31 October 2005

Mr. Libby's story was not true

Vice president Dick Cheney's chief of staff lied under oath and repeatedly, according to an indictment handed down Friday from special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald.

On the surface, while it's sad news to see the first White House official in over 130 years indicted, it could have been a lot worse for the Bush administration, as Bush's Brain, Karl Rove, escaped an indictment for the present time. According to Rove's lawyer, he is still in legal jeopardy, and may have eluded the wrath of the grand jury by some eleventh hour finagling. However, the investigation remains open, though Mr. Fitzgerald did say that the "substantial" portion of the investigation is concluded. He was tight lipped about any other future developments, other than trial preparation for Mr. Libby.

OK, is the investigation finished? It's not over, but I'll tell you this: Very rarely do you bring a charge in a case that's going to be tried and would you ever end a grand jury investigation.

I can tell you, the substantial bulk of the work in this investigation is concluded.

Will I. Lewis Libby serve the kamikazi role, and go the same prison route as traversed by G. Gordon Liddy during the Watergate era? Or will he sing to Mr. Fitzgerald, and shake some more skeletons out of the White House, including his boss Dick Cheney?

Republican loyalists are sneering at the indictment, terming it a perjury technicality akin to the recent Martha Stewart prosecution for a crime that wasn't even committed . Some even enter the theater of the absurd, crying that Fitzgerald is a Democratic partisan. Personally, I find that to be puzzling, given the venom directed at President Clinton for his perjury over an affair with an intern, that had no relevance to his duties, and while the immorality of infidelity casted a cloud over his character, those in Congress pushing the charge were all guilty themselves of the same illicit behavior as are many individuals perched atop the power pinnacle in America. A far cry from perjury in the act of thwarting an investigation over leaking an CIA agent's identity that jeopardized national security.

PlameGate, or WilsonGate, or LibbyGate, or NigerGate or whatever its final moniker will be has been dragged out two years, and yet, more questions have arisen than answers revealed.

  • Why was Scooter Libby lying and twisting his story again and again? Yes, his defense will be a failing memory, but even reporters at the Fitzgerald press conference broke out in laughter after Fitzgerald reported all the obvious conflicting testimony?

  • Why was Joseph Wilson marked as a target if the Bush adminstration truly thought their intel on Iraq and WMD was accurate?

  • Is this all going to play out like a he said/she said circle jerk and Karl Rove chuckling gleefully in C. Montgomery Burns fashion at the conclusion?

  • Is Judy Miller nothing more than a neoconservative tool?

  • Will more details emerge or will the true story be buried until some future date where an enterprising investigative journalist digs it out.

Still, it is apparent that the Wilsons were targeted by Bush adminstration officials in a behind the curtain struggle between powerful entities. That happened to include fraudulent justification of an invasion of a country that posed no threat to the United States based on false and manufactured pretense. It sure looks to me like anyone that wanted to blow the whistle on the hawkish neoconservative clan would be caught in the crosshairs and dealt damage, even if it meant on a personal level, or to the destruction of the very apparatus that serves to protect the nation. Why was there a drive to impeach a president over perjury regarding marital infidelity, but not for a president whose White House has run amok, discarding the truth to fit an already predetermined policy?

One final note — there seems to be great jubilation in Democrat/Progressive enclaves for "Merry Fitzmas", but count me out of that party. As much as I detest the Bush presidency, these developments dishearten me. I wish for justice to be done, but I am not delighted what so ever that senior officials in the executive branch of our government acted in such a fashion. It's not a cause for celebration, it's a time to root out the corruption and replace the scoundrels with statesmen, displace dishonesty with honesty, and get America back on track.

Some other perspectives from around the internets:

  • Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald has his own website, where all the pertinent court documents are being posted.

  • Larry Johnson addresses the far right talking points on Joseph Wilson and their grasping at straws and clutching with copies of the total abomination that was the Senate Intelligence Committee report from July 2004. Here's an accompaning article that throws water on the claim about British intelligence on Niger.

  • Libby's lawyers prepare a CRS defense.

  • Joseph Wilson says the president owes the nation both an explanation and an apology.

  • The first Jacobin falls.
    The Bush administration neoconservatives who assembled the "intelligence" knew that it was false. The neoconservatives had their own agenda. They used the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 to turn the Bush administration to their agenda. As the leaked top secret British government Downing Street memo made clear, the agenda was to invade Iraq, and "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

    There was a conspiracy among neoconservatives holding high positions in the Pentagon, the State Department, the vice president's office and the National Security Council. Lawrence B. Wilkerson, chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell from 2002 to 2005, described the conspirators as "a secretive, little-known cabal … made up of a very small group of people led by Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld." Wilkerson says that the secret workings of this furtive cabal took foreign policy and decisions about war out of the normal government channels.

  • President Bush rediscovers the presumption of innocence.

  • Air America radio network founder Sheldon Drobny believes Fitzgerald tossed a softball.
    Fitzgerald had to indict Libby. Libby's lies were so blatant that Fitzgerald had no choice. But Fitzgerald had a golden opportunity to do enough work to prove the underlying crimes that he was originally investigating. Those crimes involve two offenses in the U.S. Criminal Code; Conspiracy and Outing a CIA agent. Essentially Fitzgerald indicted Libby for preventing his prosecutors from proving the underlying crimes he was investigating by using a baseball metaphor in that Libby "threw sand in the umpires eyes." That part is patently absurd.

    In most conspiracy cases, one or more of the co-conspirators invariably lie to the FBI or the Grand Jury. That is something that prosecutors face all the time. The idea that Libby alone prevented Fitzgerald from proving the underlying crime is absurd. If Cheney told Libby about Valerie Plame, there obviously was a reason. The idea that Cheney, Libby, Rove and Bush did not talk to each other about the purpose of passing on this information to the press is simply not believable. And there were many ways that Fitzgerald could have proven the conspiracy in spite of Libby's lies. The fact that Libby lied would normally embolden a prosecutor to prove the underlying crime. This was not the case for Fitzgerald.

  • Laura Rozen covers the Niger forgeries and Italian involvement:
    The new information is that Nicolo Pollari, head of Italian military intelligence (SISMI), met with deputy director of the national security council, Stephen Hadley. SISMI circles, with their American acolytes on the right, are suspected of having a hand in the creation and distribution of the forgeries alleging Iraqi purchases of Niger yellowcake uranium. Such a meeting is unusual, since foreign officials usually meet their own peers. So Pollari should have been meeting with the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, not with a high national security council staffer. If Hadley gathered intelligence from Pollari, I suspect it may even have been illicit. (See below*).

    This meeting could be important, because as I remember the story, Hadley authorized the claims in Bush's State of the Union address about Iraqi purchases of African uranium. Bush kept wanting to put the claim in, and the CIA kept making him take it back out, as the Washington Post reported in 2003. When the CIA wouldn't sign off on the Niger uranium claims, someone in Rice's national security council staff (I remember it as Hadley) suggested that it be sourced instead to "British intelligence." But I suspect "British intelligence" is actually a euphemism for "Italian military intelligence." Anyway, Tenet was forced to go along with the change as long as the CIA did not have to certify it was correct. He later apologized even for that much of a lapse. But of course Hadley should have been made to resign.

  • The New York Times still won't answer whether reporter Judy Miller, jailed for contempt during the Fitzgerald investigation, had a special security clearance, as claimed in her October 16 pseudo-mea-culpa. The paper's public editor attempted to discover the answer too, but was unable to obtain an answer either.

16 October 2005

I believed the information came from another source, whom I could not recall

My New York Times Judy Miller with a pseudo-mea-culpa feature piece on her testimony to special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and the enpaneled federal grand jury.
At that breakfast meeting, our conversation also turned to Mr. Wilson's wife. My notes contain a phrase inside parentheses: "Wife works at Winpac." Mr. Fitzgerald asked what that meant. Winpac stood for Weapons Intelligence, Non-Proliferation, and Arms Control, the name of a unit within the C.I.A. that, among other things, analyzes the spread of unconventional weapons.

I said I couldn't be certain whether I had known Ms. Plame's identity before this meeting, and I had no clear memory of the context of our conversation that resulted in this notation. But I told the grand jury that I believed that this was the first time I had heard that Mr. Wilson's wife worked for Winpac. In fact, I told the grand jury that when Mr. Libby indicated that Ms. Plame worked for Winpac, I assumed that she worked as an analyst, not as an undercover operative.

Mr. Fitzgerald asked me whether Mr. Libby had mentioned nepotism. I said no. And as I told the grand jury, I did not recall - and my interview notes do not show - that Mr. Libby suggested that Ms. Plame had helped arrange her husband's trip to Niger. My notes do suggest that our conversation about Ms. Plame was brief.

Mr. Fitzgerald asked me about another entry in my notebook, where I had written the words "Valerie Flame," clearly a reference to Ms. Plame. Mr. Fitzgerald wanted to know whether the entry was based on my conversations with Mr. Libby. I said I didn't think so. I said I believed the information came from another source, whom I could not recall.

Mr. Fitzgerald asked if I could recall discussing the Wilson-Plame connection with other sources. I said I had, though I could not recall any by name or when those conversations occurred.

Let me get this straight — despite a ledger of detailed notetaking, an award winning reporter who's boasted of her stenographic approach to journalism cannot remember who revealed the identity of Valerie Plame and worse, willingly shuffled off to a jail cell to protect a phantom source? Despite the fact that this feature story broke at the ebb of the news cycle, I expect a massive pile on of journalists across America with any shred of integrity.

Furthermore, it's a confirmation that Ms. Miller has been nothing more than a neconservative tool, a propaganda organ all too eager to play in any key her Bush administration masters want her to strike. Before the illegal, immoral Iraq invasion, she zealously served as a government generated disinformation transmitter, purposefully putting into print fabrications and prevarications orchestrated by the cabal of hawkish administration officials, and her employer never did offer a valid explanation for the faulty WMD reporting.

Some initial takes by Jay Rosen and Arianna Huffington that contend, also, that this "story" indeed raises more questions than answers.

14 October 2005

Don't screw with the librarian

The hero of the day, in a tale of unsolicited facsimile transmissions. Reading it will bring a smile to your face.

Update (10/14 22:07): it appears that the author has removed the contents of his missive, as a result of additional negotiations. However, I have reproduced a cache of said post here…
» read more

7 October 2005

Rove's lawyer believes his client is defintely going to be indicted

Lawrence O'Donnell, who's displayed a penchant for PlameGate progression prognostication predicts at least three high level Bush administration officials are going to be indicted as a result of the Patrick Fitzgerald investigation.

And, according to O'Donnell, it's the reason why Rove is voluntarily headed back for 11th hour grand jury testimony.

So, Luskin is sending Rove back into the grand jury to try to get around the prosecutor and sell his innocence directly to the grand jurors. Legal defense work doesn't get more desperate than this. The prosecutor is happy to let Rove go under oath again--without his lawyer in the room--and try to wiggle out of the case. The prosecutor has every right to expect that Rove's final under-oath grilling will either add a count or two to the indictment or force Rove to flip and testify against someone else.

According to some legal experts, it's a risky move for Rove. Murray Waas believes the 4th Rove grand jury appearance will be centered on his slippery words and conflicting statements.

Rove will appear voluntarily, but during tomorrow's session, Rove will be pressed about issues as to why his accounts to the FBI and grand jury have changed, or evolved, over time. He will also be questioned regarding contacts with other senior administration officials, such as then-deputy National Security advisor Stephen J. Hadley and I. Lewis Libby, the chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney in the critical week before the publication of columnist Robert Novak's column on July 14, 2003, which outed Plame as a covert CIA operative.

Rove is also likely to be asked more detailed questions about his conversation with Time magazine Matthew Cooper on July 11, 2003, in which Cooper himself has testified to the grand jury that Rove had told him that Valerie Plame was employed by the CIA, and had played a role in having her husband, ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, selected to go on his controversial fact-finding mission on behalf of the CIA. Rove's previous grand jury appearances had occurred prior to Cooper's own testimony to the grand jury.

5 October 2005

The Republican spin machine will be spreading lies and it is critical that the citizens of this country have clear facts to judge the truth of the matter

Larry Johnson reiterates that it doesn't matter if indictments arn't handed down in the PlameGate conspiracy, that it still is an outrageous betrayal and that elected officials entrusted with the responsibility to protect national security secrets chose to break this trust for petty political reasons.

Johnson, a former CIA analyst, lays out the facts of the case.

FACT 1--Vice President Cheney asked the CIA on 13 February 2002 to find out the truth about intel reports that Iraq was trying to acquire uranium from Niger.

FACT 2--Valerie Wilson did not hire her husband to go on the mission.

FACT 3--Ambassador Wilson arrived in Niger on 26 February and determined during the course of his visit that there was no substance to the allegation that Iraq was trying to procure uranium in Niger.

FACT 4--During early March 2002, Vice President Cheney asks his CIA briefer for an update on the Niger issue.

FACT 5--In the fall of 2002, CIA officials repeatedly warned Administration and Congressional officials not to accept as fact the claim that Iraq was trying to acquire uranium.

FACT 6--In his State of the Union Address in January 28, 2003, the President included information the CIA previously had refused to clear.

FACT 7--Instigated by Vice President Cheney, the White House pressed the the CIA for information about a claim in a NY Times column that the Vice President had instigated Wilson's trip.

FACT 8--Sometime in June 2003 the White House, with the participation of Karl Rove and Lewis Libby, conceived and executed a plan to discredit Joe Wilson.

FACT 9--Rober Novak, citing two Administration sources, identified Valerie Plame by name as a CIA officier on July 13, 2003.

FACT 10--Valerie Plame was still undercover when Bob Novak published her name.

4 October 2005

The power of federal prosecutors approaches the powers of the central leadership of the old communist and Nazi regimes

And President Bush again displays his preference for a pro-corporate presidential supremacist. Moreover, the Miers nomination is awash in cronyism, as the career rise of Harriet Miers is inextricably linked to her absolute devotion to George W. Bush.

In fact, she helped to bury the story of young Bush and his troublesome National Guard service. She's been a loyal servant to Bush, even briefing the President on August 6, 2001, which happened to be the same day on which President Bush received another briefing titled, Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S..

Also, there's questionable details about her experiences as head of Locke, Liddell & Sapp; a sleazy corporate law firm based in Dallas.

All of this amidst a chorus of charges that she is totally unqualified for a Supreme Court justice seat. Many of the Bush faithful are expressing thier disappointment with the selection of Miers. Opponents have even responded by circulating push polls to label Miers as a gay rights advocate.

There are some critical law decisions on the horizon that will address and deal with the emerging digital realms and advances in biology and technology in general. It sure seems that one-sided judges that defer to absolute presidential powers and exceedingly kowtow to corporate interests. And it appears that we're powerless to stop the erosion of justice for all.