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Thread: Trial in Error

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2005
    SW United States

    Trial in Error

    Trial in Error
    If You're Going to Charge Scooter, Then What About These Guys?

    By Victoria Toensing
    The Washington Post
    Sunday, February 18, 2007; B01

    Could someone please explain to me why Scooter Libby is the only person on trial in the Valerie Plame leak investigation?

    Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald charged Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff with perjury on the theory that Libby had a nefarious reason for lying to a grand jury about what he told reporters regarding CIA officer Plame: He was trying to cover up a White House conspiracy to retaliate against Plame's husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV. Wilson had infuriated Vice President Cheney by accusing the Bush administration of lying about intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war.

    Fitzgerald apparently concluded that a purported cover-up was sufficient motive for Libby to trim his recollections in a criminal way. So when Libby's testimony differed from that of others, it was Libby who got indicted.

    There's a reason why responsible prosecutors don't bring perjury cases on mere "he said, he said" evidence. Without an underlying crime or tangible evidence of obstruction (think Martha Stewart trying to destroy phone logs), the trial becomes a mishmash of faulty memories in which witnesses can seem as guilty as the defendant. Any prosecutor knows that memories differ, even vividly, and each party can be convinced that his or her version is the truthful one.

    If we accept Fitzgerald's low threshold for bringing a criminal case, then why stop at Libby? This investigation has enough questionable motives and shadowy half-truths and flawed recollections to fill a court docket for months. So here are my own personal bills of indictment:

    * * *

    THIS GRAND JURY CHARGES PATRICK J. FITZERALD with ignoring the fact that there was no basis for a criminal investigation from the day he was appointed, with handling some witnesses with kid gloves and banging on others with a mallet, with engaging in past contretemps with certain individuals that might have influenced his pursuit of their liberty, and with misleading the public in a news conference because . . . well, just because. To wit:

    · On Dec. 30, 2003, the day Fitzgerald was appointed special counsel, he should have known (all he had to do was ask the CIA) that Plame was not covert, knowledge that should have stopped the investigation right there. The law prohibiting disclosure of a covert agent's identity requires that the person have a foreign assignment at the time or have had one within five years of the disclosure, that the government be taking affirmative steps to conceal the government relationship, and for the discloser to have actual knowledge of the covert status.

    From FBI interviews conducted after Oct. 1, 2003, Fitzgerald also knew that then-Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage had identified Plame as a CIA officer to columnist Robert D. Novak, who first published Plame's name on July 14, 2003.

    · In January 2001, Libby was the lawyer for millionaire financier Marc Rich, whom President Bill Clinton pardoned shortly before leaving office. Fitzgerald, who was then an assistant U.S. attorney in the southern district of New York, and U.S. Attorney James Comey spearheaded the criminal investigation of that pardon.

    · Fitzgerald jailed former New York Times reporter Judith Miller for almost 90 days for not providing evidence in a matter that involved no crime. Yet the two were engaged in another dispute: Fitzgerald wanted Miller's phone records, contending that by contacting an Islamic charity, she had alerted it to a government search the day before it happened.

    · Fitzgerald granted immunity to former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer without ever asking what he would testify to; he permitted NBC News bureau chief Tim Russert to be interviewed in a law firm office with his lawyer present, while Novak was forced to testify before the grand jury without counsel present.

    · Armitage, like Bush adviser Karl Rove, forgot one conversation with a reporter. Fitzgerald threatened Rove with prosecution; Armitage bragged that he didn't even need a lawyer.

    · In violating prosecutorial ethics by discussing facts outside the indictment during his Oct. 28, 2005, news conference, Fitzgerald made one factual assertion that turned out to be flat wrong: Libby was not "the first official" to reveal Plame's identity.

    * * *

    THIS GRAND JURY CHARGES JOSEPH C. WILSON IV with misleading the public about how he was sent to Niger, about the thrust of his March 2003 oral report of that trip, and about his wife's CIA status, perhaps for the purpose of getting book and movie contracts.

    · On July 6, 2003, Wilson appeared on "Meet the Press" hours after the New York Times published his op-ed "What I Didn't Find in Africa," which accused the administration of twisting intelligence to exaggerate the Iraq threat. The piece suggested that Wilson had been sent to Niger at the vice president's request to look into foreign intelligence reports of Iraqi efforts to obtain yellowcake uranium. Wilson told Andrea Mitchell, "The office of the vice president, I am absolutely convinced, received a very specific response to the question it asked and that response was based upon my trip there." But Cheney said he had no knowledge of Wilson's trip and was never briefed on his oral report to the CIA.

    · Wilson has claimed repeatedly -- including on MSNBC's "Countdown" on July 22, 2005 and at the National Press Club on Oct. 31, 2005 -- that he was sent to Niger because of his "specific skill set" and not because of his wife. But Senate intelligence committee documents indicate that Plame suggested his name for the trip, as did a State Department report and a CIA official who briefed the vice president's office.

    · Although Wilson has repeatedly claimed that neither his trip nor his oral report was classified, the CIA sent documents about the trip marked "classified" to the vice president's office and to date has not released the essence of the oral report. A source later identified as Wilson claimed in a Washington Post article on June 12, 2003, that documents related to an alleged Iraq-Niger uranium deal were forged because "the dates were wrong and the names were wrong." When Senate intelligence committee staff questioned that, as Wilson had never seen the documents, he responded that he may have "misspoken."

    · Wilson has continually played coy about his wife's status. On July 16, 2003, David Corn wrote in the Nation: "Did senior Bush officials blow the cover of a U.S. intelligence officer working covertly in a field of vital importance to national security -- and break the law -- in order to strike at a Bush administration critic and intimidate others?" Corn acknowledged talking to Wilson but said that Wilson refused to talk about his wife. Yet Corn also published Wilson's rather unsubtle suggestion: "Naming her this way would have compromised every operation, every relationship, every network with which she had been associated in her entire career."

    Plame was not covert. She worked at CIA headquarters and had not been stationed abroad within five years of the date of Novak's column.

    * * *

    THIS GRAND JURY CHARGES THE MEDIA with hypocrisy in asserting that criminal law was applicable to this "leak" and with misreporting facts to wage a political attack on an increasingly unpopular White House. To wit:

    · Notwithstanding the fact that major newspapers have highfalutin', well-paid in-house and outside counsel who can find the disclosure law and even interpret it, the following publications called for a criminal investigation:

    · The Atlanta Journal-Constitution called the appointment of a special independent counsel "absolutely necessary" because the allegations "come perilously close to treason" -- even though treason is a constitutional crime requiring two witnesses and the levying of war against the United States.

    · The Boston Globe wrote: "This is a case that clearly calls for the appointment of an independent counsel."

    · The New York Times naively approved the investigation if it "focused on the White House, not on journalists." It later applauded Fitzgerald's appointment, declaring that he must be allowed "to use the full powers of a special counsel."

    · The Washington Post refrained from expressing shock at a "leak." But The Post had contributed to the fray by reporting on Sept. 28, 2003, that "two White House officials called at least six Washington journalists and disclosed the identity and occupation of Wilson's wife . . . to undercut Wilson's credibility." This article was the likely impetus for the other papers' editorials.

    As recently as a week ago, the media were displaying their prejudice in this case. On "Meet the Press," journalists lamented that the Libby trial was revealing how government officials can use their relationships with reporters to plant stories that hurt their political enemies. Where was the voice at the table asking, "Didn't Wilson also use the media with his assertions in the New York Times and The Post?"

    * * *

    Full Story

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006

    Re: Trial in Error

    he should have known (all he had to do was ask the CIA) that Plame was not covert,
    Pleeeeeze!!! Even if she was a covert agent they wouldn’t just come out and admit it because it could jeopardize the safety of other agents, who were involved in the same mission, or involved in related missions? There is also a window (7-10 years after the fact, I think) of silence that they are not allowed to discuss the status of an agent for the same reason. These are legitimate National Security concerns!

    There are some CIA heads and agents who are retired or retiring, that are trying to write books, and are asking for a release from the WH for some of the content, and the White House is suppressing “those” topics in the books claiming National Security, which are implying that she was a covert agent either in active or under the window status. But who really knows?? They are insisting that the items they wish to discuss are no longer under that classification, but the White House and their staff are all saying it does fall into that category?? Wonder why? A little too much CYA going on by misusing the status of National Security perhaps?

    Even the Freedoms of Info material will have black paragraphs & pages, for another 20-30 years for things that have absolutely nothing to do with National Security, even though they will use that status to protect their image, and even to cover-up any wrong doings that they may have been involved in.

    Look at the John Lennon, documents classified under National Security, that had absolutely nothing to do with NS, only categorized to protect the improper and most likely illegal use of the CIA, the FBI, and tax payer resources to spy on a musician, who spread the word of peace, nothing more!? There are still those blacked out paragraphs & pages on documents that have been released to the public that are well over 40-50 years old that still insist they are a matter of National Security, when it is obvious that they are most likely just protecting the identity of someone who is still alive or to protect one of the two major parties of their numerous improprieties, of an illegal, immoral, or unethical nature.

    I agree that more indictments should be pursued but without the documentation the White House is sitting on for their own protection, it is kinda hard to show the evidence that is needed in a court of law to ascertain innocents and/or guilt? All the president has to do is claim National Security and whether it is or not, will be “for their eyes only”? Awfully convenient for them, wouldn't you say?

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