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First perjury and next 'redherring' in Libby and the Press saga
From: "David Farber" <dave () farber net>
Date: Thu, 13 Apr 2006 08:24:28 -0400
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From: Ronda Hauben <ronda () panix com>
Date: Thu, 13 Apr 2006 07:42:59 -0400 (EDT)
I thought folks on IP would be interested in looking at what has happened
when much of the U.S. press covering the Libby perjury case fell for the
bait of substituting 'declassifying' the N.I.E. instead of keeping the
focus on the criminal of perjury as the Prosecutor has been doing.
It is worth folks looking more closely at what Proescutor Fitzgerald
wrote in his April 6 document to the Court. I tried to do that in this
'All the President's Men' Revisited?
The Libby indictment for perjury and obstruction
Ronda Hauben, OhmyNews, April 10, 2007
On Saturday evening, April 8, in the New York area, the PBS TV featured a
movie about the Watergate cover-up that brought down the presidency of
Richard Nixon in the early 1970s. The film "All the President's Men"
showed the investigation by two Washington Post reporters into a burglary
in the Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in
Washington, D.C.(1) The investigation went on for a sustained period of
time and ultimately uncovered that the burglars were part of a secret
organization established from the White House to deal with those the
Nixon White House perceived as "political enemies."
The film was particularly relevant in view of the continuing
investigation by Special Council, Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald into the
source of the leak of classified information about the undercover status
of CIA agent Valerie Plame. Plame's undercover identity at the time was
leaked to reporters to try to discredit her husband Joseph Wilson's
effort to demonstrate the inaccuracy of the pretext that the Bush
administration was using to justify the invasion of Iraq.
The Watergate cover-up was exposed with the help of investigative
reporters. Nixon resigned his office rather than face impeachment. The
current investigation into a political cover-up by the Bush White House,
however, is lacking a similar investigation by the press. Instead
reporters like Robert Novack, helped the administration to expose Plame's
undercover identity. Other reporters like Judith Miller of the New York
Times, delayed the Prosecutor's investigation by refusing to reveal.
Lewis "Scooter" Libby's conversations with her for almost three months in
the name of protecting her sources.
Once Miller did testify, it became clear that she as a reporter was being
involved in corrupt activity by White House officials. Fitzgerald has
charged Libby with perjury, obstruction of justice and making false
statements to federal investigators, which are criminal felonies under
the law in the U.S.
While Libby's trial is set to begin in January 2007, his lawyers have
filed requests asking the Prosecutor for copies of a large number of
documents as part of the discovery process, many of which the Prosecutor
has described as irrelevant to the charges. Most recently, the
Prosecution filed a "Government's Consolidated Response to Defendant's
Motions to Compel Discovery" and posted a copy at the Web site for
official government documents in the case. (2)
In response to the recent prosecution document, a number of newspapers
are questioning whether the President or Vice President declassified the
National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) to make it available to reporters so
as to discredit Joe Wilson's report that Iraq was not trying to buy
uranium from Niger. The press is thus raising the issue of whether it is
appropriate for the White House to declassify documents for such a
It is important, however, that such discussion not be a distraction from
the facts that have been documented in Libby's case by the Prosecutor and
the questions raised by these facts. Since Libby's request for documents
from the Prosecution is presented as the source of the statement that the
White House declassified the NIE, it is helpful to keep in mind that
Libby is charged with perjury and obstruction of justice. He and his
lawyers are unreliable as sources of information to help to get to the
bottom of the issues in the investigation Fitzgerald is carrying out.
In the April 6 court document, Fitzgerald refers to Libby's contention
that he was not doing anything illegal in disclosing the contents of a
National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) to certain reporters and others.
Fitzgerald argues that this is not an issue relevant to the case he has
brought against Libby. He explains:
"The question of whether defendant did anything improper in
disclosing the NIE is not relevant to whether defendant
committed perjury by lying about something else"..."To the
contrary, proof that the disclosure was proper would not
negate proof that he committed perjury by lying about
Fitzgerald describes the perjury charge against Libby.
"He is charged with perjury for lying under oath when he
testified that he thought he learned information about
Wilson's wife as if it were new from Tim Russert [a TV
reporter - Ed.] on July 8 when in fact the information was
neither new to him (he was dispensing it the days before his
conversation with Russert) nor was it discussed with Mr.
Fitzgerald also refers to the circumstances that Libby was in when he
spoke with the FBI and other criminal justice officials.
"Defendant's request for discovery to show an absence of
motive to lie or conceal his conduct overlooks the fact that
even the materials defendant appended to his motion show that
in early October 2003 (when defendant first gave his story)
there would be great embarrassment to the administration if
it became publicly known that defendant had participated in
disseminating information about Ms. Wilson's CIA employment,
and defendant would have had every reason to assume he would
be fired if his true actions became known. Then National
Security Adviser Dr. Condoleeza Rice publicly stated that she
knew 'nothing of any such White House effort to reveal any of
this, and it would certainly not be the way the president
would expect his White House to operate'."
Fitzgerald provides the text of a handwritten statement from Libby to
White House Press Secretary McClellan. Libby asked McClellan to say:
"People have made too much of the difference in how I
described Karl and Libby. I've talked to Libby. I said it was
ridiculous about Karl. And it is ridiculous about Libby.
Libby was not the source of the Novak story. And he did not
leak classified information."
In response to Libby's request. McClellan told reporters, "these
individuals (referring to Rove and Elliot Abrams, and Libby) assured me
that they were not involved in this."
Further, Fitzgerald's document explains:
"Thus, as defendant approached his first FBI interview he
knew that the White House had publicly staked its credibility
on there being no White House involvement in the leaking of
information about Ms. Wilson and that, at defendant's
specific request through the Vice President, the White House
had publicly proclaimed that defendant was 'not involved in
this'. The President had vowed to fire anyone involved in
leaking classified information. In that context, defendant
proceeded to tell the FBI that he had merely passed
information from one reporter (Russert) to other reporters
while disclaiming any knowledge of whether the information he
passed was true, and certainly unaware that he knew this
classified information from government channels. Once that
die was cast, defendant repeated the story in a subsequent
interview and during two grand jury appearances."
Fitzgerald has shown how the scene had been set at the White House for
Libby to lie to law enforcement officials. To do the needed investigation
into the source of the leak that the Special Council has been charged to
carry out, however, requires getting beyond the lies and obstruction.
Thus Fitzgerald has focused on the perjury and obstruction of justice
charges in an effort to encourage witnesses to provide accurate
information for the investigation he is conducting.
At the end of the April 6 court document, the Prosecutor requests help
from the court to expedite the litigation. Libby's request, Fitzgerald
explains, is to introduce 'thorny issues' that will complicate the
litigation. In a similar way, can the U.S. press give support to the
Prosecutor to expedite the investigation, or will it be diverted from the
critical issues by Libby's introduction of "thorny issues"?
1) PBS, Saturday, 9 p.m., April 8, 2006.
"All The President's Men" (1976) (138')
"Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman star in this film about the Watergate
investigation, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by journalists
Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein."
They also showed:
"Thirty years later"
"This documentary reconsiders the Watergate scandal and the impact it had
on so many facets of American life: the public's view of the presidency;
the balance of power between the executive and the legislature; the
relationship between politicians and journalists; and the role of the
judiciary. The special brings together many of the Watergate
protagonists, to recall the drama in which they played key roles and
reflect on the repercussions for American public life."
Heat Is On for CIA Leak Probe Prosecutor
The Internet and White House Leak Inquiry
'Scooter' Libby, White House Drama Unfolds
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- First perjury and next 'redherring' in Libby and the Press saga David Farber (Apr 13)