The Spectacle Blog

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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Paul Begala, Perjury Expert

By on 10.28.05 | 1:44PM

Paul Begala is higher than a kite on CNN. The Libby indictment has triggered his surprisingly sensitive conscience, inspiring a newfound distaste for perjury in the course of answering questions about a noncrime. He declares that Libby's indictment "will consume the rest of the Bush presidency." When Human Events editor Terry Jeffrey pointed out that the underlying matter here is substanceless political nonsense, Begala shushed him, saying that "perjury" is the issue.

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OSC Website

By on 10.28.05 | 1:38PM

Here is where you'll find the indictment and press release.

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Feeding Frenzy

By on 10.28.05 | 1:26PM

The networks all broke into daytime TV to announce the Libby indictment. Thousands of soap opera fans just shouted "What? Who?"

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