in the way of my intuition, I could have predicted this. As others have said, Friday was a sad day for this country. Only not sad because Libby was indicted but because Bu$hCo has escaped another scrape and nothing can stop them now for at least fourteen months.

No reason why Bu$hCo can’t now nominate anybody they want for the Supreme Court. There are enough DINOs in the Senate that Janice Rodgers Brown could probably get confirmed. The wing nut intellectual poseurs and fundies want a national fight on this. (They gambled and won that Fitzgerald indictments wouldn’t be serious enough to make their derailing of Meiers a bad move. If the indictments were far reaching, Bu$hCo couldn’t do better for the right than Meiers. Thus, I expected that the WH would make the Meiers decision after Fitzgerald’s announcement. The exquisite timing of the withdrawal (guaranteed to be a 24 hour news story that would instantly drop down the memory hole) is further evidence that they knew exactly what was coming down.) A fight would be just the thing to take Libby and the war casualties off the front page as well are reinvigorate the GOP base. The GOP might not realize their seventy year old dream of destroying Social Security in this round of GOP political control, but they’ll settle for making a whole lot of us a lot poorer and cheaper to employ and a whole lot of the next generation so uneducated that they will be cheap labor for decades to come. And who knows -- they might just get McCain in the WH in ’08 and he can complete the vision. But this time they will let us all “eat cake” - fat unhealthy people are much more docile than hungry people.

Marie :: 10:07 AM :: Comments (27) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!