Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Friends in Low Places

"There is no crueler tyranny than that which is perpetuated under the shield of law and in the name of justice." -- Charles de Montesquieu (1689 – 1755)

A few quick thoughts on President Bush's commutation of the prison sentence for convicted felon, I. "Scooter" Libby:
  • Libby was convicted of deliberately, criminally thwarting the federal investigation of the leak of a covert CIA agent's identity during a time of war. We should always keep that basic fact in mind.

  • For years, when asked about the leak, the White House has said that it would not comment on an ongoing criminal proceeding. Now that President Bush has effectively destroyed that criminal proceeding with his virtual pardon of Libby, the press should resume asking the Bush Administration who leaked the agent's name, who ordered the leak of the agent's name and why.

  • Patrick Fitzgerald's rebuttal of Bush's excessive sentence claim is a subtle masterpiece:
    The sentence in this case was imposed pursuant to the laws governing sentencings which occur every day throughout this country. In this case, an experienced federal judge considered extensive argument from the parties and then imposed a sentence consistent with the applicable laws. It is fundamental to the rule of law that all citizens stand before the bar of justice as equals. That principle guided the judge during both the trial and the sentencing.
    And that principle is the latest victim of the Bush Administration.

  • By waiving the prison sentence and insuring that Libby will never serve a moment in jail, President Bush has stripped Fitzgerald of any leverage that he might have had to coerce the felon Libby to cooperate with the investigation of the war-time leak of a covert CIA agent's identity. Bush's virtual pardon is a deliberate obstruction of justice. Although Bush's obstruction of the administration and due process of law via his presidential pardon power is legal, never the less, it is obstruction of justice.

  • Save some outrage for after the 2008 elections -- Anyone who thinks that President Bush won't fully pardon Libby on his way out of the White House should think again.
I miss the rule of law.


Mark said...

Bob Novack testified that it was Richard Armitage thjat gave him the name/ Check wikipedia.

Nice that you stay up on these things.

So-Called Austin Mayor said...


Assistant Attorney General and Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald stated, quite explicitly, that the reason that he could not pursue the criminal investigation of the MULTIPLE leaks of a covert CIA agent's identity was because I. "Scooter" Libby lied under oath to the grand jury.

Nice that you stay up on these thing.


So-Called Austin Mayor said...

Here are some of Special Counsel Fitzgerald's comments on the CIA leak:

Valerie Wilson was a CIA officer. In July 2003, the fact that Valerie Wilson was a CIA officer was classified. Not only was it classified, but it was not widely known outside the intelligence community.

Valerie Wilson's friends, neighbors, college classmates had no idea she had another life.

The fact that she was a CIA officer was not well- known, for her protection or for the benefit of all us. It's important that a CIA officer's identity be protected, that it be protected not just for the officer, but for the nation's security.

Valerie Wilson's cover was blown in July 2003. The first sign of that cover being blown was when Mr. Novak published a column on July 14th, 2003.

But Mr. Novak was not the first reporter to be told that Wilson's wife, Valerie Wilson, Ambassador Wilson's wife Valerie, worked at the CIA. Several other reporters were told.

In fact, Mr. Libby was the first official known to have told a reporter when he talked to Judith Miller in June of 2003 about Valerie Wilson. ***

The indictment alleges that Mr. Libby learned the information about Valerie Wilson at least three times in June of 2003 from government officials.

Let me make clear there was nothing wrong with government officials discussing Valerie Wilson or Mr. Wilson or his wife and imparting the information to Mr. Libby.

But in early June, Mr. Libby learned about Valerie Wilson and the role she was believed to play in having sent Mr. Wilson on a trip overseas from a senior CIA officer on or around June 11th, from an undersecretary of state on or around June 11th, and from the vice president on or about June 12th.

It's also clear, as set forth in the indictment, that some time prior to July 8th he also learned it from somebody else working in the Vice President's Office.

So at least four people within the government told Mr. Libby about Valerie Wilson, often referred to as "Wilson's wife," working at the CIA and believed to be responsible for helping organize a trip that Mr. Wilson took overseas.

In addition to hearing it from government officials, it's also alleged in the indictment that at least three times Mr. Libby discussed this information with other government officials.

It's alleged in the indictment that on June 14th of 2003, a full month before Mr. Novak's column, Mr. Libby discussed it in a conversation with a CIA briefer in which he was complaining to the CIA briefer his belief that the CIA was leaking information about something or making critical comments, and he brought up Joe Wilson and Valerie Wilson. ***

At the end of the day what appears is that Mr. Libby's story that he was at the tail end of a chain of phone calls, passing on from one reporter what he heard from another, was not true.

It was false. He was at the beginning of the chain of phone calls, the first official to disclose this information outside the government to a reporter. And then he lied about it afterwards, under oath and repeatedly.

A full transcript is available here: http://tinyurl.com/yrjgne


John said...

This is opinion, based on reports of statements made by Patrick Fitzgerald, and the timeline of the investigation. It has been reported that Fitzgerald could not prosecute Richard Armitage, because it could not be established that Valerie Plame was a covert agent who had operated outside of the U.S. within 5 years of the "leak" and, therefore, no crime was committed. It was also reported that Fitzgerald knew this, and who the leaker was (see AP article of 1/26/07*), while questioning Libby about the "crime" (that did not exist). This is prosecutorial misconduct and a waste of a grand jury's time. You cannot obstruct the investigation of facts that are already known.
By the way, while not relevant to this case, I think it is interesting to note that Joseph Wilson's report that the intelligence was unfounded and that Bush's statements about Saddam Hussein's attempts to purchase yellowcake in Niger were incorrect was discredited by the the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. For Joe Wilson's slanted interpretation of what he learned, and inaccuracies in his report, he should be somehow held accountable, but will not.
I, too, miss the rule of law...

*AP - 1/26/2007 6:31 AM
At the onset of the case, former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said he told authorities that he was the source behind columnist Robert Novak's story that revealed Plame's identity and triggered the investigation.

Also, from http://www.netscape.com/viewstory/2007/01/26/fitzgerald-reveals-immunity-gamble-in-cia-leak-case/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.kotv.com%2Fnews%2Fnational%2Fstory%2F%3Fid%3D118958&frame=true:
[Sen. Arlen] Specter said he wanted Fitzgerald to appear so he could press him to justify the CIA leak investigation. “Why were they pursuing the matter long after there was no underlying crime on the outing of the CIA agent?”

So-Called Austin Mayor said...

John said, "You cannot obstruct the investigation of facts that are already known."


You do so by lying to a grand jury under oath. Lying under oath is a cut and dried violation of the law.




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