The Spectacle Blog

Blood Lust

By on 10.29.05 | 1:57AM

If much of Washington is celebrating the indictment of Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the most famous vice-presidential chief of staff since Bill Kristol under Dan Quayle, the Washington Post's op-ed page hasn't joined in, at least not on slow Saturday. A joint op-ed by David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey blows Patrick Fitzgerald into space:

Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's indictment of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby should be the final proof that the system of "special prosecutors" is bankrupt and ought to be abandoned.

Fitzgerald, a highly respected federal prosecutor from Chicago, was given the task of investigating whether Bush administration officials had violated the Intelligence Identities Protection Act by "leaking" the identity of CIA employee Valerie Plame.

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Camp David Thoughts

By on 10.28.05 | 10:16PM

The president reportedly left for Camp David to contemplate the next Supreme Court nomination over the weekend. To my consternation, Miers and Andy Card both went with him. (This, presumably, does not mean that Card is the next nominee).

He surely had this letter from Sens. Leahy and Reid with him. In it, after tut-tutting Miers's implosion, they come right out and say that the prez shouldn't nominate anyone conservatives might accept, especially no candidate with a Y chromosome:

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Spinning Webs

By on 10.28.05 | 8:00PM

In speaking with people who would know far better than us about the Fitzgerald indictment, what on the face appears to be thin gruel may be a remarkably complex and dangerous document for the Bush Administration and its defenders, as well as Democrats.

Don't expect a lot of commentary or pushback from White House or Administration types, particularly given that so many colleagues have testified under oath or provided interviews to the FBI. The wrong comment or conflicting piece of information could create further troubles for others already in jeapardy.

More interesting is the time line that Fitzgerald lays out related to the defense the White House began to erect agains the leaking and prevaricating of Joe Wilson. Remember, all of this got started because word reached the White House from reporters and friends of the Administration that Wilson was talking himself up and his Niger trip in green rooms all over town. The White House had several weeks at least to begin mapping out a pushback plan, and this appears to be the time when many of the problems took shape. There appears to be much in this timeline for others to mine.

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Your Weekend Reading List

By on 10.28.05 | 6:17PM

Some notable books passed through our hands at TAS this week and here are some highlights:

Michelle Malkin puts in book form that which she does best: chronicling liberal madness in Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild. She flips through their odd conspiracy theories, the racist slurs of which she's a frequent target, and their fantasy of seeing President Bush assassinated. It looks like great red meat nightstand reading.

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Underlying Thread

By on 10.28.05 | 5:59PM

Let's not get carried away with the Scooter vs. the Reporters issue on the Libby indictment. If we read this carefully, and think about what Fitzgerald said in his endless presscon, there's another thread that seems to be the one that sewed up the indictment.

There's a pattern they're alleging in Libby's attempts to characterize the source of the information about Plame's identity. The indictment doesn't charge Libby with lying to reporters, but to the grand jury. Libby -- if he did as the indictment alleged -- told the grand jury that reporters (Russert, et al.) were the source of the Plame identity and that he repeated it to other reporters without knowing its truth or falsity. Libby is charged because he said those same things to the grand jury knowing that his source of the information wasn't the reporters but a White House official.

Outing Plame isn't charged, but Fitzgerald seems to be convinced that leaking her name was a violation of law. If she wasn't covert (and apparently she wasn't) it's hard to see what law was broken in leaking her CIA employment.

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Fitzgerald’s Four-Corner Offense

By on 10.28.05 | 4:20PM

Patrick Fitzgerald said that he wasn't going to speak outside the "four corners" of the indictment, yet he did repeatedly. Isn't it irresponsible for a prosecutor to say Libby compromised national security when he hasn't charged him with that? Fitzgerald's little speech on protecting the identities of CIA agents was ancillary BS to give his underwhelming findings a little gravitas. Either charge Libby with violating the Intelligence Identities Protection act, Mr. Fitzgerald, or shut up.

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Re: Plame Known as CIA Operative Before 7/14/03

By on 10.28.05 | 3:54PM

I noticed that, too. It's a major reason why Libby's claim of hearing about Plame from Russert might seem more plausible than the indictment allows. If the case goes to trial (a big if), Libby's lawyer may use this to raise questions about Russert's credibility, which could make for some rather awkward episodes of Meet the Press.

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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.

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Plame Known as CIA Operative Before July 14, 2003

By on 10.28.05 | 2:07PM

I'm not sure how this impacts the charges against Scooter Libby, but one of Fitzgerald's claims in the indictment press release doesn't hold up:

Prior to July 14, 2003, Valerie Wilson's employment status was classified. Prior to that date, her affiliation with the CIA was not common knowledge outside the intelligence community. (pg. 2)

This contradicts much of what we have known for years about this case: Valerie Plame/Wilson's identity was a rather open secret in Washington. Fitzgerald's right if by intelligence community, he means the Beltway community. I believe it was David Frum who said a while back that if she's driving over Chain Bridge everyday from her D.C. home she can't be that undercover.

Anyway, Bob Novak detailed his experience with this in an Oct. 1, 2003 column:

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