Libby Indicted, Resigns from White House Posts

Might as well start a proper thread!

The indictment and a press release summarizing the charges and their history are up at Fitz’s website. And Rove’s still under investigation. I don’t know what’s going on with that. Does this mean they’ll need to empanel a new grand jury? Is that a good sign for Rove, he’s off the hook for the moment, or a bad sign, a very special grand jury just focusing on what he’s been up to and potentially for another year or two?

If they impanel a new jury I get the impression that the investigation will be expanding to potentially include the forged Niger documents and a conspiracy to take us to war. We’ll know more shortly though as he has press conference at 2.

Yub Nub!

I believe it is relatively easy just to continue the grand jury rather than empanelling a new one.

It would be interesting to see if the administration turns against Libby to make him the fall guy. Unless they incentivised Libby to take the rap, he could cut a deal with the prosecutor and turn state’s evidence. It would be fun if he then started pointing fingers at everyone else.

Incorrect. You can only continue once, and that’s already been done.

I’ll be fingering my prayer beads, but I doubt it. Libby has the stench of a true believer.

This White House is well practised in the art of getting people to take the rap. Michael Brown most recently (still on the FEMA payroll), but there are plenty of other examples.

I recall seeing speculation about certain document leaks from last week that they were already working on the “It was all Scooter, just one bad apple” line of defense.

Fitzgerald is now going to try to flip Libby, exchanging a no-jailtime bargain for pinning Rove and possibly Cheney for conspiring to violate the intelligence identities act.

It’s going to start looking a lot like Watergate from here on out (though with the slight difference that the media weren’t the initial watchdogs in this case, but, amazingly, were collaborators with the rampaging White House staffers).

Cheney is more or less doomed in any case, because there are only two scenarios left here:

A) Libby flips on him.

B) Libby plays the good soldier, but all the dirt comes out anyway in Libby’s very public trial, forcing Cheney to have to resign when “the distraction has become an undue burden on the administration.”

Last edit: Kind of fun that “Libby” and “Liddy” are such similar names. Do you think Scooter can remain expressionless with his wrist held out over a lighter flame?

There is also at least a C) where Libby plays the good soldier plea bargains to avoid a trial thus falling on his sword and saving further embarrassment of the WH.

Actually, it takes two to make a plea bargain. My guess is that Fitzgerald won’t let Libby just up and walk off peacefully to jail without giving something substantial up. At the press conference he made it clear that this perjury and obstruction of justice did succeed in impeding the investigation and his goal is finding out who blew Plame’s cover. Either Libby comes clean about Cheney’s involvement here or there’s a trial.

I really think Fitzgerald is one smooth operator. He’s got a laserlike focus on the facts and the limits of the law. He’s too damn smart to be saying his investigation is about anything other than what it’s most narrowly defined to be about. If it happens to blow the lid of Cheney’s in-house intelligence shop, and possibly Rove’s WHIG spinners, and how they went about dealing with Wilson, well, that’s just collateral damage. I love how he’s keeping Rove under investigation and a new grand jury empanelled. My guess is it’ll stay that way until Libby’s trial, if there is one, is over to keep him honest during his testimony under oath.

The 22-page indictment portrayed Mr. Cheney and many of his aides as personally involved in an effort to learn about Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former diplomat who emerged in the spring and early summer of 2003 as a critic of the way the administration used prewar intelligence showing that Saddam Hussein had a nuclear weapons program to justify the invasion of Iraq.

But the indictment did not charge Mr. Libby with the action that set off the prosecution nearly two years ago: the leak of the name of Mr. Wilson’s wife, Valerie Wilson, a C.I.A. officer whose identity was publicly disclosed by Robert D. Novak, the syndicated columnist. Mr. Novak cited two senior administration officials as his sources.

Nor did the indictment name Mr. Novak’s sources, beyond a reference to an “Official A” at the White House who had spoken to him in the week before Mr. Novak’s column on July 14, 2003. That official is believed to be Mr. Rove. According to lawyers in the case, Mr. Rove told the grand jury of a conversation with Mr. Novak in which Mr. Novak mentioned that he had heard that Mr. Wilson’s wife worked at the C.I.A. Mr. Rove told the grand jury that he had responded to Mr. Novak by saying he had heard the same thing, the lawyers said.

Mr. Fitzgerald was spotted Friday morning outside the office of James Sharp, Mr. Bush’s personal lawyer. Mr. Bush was interviewed about the case by Mr. Fitzgerald last year. It is not known what discussions, if any, were taking place between the prosecutor and Mr. Sharp. Mr. Sharp did not return a phone call, and Mr. Fitzgerald’s spokesman, Randall Samborn, declined to comment.

According to the indictment, Mr. Cheney’s office was portrayed as the hub of a concerted effort to gather information about Mr. Wilson. The indictment said that Mr. Cheney told Mr. Libby several weeks before the Novak column ran that Mr. Wilson’s wife worked in the CIA’s counterproliferation division, part of the intelligence agency’s clandestine wing. That assertion by the prosecutor suggested that Mr. Cheney would be a likely witness in the trial and raised questions about the vice president’s degree of involvement in dealing with Mr. Wilson and his criticisms.

“We are quite distressed that the special counsel has now sought to pursue alleged inconsistencies in Mr. Libby’s recollections and those of others and to charge such inconsistencies as false statements,” Mr. Tate said.

The indictment etched a starkly different portrait of an official who repeatedly deceived authorities about his actions. It accused Mr. Libby of one overall count of obstruction of justice for misleading the grand jury about the circumstances under which he learned about Ms. Wilson’s work at the C.I.A. and about his conversations with journalists.

The indictment charged Mr. Libby with two counts of making false statements on each of the two occasions in which he was interviewed by F.B.I. agents in October and November 2003. In addition, the indictment charged him with two counts of perjury for lying in two appearances before the grand jury in March 2004.

“We brought those cases because we realized that the truth is the engine of our judicial system,” Mr. Fitzgerald said, adding later, “We didn’t get the straight story, and we had to - had to - act.”

Moreover, as Mr. Libby was telling the grand jury that he heard about Ms. Wilson from reporters, the indictment said, prosecutors were compiling evidence that it was Mr. Libby who passed on information to two reporters, Matthew Cooper of Time magazine and Judith Miller of The New York Times. Mr. Cooper and Ms. Miller declined to comment.

In contrast to Mr. Libby’s testimony to the grand jury that he learned of Ms. Wilson from journalists, the indictment presented evidence that showed Mr. Libby engaged in an effort - which began earlier and was more aggressive and broader than was previously known - to collect information about Mr. Wilson from the State Department and the C.I.A.

It was this effort, not his conversations with reporters, that allegedly led Mr. Libby to learn that Mr. Wilson was married to a C.I.A. employee and to the information that she may have had a role in sending her husband to Africa. The indictment alleged that:

This will be interesting. If all you read were the indictments, it would seem pretty trvial: the indictments state the when Libby was talking with Tim Russert, Russert told him it was common knowledge amongst the reporters that Plame was an agent, and Libby expressed surprise and stated he was not aware of that. He then did essentially the same with another reporter. He then recounted these two events to the FBI and other investigators and did not admit he was lying to the reporters. The indictment says that since Libby did indeed know about Plame, this was perjury and obstruction of justice. So I assume the spin will be “Hey, Libby found out about the same time as the reporters, and of course he wasn’t about to confirm to Tim Russert et. al. that Plame was an agent, so he probably forgot whether he actually knew at the time he was talking to them or whether he foudn out a few days later, etc.”

I’ll be very interested to see how Fitzgerald works this. Like I said before, most of what I’ve read about Fitzgerald in the past has been very flattering and in perspective of his investigation of the corrupt Democratic machine in Chicago (but I haven’t seen any actual action from him other than the investigation.) The key seems to be not the actual discussions with the reporters - denying knowledge to them is of course not illegal and even the right thing to do. The heart of the indictment seems to be in recounting these intereviews with the FBI not telling them “I told Russert I was suprised that the reporters all knew this, and it was a surprise to me: of course I did know Plame was an agent.” And that was just dumb. All he would have had to have said, it appears, to avoid this indictment was something like “Of course I did know at the time that she was an agent, it would hardly be expected that a bunch of reporters and half of Washington would know and us not know.”

So I’m with Brian: I’m not sure a plea bargain on the charges in this indictment does a lot for Fitzgerald. He needs to use Libbys dumb move to get him on the stand and dig deep. I’m afraid, however, that Libby can simply say that Cheney and Libby knew as a matter of routine about Plame, and no there was no malicious intent, that the VP of course knows about who in Washington is an agent and who isn’t, etc.

I think you might be confused Jeff, you seem to be misinterpreting the indictment pretty severely. It’s not that Libby doesn’t admit lying to reporters, it’s that his whole summary of the conversation with the reporters is a lie. That so called converstion with Russert did not happen the way Libby portrays it.

Check out this article it sums it up pretty well.,excerpts,69510,6.html

Russert may also have tapes of that conversatoin.

If Libby cracks, and everything in Fitzgerald’s past show’s that he’s very good at getting crooked pols to break, we’re only seeing the beginning.

If Bush pardons him, all bets are off.

Why wouldn’t Bush pardon him? Bush is “fiercely loyal” to his cronies and everyone he surrounds himself with.

Because of public fallout? If there is one thing this administration has demonstrated, they don’t give one damn about public fallout. They do what they want, regardless of how obviously self-serving, and to hell with what the public thinks. They always cloaked it in some terrorist-fighting freedom-loving rhetoric, and the public ate it up.

Now that the public is seeing through their lies, I really don’t see them changing course. They’re just going to continue along thier corrupt, misguided way as they did post-9/11.

Unfortunately I think they’re chronically flawed and arrogant at this point from getting a free ride from the press and the public for too long.

You’re right - I read it through pretty quickly (the indictment) and it read the first time through to me that Libby just didn’t come clean with the FBI that he did indeed know, at the time that he professed ignorance to Russert, that he did indeed know. I didn’t read it that he misrepresented the actual conversation itself and what Russert said.

That said, I see they are already using the time honored Washington tradition of a faulty memory. From the Reagan/Bush admin through the Clintons and now the second Bush admin now. It seems that no one in Washington for the last 50 years has been able to remember much of anything when talking to a judge or panel.

Meanwhile, reality finally closes in. Fantastic overview of the whole context of this case in The Post today. Overdue but well worth reading.

It may never be clear what drove Libby, the most cautious of Washington insiders, to take such risks, ostensibly to protect the administration. In a news conference Friday, Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald described the question as unanswerable so far. “If you’re asking me what his motives were, I can’t tell you; we haven’t charged it,” Fitzgerald said. The obstruction of his inquiry, he said, “prevents us from making the fine judgments we want to make.”

Libby’s possible motive is only one of many unknowns left in the aftermath of Friday’s indictment, which prompted the resignation of one of the most powerful figures in the White House and left the Bush administration reeling politically.

Even so, the grand jury’s 22-page indictment fleshes out a saga that has been largely shrouded for almost two years by grand jury secrecy. While Friday’s disclosures allege no wrongdoing by Cheney, they place the vice president closer than has been known before to events at the heart of the case.

The uranium claims had never been significant to career analysts – Iraq had plenty already and lacked the means to enrich it. But the allegations proved irresistible to the White House Iraq Group, which devised the war’s communications strategy and included Libby among its members. Every layman understood the connection between uranium and the bomb, participants in the group said in interviews at the time, and it was the easiest way for the Bush administration to raise alarms.

The threat Wilson posed was that his charges were equally simple and marketable. He charged that Cheney asked a question and then disregarded, as did the president and his staff, an answer he did not like.

The chain of events that led to Friday’s indictment can be traced as far back as 1991, when an unremarkable burglary took place at the embassy of Niger in Rome. All that turned up missing was a quantity of official letterhead with “Republique du Niger” at its top.

More than 10 years later, according to a retired high-ranking U.S. intelligence official, a businessman named Rocco Martino approached the CIA station chief in Rome. An occasional informant for U.S., British, French and Italian intelligence services, Martino brought documents on Niger government letterhead describing secret plans for the sale of uranium to Iraq.

The station chief “saw they were fakes and threw [Martino] out,” the former CIA official said. But Italy shared a similar report with the Americans in October 2001, he said, and the CIA gave it circulation because it did not know the Italians relied on the same source.

On Feb. 12, 2002, Cheney received an expanded version of the unconfirmed Italian report. It said Iraq’s then-ambassador to the Vatican had led a mission to Niger in 1999 and sealed a deal for the purchase of 500 tons of uranium in July 2000. Cheney asked for more information.

The same day, Plame wrote to her superior in the CIA’s Counterproliferation Division that “my husband has good relations with both the PM [prime minister] and the former Minister of Mines (not to mention lots of French contacts), both of whom could possibly shed light on this sort of activity.” Wilson – who had undertaken a similar mission three years before – soon departed for Niamey, the Niger capital. He said he found no support for the uranium report and said so when he returned.

Martino continued to peddle his documents, with an asking price of more than 10,000 euros – this time to Panorama, an Italian magazine owned by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Panorama editor Carlo Rossella said his staff concluded the letters were bogus but in the interim sent copies to the U.S. Embassy in Rome in October 2002. “I believed the Americans were the best source for verifying authenticity,” he said. When the documents reached the State Department, according to a commission that investigated prewar intelligence this year, analysts there said they had “serious doubts about the authenticity” of the “transparently forged” documents.

By summer 2002, the White House Iraq Group assigned Communications Director James R. Wilkinson to prepare a white paper for public release, describing the “grave and gathering danger” of Iraq’s allegedly “reconstituted” nuclear weapons program. Wilkinson gave prominent place to the claim that Iraq “sought uranium oxide, an essential ingredient in the enrichment process, from Africa.” That claim, along with repeated use of the “mushroom cloud” image by top officials beginning in September, became the emotional heart of the case against Iraq.

President Bush invoked the mushroom cloud in an Oct. 7, 2002, speech in Cincinnati. References to African uranium remained in his speech until its fifth draft, but a last-minute intervention by Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet excised them.

Tenet’s success was short-lived. The uranium returned repeatedly to Bush administration rhetoric in December and January. National security adviser Condoleezza Rice cited the report in a Jan. 23 newspaper column, and three days later, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell demanded, “Why is Iraq still trying to procure uranium and the special equipment needed to transform it into material for a nuclear weapon?”

By the time Bush stated the case personally – in the notorious “16 words” of his Jan. 28 State of the Union address – the uranium had been thoroughly integrated into his government’s case for impending war with Iraq.

Another dose of reality from Newsweek. What is amazing is how far all the Sunday talk shows have been from what’s actually going on. Only Stephenopoulos touched the subject of context and the fact of a continuing probe.

Now Fitzgerald’s probe is aimed at the operational inner sanctum of Bush’s “war presidency”—and, by extension, at Bush’s anchoring view of what his administration has been about since the 9/11 attacks. As he prosecutes “Cheney’s Cheney” for perjury, false statements and obstruction, Fitzgerald will inevitably have to shine a light on the machinery that sold the Iraq war and that sought to discredit critics of it, particularly Joseph Wilson. And that, in turn, could lead to Cheney and to the Cheney-run effort to make Iraq the central battleground in the war on terror. As if that weren’t dramatic enough, the Libby trial—if there is one—will feature an unprecedented, high-stakes credibility contest between a top government official and the reporters he spoke to: Tim Russert of NBC, Judith Miller of The New York Times and Matt Cooper of Time magazine. Another likely witness: Cheney himself. White House officials were admonished not to have any contact with Libby about the investigation. That presumably includes the vice president.

The New York Time’s Frank Rich doesn’t mince words. Note the original editorial is only available to Time’s Select subscribers but Truthout carries his articles for free as well so that’s what I’m linking to via Huffington Post.

To believe that the Bush-Cheney scandals will be behind us anytime soon you’d have to believe that the Nixon-Agnew scandals peaked when G. Gordon Liddy and his bumbling band were nailed for the Watergate break-in. But Watergate played out for nearly two years after the gang that burglarized Democratic headquarters was indicted by a federal grand jury; it even dragged on for more than a year after Nixon took “responsibility” for the scandal, sacrificed his two top aides and weathered the indictments of two first-term cabinet members. In those ensuing months, America would come to see that the original petty crime was merely the leading edge of thematically related but wildly disparate abuses of power that Nixon’s attorney general, John Mitchell, would name “the White House horrors.”

In our current imperial presidency, as in its antecedent, what may look like a narrow case involving a second banana with a child's name contains the DNA of the White House, and that DNA offers a road map to the duplicitous culture of the whole. The coming prosecution of Lewis (Scooter) Libby in the Wilson affair is hardly the end of the story. That "Cheney's Cheney," as Mr. Libby is known, would allegedly go to such lengths to obscure his role in punishing a man who challenged the administration's W.M.D. propaganda is just one very big window into the genesis of the smoke screen (or, more accurately, mushroom cloud) that the White House used to sell the war in Iraq.

After the heat of last week's drama, we can forget just how effective the administration's cover-up of that con job had been until very recently. Before Patrick Fitzgerald's leak investigation, there were two separate official investigations into the failure of prewar intelligence. With great fanfare and to great acclaim, both found that our information about Saddam's W.M.D.'s was dead wrong. But wittingly or unwittingly, both of these supposedly thorough inquiries actually protected the White House by avoiding, in Watergate lingo, "the big enchilada."

The 601-page report from the special presidential commission led by Laurence Silberman and Charles Robb, hailed at its March release as a "sharp critique" by Mr. Bush, contains only a passing mention of Dick Cheney. It has no mention whatsoever of Mr. Libby or Karl Rove or their semicovert propaganda operation (the White House Iraq Group, or WHIG) created to push all that dead-wrong intel. Nor does it mention Douglas Feith, the first-term under secretary of defense for policy, whose rogue intelligence operation in the Pentagon supplied the vice president with the disinformation that bamboozled the nation.

The other investigation into prewar intelligence, by the Senate Intelligence Committee, is a scandal in its own right. After the release of its initial findings in July 2004, the committee's Republican chairman, Pat Roberts, promised that a Phase 2 to determine whether the White House had misled the public would arrive after the presidential election. It still hasn't, and no wonder: Murray Waas reported Thursday in The National Journal that Mr. Cheney and Mr. Libby had refused to provide the committee with "crucial documents," including the Libby-written passages in early drafts of Colin Powell's notorious presentation of W.M.D. "evidence" to the U.N. on the eve of war.

Along the way, Mr. Fitzgerald's investigation has prompted the revelation of much of what these previous investigations left out. But even so, the trigger for the Wilson affair - the administration's fierce effort to protect its hype of Saddam's uranium - is only one piece of the larger puzzle of post- and pre-9/11 White House subterfuge. We're a long way from putting together the full history of a self-described "war presidency" that bungled the war in Iraq and, in doing so, may be losing the war against radical Islamic terrorism as well.


There is also at least a C) where Libby plays the good soldier plea bargains to avoid a trial thus falling on his sword and saving further embarrassment of the WH.[/quote]
D) Libby’s lawyers manage to stall the trial from getting underway until Bush and Cheney are (or are about to be) out of office, then they give him a blanket pardon on the way out.