Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 2, 2005
By: Kevin Drum

PLAME UPDATE....I haven't commented much about Judith Miller's testimony in the Valerie Plame case because there hasn't been much new to speculate about. Miller's source was Scooter Libby, which we've known for a long time, and beyond that we really haven't learned anything specific about her testimony. TalkLeft has a lengthy speculation about what it all means if you want to get into the weeds on the whole thing.

In the Washington Post today, Jim VandeHei and Walter Pincus provide some additional speculation. They suggest that prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald may be trying to put together a conspiracy case, not an espionage case:

Under this legal tactic, Fitzgerald would attempt to establish that at least two or more officials agreed to take affirmative steps to discredit and retaliate against Wilson and leak sensitive government information about his wife. To prove a criminal conspiracy, the actions need not have been criminal, but conspirators must have had a criminal purpose.

....One source briefed on Miller's account of conversations with Libby said it is doubtful her testimony would on its own lead to charges against any government officials. But, the source said, her account could establish a piece of a web of actions taken by officials that had an underlying criminal purpose.

Conspiracy cases are viewed by criminal prosecutors as simpler to bring than more straightforward criminal charges, but also trickier to sell to juries. "That would arguably be a close call for a prosecutor, but it could be tried," a veteran Washington criminal attorney with longtime experience in national security cases said yesterday.

Conspiracy. Hmmm. Lot of that going around in Republican circles these days. And George Stephanopoulos said this morning that "a source close to this told me this week, that President Bush and Vice President Cheney were actually involved in some of these discussions."

That would be a helluva thing if Bush and Cheney were named as unindicted co-conspirators, wouldn't it? I doubt it's going to happen, but it makes my fingers happy just to type the words.

Kevin Drum 1:11 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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