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March 07, 2007

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danking70

Tony Snow should ask him about it during a press conference.

hit and run

By the way, I just got around to reading yesterday's Best of the Web by James Taranto. Good to see the JOM mention. Attaboy.

sferris

On the subject of a pardon, I agree with Ezra Klien that a Bush pardon would "focus the historical attention on the Bush administration, leave his legacy stained from the outset, and come closer to harming the prime movers behind the Plame Affair -- but I doubt Bush is willing to tarnish his own record to protect a pawn." I say pardon him, the sooner the better so Bush and Cheney will be forced to answer unconfortable questions instead of hiding behind the court process. Is there any way to lobby the White House into granting a pardon?

PWT

Not to demean the work that JOM has done in covering this trial, but it is amazing how insignificant the whole business seems when you take a moment and step away from your computer. I left my office last night and the sky had not fallen, protestors were not taking to the streets and nobody was talking about 'the verdict' on the train. The internet left is ecstatic, the internet right is despondent but most people don't care because it will not affect their lives one bit.

Perhaps it is a better way to while away the time than discussing what dismal failures our current crop of politicians are but then again so is getting stoned and watching TV.

Jane

sferris,

Yeah that will happen - right after it happens to Clinton.

How soon they forget...

Tom Maguire

...leave his legacy stained from the outset, and come closer to harming the prime movers behind the Plame Affair -- but I doubt Bush is willing to tarnish his own record to protect a pawn

There is an old joke about a horse and rabbit stew - you take one horse, and one rabbit...

Well. Let's just say that Iraq, Katrina, and Libby will all stain Bush's legacy. Jiminy.

For my money, the fact that the investigation is over takes the pressure off any blowback for a pardon.

And since Libby won't be going to jail pending appeal, there is plenty of time to let folks cool off.

pilsener

Has it ever been disclosed why Ari Fleischer received immunity? Why wasn't he deemd part of the "leaking campaign"?

clarice

danking, you took the words out of my mouth.
Bush could pardon him now if there was someone w/ the brains and grit of Mary Matalin still working there to explain why.

Personnel is policy they say, and looking at this sordid mess you can see why Cheney and Libby--the only intelligent life on the other side of the Wilson lies--were tearing their hair out.
My husband always tells people thinking of going into govt service these days that they shouldn't. That at best it will cost them money. At worst it will cost them money an their reputations if they are more than a place keeper.

This place is a total cesspool.

danking70

Because Ari got his leak from the State Dept.

Tom Maguire

Not to demean the work that JOM has done in covering this trial, but it is amazing how insignificant the whole business seems when you take a moment and step away from your computer.

Oh, I am sitting right here at my computer feeling insignificant...

Cecil Turner

I say pardon him, the sooner the better so Bush and Cheney will be forced to answer unconfortable questions instead of hiding behind the court process.

"Forced to answer"? Ya'll have some interesting views on the ramifications of a pardon . . . none of which I can find in a casual reading of the Constitution.

sferris

Why haven't Bush and Cheney explained there actions and previous statements regarding the Plame investigation? Why have they always dodged questions in this matter?

Jane

There aren't any actions sferris. Plame was a non-issue. Sheesh, did you start watching this case yesterday?

Pofarmer

most people don't care because it will not affect their lives one bit.

I think most people aren't paying attention, but they should be. But then, who am I?

Cecil Turner

Why haven't Bush and Cheney explained [their] actions . . .

What can they add? Armitage was the leaker, and he obviously didn't confer with either. Hanging an obstruction charge on Libby was a nice touch, but it doesn't make him the leaker or validate the nutty conspiracy theories (for which one needs a time machine).

Why have they always dodged questions in this matter?

Perhaps because, until recently, they didn't know Armitage was the leaker?

sferris

From Dan Froomkin today:

Some Explaining to Do

By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Wednesday, March 7, 2007; 1:14 PM

It's time for President Bush and Vice President Cheney to come clean about their roles in the White House's outing of a CIA agent and the ensuing cover-up.

It's actually long past time. But with former vice presidential chief of staff Scooter Libby's conviction on charges of perjury and obstruction yesterday, the stench of corruption has taken formal residence at the White House.


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The president and vice president can pretend it's not there, and can continue to hide behind their weak and transparent excuse for not commenting on an "ongoing criminal investigation".

But the trial is over. The investigation is over. And the conviction of a liar in their midst has made it more imperative than ever that the leaders of this country fully address the American people's legitimate concerns that the lies in question were intended to hide from public view even deeper skullduggery at the highest levels of the administration.

As special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald noted in his closing arguments (see my Feb. 21 column, The Cloud Over Cheney) Libby's lies have left all sorts of issues unresolved.

Cheney was at the fevered center of the effort to discredit administration critic Joseph Wilson, which resulted in the exposure of his wife, Valerie Plame, as a CIA operative. Indeed, Cheney was the first person to tell Libby about Plame. Cheney authored talking points that quite possibly encouraged Libby and others to mention Plame to reporters. Cheney was the only person to whom Libby confided his implausible cover story -- that he had first heard about Plame from NBC's Tim Russert. And at Cheney's request, Bush secretly declassified portions of a National Intelligence Reports so that Libby could leak them to Judith Miller of the New York Times.

The White House yesterday once again trotted out its "ongoing criminal matter" rationale. But that was never much of an excuse and at this point it is utterly pathetic. Any danger of influencing the investigation or the jury pool, to the extent that was ever a legitimate concern, is past. The chances of a retrial are almost nonexistent. In reviewing a conviction, an appellate court cannot look outside the trial record. Fitzgerald says he and his fellow prosecutors are going back to their day jobs.

And there is an enormous public-policy factor here -- something more important than the vague, theoretical possibility of influencing a fair trial. Just for example, no executive of any company would be allowed by his shareholders to remain mum on a top aide's indictment -- not to mention conviction. He'd be fired.

Why are Bush and his aides hiding behind such hollow excuses? Probably because they know that if they did talk, it might just make things worse. Arguably, they still don't think Libby did anything wrong, putting them in the awkward position of disagreeing with a federal jury's verdict. And in explaining what they say really happened, they might risk either exposing more unseemly facts or being caught in a lie.

But the main reason they are hiding behind these excuses is that they can. There's been no public cost to them from not talking.

That, of course, is where the news media come in. When the public has a need to know and the government won't meet it, the media are at their most righteous in demanding information -- and, when being denied, in constantly reminding everyone that the government is stonewalling.

Reporters yesterday glibly expressed no surprise by the White House's refusal to comment. The proper response, however, is sustained outrage, until every last critically important question is addressed.

Among those questions, just for refresher purposes:

* What did Bush know and when did he know it?

* Did Cheney tell Libby to leak Plame's identity to reporters?

* How involved was Cheney in the cover-up? How involved was Bush?

* Why is Karl Rove still working at the White House?

* What are the ethical standards for this White House? What is considered acceptable behavior and what is not? What is a firing offense?

Jane

What a joke!

Cecil Turner

Well, that lecture was boring nonsense, but at least the quiz is easy:

  • * What did Bush know and when did he know it?

Very little, apparently. Fitz knew the leaker was Armitage on day one . . . but apparently the rest of us weren't allowed to know until very recently.

  • * Did Cheney tell Libby to leak Plame's identity to reporters?

No. Multiple copies (and a couple versions) of the talking points are available . . . none mention Plame.

  • * How involved was Cheney in the cover-up? How involved was Bush?

What cover-up? You mean the one where Fitz hid the names of the leaker(s) from the public? Apparently Fitz ran that one by himself.

  • * Why is Karl Rove still working at the White House?

Because saying "I heard that, too" (truthfully) is not a criminal act. (Nor is it immoral, evidence of a conspiracy, or any other nonsense folks like Froomkin would like to peddle.)

  • * What are the ethical standards for this White House?

Not sure, but they're apparently higher than that at either State or Justice.

Southside

How can Froomkin even begin to write such things? Orwellian

sferris

Deputy press secretary Dana Perino was sent out to tell the press the president wouldn't comment about the case. Here's the transcript of her briefing.

"Let me start off by saying that the President was informed by -- he was in the Oval Office. He saw the verdict read on television. Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and Counselor Dan Bartlett were with him.

"He said that he respected the jury's verdict, that he was saddened for Scooter Libby and his family, and that the White House direction from here on out -- and I know that there's going to be a lot of disappointment with this, but there is an ongoing criminal proceeding.

"Scooter Libby's attorneys just announced that they are going to ask for a new trial and that they are going to -- failing that, they will appeal the verdict. And so our principled stand of not commenting on an ongoing legal investigation is going to continue. I know that's going to be very disappointing for many, but that is the decision that we're going to -- that we've made, and the decision -- and the practice that we're going to continue on the way forward. . . .

"Q: Does the President feel like there's any responsibility to figure out a way to talk about this in a way that doesn't prejudice or jeopardize any ensuing legal process, and still say something to the American people about this case?

"MS. PERINO: We've given it a lot of thought, to try to find out a way to sort of answer the mail on the requests that are coming in from not just the media, but also from the American people. However, the legal advice that we get from our Counsel's Office, and the request that we had from the parties in the case was that we not comment on it while there was an ongoing criminal matter."

At the very least, reporters should have asked what specifically the counsel's office was advising -- and should have pointed out that the "requests" from the parties in the case were now utterly irrelevant. But no dice.

"Q: Is this damaging to this White House, embarrassing for this White House?

"MS. PERINO: You know, I think that any administration that has to go through a prolonged news story that is unpleasant and one that is difficult for -- when you're under the constraints and the policy of not commenting on an ongoing criminal matter, that can be very frustrating. But I think that we have been able to continue on, moving forward on all sorts of different fronts while also being aware that this situation is out there. But, no, I wouldn't characterize it the way you did."

It's almost as if she wants people to feel sorry for them.

"Q: Dana, you said the President is saddened by this. Is he saddened by the fact that a former top advisor in this building is facing this personal problem? Or is he saddened by the fact that a former advisor is convicted of lying in a federal investigation?

"MS. PERINO: He was saddened for Scooter himself, personally, and for Scooter's family.

"Q: He's not saddened that his top advisor lied to -- was found guilty of lying to investigators?

"MS. PERINO: He's saddened for Scooter. We're not going to comment on the trial."

And finally Perino, responding to a question about Bush's avowed adherence to "the highest ethical standards," Perino offered this as an example: "I think the President has had a very principled and responsible stand to not comment on the ongoing criminal matter in any way, shape, or form, and that has been his position. It's been the -- it's a responsible one, it's a principled one, and that's what he's done."

So that's the new ethical gold standard for the White House: A principled refusal to comment on the conviction of a top aide?

Perino also refused to rule out a possible pardon: "I'm not commenting on a hypothetical situation. I think that that is the best way to respond to that. I think that there is a process in place for all Americans, if they want to receive a pardon from a President, be that any President that is in office, and I'm aware of no such request."

Here is the text of Cheney's official statement: "I am very disappointed with the verdict. I am saddened for Scooter and his family. As I have said before, Scooter has served our nation tirelessly and with great distinction through many years of public service.

"Since his legal team has announced that he is seeking a new trial and, if necessary, pursuing an appeal, I plan to have no further comment on the merits of this matter until these proceedings are concluded."

Cecil Turner

Here is the text of Cheney's official statement: "I am very disappointed with the verdict.

Sounds about right. Left out the word "bulls**t" in front of "verdict" . . . but I suppose that was tactful, considering.

Jim E.

"Multiple copies (and a couple versions) of the talking points are available . . . none mention Plame."

Ah, so unless something's been written down, it's never happened?

"Because saying 'I heard that, too' (truthfully) is not a criminal act."

Most folks were under the mistaken impression that employment as a Bush advisor rested upon something higher than the standard of not being a criminal. Silly us.

And silly Bush for saying in 2000 that he would not "ask not only what is legal but what is right, not what the lawyers allow but what the public deserves."

And what about this golden oldy from McClellan: "If anyone in this administration was involved in it, they would no longer be in this administration."

Bush said the same thing -- before he later amended his promise and predicated it upon being accused of a specific crime. I guess all those statements (like McClellan's assertion that it was "totally ridiculous" that Rove was at all involved) are now inoperative. Yeah, it's crazy talk to wonder about Rove in all this. Mmm-kay.

Cecil also writes: "Sounds about right. Left out the word "bulls**t" in front of 'verdict' ."

Much of arguments made around here are increasingly mocking the notion of perjury as ever being a prosecutable offense, and the notion of a trial by jury. Well, if this weren't bizarro-world, I probably wouldn't find it so entertaining.

Pofarmer

* * What are the ethical standards for this White House?

Not sure, but they're apparently higher than that at either State or Justice.

apparently quite a bit higher than that for "journopropagandists."

buddy larsen

Sferris, paste away, but your never going to convince there little minds.

maryrose

Of course Cheney is disappointed in the verdict because Libby has done nothing wrong. No one is harmed at all in this except Libby. Sources should no longer trust Russert, Mitchell or Gregory with any type of news story. Their behavior has caused an innocent man to be convicted. That's why Russert looks so bad-he is wrestling with his conscience. I bet these three are really hoping Bush will pardon Libby. It is the only way they can feel absolution from this lying nest they have created.

Bill in AZ

sferris - unfortunately for you, that entire interview is probably baffling to you, though to the rest of us it makes perfect sense. You, like most libs, do not understand and will never understand the concept of a principled stand. Bush and Cheney continue to refuse to comment because this is still an ongoing criminal proceeding. But they already said that repeatedly in the interview you quoted, though you can't seem to grasp what that means.

Bush and Cheney undoubtedly have greater respect and expectations than I do right now of the Judicial process - but they must - for any of us to be able to believe in the process going forward.

Once this criminal process has run its course, and it will, and it WILL ultimately wind up in Libby's favor - then Bush and Cheney may have things to say. Believe me - you will not like it when that happens, and you will not understand it when that happens.

maryrose

someone needs to question Gregory about the Fleischer testimony pronto! My guess- he did tell Gregory and he in turn told Russert but since they both have their talking points coordinated now they will continue to cover for one another.

Letalis

After all this I just have this:

Why wasn't Wilson required to sign a confidentiality agreement before he went on his trip? And if he was required to sign one, who released him from it so that he could start blabbing to the press?

The requirement of a confidentiality agreement in a situation like this is so elementary that, if he was not required to sign one, everyone involved should be sacked. Immediately.

nittypig

Well it's true that Bush shouldn't be saying 'ongoing investigation' any more. He ought to step up and explain his side of all of this. Emphasize to the American people that State was the source of the leak, that the White House was simply engaged in trying to correct the misstatements of Joe. He ought to go on the offensive on this - it would basically challenge the congressional democrats to put their money where their mouths are. Bring it on.

danking70

I'm still waiting for that intrepid reporter to stick a microphone in baldy's face and start giving him the third degree.

Where's FoxNews when you need them?

Sara (Squiggler)

After only a couple hours, the jury has a verdict in the John Couey Jessica Lundsford murder/burial alive trial. No word yet what that verdict is, but one must doubt it is anything but guilty.

Cecil Turner

Most folks were under the mistaken impression that employment as a Bush advisor rested upon something higher than the standard of not being a criminal. Silly us.

Still stuffing strawmen, I see. And Jim, not sure why you felt the need to trim my statement to imply the only standard was a legal one, but it does not impress.

well hung Chad

sferris:

You're not going to change my mind, and I'm not going to change yours.

So, let's just find a cornfield somewhere near Manassas, VA and get it on.

We can call it 'The Third Battle of Bull Run' or the first battle of 'The War Between the States of Mind'.

ed

Hmmm

I can't help but think that none of this would have happened had Bush stood up and just told the truth.

Joe Wilson is a liar and a complete and utter fruitcake.

Sherlock

sferris,

We don't need to find a cornfield... there is already a battle going on for the preservation of civilzation from a force dedicated to returning it to the 7th century.

You should read up on it, and perhaps then you will understand why many of us are disgusted with the political posturing of those who think that getting the advantage on their political enemies is not only justification for sending a person to jail, but corrupting the legal system, and undermining the efforts of our CIC and military to protect us.

You Democrats are a real piece of work. The Dems motto should be "We don't have any ideas, so we demand nobody else do anything!"

nodak boy


Once again, a key element of the whole Cheney-Libby-Wilson-Plame story is being passed over: why would pointing out Plame's connection to Joseph P. Wilson XIV "discredit"
Wilson's trip and intelligence gathering?
This dog don't hunt: "Oh, his wife sent him (so, he isn't competent, etc.)"
It seems more likely that those who saw significance in Plame tabbing hubby for the trip saw something deeper: an attempt by some at Langley to thwart the Bush adminstration's approach to the war on terror.
That Wilson's trip was something done by someone at Langley to substitute for an actual investigation into whether Iraq was trying to ramp up its nuke program by overtures to people in Africa.
As several have pointed out, the very idea that J. P. Wilson could have found out anything more than the price of room service in Niger by his few days there cruising hotel lobbies is laughable.
(Can't some intrepid reporter simply interview a bunch of intelligence experts about this point to see if there is some consensus?)
Such an effort by some, at least, at Langley, seems to point to something bigger, more serious, perhaps nefarious, going on than simply a story about how Cheney allegedly tried to "punish" alleged "enemies" of the administration.

Enderbury

I believe that sometime (in the not too distant future) both Russert and Gregory will make further statements regarding the Fleischer "telling".

I don't believe that Russert or Gregory will lie. Therefore watch carefully how their statements are worded. That's how we will know 1) if Gregory heard from Fleischer, and 2) if Gregory told Russert.

If they issue flat denials, I will belive them. I think they both have enough integrity that they won't out-and-out lie.

But if we get mealy-mouth words like "there is no corroboration that Fleischer told me..." or "Mr Fleischer misspoke..." (and similar weasel words from Russert), then we can pretty much conclude that Gregory was told and he then told Russert.

I predict that neither Russert nor Gregory will EVER sit before a "Russert-style" interviewer.

sylvia

"That Wilson's trip was something done by someone at Langley to substitute for an actual investigation into whether Iraq was trying to ramp up its nuke program by overtures to people in Africa. "


Hmmm. Good thought. Yes, maybe it wasn't just incompetence of the CIA to send Wilson. It was a deliberate effort by the CIA to thwart the admin by coming up with some bogus report. Interesting. The conspiracy widens.

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