Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 23, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

LIBBY MUST DIE SO ROVE CAN LIVE....I admit it: I thought the Scooter Libby trial was going to turn out to be a bit of a snoozer. I figured it would get lots of hype but, in the end, not dish much dirt. Looks like I was wrong:

[Defense lawyer Ted Wells] told the jury that the White House went all out to defend [Karl] Rove against accusations he revealed Mrs. Wilson's identity, but did not protect Libby in the same way, leading Libby to suspect that he was being singled out for blame in the matter. "[Mr. Libby] was concerned about being the scapegoat," Wells said. "Mr. Libby said to the vice president, 'People in the White House are trying to set me up, people in the White House are trying to make me a scapegoat.' People in the White House are trying to protect a man named Karl Rove, the president's right-hand man," Wells said.

Wells said he will present a note written by Dick Cheney himself about a conversation with Libby. In part, the note says, "not going to protect one staffer and sacrifice the guy that was asked to stick his neck in the meat grinder because of the incompetence of others." Wells continued: "The person to be protected was Karl Rove...Karl Rove was President Bush's right-hand person. His fate was important to the Republican party if they were going to stay in office. He had to be protected...the person to be sacrificed was Scooter Libby."

This is heating up nicely, isn't it?

UPDATE: More here.

Kevin Drum 1:38 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (57)

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Comments

Gasp! You mean, the administration has perfidious backstabbers among its members? Say it isn't so!

Posted by: Scorpio on January 23, 2007 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

He's a defense attorney. His job is to make shit up to get his client exonerated. It's also possible that Libby is manufacturing details for a later book deal.

Of course, the real scandal is that he's being prosecuted for giving Novak a name that was widely available. Everybody already knew that Wilson was married to Valie Plame.

Posted by: American Hawk on January 23, 2007 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

*Valerie Plame. Not sure where the er went in my first post...

Posted by: American Hawk on January 23, 2007 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, a "snoozer?" Even my gods (occasionally) fail me! It would appear that the prosecutor is going to do, exactly what he said he was going to do.

Posted by: Lee A. Arnold on January 23, 2007 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

So American Hawk, how much do you get paid for your willfully ignorant misstatements of fact? I want in! What a sweet gig!

Lying shamelessly AND getting paid for it. Niiiiice.

Posted by: steph on January 23, 2007 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Can somebody explain to me how the "I don't want to be a scapegoat" explanation of Libby's behavior is supposed to exonerate him? I mean, I guess it's more sympathetic than lying one's ass off to protect one's undead boss, but I don't see how it makes his actions non-criminal.

Posted by: dj moonbat on January 23, 2007 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

Steph-- I notice you didn't highlight any of my alleged misstatements of fact. Defense attorneys lie. Do you even know any?

Posted by: American Hawk on January 23, 2007 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

Defense attorneys lie.

So do right-wing trolls.

Next?

Posted by: cough choke sputter on January 23, 2007 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

"Nobody could have known that Wilson was married to Valerie Plame."
-- Condileeeeezzzzza Rice

Posted by: Disputo on January 23, 2007 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Hawk,
Your willfully ignorant misstatement is this:
"Everybody already knew that Wilson was married to Valie Plame."

In fact, Libby lame-ass defense is that he didn't know before Russert told him, so if your statement is correct, Libby is guilty of perjury and you are calling him a liar.

Posted by: John on January 23, 2007 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

What was secret was not whether Wilson was married to Plame. It was that Plame was a CIA NOC.

Numbskull.

Posted by: Chocolate Thunder on January 23, 2007 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

Darn, yet another thing us foul-mouthed Liberal bloggers were right about.

Yet another thing to hate us for.

Posted by: bdr on January 23, 2007 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

That should be "Libby's lame-ass defense..."

Posted by: John on January 23, 2007 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

AH - um, setting aside for the nonce the sweeping libel of a large segment of the legal profession, do you have any basis at all for accusing Libby's lawyer of lying, or of falsifying evidence? Well? Hmm? No? Didn't think so. Whyn'cha just stuff that remark back up where it came from?

Posted by: Eleanor on January 23, 2007 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

Your willfully ignorant misstatement is this: "Everybody already knew that Wilson was married to Valie Plame."

Well, sure, but that isn't the issue at hand (hence the whole, you know, willful misstatement thing). What everyone did not know is that Plame was a CIA agent.

What's interesting to me is that Libby could be found to be the scapegoat and also to have engaged in perjury and obstruction of justice -- the two are hardly mutually exclusive.

Posted by: Gregory on January 23, 2007 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

Get all the latest Libby trial news, legal documents, timelines and other essential materials at:
"The CIA Leak/PlameGate Resource Center."

Posted by: AngryOne on January 23, 2007 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK
Can somebody explain to me how the "I don't want to be a scapegoat" explanation of Libby's behavior is supposed to exonerate him?

It may be a way of coloring the juries perception of evidence originating from the White House about Libby's role; it attacks the credibility of essentially every administration source of documentary evidence and any administration official's testimony.

It may also be an effort to encourage jury nullification.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 23, 2007 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK


American Hawk:
"he's being prosecuted for giving Novak a name that was widely available."

No, he's being prosecuted for lying under oath on multiple occasions.

American Hawk:
"I notice you didn't highlight any of my alleged misstatements of fact"

Please see above.

American Hawk:
"Defense attorneys lie."

Presumably Libby's lawyer will prove his assertions through Libby or Cheney, which would make Libby or Cheney a liar.

Posted by: Jose Padilla on January 23, 2007 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

Lying shamelessly AND getting paid for it. Niiiiice.

Aw, hell, American Chickenhawk and the rest of the sock-puppet crowd are rank amateurs compared to Dinesh D’Souza and the rest of the wingnut welfare brigade.

Posted by: Gregory on January 23, 2007 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely: [The scapegoat defense] may be a way of coloring the juries perception of evidence originating from the White House about Libby's role. . .It may also be an effort to encourage jury nullification.

And perhaps they're raising the stakes in the whole "graymail" aspect of the defense. But it seems like a pretty thin defense on the merits.

Posted by: dj moonbat on January 23, 2007 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

pet goats. scapegoats. what's with left's obsession with goats?

Posted by: gwbdefender on January 23, 2007 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

It may be a way of coloring the juries perception of evidence originating from the White House about Libby's role; it attacks the credibility of essentially every administration source of documentary evidence and any administration official's testimony.
Posted by: cmdicely

What's funny about that is that Firedoglake was reporting last week that Libby's lawyers were questioning jurors about their ability to be impartial towards testimony from figures like Cheney, and then disqualifying jurors that said they didn't have a good opinion of the adminstration. Seems like something of an about face in strategy on the part of the defense.

Posted by: cyntax on January 23, 2007 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

...said they didn't have a good opinion of the adminstration.

That should read "neutral or better opinion of the administration."

Posted by: cyntax on January 23, 2007 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

"Not sure where the er went in my first post..."

I find it telling that when Am Hawk misspelled or mis-keyed Valerie's name -- he immediately assumes that it could not have been by his own actions. It must have been Kevin's fuzzy internets.

Posted by: Mary Nell on January 23, 2007 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Defense attorneys lie.

And Hawk knows from liars, being one and all...

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 23, 2007 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

If the defense attorney is lying, he's violating one of the cardinal rules of trial preparation. If you promise evidence in your opening, and don't deliver, you've potentially caused the jury to disbelieve anything else you say.

Somehow I don't think Libby's defense fund is paying this guy $645 an hour to make that kind of mistake.

Posted by: Loosehead on January 23, 2007 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Now we know why Libby broke his foot,Cheney must have told him he was going down to save Rove's ass.I guess it pissed him off a little.Bit everyone knows Republicans eat there own.

Posted by: Thomas3.6 1/2 on January 23, 2007 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

pet goats. scapegoats. what's with left's obsession with goats? Posted by: gwbdefender on January 23, 2007 at 2:36 PM

better than being a sheep.

Posted by: Fat Old Grump on January 23, 2007 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

The acolytes are sacrificing the High Priest's balls on the altar of tit-for-tat.

Or... in other words:

"Sucking Rove's cock is one thing, slurping his anus clean is really quite another."

Posted by: ROTFLMLiberalAO on January 23, 2007 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Apparently being a Republican minion can be hazardous. Who knew?!

Posted by: Tripp on January 23, 2007 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

Goats are spirited, smart, good natured, and often brave.

Posted by: Boronx on January 23, 2007 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Off-thread, but Bush approval rating (new CBS poll): 28%

Americans who think global warming is a serious problem and is having an impact now: 70%

Posted by: cyntax on January 23, 2007 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

cyntax: Did you know if you take that 28% and add 34% to that you get what Bill Clintons approval rating was when he left office,even after the republican impeachment of him.Bush is making history here folks,He will have the lowest rating of any President in American history.That has to make you trolls proud.

Posted by: Thomas3.6 1/2 on January 23, 2007 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

Goats are spirited, smart, good natured, and often brave.

You forgot "delicious."

Posted by: dj moonbat on January 23, 2007 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

I have read the blogging transcripts from the guys and gals at FireDogLake. I am pretty familiar with this case and have watched it closely since it's inception; and even I am stunned by some of the things revealed this morning. I know, and have friends who know, people that both work in Fitzgerald's office in Illinois and that have tried cases against Fitzgerald. The book on him (and this is not new, I just want to reaffirm it) is that he is meticulous, reserved and that he NEVER makes claims in opening statements that he cannot absolutely prove up to a jury. I have certainly not seen anything out of Fitzgeralds conduct and style so date that in any way undercuts that; very understated, cautious and proper so far. Quite frankly, he has been to reserved, if anything, for my taste.
My point here is that given the statements and allegations Fitzgerald has made in his opening statement, and given his reputation for always backing up his statements, if I were Cheney's attorney, I would absolutely find some way, somehow, whatever it took, to keep him off the stand. It is crystal clear that Fitzgerald is convinced, and I mean strongly convinced, that this whole imbroglio is Cheney's personal doing. I have practiced in the criminal defense and governmental misconduct/civil rights areas of law for twenty years and, if it were me, I would literally go so far as to find a medical reason he could not testify, and given Cheney's medical history that would not be beyond plausibility. Don't get me wrong, I would be prepping him to testify, and stating to the world that he looked forward to it; but I guarantee that I would simultaneously be working day and night to find a way to keep him off the stand and away from the trial. Fitzgerald has never closed the "criminal investigation" portion of his office and, last I heard, still has court approved direct access to an ongoing grand jury, although I don't know for sure, I have no reason to believe this has changed. Although I would be primarily concerned with criminal liability concerns, you would also be derelict to not concurrently think of impeachment possibilities. Again, don't get me wrong, I am not saying this is how it will or should necessarily play out, I am just saying that if I were Cheney's lawyer, this would be at the very forefront of my mind. The thought of "helping Libby" would be so buried and done that it would not even play into my thoughts significantly; saving my client's hide as best as possible would be the only salient thought.


Posted by: bmaz on January 23, 2007 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

"He's a defense attorney. His job is to make shit up to get his client exonerated."

No, his job is to start with the truth and then, if he has to and can get away with it, use shit that looks good for his client. But he's far off from needing that now.

Face it: You're simply backing a loser on this one, Chickenfeathers. For once, try putting the interests of the country ahead of your bootlicking tendencies. As you can see from this case, Daddy won't rush in to save you when your turn comes—and these guys definitely eat their own.

Posted by: Kenji on January 23, 2007 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

Looks like Libby is trying to force Bush to give him a pardon.

Posted by: Jose Padilla on January 23, 2007 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Hey
Ho Ho
Dead Eye Dick
Has Got to Go!
Repeat ad infinitum . . . or at least until Articles of Impeachment are written!
Can't wait until Rep. Conyers asks Cheney, "Have you no shame, sir?"

Posted by: GaPeach103 on January 23, 2007 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

No, he doesn't. His shame was cryogenically frozen for a later date.

Posted by: Kenji on January 23, 2007 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

thanks, bmaz, for the insights. Sounds like this is going to be fun!

Posted by: bigcat on January 23, 2007 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

Just like we all knew Rove is the guilty party.Kind of funny that us looney left waco's have been right all along and the die hard 101st keyboarders where 100% wrong.well suprise surprise.

Posted by: john john on January 23, 2007 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

Cheney and Rove. Boy, those two make the perfect power coupling and poor Bush is the KY between them. That Republicans don't turn their noses up in disgust at the antics of those two is why I have no respect for that party any more. Guilt by association. There are a lot of people who know what these two have been up to for 6 years, who have kept silent, letting themselves, their party, and this country down.

Cheney or Rove sleep fine at night, it is everyone around them who can't.

Posted by: Silence is Golden on January 23, 2007 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

The genius of Fitz's strategy is that it limits - rather than expands - the scope of inquiry. Fitzgerald, if he hasn't already done so, is simply going to say that the only question with which the jury has to concern itself is the narrow question of whether Scooter committed perjury or not. That's all.

It's quite obvious to anyone who can understand a chronology that Libby lied (federal prosecutors are not in the habit of bringing cases to trial they are not very confident they will win). HOWEVER, the fact that he has Libby by the short hairs will lead Libby to eventually see reason and sing like a canary. Happening almost as we speak.

Posted by: Chuck on January 23, 2007 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, the real scandal is that he's being prosecuted for giving Novak a name that was widely available. Everybody already knew that Wilson was married to Valie Plame.

Really? Then why did the CIA refer the matter to the Department of Justice as a criminal investigation? Please answer that.

Posted by: Chuck on January 23, 2007 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

I used to participate in a forum heavily dominated (and "moderated") by neocons, some of them virtual parodies of the breed. I no longer can stomach arguing with them, but lurk occasionally to see what they're foaming and barking about now. Odd. Very quiet over there in this case, although they originally crowed that Libby's indictment was absurd and "proved" the Plame affair was a hoax. Now, though . . . mighty quiet. Not even a subject line.

Posted by: jfrane on January 23, 2007 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

Chuck - Excellent response on the CIA referral to DOJ. This specific type of referral is so much more though. It is a very formal and specific process and document that is certified by the complainant (CIA). The very fact that the certification was indeed made by the CIA has, from the outset, disproved the blathering right wing talking points that Valerie Plame was well known as to her status and did nothing of significance in her post at the CIA. Furthermore, Fitzgerald's statement of record, and indictment, both indicate that he, on behalf of the government, has made a determination that Plame was indeed a covered agent. To continue to argue against this is simply ignorant and uninformed, irrespective of what other feelings you may have about the case.

Posted by: bmaz on January 23, 2007 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

American Hawk: "Everybody already knew that Wilson was married to [Valerie] Plame."

No, everybody didn't. She was a NOC, a "non-official cover". CIA Director Geore Tenet wouldn't have requested the Justic Department investigation if she wasn't.

I realize that facts mean nothing to people like you, and that trying to have a rational discussion with you is like trying to reason with a willful three-year-old who wants Oreo cookies for dinner.

Go haunt FreeRepublic.com, where you can freely revel in your own bullshit and be applauded for it, and perhaps even make a date with your own kind and actually get laid.

I take that back -- stupid people shouldn't be allowed to breed.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 23, 2007 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

Hmm. I got the sneaking feeling that this winds up with Cheney resigning and Bush nominating someone like Condi thereupon receiving the hosannas and accolades of the media, and maybe even creating a new Republican candidate for President.

Posted by: santamonicamr on January 23, 2007 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

Sounds like a win-win: woman, black, and incompetent—thereby setting the stage for better candidates without the burden of being first. (Not that we haven't seen plenty of incompetent candidates.)

Posted by: Kenji on January 23, 2007 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK
I got the sneaking feeling that this winds up with Cheney resigning and Bush nominating someone like Condi thereupon receiving the hosannas and accolades of the media

I dunno, the media might be tempted to start out that way, but Rice probably isn't all that popular right now, and a replacement VP has to be confirmed by both houses of Congress. Its not like she's been a stunning success in high profile hearings before, and its not like the Democrats have much reason to grant the administration any slack.

And Republicans eager to distance themselves from this administration, either running for reelection or seeking to run for President themselves, might want to use the occasion to get in some whacks at the administrations policies that the public has become broadly disillusioned with and with which Rice is intimately identified.

The opportunity to replace Cheney easily left with the outgoing Republican majority.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 23, 2007 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, she hadn't been a NOC in years. she did, however, apparently have a nominal cover.

however, Fitzgerald specifically stated that he had not made a determination as to whether her classification counted for purposes of the IPA.

The CIA routinely (something like 50 times a year) forwards instances of classified information being published in open source publications to the Justice Department.

Posted by: Nathan on January 23, 2007 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

Here's how much you can trust American Hawk's comments. From June 11, 2006:

After November, one suspects that a unified GOP caucus will be able to prevent any fillibuster, simply because there won't be 40 democrats left. Why should the President reach out to Democrats when the very future of the Democrat party is highly uncertain?
Just scroll on by his hyperbole, unoriginal talking points, and faulty reasoning. Can't trust a word he says. I suspect he's on Scaife payola, IOW, he's a paid liar. But, hey... So is Libby.

Buh-bye, clueless troll.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on January 23, 2007 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

Nathan on January 23, 2007 at 7:08 PM

Former CIA Larry Johnson disagrees with you, someone who went through NOC training with Valerie, and I trust him a helluva lot more than you. From TPMCafe, Jul 24, 2005 -- 12:43 PM EST:

Today, while appearing on CNN's Late Edition, [Sen. Pat] Roberts repeated the specious claim that Valerie Plame could not be undercover because she went to work everyday at CIA Headquarters. Folks, there is no excuse for this level of incompetence. There are thousands of undercover CIA employees who drive through the three gates at CIA Headquarters in McLean, Virginia everyday. And this Senator from Kansas who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee has the audacity to blame CIA for intelligence failures? How can he recognize failures when he does not even understand the very simple basics about people who work undercover at CIA. He should spend more time reading up on the CIA and less time memorizing Ken Mehlman talking points.
And also Johnson again from TPMCafe at Oct 13, 2005 -- 08:47 PM EST
Here are some of the facts that will come out when Fitzgerald ends his investigation:
1. Valerie Plame was still a non-official cover officer in July 2003 when her identity was revealed by colostomy bag Bob Novak.
2. Valerie Plame had traveled overseas on secret missions using that cover as required under the statute in question.
3. Valerie Plame's exposure also almost compromised the identity of other non-official cover officers.
4. Valerie Plame did not have the authority to send her husband on the Niger mission and in fact did not make the decision.
Other mental midgets like Cohen, such as Victoria Toensing, continue to insist that no crime could have been committed because Valerie Plame, "worked at a desk job".  Newsflash for these so-called Washington insiders who have proven they know nothing about the intelligence community--at least 40% of the people working at CIA Headquarters are working undercover.  Just because they may physically go to the CIA building in McLean, Virginia everyday does not mean that their relationship with the CIA is acknowledged.
During my four years of sitting at a desk at CIA I was undercover.  My position with the CIA was not even known by my own parents.  Only my wife was privy to that secret.  Many of the undercover folks still working at CIA are at headquarters on a temporary basis.  Some travel overseas on temporary assignments that last less than a month.  Others await a semi-permanent posting for a two or three year stint overseas.  
The point that Cohen and the other White House hacks have missed is that protecting the identities of intelligence officers, whether they are working under official or non-official cover, is part of national defense.  To compromise these identities is to commit an act of treason.
Patrick Fitzgerald understands that he must prosecute within the confines of the law.  However, he also understands that what was done to the wife of Ambassador Joe Wilson was more than a rough game of inside the beltway hardball.  Karl Rove told Chris Matthews that "Wilson's wife is fair game".  Not only was she an unfair target, but in going after her the White House political crew unwittingly exposed several intelligence assets and caused the loss of intelligence assets overseas.
Now here's Nathan:
Gregory: well, she did drive through the gates of Langley every morning...that's one of the reasons why her cover was nominal as opposed to something more robust (another indication is that the front company was merely a P.O. Box that never conducted any legit business and appears to not have had any employees besides her)....

Nathan, perhaps you ought to call up Fitzgerald and offer your services as to how you know Plame had nominal cover and hadn't been a NOC for years. Really, you may be a valuable resource. If you want, I can get his number for you. I have friends in Illinois.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on January 23, 2007 at 7:51 PM | PERMALINK

I like how Nathan is always so wrong on so many levels that everyone from experts to interested novices can use him as a punching bag. He is quite a valuable resource.

Posted by: Disputo on January 23, 2007 at 9:02 PM | PERMALINK

[Defense lawyer Ted Wells] told the jury that the White House went all out to defend [Karl] Rove against accusations he revealed Mrs. Wilson's identity, but did not protect Libby in the same way, leading Libby to suspect that he was being singled out for blame in the matter. "[Mr. Libby] was concerned about being the scapegoat," Wells said. "Mr. Libby said to the vice president, 'People in the White House are trying to set me up, people in the White House are trying to make me a scapegoat.' People in the White House are trying to protect a man named Karl Rove, the president's right-hand man," Wells said.

Ah, obvious misdirection strategy by Libby's lawyer. As I understand it, Libby is charged with obstruction of justice--also known as lying (presumably to the grand jury)--not with having revealed Plame's undercover relationship with the CIA. What Welles is obviously arguing is that the Bushies held Libby out to dry, not on the obstruction charge, but for having done the revealing. What the two have to do with each other is a bit of a stretch.

Posted by: raj on January 23, 2007 at 10:41 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, gee, I missed Nathan giving his, er, ah, expert legal opinion.

Good Ford, man, I pity your clients.

Posted by: Gregory on January 24, 2007 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

To pile onto Nathan: When the Plamegate thing was just getting started (early 2004?), and the trolls were, even then, saying what Amerikan Chickenhawk said (that "everyone" knew she was married to Wilson, and that she was with the CIA, I did a couple of nice wide open web searches (I can't remember which engines, but the results were about the same) for "Valerie Plame", and came up with (I think it was) two hits that pre-dated (or were unrelated to) Novak's column (and it may have only been one), the one I remember most was a genealogy kind of site that appealed to either her or his ethnic background (Armenian? Azeri? I don't remember all the details). But EVERY other hit was related to the Novak column.

Posted by: Marc in Denver on January 24, 2007 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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