Friday :: Apr 7, 2006

Scooter's Storefront Lawyers Show Their Mettle

by Steve

Saturday’s Post has a story by Jim VandeHei and R. Jeffrey Smith that contains a rather lame explanation by Scooter’s attorney about his client’s admission to the grand jury that he leaked classified information to reporters at the direction of Bush.

The revelation of former White House official I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's involvement in authorized disclosures of sensitive intelligence information does not undermine Libby's contention that he innocently forgot about conversations he may have had with reporters regarding covert CIA operative Valerie Plame, Libby's attorney said yesterday.
Jeffress said Fitzgerald's revelation about Libby's disclosure of information from a CIA National Intelligence Estimate "is a complete sidelight" to his accusation that Libby deliberately lied. "It's got nothing to do with Wilson's wife," Jeffress said in a brief interview, adding that Libby continues to expect to be exonerated at trial.

No, of course it has nothing to do with his wife. I mean, why would the Administration suddenly kick into overdrive (after the Kristof column) to find out about Wilson's trip, and then try and discredit him by mentioning to everyone who would listen that his wife sent him on a junket?

Christ, Jacoby and Myers could do better than this.

Fitzgerald and others say there was an orchestrated effort by the White House to discredit Joe Wilson. It therefore is preposterous to say that leaking classified information to Judy Miller and Bob Woodward in advance of any declassification, done outside of normal protocols, is clearly unrelated to Joe Wilson and his wife.

Fitzgerald's filing was meant specifically to undermine Libby's claim that the issue of the CIA's employment of Plame was of "peripheral" interest to Libby at the time. He said in the filing that leaks regarding Plame were meant to embarrass Wilson by suggesting his wife had organized a CIA-sponsored trip by Wilson to probe Iraq's alleged purchase of nuclear material -- in short, to suggest his trip resulted from nepotism.
Fitzgerald argued, in essence, that the White House effort to rebut Wilson's criticism was so intense, and so preoccupying, that Libby could not have forgotten what he said about Plame. Fitzgerald also noted that Plame's employment was specifically raised as a relevant matter by Cheney, who had directed Libby to disclose information from the NIE.
One former administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was discussing political strategy, said rebutting Wilson and other critics was an obsession of Cheney, Libby and many others then inside the Bush White House. Other officials said there were frequent discussions about declassifying information to buttress the Bush argument for war. In several cases, this resulted in release of such information, but only after it went through the usual declassification process.

But we now know that the smear campaign against Wilson apparently was done outside of the "usual declassification process."

The declassification divulged by Fitzgerald was unusual, the prosecutor said. Libby testified that he understood that only three officials -- Bush, Cheney and Libby -- knew about it. No one outside the White House was consulted.
Libby also leaked information from the National Intelligence Estimate to Bob Woodward of The Washington Post prior to the date that the White House said it was officially declassified. In sworn testimony, Woodward told Fitzgerald that on June 27, 2003 -- 11 days before the Libby-Miller conversation -- Libby told him about the CIA estimate and an Iraqi effort to obtain "yellowcake" uranium in Africa, according to a statement Woodward released on Nov. 14, 2005.
In an interview, Woodward said his notes, which were not released publicly but were shown to Fitzgerald, included Libby using the word "vigorous" to describe the Iraqi effort. Libby used similar language when he provided the NIE information Bush declassified to Miller at their July 8, 2003, meeting, according to Fitzgerald's filing.

Somehow, I don’t think this latest attempt by Scooter’s attorneys to defend what their client did and his allegedly bad memory will wash.

Steve :: 10:09 PM :: Comments (19) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!