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October 28, 2005



Yeah, exactly, Lesley, she's guessing. Especially with that other story floating around -- the one where Miller and 2 other reporters were interviewing a foreign official, and afterwards the 3 got together to compare and pool their notes. The one reporter was surprised because Miller had way more quotes than either he or the other reporter did. Then as they went through, this guy realized that Miller had taken his questions and written them down as the interviewee's answers.

Imagine Libby's defense attorney putting this guy on the stand and then turning to the jury and asking in mock amazement how Fitzgerald could prosecute someone based upon Judy Miller's notetaking ability, Judy Miller's memory, and Judy Miller's guessing ability.

Why did Fitzgerald put Miller in there at all? It seems to me that her testimony serves only to weaken his case. Maybe he felt he had to use her testimony somehow since she did spend 85 days in jail after all.

cathy :-)


I'm pleased to see others are focusing on the indictment's version of Miller's "bureau" testimony. I mentioned this last night, and at the time viewed it as worth noting, but rather nitpicky. As I think about it, though, it strikes me as more than just a minor detail. This is, after all, an indictment, not a press release. Fitzgerald shouldn't be misrepresenting testimony to make it look more definite than it actually was. I even wonder if Libby could force Fitzgerald to amend the indictment to correctly state the facts. That would be somewhat embarrassing. (Wishful thinking, no doubt.)

One detail worth pointing out is Miller's recollection concerinig the question mark: Yes, I told him, normally. But Mr. Libby had been discussing the C.I.A., and therefore my impression was that he had been speaking about a particular bureau within the agency that dealt with the spread of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons

In saying "had been speaking," Miller implies that the impression was formed at the time she was testifying, not at the time she was talking to Libby.

Admittedly, we're relying on Miller's report of her testimony rather than her actual testimony. However, if she had given a definite answer in the grand jury as to what the question mark indicated or what particular bureau Libby was referring to, it seems unlikely she would mis-report it a few days later.


Windansea says in reference to my comments about striking some possibly immaterial and prejudicial statements form the indictment:

I heard the same comment on CNN last nite by Digenova??? (former prosecutor) that the context Fitz gave in press conference and indictment about outing a covert agent etc national security would quite possibly be ruled out by a judge.

Very interesting. I wish I'd seen it. DiGenova is a righty partisan, of course, but he generally seems to know what he's talking about on legal matters.


Correction: earlier I said Libby heard it first from Cheney. Not quite. Libby heard it from Cheney on 6/12, but Libby also heard it from a CIA person the day before. Libby also heard it from Marc Grossman (State) on either 6/11 or 6/12.

This is all from the indictment. I misunderstood a different passage in there.

Kim: "if you continue to believe that the White House doesn't want the Yellow Cake truth out."

I would be greatly encouraged if you could point to any recent statement or action by any Republican leader in our one-party government, indicating even a slight interest in this matter (the origin of the forged documents).

I would also be greatly impressed if righty bloggers like our host spoke up in an emphatic manner, in this regard. I would also appreciate leads to any leading righty bloggers who are indeed speaking up in this manner.

"I see an admission, by you JBG, of 'funny business' in Joe Wilson's house. Would you care to elaborate?"

Was it actually me who called you a dimwitted nitpicker? What was I thinking? On the contrary, you're actually one of my most studious and careful editors.

I thought about saying "_alleged_ funny business in Wilson's house." However, I do (believe it or not) pay some attention to trying to restrain my word count, so I dropped that word. I see now that I shouldn't have.

So it's an omission, not "an admission."

Speaking of alleged funny business, I've already acknowledged (somewhere around these parts) that I think Wilson has been evasive and cagy on the subject of the forgeries. I have no reason to assume his reason for this is not honorable, but I think this caginess is the underlying reason for the murky language in the SSCI, on this point.


clarice: "You cannot read the SOTU address fairly and conclude that those [16] words or even the WMD argument were the only reason for the war."

What nonsense.

You must have the special unredacted version of the SOTU. The version I have says a very great deal about the threat of Saddam's WMD, and says virtually nothing about any other reason to go to war.

Roughly half the SOTU is about terrorism, WMD, and Iraq. There are at least 15 scary paragraphs (over 1000 words) describing how dangerous Saddam is, how he allegedly has accumulated large stockpiles of horrible weapons, and how essential it is that we move quickly to disarm him. The word "weapon" (or close variants of that word) appears in the speech almost 30 times.

It takes a very, very close look at the speech to find any rationale for war, aside from WMD. The idea of the war as a way to spread democracy in the region is not even mentioned (there is a comment about a "democratic Palestine," but there is no attempt in the speech to connect this idea with the idea of disarming Saddam).

The idea of bringing "freedom" or "liberation" to the Iraqi people is mentioned, but barely. This idea comes up in passing, no more than 2 or perhaps 3 times, and almost literally as a footnote, after the WMD case is hammered home. By word count, the "freedom/liberation" rationale is given roughly 1% the weight of the WMD rationale.

You cannot read the SOTU address fairly and conclude that there was any serious attempt to argue for the war on any basis other than WMD.

By the way, a very, very similar analysis applies regarding Bush's famous pre-war address. It also focused mostly on WMD, with barely a few words of lip-service regarding the "power of freedom."

By the way, all this started with PNAC, of course (an organization co-founded by Libby). And this seminal PNAC (neocon) document says exactly nothing about freedom or democracy, and simply talks about the threat of Iraqi WMD.

If you look at those very visible and widely-circulated statements (and many other similar statements, such as those documented in this pdf), you see virtually nothing aside from a whole lot of focus on WMD.


Cecil: "If you find someone stupid enough to fall for this 'prove A does not imply B' nonsense, let me know"

I had suggested that Libby's behavior shows that the White House has betrayed the public trust.

Someone recently expressed what I think is a very similar sentiment: "[I'm] very disappointed in Libby, and the White House, and the vice president and the president ... They should have taken care of this a long time ago .. They should have done their own investigation. They're going to get very little sympathy ... at least from me. . .. They brought this on themselves."

I won't spoil the fun for you by telling you who said that, but it seems to me to be "someone who is stupid enough to fall for this [etc.]" I think I have found someone, in other words, so I thought I would let you know, as you requested.

By the way, I think the one who is really "stupid enough to fall" for something is you, since you seem to think the White House wasn't lying when it spent a couple of years hoping we'd buy the idea that no one on top knew anything about this matter. Are you stupid enough to fall for that? I guess you are.

Clarice: "There were, to be sure, dissenting opinions included in the NIE."

Indeed. So what a darn shame that these "dissenting opinions" were excised from the version that most of Congress used as the basis for its war-authorization vote.

And these differences between the classified NIE and the slanted public version (which is all that most of Congress was able to see at the time it voted) are sufficiently material that even Sen. Roberts (R) seemed concerned: "Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), said that had Congress known before the vote to go to war what his committee has since discovered about the intelligence on Iraq, 'I doubt if the votes would have been there.' " (link)

"On cross examination these press witnesses may be questioned to bring out bias"

Fitz has a lot more than just what the reporters said.


Syl: "The forgeries are a red herring and a complete waste of time to discuss"

Except for the fact that they were at the heart of the case for war. The case for war was about WMD. The scariest part of the WMD story was nukes ("we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud"). And the only vaguely substantive part of the nukes story was the idea that there was a "possible uranium yellowcake sales agreement between Niger and Iraq" (SSCI p. 36), an agreement that was supposedly approved by Niger in late 2000.

There's ample reason to understand that the talk about this "sales agreement" was based on documents that were forged. In other words, these forged documents were at the heart of the case for war, and they were the underlying basis for the famouse 16 words.

A good introduction to this is here. Lots of detail is here.

Of course the yellowcake story wasn't substantive at all. And it's not just that the documents were forged; Saddam already had 500 tons of yellowcake. It was useless to him, because Iraq lacked the means to turn it into enriched uranium. Which means the last thing Saddam needed was another 500 tons of yellowcake. Which means the BushCo scaremongering on this subject was just nonsense designed to fool people who don't understand such things (most Americans, in other words).

And where is that yellowcake now (the 500 tons that Saddam had before the war)? We have no idea, because we allowed it to be looted, post-invasion: " ... despite Washington's assurances that allied forces had secured this facility, an army of looters roamed here freely for days, ransacking vaults and warehouses that contained ample radioactive poisons [yellowcake] that could be used to manufacture an inestimable quantity of so-called dirty bombs."

Nigerien yellowcake that Saddam was not going to get was used to scare us into war. Meanwhile, the actual 500 tons of yellowcake that was already in Iraq is now gone, disappeared, because we didn't bother to keep an eye on it. So much for the idea that our government is really interested in controlling yellowcake proliferation. The priority they place on controlling yellowcake is about as high as the priority they place on respecting classified information.


Cecil: "The impact of the forged documents was minimal until they were discredited."

The bottom line is that Bush said the 16 words. He said them because he knew they would be uniquely effective at scaring us. He was right. But the trouble is that when you trace back the origin of the 16 words, you discover there is nothing remotely resembling a substantive basis behind them, outside of the forged documents (which of course weren't substantive at all, but that's all we had that was even remotely substantive).

Despite the fact that they were obviously forged, certain people in the US and the UK were apparently impressed by those documents. How odd.

"the NIE’s Key Judgments cited six reasons for this assessment; the African uranium issue was not one of them"

I've tried pretty hard to find out more about those "six reasons." Tenet seems to be saying they're in the classified NIE. Trouble is, we've still, this late date, only been allowed to see about 15% of the classified NIE. (The portion we've been allowed to see is here. Some information about the rest of it is here.)

In other words, our goverment still hasn't been willing to tell us the real reasons it went to war. Sorry, but "trust me" doesn't cut it anymore, especially now that it's abundantly clear that our government harbors chronic liars in high places. Not to mention the fact that Libby was at the center of WHIG, the group in charge of "marketing" the war to us.


Wind: "Joe has refined his 'core message' several times"

I'm impressed by the number of specific examples you offer to prove your point: zero.

In all the sources you mention, Wilson's core message was that we had no reason to be concerned about Saddam threatening us with Nigerien yellowcake. And that our government was not telling us the whole truth about this.

We now know that Wilson was right, on both these points. We also now know that our government leaked classified information in an effort to squelch his message.

And knowing all this, it seems your highest priority is to further discredit Wilson. Nice job proving that Republicans put party before country.


Rick: "structural, logical, grammatical and spelling errors"

If you're interested in providing specific examples, I'd be interested in taking advantage of the opportunity to learn something from you. Otherwise, you're just a waste of time, as usual.

"What WH coverup?"

The White House could have told us within days what it took Fitz a couple of years to figure out. Let me know why "coverup" isn't an accurate way to describe this.

Someone recently expressed what I think is a very similar sentiment: "[I'm] very disappointed in Libby, and the White House, and the vice president and the president ... They should have taken care of this a long time ago .. They should have done their own investigation. They're going to get very little sympathy ... at least from me. . .. They brought this on themselves."

I won't spoil the fun for you by telling you who said that. Hint: it wasn't Wilson.

"Find a statement from Fitzgerald even implying noncooperation"

Uh, the whole bag of indictments is about "noncooperation." When a high government official consistently and repeatedly lies to the FBI and a grand jury, calling that "noncooperation" is a pretty dramatic understatement.

Good luck convincing anyone that he was doing this solo, rather than on direction from the people he served. And let me know why Bush/Cheney can't bring themselves to condemn the liar.

I guess Bush is determined to make sure everyone finally understands what a lot of people realized a long time ago: when Bush promised to "restore honor and dignity to the White House," he was full of shit.


Davis: "[if Kerry had won] The War on Terror would have been abandoned until the terrorists successfully attacked us again."

Who knows, there might have even been a terrorist attack that resulted in 17,236 US casualties. Oops, that's the price we've paid so far in Iraq. Never mind.


Syl: "This is false"

I had said we've never seen anything else even remotely resembling solid proof that Saddam sought uranium from Africa, anytime recently.

I realize you claim this is false. I'm impressed by the number of examples you offer: zero.

I also notice you don't bother explaining why anyone should give a damn about Saddam getting more yellowcake, since he already had 500 tons that were useless to him (and that were well-secured under IAEA supervision until we booted out the UN and allowed Iraq's weapons sites to be looted).

"The forgeries were not a basis for the 16 words in any way, shape, or form."

Right. And it's just a complete coincidence that Tenet's statement ("these 16 words should never have been included in the text written for the President") was made exactly 10 days after Wilson suggested in the New York Times that there was some kind of connection between forged documents and Bush's 16 words.

" 'I heard that too' and words to similar effect are not confirmations of anything."

It's true that "I heard that too" is not as valuable as "I heard that too and I've independently verified that the information is correct." But nevertheless, "I heard that too" pushes the rumor along. It indicates that other people are passing the same rumor. On a scale from complete falsehood to complete truth, it pushes the rumor in the direction of perceived truth.

When what's at stake is classified information, pushing the rumor along, even slightly, is not OK.

Imagine two kids in kindergarten. Jack says to Joe "Tommy wets his bed every night." Joe says "I heard that too." Are you really claiming that Joe's behavior is proper? Is this what you teach your kids? Is this what your parents taught you? Joe needed to say "that's not our business, and you shouldn't be saying that to anyone." Do you really not know that?

"Note 'attempts' is one of the 16 words, not 'purchased', not 'obtained'."

That's because even Bush, a world-class disassembler, knew he would be on very thin ice if he used one of those stronger words. So he used a weaker word. He was simply trying to get away with as much as he could get away with.

I realize you want to believe there's a huge rhetorical difference between "purchased" and "attempted to purchase." There isn't. It's all just propaganda designed to scare us. It worked.

Also note that the documents, even if you accepted them at face value, did not prove that Saddam "obtained" uranium, or even "purchased" uranium. The documents only show the Nigerien government had approved such a deal. They do not rise to the level of proof of payment or proof of delivery. In other words, they reflect an attempt to obtain yellowcake, but they don't indicate that yellowcake was actually obtained. So your hairsplitting about all this is pointless.

"You even brought up Halliburton!"

Not exactly. I brought up the fact that you apparently think the phrase "a few million" is interchangeable with "a few hundred million." In other words, getting your facts straight is obviously not a high priority. You're proving that again in the current discussion.

"It demonstrates intent on Saddam's part."

Please explain why Saddam ostensibly wanted more yellowcake, since he already had 500 tons that were useless to him.


Wolfman: "Bush was at the time as ill-informed by our intelligence services as everyone else."

Uh, no. The intelligence he was looking at was more balanced than the material he allowed the rest of us (including most of Congress) to see. I've detailed this elsewhere.

By the way, if the CIA did such a rotten job, why did the top guy get a medal?

And are you talking about the same CIA that was accused before the war of being soft on Saddam? (A good example of this phenomenon is here.) Before the war, the neocons said that the CIA was soft on Saddam; now the neocons say the war is the CIA's fault because the CIA was too hard on Saddam. How peculiar.

Tulsan: " The US didn't have any other evidence, just some second-hand information that the Brits claimed to possess but would not show our guys."

Correct. And it's more and more clear that the "information" the Brits had amounted to rumors about the same set of forged documents. These documents were shopped to multiple countries. This created the impression of multiple underlying indications.


Jim: "I'm not certain that the forgeries were 'the basis for claims made' in that address."

As I've explained elsewhere, the 16 words have no other remotely substantive basis.

"the Butler Report reaffirms that the info was NOT based on the forged documents."

Butler says this: "The forged documents were not available to the British Government at the time its assessment was made, and so the fact of the forgery does not undermine it."

Trouble is, the Butler Report is misleading us. Yes, they didn't have the actual documents (maybe). But they were basing their claims on rumors emanating from those documents, including a written summary that was circulating. This is explained here.

"As to why the documents were forged, that is the mystery within the enigma that is the CIA."

No. The mystery is why our one-party government seems to have no interest in finding out where the forged documents came from. How odd. Why the reticence? Why pass up a great chance to discredit the CIA lefties who some people think were behind the forgeries?

"I think that there's a lot of interest in the matter all around."

Really? Please refer me to any statement or action by any Republican leader indicating a serious interest in investigating the origin of the documents.

"if Porter Goss ever finds this bit of dirty laundry over at the CIA, I doubt that he will hang it out in public for all to view."

Very interesting. It's perfectly fine to publicize Plame's status as a CIA officer. But there's some mysterious reason why our government would neglect to tell us that there are lefties in the CIA forging important documents. Hah hah. Yes, Goss's first priority is protecting any leftover lefties at the CIA. Hah hah.

"you're joking, right? [responding to the idea that the US doesn't know what evidence the British have]"

You're joking, right? Because no such evidence has ever been released or described, beyond extreme generalities.


Boris: "If you think his answer can't be logically explained in a fair trial it's because you either lack or are unwilling to employ imagination."

Libby is praying he gets a bunch of jurors as imaginative as you. I wouldn't bet on it.

This is what Libby said: "I thought this [information about Plame] is something that he [Russert] was telling me that I was first learning."

You claim "he's describing how to mentally frame what he was legally allowed to say."

Then why didn't he simply say so? As in, "I already knew it, but I had to pretend I didn't." There's nothing complicated about that.

If he actually meant what you claim he meant, why didn't he simply say what he meant? Instead he said something different. Good luck convincing a jury he wasn't trying to hide the truth. Especially because he made so many statements like this, on four separate occasions.


Cecil: "it's not hard to see why British Intelligence might have better HumInt sources than CIA."

If there's real evidence there, there's no reason why some version of it can't emerge. It can be sufficiently redacted or limited to protect the underlying assets. It can be circulated on a limited basis (just to SSCI, for example).

The fact that this has not happened makes it more and more clear that the forged documents (and various rumors and summaries emanating from them) are all anyone ever had.

"Now it's 'dangerous security breach' ?"

Yes. Outing a CIA officer is indeed a dangerous security breach. I'm still waiting for you to describe which portion of Kristof's column rises to a similar level.

"go over Wilson's briefing data, check each 'Secret' passage, and check it against Kristof's column"

Let me know when you're done. We'll be interested in hearing the results. Oh, never mind, you're just speculating. Why am I not surprised.

"The criminal act you assert is Libby leaking classified information--identifying Plame--not Novak publishing."

That's true. But I think it's clear enough that Novak published because he knew that's what his pals in the White House wanted him to do. If Libby had said to Novak "Plame is CIA, but please don't ever tell anyone," and if Novak had respected that, Fitz and Hogan et al would be infinitely less upset with Libby.

Trouble is, the reality is very different. That's why the fact that Kristof did not out Plame is highly relevant.

"Plame identifying herself to Kristof ... "

Let us know when you can prove this speculation.

" ... leaks precisely the same information."

There's a big difference between someone saying to a reporter "Plame is CIA, please broadcast that to the world" as compared with saying "Plame is CIA, don't dare tell anyone this." Yes, technically they are both examples of passing classified information, but the practical consequences are vastly different.

"Yeah, it's okay when she does it, but it's a crime when he does?"

I see you're having a lot of trouble breaking your straw-man habit. Try a 12-step group.

"None of the White House sources speak to whether he heard it from Russert."

Your completely unfounded speculation that Plame outed herself to Kristof, and then the information passed via Russert to Libby (as if this excuses Libby's crimes) depends on a lot more than just proving that Russert told Libby.

Also, note that even if Plame personally outed herself to Libby, this did not give Libby a free pass to out Plame to Miller and Cooper. Libby has admitted doing this. You still haven't bothered explained why we should care more about Plame's behavior than we do about Libby's behavior (especially considering that Plame's misdeeds are proven nowhere except in your fertile imagination, whereas Libby's bad behavior is documented).

"you're assuming your conclusion (that Russert is telling the truth)."

Surely you understand that Fitz has far more than just what Russert said.

I'll ask again: since you seem to think Libby didn't do anything wrong, please explain why he took such enormous (and ultimately self-destructive) risks in order to hide what he did.

This question, like Fitz's case, does not rest on Russert's veracity.


Barney: "if this was illegal and Fitz can state it as a fact at a news conference, why no indictment?"

Fitz figured 30 years and $1.25 million was enough. Fitz doesn't want to go down any path unless he knows it's rock-solid. Yes, he believes Libby blew Plame's cover, and yes, he believes this is a crime, but he's perfectly happy to not have to get into all sorts of thorny issues relating to IIPA and Espionage Act. And he doesn't have to. He has enough to nail Libby in a different way. He's picking the crime that's easier to prove. It's not because he thinks there was no crime elsewhere.

"The evidence neede to prove he perjured himself would appear to be the exact same evidence which would prove this alleged crime, correct?"

That is most definitely not true. The perjury rests on the fact that Libby's testimony is contradicted by the testimony of roughly a dozen witnesses. Proving this is a very different matter from proving a separate crime, that Libby outed a CIA officer.


Gary: "Dont you think that the defense counsel for Libby is going to put the reporters and their organizations under the microscope?"

The more important witnesses against Libby are the ones who work for the government. That should be an entertaining show to watch.

"Who thinks Matt Cooper is going to come off the winner in that little contest?"

Let me know why you think Cooper and Miller would have to answer any questions that are not directly related to their conversations with Libby.

"a very public proctology exam from a sharp as hell $600 an hour attorney?"

Not that it matters, but I have a feeling Tate charges a lot more than that, believe it or not. Whether he's worth it, given recent events, is a different story.

Richard: "Gosh, Marcel, maybe they can leak some classified information to rebut you. Oh, wait..."

How ironic. This White House is obviously ready to leak classified information at the drop of a hat. Besides, if there's real evidence there, there's no reason why some version of it can't emerge in a protected manner. It can be sufficiently redacted or limited to protect the underlying assets. SSCI, for example, is full of examples of how sensitive information can be partially described, with critical facts hidden behind multiple redactions. Or the information can be circulated on a limited basis (just to SSCI, for example).

This hasn't happened, despite all the pressure on Bush to come up with something. Why? It doesn't exist.


top: "a consultancy fee from the CIA"

Wilson was paid no "consultancy fee." He was paid expenses only. No surprise that Hugh, his guest and you are all too ignorant to know this.

Cecil: "Butler's main sources ... "

Shorter Cecil: "I swallow Butler whole even though there's nothing substantive in there."

And still beating that discredited Congo drum, I notice. (If you've forgotten the facts about this, try a google on 'jukeboxgrad congo.')

Jim: "The indictment ... ends with a whimper"

Right. Charges that could lead to 30 years (or more) in jail amount to a "whimper." Done any time lately?

"why did he wait until the 11th hour to question the Wilson's neighbors?"

I think this was an exercise in drama designed to send a signal to a witness or defendant. Just a guess.

"Michael Woodward stated unequivocally ... "

He's trying really hard to write a new book about the current Bush White House. He can't do that without access. I think this is affecting his judgment.

Not "Michael," by the way. Bob.


Cecil: "Obviously they [government witnesses] can't contradict the part about what Russert told Libby (or what Libby and Cooper discussed)."

A statement that is true and also irrelevant (you're good at that).

You're still not getting it: Fitz's case does not primarily rest on testimony by reporters. Fitz's case primarily rests on the testimony of government officials who have already given Fitz enough to prove that Libby lied to Fitz. One more time: the primary problem for Libby has nothing to do with whether or not he lied to reporters, or whether or not his testimony clashes with the testimony of reporters. The primary problem for Libby is that his testimony is incongruent with the testimony of a bunch of other government witnesses. This means Fitz can prove that Libby lied to Fitz. And Fitz can do this without relying at all on the testimony of anyone outside the government. Very big problem for Libby.

"if you think a prosecution can't be torpedoed by Kristof taking the stand and telling that he knew Plame's identity in May (and shared it amongst fellow reporters)--or refuses to testify ... "

You might have some kind of point if Fitz indicted Libby for outing Plame (but even that would be a giant stretch, because Kristof didn't write an article outing Plame, and there is no indication Kristof outed Plame to anyone, and there is no indication Kristof knew about Plame pre-Novak; aside from that, two wrongs don't make a right). Fitz didn't do that. Fitz indicted Libby for lying to Fitz.

Even if Wilson, Plame, Kristof and Russert were all part of an evil plot to whisper Plame's name into Libby's ear, that has no bearing on the fact that Libby lied to Fitz.

Here's another angle. Let's imagine that Russert told Libby about Plame. In other words, Russert is lying and Libby is telling the truth (about the Russert/Libby conversation). This means Libby heard about Plame from Russert. Does this get Libby off the hook? Absolutely not. Libby told Fitz not just that Libby heard about Plame from Russert, but that Libby _first_ heard about Plame from Russert. Trouble is, Libby did not first hear about Plame from Russert. Long before Libby talked with Russert, Libby discussed Plame with several government officials (including Cheney, apparently), who have been singing for Fitz. This proves that Libby lied to Fitz.

Unless you embrace Syl's Double-Scooter theory. Let us know if that's what's hanging you up.


Patrick: "his expenditure of millions of dollars of taxpayer money."

Why did Bush waste our money? Why do we need Fitz (at considerable taxpayer expense) to accomplish what Bush should have accomplished in the first few days? "My fellow Americans, Libby did it. He's out. Let's talk about Social Security."

Someone please explain that.

top: "no crime"

I realize you've suddenly decided that perjury isn't a crime. How timely of you.

Barney: "If he's looking for leverage then he doesn't have to have an airtight case regarding the leaking classified documents, he just needs the hammer of an indictment."

Fitz is actually an honest prosecutor. He doesn't want to indict on any charge if he's not confident he can win. He is also content with a potential penalty of 30 years (or more). He explained that this is sufficient to "vindicate the interest of the public in making sure [Libby's] held accountable."

30 years is plenty of leverage, by the way. Fitz stopped where he did because it's enough.

And of course Creepy is right. Fitz can add more charges anytime he wants to.

"if he is interested in going after Cheney, then he is indeed eventually going to have to prove intent to divulge classified info and to have a conspiracy."

None of us have any idea what kind of dirt Libby might give up on Cheney, in order to avoid 30 years.


Gary: "It will make a conviction more difficult especially if there is a Nick Kristof sliming his way through an admission that most of what he wrote was rife with errors and he knew it long ago but never corrected it."

You seem to be suffering from a case of whatever Cecil's got.

Anything Kristof (and any other media figure) says or doesn't say has nothing to do with the fact that there are government witnesses who have already given testimony which proves that Libby lied to Fitz. Period.


Maybe so, but I think Republicans will pay a price.

drjohn: "My wife was not a clandestine officer the day that Bob Novak blew her identity."

I guess you missed this: "Wilson said his comment was meant to reflect that his wife lost her ability to be a covert agent because of the leak, not that she had stopped working for the CIA beforehand. His wife's 'ability to do the job she's been doing for close to 20 years ceased from the minute Novak's article appeared; she ceased being a clandestine officer,' he said."


decayd: "unless granted specific permission by CIA, Libby might have believed that he could not reveal information received from CIA to the grand jury!"

Both clever and desperate. If what you're saying is true, Libby would/should have simply said "I can't answer this question because it requires me to reveal classified information." Then a judge would have stepped in to unravel that particular knot.

Libby didn't do that.

Protecting classified information can be accomplished without lying to a grand jury. Sort of reminds me of how rebutting Wilson could/should have been accomplished without outing a CIA officer.

Patrick: "At the end of which he had to admit there was no crime committed in revealing that Valerie worked at CIA."

Fitz did no such thing. You're making shit up again. Let me know if you'd like some reminders of some classic examples of you doing that on other occasions.

Marcel: "Libby's testimony in front of the Grand Jury twice in March 2004 was only 8 months after the flurry of activity in July 2003."

True. But Libby also lied to the FBI on 10/14/03, which was just four months after.

Tate will have a hard time convincing a jury that Libby can't remember what Cheney told him four months ago. Especially since a bunch of other government witnesses (including Cheney himself) seem to have had no trouble remembering their conversations with Libby. How odd that Libby is the sole amnesiac in the bunch.


cathyf: "then in intensive questioning, the defense attorney elicits testimony from Russert that he did know that Joe Wilson's wife was a WMD analyst"

You seem to be suffering from a case of whatever Cecil's got. It seems to be going around.

Anything Russert (and any other media figure) says or doesn't say has nothing to do with the fact that there are government witnesses who have already given testimony which proves that Libby lied to Fitz. Period.

Lesley: "these two articles point to the central role of reporters in the case against him."

Thanks for citing these helpful links. I see that some journalists (and so-called experts they're quoting) also haven't bothered to read the indictment. So it goes.

The journalist witnesses definitely help Fitz. But he has a very strong case without them.

Fitz has something for everyone. He has a bunch of journalists calling Libby a liar, and he has a bunch of government officials calling Libby a liar. Now, some people think no journalist can be trusted. And some other people think no government employee can be trusted. And probably there are other people who don't trust either. But Libby has to prove that he's the only honest one in the bunch, and all the government witnesses and press witnesses are lying. An uphill battle for Libby.

But that's not even his strategy. He seems to be adopting the amnesia strategy. Also an uphill battle for Libby.


Cecil: "Obviously we only have Cooper's word for what Libby told him."

True (although Cooper's notes and emails may play a role, as well as testimony of people with whom he communicated regarding the Libby conversation). But Fitz's case doesn't rely primarily on what Libby told Cooper. Libby's problem has to do with what Libby told Fitz, and how Libby's statements to Fitz are incongruent with the testimony of various government witnesses.

"it sure doesn't come out clearly in the text provided with the indictment [that he testified reporters were his first source]"

I agree it could be clearer, but it's clear enough that he lied. For example: "I didn't know it was true and I wanted them to understand that."

Of course he knew it was true. He had heard it from multiple government sources (including Cheney) before he discussed it with any reporter. So this is a big fat lie, and he's clearly trying to avoid mentioning his conversations with Cheney et al.

Note that he didn't say this: "I knew it was true but I was being very careful with regard to what I revealed to journalists." There's a huge gulf between a statement like this, as compared with what he actually said.


Boris: "I think you (as well as others) are too focused on what you assume the question was."

No one has to "assume" anything about what the question was. The indictment indicates the questions that preceded each answer.

I think you are too focused on what you assume is not in the indictment, even though it is. In other words, the assuming is all yours.

dorf: "Cooper: married to who?"

A Democratic consultant.

Funny thing how Cooper protected his sources (Libby and Rove) all through the period preceding 11/2/04. Do you think this made him more popular at home?

SMG: "the only logical explanation for it would be his desire to string the investigation out past the election."

I wouldn't say it's the only explanation, but I think what you suggest was an important part of his reasoning.

I think a big part of the explanation (for how he could be so dumb) is this: he first lied to the FBI on 10/14/03. At that time, Ashcroft was still in office. He had not yet recused himself. Libby figured that with his pals running the White House, Congress, and DOJ, that there was no way the investigation would ever take on any momentum. He figured the war would turn around and no one would give a darn. He didn't imagine that someone like Fitz would come along, and be so tenacious, cracking open reporters the way he did.

In other words, as of 10/03, Libby just wasn't taking the problem seriously. He was looking for an easy way to kick the problem down the road. But then he was locked into his story and couldn't get out.


Clarice: "The idea that Administration officials will be called because they can refute anything about Libby's recollections of his conversations with his lawyers reveals how preposterous this case is..."

I realize you mean "conversations with reporters."

When he said "I didn't know it was true and I wanted them to understand that" he wasn't just describing his conversation with a reporter. He was describing what he knew at the time of this conversation. This description is a lie.

"It is obvious that Libby is testifying about those conversations and not anything else"

He is testifying about the conversation, but he is also testifying about what he knew at the time of the conversation. Reporter testimony shows he lied about the former. Government testimony shows he lied about the latter.

Anyway, keep hope alive. Denial is a powerful force.

"How does Libby get to call Plame and Wilson to the stand?"

In my opinion, he doesn't, because he wasn't charged with outing Plame. He was charged with lying to Fitz. I don't see how any testimony by Plame/Wilson (or Kristof/Pincus, for that matter) is remotely relevant to what Libby needs to do, which is prove that he didn't lie to Fitz.

"Because it reveals a truth that he's not adept in this, had no special expertise on the point"

Wilson had many years of experience in Africa and Iraq. He had also already done a similar mission in Niger. He was well-qualified. It would interest me if you could indicate an example of any other person who had anything like his combined experience in Iraq and Niger, the two countries obviously most relevant to his mission.

Good luck coming up with a name of one diplomat who had ever even visited Niger (which happens to be one of the poorest countries in the world, by the way; some boondoggle!).

Maybe Harriett Miers would have been a good choice. Or Michael Brown.

It's highly ironic that Bush has a terrible track record with regard to hiring qualified people, and at the same time Bush supporters want to claim Wilson was unqualified, when in fact he was highly qualified for this mission.

"I'm certain if Libby hadn't already been working 14 hours a day"

Selling a war with lies is hard work. Likewise for sneaking around, pretending to be a "former Hill staffer," in a secret effort to out a CIA officer.

"he could have thought up a more artful response"

He didn't need to think up an "artful response." He needed to tell the truth. He didn't.


Barney: "How does outing Wilson's wife as a CIA agent discredit him?"

The White House was trying to send the message that Cheney had nothing to do with Wilson's trip. It was decided that one way to convey this message was to assert that Wilson went on a pointless boondoggle arranged by his wife.

Yes, this does seem rather silly, but they had nothing else to throw at him aside from some forged documents.

Lesley: "you could end up with a huge contract as a spokesperson for Lady Clairol."

Someone might think you're serious.

"drive around in a Jaguar"

One could also accomplish exactly the same thing by marrying someone like Turdblossom.

Marcel: "Instead, they could have made public statements refuting points raised by Wilson."

Exactly. But they had no facts on their side. Just some forged documents. So instead they engaged in a covert effort to out a CIA officer. And now that covert effort has been outed.

"Libby was up 14 hours a day saving the butts of his 2 bosses."

Exactly. And also a bunch of his own butts, given Syl's artful Multiple Scooter Scenario.


top: "whenever jo jo mojo is pressed on his assertions he blames his aging faulty memory, so I see no reason Libby can't steal a page from Wilson's playbook"

Maybe you'll see a reason when you realize that Dick Cheney, Marc Grossman, Catherine Martin, Ari Fleischer and a few other government employees all seemingly had no trouble remembering discussing Plame with Libby. For some reason Libby is the only amnesiac in the group. Are the rest of them really getting that much more sleep than he does?

cathyf: " the window of opportunity for deciding whether or not memories are kept permanently is 15 minutes, 8 months ... "

Maybe you'd like to explain how it is that all those other folks managed to remember the conversations for more than 15 minutes.

By the way, it was 4 months, not 8 months.

wind: "you guys are trying to accuse Libby of leaking a covert agent's name AND dangerous classified information ... so you want the British government to do the same thing you accuse Libby of"

If there's real evidence, there's no reason why some version of it can't emerge in a protected manner. It can be sufficiently redacted or limited to protect the underlying assets. SSCI, for example, is full of examples of how sensitive information can be partially described, with critical facts hidden behind multiple redactions. Or the information can be circulated on a limited basis (just to SSCI, for example).

Please explain why nothing like that has happened.


TM: "IF that was a heinous crime imperiling lives, etc., why no charges on that?"

If you mean why wasn't Libby charged with outing Plame, I think the answer is that Fitz is perfectly content with the charges he filed. Fitz wants to follow the path of least resistance that will let him nail the bad guy.

If you mean why wasn't Rove charged with outing Plame, that's less clear. I would say the answer has something to do with this: Fitz isn't done yet.

"what key facts do you think Libby successfully concealed?"

The full role of the people around him, especially Cheney. That's a guess, of course.

SMG: "She wasn't covert at the time."

Fitz didn't answer that question (and I'm not sure if that adjective is that helpful anymore). Fitz only said her status as a CIA employee was classified information.

But there's interesting information in the indictment, on this point. Cheney told Libby not just that Plame worked at CIA, but that Plame worked in the Counterproliferation Division. This is part of the Directorate of Operations. This is the clandestine branch of the CIA. This means that Cheney and Libby both knew that Plame's CIA identity was very likely a matter of classified information (and that she was very likely covert, in case someone thinks the word "covert" is more impressive than "classified").

That didn't seem to slow them down any.


!: "at some point in July of '03 didn't Tenet de-classify Plame's id?


"isn't the British intelligence report a claim that largely echoes the claim which the CIA acknowledged and caveated as unreliable in Oct. '02?"


"am I wrong that citing the claim that Hussein attempted to acquire uranium from anywhere in Africa is not echoed in both reports?"

The same bogus claim, all stemming back to the same rotten documents, appears in multiple reports. This creates tons of confusion, with people believing that there are actually multiple underlying indications. No. It's just a case of single rumor mutating and moving through multiple channels.

"Does the British findings stipulate that it was not Niger but another country which was selling or potentially selling uranium?"

The Butler report and other reports make some effort to suggest that maybe it's not necessarily Niger, but one or more other African countries (where Saddam is allegedly shopping for yellowcake). Trouble is, when you look closely you realize this is based on nothing.


Barney: "Because he stated in writing that the Veep's office sent him"

Some people simply can't stop making shit up.

Gary: "Two to one odds say he never does a day of jail time"

Yes, I think there's a very good chance he'll avoid jail by giving up someone else, like Cheney.

Cecil: "He's referring to his state of mind during a past conversation."

Indeed. And it's evident that he's lying about what his state of mind was during that past conversation. He's claiming that at the time his mind was free of prior information about Plame. A bunch of his officemates say otherwise.

MJW: "I can't type as fast as JBG."

I'll be even faster after I learn to use the other 8 fingers. Just kidding.

wind: "the context Fitz gave in press conference and indictment about outing a covert agent etc national security would quite possibly be ruled out by a judge"

I surmise otherwise, on account of something Libby inflicted on himself. In his testimony he seemed to be trying to say "I didn't want to give the reporters the impression I actually knew anything; on the contrary, I was just passing along rumors without confirming them." In a way he's saying he understood he was discussing sensitive information. Therefore it becomes relevant for Fitz to educate jurors about why Libby would see, or pretend, or know, that the information was sensitive.


Rick: "Try typing without thinking."

I would almost say you've cornered the market on that, but I have to admit you have some stiff competition.

cathyf: "Why did Fitzgerald put Miller in there at all?"

I agree that Miller's not terribly credible. I think it's possible, however, that there are things in her notes that might be especially helpful to Fitz.

MJW: "Fitzgerald shouldn't be misrepresenting testimony to make it look more definite than it actually was."

In a contest between Miller's integrity and Fitz's, I think it would be foolish to bet on the former. In other words, I think cathyf is correct when she mentioned the possibility that what the NYT printed about Miller's testimony is not entirely congruent with Miller's actual testimony.

"Admittedly, we're relying on Miller's report of her testimony rather than her actual testimony."



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