Friday, May 26, 2006

Shooting yourself in the foot

I wondered all day, from the time I watched Today's sensationalized news piece on it, til I read this and 'til I went to bed...what exactly do people think this means? So Fitzgerald may call Dick Cheney to testify agains Scooter Libby:

DICK CHENEY could be called as a prosecution witness to testify against his former chief of staff in the CIA leak case, the special counsel in charge of the investigation said yesterday.

Formally placing the US Vice-President at the centre of the scandal for the first time, Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor, said that Mr Cheney’s state of mind was directly relevant to the issue of whether Lewis Libby, his former top aide, had lied to the FBI about his role in the affair.

But wait...

From the analysis at Just One Minute we see a far less dire scenario: This looks like a new high-water mark in the "Get Dick" Derby - from p. 8:

By his own account, defendant understood from the Vice President that it was necessary to get out “all” the facts in response to the Wilson Op Ed. The response to the Wilson Op Ed was a matter of repeated discussion between the defendant and the Vice President following its publication.

Oh, Fitzgerald so wanted Libby to confess that Cheney ordered him to out Plame! Well, the trial is not until next January - Keep Hope Alive! But IMHO, Fitzgerald
doesn't have it and isn't getting it.

Exhibit A is a transcript of a portion of Libby's Grand Jury testimony. He confirms that Cheney frequently clips out articles, claims he does not remember seeing the Wilson op-ed, but certainly discussed it with Cheney.

IN ENGLISH, PLEASE: Apparently Cheney told Libby that Ms. Plame worked in "the functional office of the Counterproliferation of the CIA" (quoting Fitzgerald, presumably reading from something). Is that a special part of the CPD, and what does "functional" mean here?

NO HEDGE: When asked from whom he learned about Ms. Plame on July 10 or 11, Libby does not hedge, but names Tim Russert. That said, the rest is redacted, so draw conclusions at your own peril - perhaps the caveats came later.

CALL CSI D.C.: How could it be that Cheney wrote on the Wilson op-ed a note about the wife sending Wilson on a junket, but never discussed that with Libby until after the Novak column? When asked this, Libby offers some circle-squaring speculation - Cheney sometimes kept columns on his desk, and may have jotted that final thought after the Novak column came out.
Well, get the CSI people to see if it was done in the same ink - that would be suggestive, but probably not dispositive, since Cheney might have a favorite pen he uses all the time.
Take a look, but Libby's suggestion seems far-fetched to me. That said, Libby added "You'll have to ask him", referring of course to Cheney.

SPEAKING OF WHICH: With all this talk about Cheney's state of mind and Libby's recollection of his chats with Cheney, how could Cheney *not* be called as a witness? And surely Fitzgerald covered this ground when he interviewed Cheney - one wonders what Cheney said.

REFIGHT THE INTEL WAR: Fitzgerald has been trying to limit the discussion to Libby's state of mind and avoid a long exposition of the entire Niger trip. Fine, but
Sara points out he may have hurt himself by introducing Cheney's exhortation to get "all" the news out:

Hasn't he now opened the door for all that to come in and isn't that great news for the defense?

Hey, I think so - surely Libby ought to be able to explain what was meant by "all" - but I'm not the judge.

That last point lines neatly up with what I've said about this the entire time: Wilson was lying about the Administration so there was an obvious political interest in asking and answering questions about him. That there is no obvious and discernable evidence that fleshes out the left-wing fantasy about Administration officials seeking to 'punish' Wilson only leaves one wondering why on Earth Fitzgerald is allowing Cheney the opportunity to, once and for all, give explanation for the political push-back against Wilson necessitated by his lies.

Which, in case he might not have noticed, appears to more than a few of us as undercutting his entire case. Boris might just have it right: This is Fitz's way of asking Cheney to shut down the whole thing in a way that saves face for Fitz.

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