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March 07, 2007

An Odd Notion Of Justice

Well, the verdict is in and the party that didn't think perjury was a serious offense is nearly beside itself with joy at the result:

Mr. Libby was found guilty on four of five counts against him: obstruction of justice for "knowingly and corruptly" trying to impede a grand jury investigation of how he acquired and disclosed information to reporters about the identity of a CIA operative; making false statements along those lines to the FBI; perjuring himself by lying under oath before the grand jury about one conversation with a reporter; and a second perjury count related to conversations with other reporters. He was acquitted on the charge of making a false statement to the FBI about his talks with one of those reporters. The facts of the case are well known, among them that Mr. Libby was prosecuted for lying about his use of the undercover operative's identity, not for the federal crime of leaking the name -- a leak first made by others and a crime that apparently didn't take place.

Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, plucked from his job in Chicago in late 2003 to avoid perceived conflicts of interest at the Justice Department, reiterated yesterday that "any lie under oath" is a serious threat to the judicial system, and "having someone, a high-level official do that under oath in a national security investigation is something that can never be acceptable."

Ah. At last the mystery of why Scooter Libby was alone in the dock is solved. Apparently, according to Patrick Fitzgerald, though "any lie under oath is a serious threat to the judicial system", lies by media figures are to be swept under the rug via Justice Department deal making.

It's just as well to get that out into the open.

It has long been apparent we live in a two-tiered justice system where media figures exempt themselves from the same laws ordinary citizens are bound by, often with the tacit aid of judges and government officials. One doesn't, however, expect to hear it stated quite so baldly. In a trial that hinged on the critical question of whether Libby lied or simply had trouble remembering details of events which happened long ago, he was hardly alone in demonstrating either reluctance to "play ball" with the investigation or to give straightforward answers to questions asked of him:

The searing spotlight on how reporters do their jobs was less than flattering. Miller said she lost one of her notebooks and couldn't remember the names of the other sources she said had told her about Plame. Former Time correspondent Matt Cooper, who wrote a piece questioning whether the administration had "declared war" on Wilson, had trouble deciphering his own notes. Bob Woodward, the Washington Post editor and author, apologized to his boss for failing to disclose for more than two years that former deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage had told him about Plame.

Russert was pressed on why he was willing to tell an FBI agent about his conversation with Libby but balked at a prosecutor's subpoena. And syndicated columnist Robert Novak, the man who outed Plame, refused to say for three years whether he had even testified in the case, before it emerged that he had talked to Fitzgerald.

"We all saw how sloppy reporters can be in their note-taking," says Jeralyn Merritt, an attorney and blogger who covered the trial for her Web site TalkLeft. "When you hear them say, 'I don't recall, I don't recall' when asked about their notes for an article, you wonder about their accuracy."

There was considerable sympathy for Miller when she went to jail for 85 days. But when Miller, like other journalists in the case, later testified under a waiver of confidentiality granted by Libby, many analysts wondered just what the First Amendment battle had been about.

But neither the jury nor the American public is likely to learn the answer to that question. After arguing that Miller's testimony was "critical" to his case, Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald suddenly made a deal with Miller, allowing her to avoid testifying about her other source and go free after openly defying his authority. Apparently Ms. Miller's continuing refusal to cooperate with the investigation was not a serious threat to the judicial system.

Neither, apparently, is Richard Armitage's two-year refusal to come forward with what he knew to be punished. He, of course, is a senior government official. But no matter. As Clarice Feldman, a Washington DC attorney, notes; the jury could only work with the facts presented to it. And those facts were carefully selected:

...at whose door do I stand to shout my curses?

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell and his Deputy Dick Armitage, who knew Armitage leaked and hid from the President and public that fact, letting Libby and the entire White House staff be put through the wringer?

The FBI which poorly investigated the matter, jiggered the notes of the interrogations and somehow lost the key inculpatory notes?

Fitzgerald, who set it upon himself to find any process violation he could find, and who tricked an unsuspecting Libby, who knew he'd not leaked Plame's name to anyone into repeated FBI and grand jury interrogations in the hope of finding any memory inconsistency, no matter how immaterial or insignificant on which to hang his hat?

Shall I curse the right side of the aisle which never likes to get its skirts dusty in the forum, even if their enemies are armed to the teeth and eviscerating their allies right before their noses? You know who I mean.

Charge a Clintonite with wrongdoing and the entire Department of Justice sits on the news until his friends have worked out an appropriate spin and a time to leak it when it will do him the least harm. Consider the merest possibility that someone in the Administration might have done something wrong and Andrea Mitchell has the news of the investigation on the air in an hour and his allies flee in fright that they might get their garments dirty by speaking in his defense.

Shall I blame the judge who let the prosecution get away with introducing into evidence prejudicial news accounts of limited relevance or probative value while denying the defense an opportunity to fully make its case? Who allowed the prosecutor to make scandalous charges in his rebuttal -- the last thing the jury would hear -- with no evidence on the record for them?

Shall I blame the jury which seems to have been unable to find the pony so it reconstructed it out of flip charts and post it notes?

This entire process has been an outrage from beginning to end.

The burden of proof in a criminal matter is "beyond a reasonable doubt". Given the sheer weight of conflicting testimony in this case, there seems to be considerable doubt about whether anyone recalls the events of that long-ago summer with any accuracy. Several things do seem crystal clear: a special prosecutor charged with investigating a violation of the IIPA never bothered to establish that Valerie Plame was, in fact, a covert agent for the purposes of the statute.

It became apparent very late in the investigation he knew all along that Valerie Plame's identity was an open secret among the journalistic community, and furthermore that Scooter Libby was not the person who leaked her identity.

This was a non-investigation of a non-crime. And now a man is going to jail for inconsistent testimony about a matter, about which it appears several others have also given inconsistent testimony. He may have lied. He may have obstructed justice. Or he may not have. But if he did so, two other things are also crystal clear:

1. Several other witnesses refused to cooperate fully with this investigation, citing a 'journalistic privilege' which no court in this land upholds. Richard Armitage and Bob Woodward did not come forward at all for two years.

2. Inconsistencies in the testimony of other witnesses have not resulted in perjury charges. Why are their 'memory lapses' excused?

The answer is a troubling one, but it was hinted at by several jurors interviewed by the media. They felt the need for an administration scalp even if, as one troubled juror admitted, they felt Libby was "the wrong man".

The truth is that Scooter Libby was not convicted yesterday.

He was tried and convicted months ago on the front pages of America's newspapers. But this should not surprise us, coming from a community which cannot tell the difference between a bogus war hero who spent four months in Vietnam before returning to smear his comrades with the foulest of lies and the genuine article. These are the same folks who made "Swift Boating" synonymous with smear tactics.

And so it should be, but not for the reason they think.

But who needs truth when you have Truthiness? Who needs America's most highly decorated living veteran when you have a telegenic "war hero" with three (count 'em - three!) Purple Hearts?

It is always safe to smear the real thing if you have control of the megaphone. And that is what the press count on: that you won't check up on them. That they can drown out the facts with cries of "Swift boating":

What was your first exposure to Kerry's 1971 testimony?

DAY: At the time I was a POW, but I didn't connect it up with him, because there were a lot of loonies out there protesting the war. I had just heard that a Naval officer was badmouthing our performance and basically saying we ought to get out of Vietnam and the war was wrong and so forth. I wasn't aware that it was him until well after I was back from Vietnam.

Did it surprise you to hear of an officer's giving such testimony?

DAY: It astonished me, because basically it was a breach of faith with those people he had served with. It was absolutely untrue that we were committing atrocities there. It was absolutely untrue that we were raping women and murdering children and doing all those kinds of things. And either he knew that was untrue, or he should have known just from his own experiences . . . Later, I found out that he had made these two visits to meet with Le Duc Tho in Paris, and push the enemy's seven-point piece plan--which amounted to us tendering some kind of ransom for the POWs, and under that condition we would come home, and then we would apologize for ever having been in the war. It told me that he really was a man of Benedict Arnold qualities, because that's what Benedict Arnold did. He fought for the country and then crossed over to the British…

Did it undermine your morale to hear that a fellow officer of the U.S. military was essentially parroting what your captors were telling you and torturing you to get you to say?

DAY: Yes. And I have to be straightforward. I did not know who this Naval officer was, and I didn't know exactly what it was he was supposed to be saying. I just heard this story that a Naval officer was basically saying the same stuff that Jane Fonda was saying. Now, of course, in 1972, she was over there posing on gun sights, as were several other anti-war people who wanted the Communists to win. And so to be frank with you, in my mind in jail at that time, I just suspected that it was some sort of hanger-on with Jane Fonda. I just assumed that it was some Naval officer that had kind of gone around the bend, and I certainly never connected it up with him specifically. I had no clue who John Kerry was. I was skeptical of that story, and I thought it might just be some more propaganda from the Vietnamese

Had John Kerry's plan to unilaterally withdraw from Vietnam been put into effect, would your life, as a POW, have been in greater or less danger, and would there have been a greater or a lesser chance of your going home?

DAY: It would have been in far greater danger. They always called me a war criminal, they threatened several times to shoot me after the war. Frankly, I didn't go to sleep every night sick with worry because in my gut I knew that our government was going to bomb them out, and we were going to get out under different conditions. But had the surrender occurred, it would have been a totally different thing, because then those people would have been totally able to do anything they wanted to do with us. They could have turned us loose, they could have not turned us loose, they could have shot us, they could have put us on trial. They could have done anything they wanted to. And not only that, but there would have been a blood bath of the South Vietnamese that would have been in the hundreds of thousands, that would have died and been tortured. . . .

On "Meet the Press," Tim Russert brought up Kerry's 1971 testimony. Kerry said that some of the language he used might have been inappropriate, spoken as an angry young man. Does that cut it for you as an apology?

DAY: It wasn't even in the ballpark. It was no apology--it wasn't even an explanation. He dodged the question, is what happened. . . . He blackened every Vietnam veteran's name when he came back and told all of those terrible stories about what we were supposedly doing. And he is just one of the reasons that the myth exists about all of the crazy, nutty, dope-addicted, booze-addicted failures that came out of Vietnam because of that awful war. Col. Bui Tin of the North Vietnamese government said words to this effect: that every day, the North Vietnamese listened to the radio to see what was happening back here in the United States. And what they heard from Kerry was exactly the kind of propaganda that they wanted to hear, because their claim was they were going to win this war on the streets of San Francisco and New York City. And it was clear that John Kerry was helping them do that. That was also part of the Soviet Union's disinformation program, which was saying exactly the same thing that John Kerry was saying… He basically functioned as a propaganda minister for both the Russians and the North Vietnamese. He basically was advocating that the Communists win.

But don't listen to Bud Day. According to Rosa Brooks, he's part of the 'unprincipled lunatic fringe'. Just like Scooter Libby, who according to the evidence didn't actually leak Val Plame's name to Bob Novak (it appears to have been the deeply anti-Bush Dick Armitage). Now, Libby is "paying" for the crimes of the White House. If your head is exploding, you've got plenty of company.

But hey -- justice has been served. Spin, spin, spin.

Posted by Cassandra at March 7, 2007 08:18 AM

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Comments

I can spell p-a-r-d-o-n.
I trust that the President can as well.

Posted by: spd rdr at March 7, 2007 10:22 AM

Being pardoned will not get his reputation back. Being found innocent would.

I am just glad that he didn't have the OJ jury. They would have found him guilty of the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, too.

Posted by: MathMom® at March 7, 2007 10:45 AM

I guess what I really would have liked to see here is one of two things:

1. If he really did lie and obstruct justice, fine. I can live with that. But in that case, the same standard really ought to be applied evenly across the board in this case and there should be other indictments. And I know that will not be forthcoming. That is what sticks in my craw: the thought that this was just another a politically motivated witch hunt, as tends to be the case with special prosecutor's investigations.

2. The alternative (when Fitzgerald found out that Armitage was Novak's source):

Go after Armitage.

WHY DIDN'T THIS HAPPEN?

I'll tell you why: because Plame wasn't covert and there was no crime. That's what bothers me most about this.

Everyone knows Armitage and Powell were on the outs with the administration. There was no love lost between the State Dept. and White House. All of which makes the current press spin about how this "vindicates" Wilson all the more disingenuous.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 7, 2007 11:08 AM

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 03/07/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention.

Posted by: David M at March 7, 2007 11:29 AM

I know this is a serious news day, Cass, but surely you will wish to comment on this development:

http://www.canada.com/topics/news/national/story.html?id=d81c6fbf-8575-45c0-9274-c24f8f536910&k=27670

Posted by: Grim at March 7, 2007 11:43 AM

you guys are hilarious - something doesn't go your way and you start spilling thousands of words in what looks to any reasonable eye like an attempt to shift the focus anywhere but the one place where it naturally lies. "The sheer weight of conflicting testimony" is the winner here in the big-belly-laughs sweepstakes though. "Lots of unimportant loud buzz" doesn't equal "conflicting testimony," and jurors understand that. This is going to be a really crucial point in the '08, too; as they've adjusted to the mediascape, people have become rather more tuned in to the distinction between "loudly voiced opinions" and "evidence." This bodes poorly for the cut-n-paste "sheer weight of evidence" approach to dealing with actors & actions that one might rather like to sweep under the rug.

Posted by: Angelo Black at March 7, 2007 11:47 AM

I hope you guys used the same standard to evaluating the accusations against Clinton. After all, sex between consenting adults is not a crime. Clinton as impeached for lying under oath, not for the actions itself. Back then it was all about the rule of law. How about now?

Posted by: carolh at March 7, 2007 11:52 AM

"...who tricked an unsuspecting Libby..."
c'mon...does anyone really believe this stuff? i mean really?
libby to protect his boss. he obstructed justice. and his boss, who has proven himself a coward going back to his five deferments from vietnam, let him die on the vine. if i was mr. bush i would let cheney know that his blood clot just got a whole lot worse, and use this as an opportunity to get someone with real vision into that chair. maybe then he could actually come up with a solution for iraq instead of this mamby pamby "surge". it would also set up someone for the '08 election. romney, guiliani, and mccain? c'mon.

Posted by: jay k. at March 7, 2007 12:01 PM

Clinton was not accused of "sex between consenting adults" Carol. Nice try. He was accused of sexual harassment.

Ironically, most conservatives think some of the sexual harassment laws Clinton was sued under poorly written and overbroad, but LIBERALS fought to get those laws on the books. And then when Clinton pawed women who did NOT consent, and they sued him, liberals pitched a hissy fit and claimed the victims didn't deserve their day in court.

Got hypocrisy?

My opinion on Clinton was always that a sitting President should not be sued b/c it makes him vulnerable to just what happened. Defer civil suits until they're out of office. But that's water under the bridge.


In Libby's case, I thought there was no violation of the IIPA, but even I said that once the accusation was made there had to be an investigation or it would look like there was a cover up. But once Fitzgerald knew Libby wasn't Novak's source, he should either have gone after the real leaker (if a crime really WAS committed and Plame was covert, which we now know wasn't the case since he didn't bother) or drop the case.

The thing is, he never really cared about the "crime". Because there wasn't one.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 7, 2007 12:12 PM

What an absolutely magnificant blog post.

Posted by: clarice at March 7, 2007 12:15 PM

Grim, I hate you.

You're still trying to get me back for the waxed gerbils, aren't you?

Posted by: Cassandra at March 7, 2007 12:15 PM

Thank you, Clarice :) As always, I remain one of your biggest fans.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 7, 2007 12:27 PM

Grim,
the fact that you actually linked to an article that contained the phrases "eco undies" and "organic (personal) lubricant" is proof positive that Armageddon is here.

Either that or JHD is contagious....

Posted by: Carrie at March 7, 2007 12:28 PM

I think you girls are a bad influence on him Carrie.

*running away while polishing her halo*

Posted by: Cassandra at March 7, 2007 12:35 PM

Personally I think it's time for another edition of Trippin' to the Earth Jam.

Heh.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 7, 2007 12:37 PM

Halo, my heiny...
THAT is a hula hoop...

Posted by: Carrie at March 7, 2007 12:38 PM

I'm still after you for the voodoo curses on my guts and livers. I haven't even begun to revenge other matters.

Posted by: Grim at March 7, 2007 01:02 PM

Grim,
"Green sex"..........didn't Capt. Kirk do that already?

Posted by: Sly2017 at March 7, 2007 01:09 PM

*running away while polishing her halo*

Yeah, I've heard it's really hard to keep those brimstone burns from tarnishing.....

heh

>;-}

Posted by: Sly2017 at March 7, 2007 01:12 PM

I am just glad that he didn't have the OJ jury.

Well, he did. Consider Mr. Dennis Collins, juror, formerly a journalist for the WaPo and the San Jose Mercury News, and who is now actively considering his options for selling his story. What kind of defense team lets someone like that sit on Libby's jury???

Posted by: daveg at March 7, 2007 01:17 PM

This post is hysterical. It's fascinating to see how a cornered animal will spin around to find an exit. The CIA unquestioningly declared Plame "covert" at the time she was outed. Fitzgereld was PREVENTED from pursuing justice because of the Libby's CRIME of "Obstructing Justice" by perjury and other means. Any fan of "Law and Order" knows half the show is prosecutors desperately trying to make a case that will WIN in court against someone the audience already knows from the first half hour is guilty. Fitzgereld has repeatedly stated there was a CRIME, but he can't persue the guilty because of a COVERUP. Scooter's defense was that on one day he forgot, two days later he remembered, the next day he forgot again. Fitzgereld clearly stated in his opening comments that Scooter's MOTIVATION was to protect Cheney for lying to America to convince us to slaughter our youth in his war.
AND YET -- so many of the comments here spin perjury is ok, the CIA's own classification didn't exist, and TOO many people act like they were in the jury box.
NO, LIBERALS ARE NOT REJOICING -- this is a dark day for the Republic -- the Vice President's chief staffer was found guilty of a felony for protecting our Vice President against discovery of crimes against the nation. It is a day of mourning to know how evil our leaders truly are.

Posted by: psmarc93 at March 7, 2007 01:34 PM

Yes. Just keep ignoring Armitage.

Keep ignoring.

Keep ignoring.... blah blah blah.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 7, 2007 01:38 PM

Cassandra, Clinton my have been accused of sexual harassment, but he was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice. The four articles of impeachment can be summarized as follows:

Article 1: Perjury before Independent Counsel Ken Starr's grand jury.

Article 2: Perjury in the Paula Jones civil case.

Article 3: Obstruction of Justice related to the Jones case.

Article 4: Abuse of Power by making perjurious statements to Congress in his answers to the 81 questions posed by the Judiciary Committee.

http://www.historyplace.com/unitedstates/impeachments/clinton.htm

So tell me, if perjury and obstrution of justice are enough to get a sitting president impeached, why aren't the enough to get a vice-presidential aid convicted? It's all about the rule of law, or are the rules different when you're a republican?

Posted by: carolh at March 7, 2007 01:39 PM

Carol, read my post.

I never said that, if he did lie and obstruct justice, he shouldn't have been convicted.

What I said was that the same standard applied to Mr. Libby should have been applied to ALL witnesses in this investigation, in which case there should have been other indictments:

now a man is going to jail for inconsistent testimony about a matter, about which it appears several others have also given inconsistent testimony. He may have lied. He may have obstructed justice. Or he may not have. But if he did so, two other things are also crystal clear:

1. Several other witnesses refused to cooperate fully with this investigation, citing a 'journalistic privilege' which no court in this land upholds. Richard Armitage and Bob Woodward did not come forward at all for two years.

2. Inconsistencies in the testimony of other witnesses have not resulted in perjury charges. Why are their 'memory lapses' excused?

I did not suggest that if he is guilty, he should have gotten off. What I said is that one of two things should have happened:

1. Either Fitzgerald should have gone after the real leaker as soon as he found out who it was, OR

2. Failing that, if he was going to punish those who didn't cooperate with the investigation, the same standard should have been applied across the board. And it wasn't.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 7, 2007 01:45 PM

...and by the way, since we're talking about the 'rule of law', let's not forget Clinton was subsequently CONVICTED in a court of law for perjury and obstruction of justice. And disbarred. Which rather puts the lie to charges that the impeachment was a politically motivated putup job. Sufficient evidence was there to convict in a court of law. If politics entered into this at all, it worked in his favor because people on both sides of the aisle did not want to see a President impeached.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 7, 2007 01:46 PM

Sly...

My favorite part was about S&M paddles from sustainable forestry. Hey, why not make a real sacrifice and recycle? Old kitchen spoons and hairbrushes could be reused... surely people have a worn-out belt or two around the house.

Why, there's probably all manner of ideas we could come up with if Cass would only encourage us.

Posted by: Grim at March 7, 2007 01:46 PM

As for Libby, since people seem to want to talk about this...

The man should be remembered kindly for his chivalrous and generous letter to Judith Miller while she was behind bars on contempt charges (a form of obstruction, that).

Insofar as he has been duly found guilty of perjury, he must suffer. Perjury is one of the worst crimes for a government official to commit -- their oaths of office are all that really restrain them. A man who will commit perjury will break other oaths, and must be punished if he has held an office of trust and confidence.

I look forward, as Cassandra, to the prosecution of others who have broken these trusts. For example, all those other leakers who have passed secrets to The New York Times and other media outlets -- secrets of far more pressing import than a ten-year-old maybe-sometimes-covert-maybe-not officer (not "agent," please -- an agent in CIA speak is a foreigner employed for their purposes).

The culture of oathbreaking in the government must be broken. On that issue much depends.

Posted by: Grim at March 7, 2007 01:54 PM

Grim,
I was trying to *see* a mental picture of bamboo sheets,......however, long have I been a staunch proponent of edible undies. Especially the cherry flavored ones.....
And, do we really need Cass' encouragement?
Tally ho!!
>;-}

Posted by: Sly2017 at March 7, 2007 01:57 PM

NO, LIBERALS ARE NOT REJOICING -- this is a dark day for the Republic -- the Vice President's chief staffer was found guilty of a felony for protecting our Vice President against discovery of crimes against the nation. It is a day of mourning to know how evil our leaders truly are.

Talk about "hysterical" posts! Sheesh!

"Crimes agains the nation?" What the hell are you talking about? Libby lied about what he said to whom and when about a matter that was already public information, thanks to Mr. Armitage. Now exactly which "crimes against the nation" was Mr. Libby protecting the Vice-President from when he did that?

I tell who the real losers are: the Press. Fitz has ripped them a new one, tossed them in jail, and stomped their precious "secret source" privilege into the dust. He made them look self-centered, clumsy, arrogant, disorganized, and in the end decitful and cowardly. Long after Libby is forgotten, what happened here to the damage done to the reputation of the Fourth Estate will linger.

Posted by: spd rdr at March 7, 2007 02:02 PM

You should see the actual pictures from Veg Porn (mentioned in the article)
Titillating Tofu eaters (not really...ewwww!!)

Beef, it's what's for dinner...

Posted by: Carrie at March 7, 2007 02:02 PM

I think I just sent you an email with that very thought in mind.......

>;-O

Posted by: Sly2017 at March 7, 2007 02:18 PM

Your hysteria is really depressing. If you folks on the right really see the world like this I don't know how America is ever going to work together. Your mischaracterizations and falsehoods are too numerous to even begin to rebut. Good luck with that reality thing you are so clearly struggling with.

Posted by: winston delgado at March 7, 2007 02:35 PM

Nothing like an on-point, fact based rebuttal to really convince your opponent Winston. Nice going :)

Posted by: Cassandra at March 7, 2007 02:41 PM

Cassandra said:
"let's not forget Clinton was subsequently CONVICTED in a court of law for perjury and obstruction of justice."

I don't recall this. After his acquittal he was cited for contempt of court, but as far as I can tell he was never convicted of perjury or obstruction of justice.

Do you have a link?

Posted by: Colin at March 7, 2007 02:45 PM

And Grim, shame on you!

Judith Miller was not obstructing justice when she refused to comply with the grand jury subpoena and testify and the judge ordered her to go to jail! She is a brave 1st Amendment freedom fighter!

Just like Bob Woodward was not obstructing justice when he sat on the knowledge that Richard Armitage was the leaker for two years because he was 'busy' writing his book and he could not be bothered getting entangled in an investigation!

And Tim Russert - he also was not obstructing justice when, as Arianna Huffington (that White House shill) observed, filed a false affadavit! And refused to testify!

And Matthew Cooper.

No. None of the media figures (and let's not forget it was the MEDIA who screamed for a special prosecutor...until it became apparent THEY would have to testify, then suddenly the trial was out of control) were obstructing justice when they refused to testify. And when they "couldn't recall", those weren't lies :)

Posted by: Cassandra at March 7, 2007 02:48 PM

{To Cass} I don't recall this. After his acquittal he was cited for contempt of court, but as far as I can tell he was never convicted of perjury or obstruction of justice. Do you have a link?

Yeah, do you? If so, obliged if you could pass it along. You mentioned this at least once before on a different thread, and it didn't ring any bells for me then either, and my recollection was along the lines mentioned by Colin.


Thanks

Posted by: dgf at March 7, 2007 03:08 PM

Yeah. I'm checking. I might be wrong too - I have a phone call and some stuff to do, but if I'm wrong I'll let you know!

Posted by: Cassandra at March 7, 2007 03:15 PM

I'm bemused by all the oxygen being sucked out of the air on behest of our less educated conservative friends as they nervously take turns at the microphone and go into perplexing twisted detail about various paranoid tidbits they’ve been pulling out of their collective asses lately, as they try to rationalize/explain current events. Not just the guy that tells us it started with Cheney’s (turds) that were in the shape of #2 yellow Ticonderoga pencils, progressed to multi-colored spinning tops, and now he sez they look like small forest creatures, characters from Tolkien tales, astral projections of alien beings, and Rush Limbaugh. Now we've got prime time jugheads of every strip claiming no laws broken, no foul (although I purged myself of some significantly “off” clam chowder by gazing at a photo of Mike “Weiner” Savage for 5 seconds), no fems, no fatties, no mustaches, no pirates and no B.O.(Hey Coulter! Are you listening?). Is it that they anticipate a lot of time on their hands sooner than they think (idle hands, the devils work, and such)? Unemployed and irresponsible after the next election? What shall they do, what shall they do? Who's gonna walk them across the street if they've been bad? Lot's o' questions, no possible answer. Some say drugs is the answer. That, like George Bush, is too simple. Tried it, been there, done that. I'm thinking maybe coffee enemas or they’ll get a paper route. Seeking guidance on the big questions in life.

Okay, the nuns have threatened them with a large metal ruler, so they must get it straight, this time (harder for some than others). I’ll clarify it for you - It’s all very simple. I am bringing the salad, I will put my hat on the hook in the back of the classroom when I come over Fri., unless I have a note from my mother, in which case I'll put my coat on the hook and my hat on the shelf, that is if someone else has not put their hat on the shelf, in which case I'll put the note from my mother in my coat pocket, fold my coat in thirds, place it on the chair with my hat on top, if no one is sitting in the chair at the time. Or, I will not bring a salad, there are only three buttons on my coat, my note from my mother is in Portuguese, I will not go to confession after dinner, I will kick Sister Ann Daniels in the nuts (who knew?), and I will be forgiven all my sins if I don’t get diddled first.

Posted by: Carl Gordon at March 7, 2007 03:20 PM

I'll have what Carl's having...
That's got to be some good "cheet"...

Posted by: Cheech Martini at March 7, 2007 03:24 PM

OK dgf and colin:

I was wrong about the charges being perjury and obstruction of justice.

Clinton was convicted of contempt of court for giving intentionally false statements. I'm not quite sure what the difference is, but I guess that's a lesser charge, and in any event what I said was not accurate.

He was convicted by a federal judge and fined $90,000:

Wright ruled April 12 that Clinton gave "false, misleading and evasive answers" in the January 1998 deposition in which he denied having sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky. She also referred the matter to the Arkansas Supreme Court's Professional Conduct Committee, which could revoke Clinton's law license or impose other sanctions.

The Arkansas SC suspended his law license.

He then agreed to a 5 year suspension and 25K fine in order to avoid disbarment and end the independent counsel investigation on him. The US Supreme Court then moved to disbar him.

He had 40 days to contest. On the last day, he resigned rather than face being disbarred.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 7, 2007 03:31 PM

"The truth is that Scooter Libby was not convicted yesterday."

A little plain talk please. Scooter Libby was found guilty on 4 of 5 counts. The jury verdict was unanimous. No amount of misdirection, spin and purple prose will change this simple fact. The jury looked at the evidence and found that Libby lied to the grand jury and the FBI. If Fitzgerald had a larger staff and maybe a Ken Starr-like budget, maybe he could have brought charges against Armitage, but he needed to prosecute one case he new he could win against the biggest fish possible. Miller, Cooper, Woodward etc. may have all told whoppers themselves, but none of them were central to the investigation, which was after all, looking into the leaking of the identity of an undercover agent by high ranking government officials. Well, it seems that so far, Fitzgerald is living up to his reputation. He's got his conviction and a harsh light has been shown on the cockroaches who currently inhabit the White House. Lets hope there will be lots more indictments to pass around. Maybe Armitage will get what's coming to him after all.

Posted by: David at March 7, 2007 03:36 PM

That's ridiculous. Fitz knew Armitage was the source a long time ago.

What on earth was preventing him? Was this not the "crime" he was empowered to investigate? Give me a break.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 7, 2007 03:43 PM

Clinton actually never was tried in criminal court for perjury. He negotiated a bargain with Kenneth Starr (you remember Starr, Satan incarnate?) to avoid at least one criminal trial on his last day in office. The result of this bargain was that his law license was suspended in Arkansas for five years and he was fined $250,000. The Supreme Court also disbarred him from practicing law before it - the first time a sitting President had ever been disbarred by the Court. In exchange, the President stipulated that he had, in fact, lied in his Lewinsky testimony.

There also appeared to be separate agreement reached with Starr's successor, Robert Ray where the President admitted that he "knowingly gave evasive and misleading answers to questions in the Jones deposition and that his conduct was prejudicial to the administration of justice" in excahnge for the suspension of his license.

Good enough?

Posted by: Jimmie at March 7, 2007 03:48 PM

What I recall is that Clinton made a deal in order to avoid being indicted for perjury.

Posted by: JannyMae at March 7, 2007 03:52 PM

Yeah. I should not have tried to rely on my memory - I'm sorry. I got 'false and misleading statements" and "perjury" mixed up in my head. But I'm not surprised - back then I didn't even read the papers and I never did really follow the Clinton thing avidly.

If it had been a post I would have checked on it, but as it was just a comment I didn't think to - thanks for catching my mistake, guys :)

Posted by: Cassandra at March 7, 2007 03:55 PM

Obviously, he thought he didn't have a strong enough case to convict Armitage. He felt the discovery process in the Libby purgery trial would help him establish a body of evidence solid enough to bring charges where applicable. That's how these things work. The weakest thread was Libby's testimony to the FBI and the grand jury so that's where Fitzgerald started pulling.

By the way, in a conspiracy to leak classified information is only the first leaker guilty? You point to Armitage as being THE source as if no more than one person should be allowed to take the fall. I say throw the whole rotten bunch in jail where they belong, then impeach, convict inprison and impoversh Cheney and Bush. But of course, I realize we don't live in a perfect world, so I'm happy to take what I can get.

Posted by: David at March 7, 2007 03:58 PM

Cassandra,
He couldn't go after Armitage even though he knew he was the leaker.
Why?
Because Libby wasn't cooperating. In fact, Libby was lying and obstructing the investigation.

As to spd rdr,
The "crimes against the nation" was Cheney knowingly lying to the American people to gin up a war against a country that couldn't possibly bring harm to America (unless you think Saddam's SBMD--spit balls of mass destruction---was going to harm America).

Lucky thing you weren't alive during the run-up to the Iraq War in 2002-2003. It was massively disgraceful.

Posted by: Robert at March 7, 2007 04:06 PM

He didn't even try to go AFTER Armitage, David. In order to make a case, you have to TRY. Libby and Armitage weren't friends. There was a pronounced chill between State and the White House.

You don't get evidence on Armitage by going after Libby - you get it by sniffing around Armitage, which Fitz never bothered to do.

There was ZERO effort. He didn't call Colin Powell, he didn't call grill Woodward, nothing.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 7, 2007 04:27 PM

You fell right into the trap, Robert. What you are saying is that the trial of Scooter Libby for obstruction of justice was nothing more than a political trial whose true aim was Dick Cheney and the Iraq war.

So you must be conceeding that this circus was nothing about "justice" or "fairness" or any other bullshit term. It was about political retribution. Got that, Robert?

Is such a coarse political motive to be sanctioned in the court of law? Of course not, at least not openly. That's why Scooter's trial can be characterized solely as to whether Libby intentionally lied under oath to the FBI and the Grand Jury as to what he said to whom and when. I think he did. So did the jury.

But that's all they decided, Robert. And you are legally well out of line to suggest otherwise. Lucky thing for you you werebn't born when the Constitution was written. It was massively awesome.

Posted by: spd rdr at March 7, 2007 04:31 PM

Crimes against the nation... throw everyone into jail and then destroy Bush and Cheney. Bizarre that people take the act of the verdict on Libby as an excuse to escalate it to other issues and people. Complete with big ol' dissertations about how stupid they think conservatives are. A bunch of adjectives that say very little. Grow up.

What happened here is *yes* Libby obstructed justice. It was stupid and conveluted, yes! And its been proven that he did so and he'll probably go to prison. What does this mean? Hopefully that in the future, they'll take obstructions more seriously and thus get a cleaner government all around.

But don't connect it to the validity of going to Iraq or WMD's. Two separate arguments. Perhaps tangental, perhaps not. That's yet to be decided. The left talks about hysteria... when it is they who sound more hysterical and less lucid reading from a more neutral point of view.

Posted by: Kevin L at March 7, 2007 04:41 PM

this trial is looking more interesting by the minute

9000 words about the trial, penned in the last two days?

This trial is a travesty. If this verdict isn't overturned on appeal, I'll be greatly surprised.

Posted by: JannyMae at March 7, 2007 04:44 PM


Cass you did say that we hadn't heard the last of this (the fat lady hadn't sung) when it started a coupla years ago...good call.

Posted by: Cricket at March 7, 2007 04:58 PM

I'm interested in seeing how the Plame lawsuit plays out. Armitage has been named in that. Hopefully some measure of justice will be meted out to him in that venue.

That stated, nothing Armitage did or did not do justifies Libby's lies.

Posted by: David at March 7, 2007 05:11 PM

That stated, nothing Armitage did or did not do justifies Libby's lies.

Did someone here say that?

Posted by: Cassandra at March 7, 2007 05:29 PM

Oh, com'on Cass. Nothing will ever excuse lying under oath. Period. That's the whole foundation for our legal system. Armitage walks. Scooter gets handed the bag.

Lesson: Stall, shut up, and don't remember.

Seems to work well when there's only politics involved.

Go ahead.
Laugh.
It's good for the soul.

Posted by: spd rdr at March 7, 2007 05:40 PM

Oh for Pete's sake.

I am starting to wonder whether I need to just hang up my keyboard.

Where did I ever, and when have I ever, suggested that it was OK to lie under oath? Does that sound like me?

Posted by: Cassandra at March 7, 2007 05:56 PM

How, exactly, does "the media" exempt itself from laws? I thought the legislature passed, umm, legislation? And if Mr. Fitzgerald chooses not to pursue something, isn't that a decision by a government official, a prosecutor, not a member of the media? Just looking for logic and consistency.

Posted by: janna at March 7, 2007 06:01 PM

The media exempts itself because they are journalists and are answering to a higher law than that of truth. Kind of like the gang that couldn't shoot straight.

Posted by: Cricket at March 7, 2007 06:07 PM

Well, that still doesn't make sense. I can say I'm exempt from some law or other too, but unless the people charged with enforcing that law agree, I'm going to face consequences. If they decide not to prosecute, then THEY exempted me, I didn't exempt myself.

Posted by: janna at March 7, 2007 06:11 PM

By asserting non-existent privileges and then daring the government to come after them, that's how.

When you have a whole assortment of media witnesses in a grand jury trial and they are all asserting a non-existent "right" to evade the same duty we all have - to cooperate with a federal grand jury when they are investigating a crime - that is obstructing justice.

Repeat after me - THERE IS NO FEDERAL SHIELD LAW, THERE IS NO FEDERAL SHIELD LAW, THERE IS NO FEDERAL SHIELD LAW.

No matter how many times the media blab on, no matter how many times they force the Justice Department to f**king take them to court to FORCE them to do their civic duty (the same thing you or I would be sent to jail if WE refused to do) THERE IS NO FEDERAL SHIELD LAW.

And the real irony of this is that they were not trying to "shield" a real 'whistleblower'.

THEY WERE TRYING TO SHIELD WHOEVER LEAKED VAL PLAME'S IDENTITY - THE CRIMINAL THE GRAND JURY IS TRYING TO FIND.

Which makes them accomplices after the fact.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 7, 2007 06:15 PM

The only way they can force the media is through expensive lawsuits, Janna.

At some point the cost and the negative publicity aren't worth the trouble. That is what they count on.

It is not a question of agreeing. There were no costs to going after Scooter Libby but if they'd gone after Judy Miller or Tim Russert they'd have had the media establishment's lawyers all over them. The NY Times bankrolled Miller's defense when she was in jail.

Libby had to pay for his own defense. And therein lies the tale of why he was prosecuted and she wasn't.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 7, 2007 06:19 PM

Libby had to pay for his own defense. And therein lies the tale of why he was prosecuted and she wasn't.

Huh ? Don't know of any evidence of that prosecutorial decision. And prosecute Miller and Russert for what? And who knows how much, if anything, Libby's out of pocket. As I seem to remember, there was a substantial Scooter Defense Fund.

Posted by: dgf at March 7, 2007 06:35 PM

Miller, for never testifying as to who her second source was.

If you'll recall, Fitgerald sent her to jail saying that her testimony was "critical" to proving his case.

When, then, did it suddenly become "not critical"? When he made a deal with her and she suddenly "remembered" a conversation she hadn't told him about before that just "happened" to allow him to indict Scooter Libby?

Posted by: Cassandra at March 7, 2007 06:44 PM

From where I'm sitting that looks like a witness who adamantly refused to cooperate until she was sent to jail, lied to Fitz in her pre-jail testimony, and had a miraculous memory recovery once it became apparent she wasn't getting out.

She fell apart on the stand when she was questioned about how she couldn't remember anything about this supposed conversation at first and now is citing chapter and verse about it. But that's not perjury.

Just so we're clear on that.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 7, 2007 06:47 PM


The whole deal sounds like "Boston Legal".

Posted by: Jack Sparrow at March 7, 2007 07:13 PM

[Cass]

Well, I'm not much of a plamegate-ophile, and haven't got the testimony all at hand. Perhaps you're right, but 2-3 points from what I think I do know: the simple linkage to getting out is her having received a bona fide ok from Libby, a deal from Fitz, and an antipathy to jail; doesn't the forgotten shopping bag have something to do with change in testimony?; per whatsisface's Huff piece (if one's talking about "from where I sit") - the jury didn't seem to share your take on the evidence. And me, no brief for Miller - rather the contrary, on a couple of grounds - as you might be able to predict.

And prosecuting Russert, for what ?

Posted by: dgf at March 7, 2007 07:36 PM

With all due respect, dqf...
Huh?

Posted by: spd rdr at March 7, 2007 08:02 PM

What people seem to forget here is that the jury were sequestered and didn't see all the evidence. Even the Associated press admit the judge gave the prosecution several extremely favorable rulings excluding evidence the defense believed would have helped Libby's case while allowing evidence that strengthened the prosecution's case.

As I said in my post, the jury can only rule on what the jury is allowed to see. People like to confuse a jury verdict with the truth, but I have never been convinced life is all that simple. If it were, cases would never be overturned on appeal.

Again, I'm not saying he's innocent. But to conclude b/c there was a jury verdict that he is guilty isn't necessarily the right answer either. What it does mean is this: based on the evidence admitted at trial the jury believed he was guilty.

From one AP article:

Fitzgerald was allowed to show jurors newspaper articles that defense attys considered inaccurate and inflammatory. Defense attys were not allowed to question reporters Tim Russert or Andrea Mitchell about televised statements they had made outside the courtroom. And Walton curtailed the use of classified information after Libby decided not to testify.

And Russert told one story to the FBI when he was originally questioned and then a different story later on.

Russert not only lied, but filed a false affadavit with the court.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 7, 2007 08:21 PM

If that doesn't show you that the jury was confused, I don't know what does. Because they apparently "found Russert believable" even after being confronted with evidence that he had already lied to the court.

And the rest of the evidence that would have further impeached his credibility was neatly excluded from trial.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 7, 2007 08:25 PM

But hey... reasonable doubt.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 7, 2007 08:26 PM

[spd rdr]With all due respect, dqf...
Huh?


Huh back atcha. Reciprocal respect.

Posted by: dgf at March 7, 2007 09:03 PM

"What people seem to forget here is that the jury were sequestered and didn't see all the evidence. "

That means no Drudge Report, no Newsmax, no Rush There's just so much valuable evidence out there, if only. If only.

Posted by: David at March 7, 2007 09:05 PM

That's not really a serious comment David. But then since I don't read (or link) Drudge, Newsmax, or Rush (or Common Screams, or Raw Story, or The Nation for that matter), I really wouldn't know.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 7, 2007 09:12 PM

{Cass]

Well, needless to say, I'm unconvinced by your exposition that Fitz commited prosecutorial misconduct in not seeking an indictment for Russert or Miller on perjury charges - which seems to be the crime you accuse them of. But, it's neither here nor there what I think. &, of course there's more important things about than this little case (or your proposed satellite media prosecutions).

Posted by: dgf at March 7, 2007 09:13 PM

Didn't we learn back in the 80's that "I don't recall" is the thing to say?

Posted by: mara at March 7, 2007 09:20 PM

From the last paragraph:
"...it appears to have been the deeply anti-Bush Dick..."-wrote Cassandra

Geez, it's getting a little rough in here. :)

I heard a local news analysis by a professional District Attorney today, and he was amazed that the Defense attorney in the case allowed deliberations to continue after one of the jurors was removed (only 11 jurors remained to deliberate). He thought that there may be strong grounds for appeal on poor judicial direction, in the aftermath of that. Just one man's opinion.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at March 7, 2007 09:23 PM

Dear Right Wingers.

If lying under oath demanded and impeachment for Clinton.... Why is it that now Libby's lying under oath is all of the sudden no longer important and the guy dierves to be pardoned immediately?

To say that you are a bunch of hypocrites some how does not do justice to what you are doing.

Is more like you are a bunch of hypocrites with no shame, or sense of history at all. Do you Right Wingers some how believe that Americans have amnesia? Were you not just a few years ago utterly outraged because Clinton lied under oath?, were you not demanding justice to all four winds?

And now what Republicans?

You know Right Wingers you are just a pathetic bunch of partisan hacks that find ways to act like you had any credibility. The fact is that you are as credible on the subject, as a used car salesman in a junk yard.

Posted by: gil at March 7, 2007 09:36 PM

To say that you are a bunch of hypocrites some how does not do justice to what you are doing.

Aside from being utterly incoherent, what on God's green earth does this have to do with my post, Gil? Or did you even read it before foam began coming out of the corners of your mouth?

Nowhere in my post does it say anything about a pardon.

Nowhere in my post do I say perjury isn't a serious offense.

You need to learn how to read the English language.

Reading. It's fundamental.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 7, 2007 09:43 PM

Excuse me. Thanks to qil, I am now permanently laughing my ass off.

Hopeless. Absolutely.

Take the field. I am moving on.

Good luck.

Posted by: spd rdr at March 7, 2007 09:43 PM

Don... :)

Another penetrating insight.

Oh nevermind.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 7, 2007 09:45 PM

I think I should have left the retort to spd :p

Posted by: Cassandra at March 7, 2007 10:02 PM

Lots and lots of talking points that don't stand up. Take the argument that Libby shouldn't have been prosecuted because there wasn't any underlying crime. Okay, let's suppose there wasn't, just for the sake of argument. Now suppose Libby lied to the grand jury and the FBI because he was fearful of the bad publicity telling the truth might bring. In my book, that's perjury and ought to be punished. I don't see that it matters whether there was an underlying crime.

Wilson was a liar? Maybe so. I don't much care. What I do know, and what I do care about, is that when we got to Iraq, we didn't find the yellowcake Bush & Company were so worried about.

Posted by: Former Republican at March 7, 2007 10:26 PM

Actually that's not true. UN records show Iraq had stockpiled quite a bit of yellowcake uranium already. 500 tons of it, to be exact.

We brought two tons of it to the United States in 2003.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 7, 2007 11:04 PM

Fitzgerald argued for the alternate juror to be placed on the jury, to make 12. The defense didn't...they argued that this would waste all the time the jury had already deliberated. This was considered a "win" for Libby at the time.

Libby's defense gambled and lost. To say that this somehow now invalidates the trial is silly, especially for the attorney that should have known better.

From what I've read, it seems that Fitzgerald only goes after cases he feels he can win...and it looks like everyone else involved eventually told the truth to the FBI or Grand Jury, or made a deal, like Ari.

I don't care about the journalist's testimony that much, it was all the government witness testimony that damned Libby in my eyes.

As far as Plame being covert or not, we'll never know for sure. The CIA refuses to confirm or deny it. We do know that her position was classified.

That part that truly bothers me is the name of the fake CIA company, Brewster Jennings. How did anyone get that information and why did Novak print it?

Posted by: Abby at March 8, 2007 11:01 AM

Nice "gotcha" spd rdr at 4:31,

Now when will Cheney be brought up on charges for ginning-up a war against a country that couldn't possibly harm America?

Next thing you know, you'll say Cheney isn't a petty, vindictive, small man, who outed Plame to get back at Wilson for pointing out that Cheney and crew have been willfully lying to the American public for years.

Just kidding. Nobody could be foolish enough to defend Cheney against something so obvious.

But then again, I didn't think anyone could be foolish enough to believe anything Cheney says in the first place.

Posted by: Robert at March 8, 2007 04:38 PM

Oh, Robert. Don't be such a dope.
Whether Dick Cheney "ginned-up a war against country that couldn't possibly harm America" is a matter of opinion, not of law. Politicians routinely speculate on the necessity of certain actions (some would say "lie") to win favor among the electorate and *gasp* the Congress for what ever their program happens to be- whether it's a bridge to nowhere in Alaska, essential daycare for 3 year olds, or, yes, strategic security against an unprincipled foe. Guess what, Robert. That's not a crime. That's politics. And that's where you went off the tracks.

Now when a politician, or any other person, lies under oath, a crime has been committed. Mr. Libby is about to pay that price. But if you want to impeach Mr. Cheney, or Mr. Bush, or Mr. Clinton, you you can't just do it because you disagree with them. You have to prove they committed treason, bribery, or high crimes and misdemeanors (you can look it up if you know where to find it). Or you've got to put them under oath and ask them questions hoping that they will lie. (Which, of course, raises Constituional questions regarding the Separation of Powers...but then you knew that).

As far as that "gotcha" goes," Robert, you should have seen that coming from a mile away. My guess is that you are no fool, but you are letting your hatred of Bush & Co. get in the way of clear thinking. This kind of political theater is not in the best interests of the nation, and you know it. The DEMS are in control, now. Make it worth it. But remember, you are not subject to a single risk in doing so.

Posted by: spd rdr at March 8, 2007 05:16 PM

Cass, no wonder you love Brett.

heh.

Posted by: Cricket at March 9, 2007 09:41 AM

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