The Spectacle Blog

The Indictment

By on 10.28.05 | 3:05PM

I've now read it. Here's the breakdown, with the charges rearranged into logical groupings.

First, the Russert charges: Libby told the grand jury that Tim Russert asked him, "did you know that Ambassador Wilson's wife works at the CIA?" and that Russert added that "all the reporters knew it." Russert told the grand jury that he and Libby did not discuss Wilson at all. The grand jury believes Russert, and this is the basis for one count of perjury and one count of making a false statement. By itself, not very strong -- it's Libby's word against Russert's.

Second, the Cooper charges. Libby told the grand jury that he said to Matthew Cooper of Time that reporters were telling the administration that that Wilson's wife was CIA, but that he didn't know if that was true. Cooper told the grand jury that he asked about Wilson's wife being CIA, and Libby said "I heard that too," without elaboration. This is the basis of the other perjury charge and the other false statement charge. The grand jury believes Cooper, and once again it's Libby's word against the reporter.

Third, the big enchilada: The obstruction charge. The Cooper and Russert charges mentioned above are part of the obstruction charge. So is another similar charge: Libby told the jury that he told Judy Miller that he'd heard other reporters saying that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA but that he didn't know if that was true. Miller contradicted this story. Apparently, Fitzgerald didn't think Miller was credible enough to bring another set of perjury and false statement charges, but did think that her story, taken together with the other conflicts between Libby's accounts of conversations and reporters', would bolster the obstruction charge. The other part of the obstruction charge appears to be the most damning: Libby told the grand jury that he was surprised to hear from Russert that Wilson's wife was CIA. But the indictment alleges that Libby had discussed the topic nine times prior to the conversation with Russert -- with the Vice President, with the Undersecretary of State, with a CIA briefer, with Judy Miller, with the White House Press Secretary, with the Assistant to the Vice President, with Judy Miller again, and with the Counsel to the Office of the Vice President.

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