The Underlying Criminal

Speaking of impeachment — last Friday Patrick Fitzgerald filed a sentencing memorandum for Scooter Libby. Today Dan Froomkin discusses it.

Special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald has made it clearer than ever that he was hot on the trail of a coordinated campaign to out CIA agent Valerie Plame until that line of investigation was cut off by the repeated lies from Vice President Cheney’s former chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby. …

… In Friday’s eminently readable court filing, Fitzgerald quotes the Libby defense calling his prosecution “unwarranted, unjust, and motivated by politics.” In responding to that charge, the special counsel evidently felt obliged to put Libby’s crime in context. And that context is Dick Cheney.

Libby’s lies, Fitzgerald wrote, “made impossible an accurate evaluation of the role that Mr. Libby and those with whom he worked played in the disclosure of information regarding Ms. Wilson’s CIA employment and about the motivations for their actions.”

It was established at trial that it was Cheney himself who first told Libby about Plame’s identity as a CIA agent, in the course of complaining about criticisms of the administration’s run-up to war leveled by her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson. And, as Fitzgerald notes: “The evidence at trial further established that when the investigation began, Mr. Libby kept the Vice President apprised of his shifting accounts of how he claimed to have learned about Ms. Wilson’s CIA employment.”

The investigation, Fitzgerald writes, “was necessary to determine whether there was concerted action by any combination of the officials known to have disclosed the information about Ms. Plame to the media as anonymous sources, and also whether any of those who were involved acted at the direction of others. This was particularly important in light of Mr. Libby’s statement to the FBI that he may have discussed Ms. Wilson’s employment with reporters at the specific direction of the Vice President.” (My italics.)

Not clear on the concept yet? Fitzgerald adds: “To accept the argument that Mr. Libby’s prosecution is the inappropriate product of an investigation that should have been closed at an early stage, one must accept the proposition that the investigation should have been closed after at least three high-ranking government officials were identified as having disclosed to reporters classified information about covert agent Valerie Wilson, where the account of one of them was directly contradicted by other witnesses, where there was reason to believe that some of the relevant activity may have been coordinated, and where there was an indication from Mr. Libby himself that his disclosures to the press may have been personally sanctioned by the Vice President.” (My italics.)

Later in the column:

Nexthurrah blogger Marcy Wheeler blogs at the Guardian about how Libby’s “defense team solicited his friends and associates to write letters to the judge arguing that Libby deserves a reduced sentence. Last Friday, Libby’s lawyer Bill Jeffress submitted a filing opposing the release of those letters to the public. In it, he writes: ‘Given the extraordinary media scrutiny here, if any case presents the possibility that these letters, once released, would be published on the internet and their authors discussed, even mocked, by bloggers, it is this case.’ ”

Concludes Wheeler: “Jeffress’ invocation of bloggers is a cheap attempt to dismiss precisely what bloggers bring: an appropriate scrutiny of the motivations and actions of those who lied us into war and outed Valerie Plame.”

At The Guardian, Marcy’s response to this was admirably genteel. The suggestion that the people’s right to know is less important than keeping VIPs from being discussed, even mocked, might have annoyed the hell out of me.

Big update: NBC News

An unclassified summary of outed CIA officer Valerie Plame’s employment history at the spy agency, disclosed for the first time today in a court filing by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, indicates that Plame was “covert” when her name became public in July 2003.

The summary is part of an attachment to Fitzgerald’s memorandum to the court supporting his recommendation that I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Cheney’s former top aide, spend 2-1/2 to 3 years in prison for obstructing the CIA leak investigation. …

The employment history indicates that while she was assigned to CPD, Plame, “engaged in temporary duty travel overseas on official business.” The report says, “she traveled at least seven times to more than ten times.” When overseas Plame traveled undercover, “sometimes in true name and sometimes in alias — but always using cover — whether official or non-official (NOC) — with no ostensible relationship to the CIA.”

I wonder what righties will say about this.

7 thoughts on “The Underlying Criminal

  1. But we’re talking mocked! Surely such a fate is beyond the pale… mocked. Cruel, and all too unusual, punishment for these pearl-clutchers.

  2. ‘What Righties Would Say About This’ might make an easy book to write……’cept it would be boring to read after a few pages, what with the rightie responses being, ahem, predictably juvenile and repetitive and fact-challenged.

  3. The greatest pevrsion of Democracy by Bushies has to be the manipulation of the justice system. IMHO it is supposed to be adversarial, prosecution vs defense in free and open hearings where both sides can be heard. Lawyers have always tried to bend the system to their individual benefit, but over the past 200 years the overreaching concept of an open trial where both sides have the chance to present arguments has been sustained.

    Along comes George W Bush. Trash the right to face your accusers, you can be forced to testify agianst yourself (under torture or the threat of torture), you can be held indefinately without being charged, and now portions of arguments can be held secret to protect the identieties of your influential friends.

    Righties honestly believe they are patriots; how can they NOT see how dangerous to freedom this all is?

  4. In mid-May, Libby was a featured guest at a New York dinner honoring Norman Podhoretz, one of the neo-Conservative movement’s intellectual godfathers. According to reports from the scene, the dinner, organized by Commentary Magazine, opened with cheers and a “standing ovation” for Libby.

    Does it make you wonder? What’s this country coming to when people can stand in honor and praise of a convicted liar? Not only a liar, but a liar who betrayed our national security for political gain.

  5. Does it make you wonder? What’s this country coming to when people can stand in honor and praise of a convicted liar? Not only a liar, but a liar who betrayed our national security for political gain.

    No offense to Swami, who asks a legitimate question, but does he (or she) not remember Oliver North? Republicans have a fairly long history now of honoring and praising traitors, dissemblers and convicted liars.Especially those who lie for political gain!

  6. So, now that Scooter has been removed from the situation, will Fitzgerald pick up where he left off in his original investigation, the one that was obstructed by Libby’s perjury? Because if not, then the bad guys will have won and the phrase “taking one for the team” will take on new meaning in the stinking mess that is American politics.

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