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POIESIS

THE WHITE HOUSE CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY

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i'm surprised there isn't a thread on this...perhaps most of you are like me and are

pretty up to snuff on every little detail about this libby indictment already and the wild speculation

that continues...regardless here are some good articles about where this could/should and

probably will go...please post up any peripherally related articles worth reading too.........

also, let's give fitz a round of applause...

 

 

Keep Investigating, Fitz

http://www.tompaine.com/print/keep_investigating_fitz.php

Robert Dreyfuss

 

October 28, 2005

 

Robert Dreyfuss is the author of  Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam (Henry Holt/Metropolitan Books, 2005). Dreyfuss is a freelance writer based in Alexandria, Va., who specializes in politics and national security issues. He is a contributing editor at The Nation, a contributing writer at Mother Jones, a senior correspondent for The American Prospect, and a frequent contributor to Rolling Stone.

 

Back in the 20th century, when born-again prosecutor Ken Starr was industriously probing into every nook and cranny of the Clinton administration, it was a very, very big deal to the Republicans that President Clinton committed perjury in his testimony about—well, you know what it was about. Now, of course, we are about to be treated to a chorus of Republicans saying that it really isn’t a big deal at all that Karl Rove, the Scooter and who-knows-who-else in the Bush administration might have lied under oath about the outing of Valerie Wilson.

 

The irony of that aside, there is an important lesson here. Starr, one recalls, was originally given what seemed to be a very limited mandate to investigate an obscure real estate deal in Arkansas that took place many years before. But Starr, spreading tentacles everywhere, eventually dug into every manner of (unrelated) non-scandal he could find: Travelgate, Filegate, Vince Foster-gate, etc. Eventually, Linda Tripp trundled into his office to tell on Monica. At that point, Starr could have said: “Umm, no. That has nothing to do with Whitewater. Go tell someone else.� But he didn’t. Denying the affair with Monica as the cock crowed thrice, Clinton was nabbed, impeached by the House and his presidency was ruined.

 

What’s the relevance of this history lesson for 2005? The intrepid Mr. Fitzgerald, who apparently has discovered high crimes (or at least low crimes) in the White House in the Wilson affair, can nail Rove and Scooter, it seems, if he chooses to.

 

But like Starr, Fitzgerald can choose much more. He can choose to investigate the entire spider’s web of scandals that all overlap in what we ought to start calling Iraqgate.

 

He can investigate not only the outing of Wilson, but its root cause: the mythmaking about Iraq’s nonexistent nuclear program. And he doesn’t have to stop with the Niger uranium angle, a thread much easier to follow now that La Repubblica has uncorked a lot on the Italian end of that one. He can also investigate the parallel myths of the aluminum tubes, looking at who in the administration’s Office of Special Plans, the Iraqi National Congress, the American Enterprise Institute (see: Michael Ledeen) and other neocon-sponsored entities might have forged documents, passed on false reports and spread alarming bits of nonsense—intentionally—that helped Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld and Condi Rice issue exaggerated warnings to Americans about Iraqi mushroom clouds.

 

He can investigate the creation of the Counterterrorism Evaluation Group, the forerunner of the Office of Special Plans, and its first two staffers, David Wurmser and Mike Maloof. They, both friends of Richard Perle’s, spun tall tales that helped Bush, Cheney and the propaganda-minded White House Iraq Group link Saddam Hussein (falsely) to Al Qaeda.

 

He can investigate the burgeoning Larry Franklin scandal involving the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). In fact, how can he investigate Rove, Libby and Co. without overlapping their nefarious activities with the Office of Special Plans and the trips to Italy and other places in Western Europe by Ledeen and the OSP’s Franklin and Harold Rhode? The Ledeen who apparently turns up in the Niger hoax is the selfsame Ledeen who bundled Franklin and Rhode off to Europe to meet the lying Manucher Ghorbanifar. It sure looks like the same scandal to me.

 

He can investigate Mr. Bad Penny himself, Ahmed Chalabi and his ties to the neocon doomsayers. What was Chalabi’s role (while on the U.S. payroll, through the Pentagon-funded INC) in providing fake intelligence so readily gobbled up by Judy Miller, George "Slam-Dunk" Tenet and the OSP? What is Chalabi’s relationship to the evildoers in Iran, to whom he reportedly blabbed out top-secret U.S. information in 2004? Who in the Pentagon decided, without telling the CIA or the State Department, to fly Chalabi’s own private militia into southern Iraq  while the invasion was still pushing its way north to Baghdad? And what sort of business relationships does Chalabi have with the neocons?

 

He can investigate the creation of the OSP itself, starting with Douglas Feith, Bill Luti and Abram Shulsky, its titular director. Were crimes committed when Pentagon insiders, outside consultants, and assorted other hangers-on created an entire, parallel intelligence-evaluation group whose mission was to cherry-pick intelligence out of the system and funnel it up to senior U.S. officials through talking points that were based on lies? Surely Fitzgerald can drag those guys before a grand jury and see what they will say about their work—including, of course, efforts to intimidate or discredit people who disagreed with their now provably false conclusions.

 

He can investigate the rest of Cheney’s machine inside the government—from people like John Hannah and John Bolton to the ever-sly Jennifer Millerwise, who was Cheney’s spokesman in 2003 and who has now slipped over to the CIA to serve as no-commenter-in-chief at that demoralized, Porter Goss-led agency.

 

Of course, it’s possible that Fitzgerald will issue his indictments, halt any future inquiries and content himself with prosecuting Rove or Libby or a few others ensnared in the Wilson affair. Let’s hope not. At the very least, a special prosecutor snooping around the White House for the next three years will give White House counsel Harriet Miers something to do, now that she won’t have to bother with learning all that constitutional law she’d need on the Supreme Court.

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http://www.thenation.com/doc/20051114/delavega

Elizabeth de la Vega

 

Legal standards for corporate graft should match those of government corruption

Legally, there are no significant differences between the investor fraud perpetrated by Enron CEO Ken Lay and the prewar intelligence fraud perpetrated by George W. Bush. Both involved persons in authority who used half-truths and recklessly false statements to manipulate people who trusted them. There is, however, a practical difference: The presidential fraud is wider in scope and far graver in its consequences than the Enron fraud. Yet thus far the public seems paralyzed.

In response to the outcry raised by Enron and other scandals, Congress passed the Corporate Corruption Bill, which President Bush signed on July 30, 2002, amid great fanfare. Bush declared that he was signing the bill because of his strong belief that corporate officers must be straightforward and honest. If they were not, he said, they would be held accountable.

Ironically, the day Bush signed the Corporate Corruption Bill, he and his aides were enmeshed in an orchestrated campaign to trick the country into taking the biggest risk imaginable—a war. Indeed, plans to attack Iraq were already in motion. In June Bush announced his “new� pre-emptive strike strategy. On July 23, 2002, the head of British intelligence advised Prime Minister Tony Blair, in the then-secret Downing Street Memo, that “military action was now seen as inevitable� and that “intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.� Bush had also authorized the transfer of $700 million from Afghanistan war funds to prepare for an invasion of Iraq. Yet all the while, with the sincerity of Marc Antony protesting that “Brutus is an honorable man,� Bush insisted he wanted peace.

Americans may have been unaware of this deceit then, but they have since learned the truth. According to a Washington Post/ABC News poll conducted in June, 52 percent of Americans now believe the President deliberately distorted intelligence to make a case for war. In an Ipsos Public Affairs poll, commissioned by AfterDowningStreet.org and completed October 9, 50 percent said that if Bush lied about his reasons for going to war Congress should consider impeaching him. The President’s deceit is not only an abuse of power; it is a federal crime. Specifically, it is a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, which prohibits conspiracies to defraud the United States.

So what do citizens do? First, they must insist that the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence complete Phase II of its investigation, which was to be an analysis of whether the Administration manipulated or misrepresented prewar intelligence. The focus of Phase II was to determine whether the Administration misrepresented the information it received about Iraq from intelligence agencies. Second, we need to convince Congress to demand that the Justice Department appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the Administration’s deceptions about the war, using the same mechanism that led to the appointment of Patrick Fitzgerald to investigate the outing of Valerie Plame. (As it happens, Congressman Jerrold Nadler and others have recently written to Acting Deputy Attorney General Robert McCallum Jr. pointing out that the Plame leak is just the “tip of the iceberg� and asking that Fitzgerald’s authority be expanded to include an investigation into whether the White House conspired to mislead the country into war. )

Third, we can no longer shrink from the prospect of impeachment. Impeachment would require, as John Bonifaz, constitutional attorney, author of Warrior-King: The Case for Impeaching George Bush and co-founder of AfterDowningStreet.org, has explained, that the House pass a “resolution of inquiry or impeachment calling on the Judiciary Committee to launch an investigation into whether grounds exist for the House to exercise its constitutional power to impeach George W. Bush.� If the committee found such grounds, it would draft articles of impeachment and submit them to the full House for a vote. If those articles passed, the President would be tried by the Senate. Resolutions of inquiry, such as already have been introduced by Representatives Barbara Lee and Dennis Kucinich demanding that the Administration produce key information about its decision-making, could also lead to impeachment.

These three actions can be called for simultaneously. Obviously we face a GOP-dominated House and Senate, but the same outrage that led the public to demand action against corporate law-breakers should be harnessed behind an outcry against government law-breakers. As we now know, it was not a failure of intelligence that led us to war. It was a deliberate distortion of intelligence by the Bush Administration. But it is a failure of courage, on the part of Congress (with notable exceptions) and the mainstream media, that seems to have left us helpless to address this crime. Speaking as a former federal prosecutor, I offer the following legal analysis to encourage people to press their representatives to act.

The Nature of the Conspiracy

The Supreme Court has defined the phrase “conspiracy to defraud the United States� as “to interfere with, impede or obstruct a lawful government function by deceit, craft or trickery, or at least by means that are dishonest.� In criminal law, a conspiracy is an agreement “between two or more persons� to follow a course of conduct that, if completed, would constitute a crime. The agreement doesn’t have to be express; most conspiracies are proved through evidence of concerted action. But government officials are expected to act in concert. So proof that they were conspiring requires a comparison of their public conduct and statements with their conduct and statements behind the scenes. A pattern of double-dealing proves a criminal conspiracy.

The concept of interfering with a lawful government function is best explained by reference to two well-known cases where courts found that executive branch officials had defrauded the United States by abusing their power for personal or political reasons.

One is the Watergate case, where a federal district court held that Nixon’s Chief of Staff, H.R. Haldeman, and his crew had interfered with the lawful government functions of the CIA and the FBI by causing the CIA to intervene in the FBI’s investigation into the burglary of Democratic Party headquarters. The other is U.S. v. North, where the court found that Reagan Administration National Security Adviser John Poindexter, Poindexter’s aide Oliver North and others had interfered with Congress’s lawful power to oversee foreign affairs by lying about secret arms deals during Congressional hearings into the Iran/contra scandal.

Finally, “fraud� is broadly defined to include half-truths, omissions or misrepresentation; in other words, statements that are intentionally misleading, even if literally true. Fraud also includes making statements with “reckless indifference� to their truth.

Conspiracies to defraud usually begin with a goal that is not in and of itself illegal. In this instance the goal was to invade Iraq. It is possible that the Bush team thought this goal was laudable and likely to succeed. It’s also possible that they never formally agreed to defraud the public in order to attain it. But when they chose to overcome anticipated or actual opposition to their plan by concealing information and lying, they began a conspiracy to defraud—because, as juries are instructed, “no amount of belief in the ultimate success of a scheme will justify baseless, false or reckless misstatements.�

From the fall of 2001 to at least March 2003, the following officials, and others, made hundreds of false assertions in speeches, on television, at the United Nations, to foreign leaders and to Congress: President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his Under Secretary, Paul Wolfowitz. Their statements were remarkably consistent and consistently false.

Even worse, these falsehoods were made against an overarching deception: that Iraq was involved in the 9/11 attacks. If Administration officials never quite said there was a link, they conveyed the message brilliantly by mentioning 9/11 and Iraq together incessantly—just as beer commercials depict guys drinking beer with gorgeous women to imply a link between beer drinking and attractive women that is equally nonexistent. Beer commercials might be innocuous, but a deceptive ad campaign from the Oval Office is not, especially one designed to sell a war in which 2,000 Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis have died, and that has cost this country more than $200 billion so far and stirred up worldwide enmity.

The fifteen-month PR blitz conducted by the White House was a massive fraud designed to trick the public into accepting a goal that Bush’s advisers had held even before the election. A strategy document Dick Cheney commissioned from the Project for a New American Century, written in September 2000, for example, asserts that “the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.� But, as the document reflects, the Administration hawks knew the public would not agree to an attack against Iraq unless there were a “catastrophic and catalyzing event—like a new Pearl Harbor.�

Not surprisingly, the Bush/Cheney campaign did not trumpet this strategy. Instead, like corporate officials keeping two sets of books, they presented a nearly opposite public stance, decrying nation-building and acting as if “we were an imperialist power,� in Cheney’s words. Perhaps the public accepts deceitful campaign oratory, but nevertheless such duplicity is the stuff of fraud. And Bush and Cheney carried on with it seamlessly after the election.

By now it’s no secret that the Bush Administration used the 9/11 attacks as a pretext to promote its war. They began talking privately about invading Iraq immediately after 9/11 but did not argue their case honestly to the American people. Instead, they began looking for evidence to make a case the public would accept—that Iraq posed an imminent threat. Unfortunately for them, there wasn’t much.

In fact, the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) in effect as of December 2001 said that Iraq did not have nuclear weapons; was not trying to get them; and did not appear to have reconstituted its nuclear weapons program since the UN and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors departed in December 1998. This assessment had been unchanged for three years.

As has been widely reported, the NIE is a classified assessment prepared under the CIA’s direction, but only after input from the entire intelligence community, or IC. If there is disagreement, the dissenting views are also included. The December 2001 NIE contained no dissents about Iraq. In other words, the assessment privately available to Bush Administration officials from the time they began their tattoo for war until October 2002, when a new NIE was produced, was unanimous: Iraq did not have nuclear weapons or nuclear weapons programs. But publicly, the Bush team presented a starkly different picture.

In his January 2002 State of the Union address, for example, Bush declared that Iraq presented a “grave and growing danger,� a direct contradiction of the prevailing NIE. Cheney continued the warnings in the ensuing months, claiming that Iraq was allied with Al Qaeda, possessed biological and chemical weapons and would soon have nuclear weapons. These false alarms were accompanied by the message that in the “post-9/11 world,� normal rules of governmental procedure should not apply.

Unbeknownst to the public, after 9/11 Wolfowitz and Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith had created a secret Pentagon unit called the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Group (CTEG), which ignored the NIE and “re-evaluated� previously gathered raw intelligence on Iraq. It also ignored established analytical procedure. No responsible person, for example, would decide an important issue based on third-hand information from an uncorroborated source of unknown reliability. Imagine your doctor saying, “Well, I haven’t exactly looked at your charts or X-rays, but my friend Martin over at General Hospital told me a new guy named Radar thinks you need triple bypass surgery. So—when are you available?�

Yet that was the quality of information Bush Administration officials used for their arguments. As if picking peanuts out of a Cracker Jacks box, they plucked favorable tidbits from reports previously rejected as unreliable, presented them as certainties and then used these “facts� to make their case.

Nothing exemplifies this recklessness better than the story of lead 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta. On December 9, 2001, Cheney said it was “pretty well confirmed� that Atta had met the head of Iraqi intelligence in Prague in April 2001. In fact, the IC regarded that story, which was based on the uncorroborated statement of a salesman who had seen Atta’s photo in the newspaper, as glaringly unreliable. Yet Bush officials used it to “prove� a link between Iraq and 9/11, long after the story had been definitively disproved.

But by August 2002, despite the Administration’s efforts, public and Congressional support for the war was waning. So Chief of Staff Andrew Card organized the White House Iraq Group, of which Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove was a member, to market the war.

The Conspiracy Is Under Way

The PR campaign intensified Sunday, September 8. On that day the New York Times quoted anonymous “officials� who said Iraq sought to buy aluminum tubes suitable for centrifuges used in uranium enrichment. The same morning, in a choreographed performance worthy of Riverdance, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, Condoleezza Rice and Gen. Richard Myers said on separate talk shows that the aluminum tubes, suitable only for centrifuges, proved Iraq’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.

If, as Jonathan Schell put it, the allegation that Iraq tried to purchase uranium from Niger is “one of the most rebutted claims in history,� the tubes story is a close second. The CIA and the Energy Department had been debating the issue since 2001. And the Energy Department’s clear opinion was that the tubes were not suited for use in centrifuges; they were probably intended for military rockets. Given the lengthy debate and the importance of the tubes, it’s impossible to believe that the Bush team was unaware of the nuclear experts’ position. So when Bush officials said that the tubes were “only really suited� for centrifuge programs, they were committing fraud, either by lying outright or by making recklessly false statements.

When in September 2002 Bush began seeking Congressional authorization to use force, based on assertions that were unsupported by the National Intelligence Estimate, Democratic senators demanded that a new NIE be assembled. Astonishingly, though most NIEs require six months’ preparation, the October NIE took two weeks. This haste resulted from Bush’s insistence that Iraq presented an urgent threat, which was, after all, what the NIE was designed to assess. In other words, even the imposition of an artificially foreshortened time limit was fraudulent.

Also, the CIA was obviously aware of the Administration’s dissatisfaction with the December 2001 NIE. So with little new intelligence, it now maintained that “most agencies� believed Baghdad had begun reconstituting its nuclear weapons programs in 1998. It also skewed underlying details in the NIE to exaggerate the threat.

The October NIE was poorly prepared—and flawed. But it was flawed in favor of the Administration, which took that skewed assessment and misrepresented it further in the only documents that were available to the public. The ninety-page classified NIE was delivered to Congress at 10 pm on October 1, the night before Senate hearings were to begin. But members could look at it only under tight security on-site. They could not take a copy with them for review. They could, however, remove for review a simultaneously released white paper, a glitzy twenty-five-page brochure that purported to be the unclassified summary of the NIE. This document, which was released to the public, became the talking points for war. And it was completely misleading. It mentioned no dissents; it removed qualifiers and even added language to distort the severity of the threat. Several senators requested declassification of the full-length version so they could reveal to the public those dissents and qualifiers and unsubstantiated additions, but their request was denied. Consequently, they could not use many of the specifics from the October NIE to explain their opposition to war without revealing classified information.

The aluminum tubes issue is illustrative. The classified October NIE included the State and Energy departments’ dissents about the intended use of the tubes. Yet the declassified white paper mentioned no disagreement. So Bush in his October 7 speech and his 2003 State of the Union address, and Powell speaking to the United Nations February 5, 2003, could claim as “fact� that Iraq was buying aluminum tubes suitable only for centrifuge programs, without fear of contradiction—at least by members of Congress.

Ironically, Bush’s key defense against charges of intentional misrepresentation actually incriminates him further. As Bob Woodward reported in his book Plan of Attack, Tenet said that the case for Iraq’s possession of nuclear weapons was a “slam dunk� in response to Bush’s question, “This is the best we’ve got?� Obviously, then, Bush himself thought the evidence was weak. But he did not investigate further or correct past misstatements. Instead, knowing that his claims were unsupported, he continued to assert that Iraq posed an urgent threat and was aggressively pursuing nuclear weapons. That is fraud.

It can hardly be disputed, finally, that the Bush Administration’s intentional misrepresentations were designed to interfere with the lawful governmental function of Congress. They presented a complex deceit about Iraq to both the public and to Congress in order to manipulate Congress into authorizing foreign action. Legally, it doesn’t matter whether anyone was deceived, although many were. The focus is on the perpetrators’ state of mind, not that of those they intentionally set about to mislead.

The evidence shows, then, that from early 2002 to at least March 2003, the President and his aides conspired to defraud the United States by intentionally misrepresenting intelligence about Iraq to persuade Congress to authorize force, thereby interfering with Congress’s lawful functions of overseeing foreign affairs and making appropriations, all of which violates Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.

To what standards should we hold our government officials? Certainly standards as high as those Bush articulated for corporate officials. Higher, one would think. The President and Vice President and their appointees take an oath to defend the Constitution and the laws of the United States. If they fail to leave their campaign tactics and deceits behind-<>if they use the Oval Office to trick the public and Congress into supporting a war

-we must hold them accountable. It’s not a question of politics. It’s a question of law.

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http://www.tomdispatch.com/index.mhtml?pid=32241

 

Tomgram: De la Vega, a Prosecutor Considers Libby's Indictment

 

[Note to Tomdispatch Readers: Tomorrow, I'll be releasing on-line a major piece by Elizabeth de la Vega, the cover story of the next Nation magazine. It considers how to hold the Bush administration accountable for fraud for taking us into the war in Iraq on false premises. So consider the De la Vega piece below a teaser for tomorrow's foray into Bush administration skullduggery.]

 

Implosion update: And so they fall: Tom DeLay just weeks back. Harriet Miers yesterday. I. Lewis ("Scooter") Libby today. Prepare yourself. It's going to be a long, hard dive into deep waters that should, sooner or later, lead us back to the beginning. Think of Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's indictment of the Vice President's Chief of Staff as but a judicial wade-in-the-water; and yet the charges against Libby already bring to mind the cover-up charges that unraveled the Nixon White House during the Watergate era. With this indictment, Americans begin their official trip into the sordid history of the planning and selling of the invasion and occupation of Iraq via a shadow government -- what Lawrence B. Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, recently called a "cabal," set up out of Dick Cheney's office and Donald Rumsfeld's neocon-ridden Pentagon.

 

If you want to bone up on this story, you might check out reporter Jim Lobe's August Tomdispatch piece on the timing and pattern of the Cheney-inspired propaganda for war, "a seamless, boundary-less operation to persuade the American people that Saddam Hussein represented an intolerable threat to their national security." And don't forget the Downing Street Memos either, or those mysterious, crudely forged Niger uranium documents -- Laura Rozen is on the case (scroll down) -- that led to the President's infamous 16 words in his 2003 State of the Union address. Now we know as well that the FBI (along with the Italian press) continues to investigate those forgeries, including a mysterious September 2002 meeting between Nicolo Pollari, chief of Italy's military intelligence service (who evidently brought the forged documents directly to the White House after they were rejected by the CIA) and then Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley. Before we're done, truth might find itself busting out all over. These days, even the New York Times, freed from its imprisonment in Judy Miller's jail cell, has been breaking front-page stories worth reading on the bum's rush to war this administration gave the American people and the machinations that followed.

 

Not so long ago, "tipping points" were things that Washington officials and top military commanders announced were about to happen or had just happened in embattled Iraq. Now, the "tipping points" that never quite tipped there seem to have made their way home. Already, as Thomas DeFrank, Washington Bureau Chief for the New York Daily News, reports, "some of Bush's most trusted advisers believe his political viability is dangerously near a tipping point." Former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega brings her experienced eye to bear on the breaking events of today, putting them into perspective and suggesting what we should -- and should not -- expect as we await the Libby trial and as the Fitzgerald investigation continues. Tom

 

 

 

Smoking Guns and Red Herrings

What Should We Expect Now that Fitzgerald Has Announced the Indictment of Lewis "Scooter" Libby?

By Elizabeth de la Vega

 

 

 

The Grand Jury supervised by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has returned an indictment charging Vice President Dick Cheney's top aide and reputed "alter-ego" I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby with perjury, obstruction of justice, and false statements to the grand jury. But this indictment does not end the story; rather, a close reading suggests that these charges are most likely merely a chapter in a long and tragic story. Here, from a former federal prosecutor, are thoughts about four things we should expect, four things we shouldn't, and one question we should all be asking.

 

We should not expect a final resolution any time soon. Complex cases usually take years to proceed through the courts. In addition, the indictment released today describes a chronology of close to two years and a complicated set of facts. Obviously, Fitzgerald is taking a "big picture" approach to this case. This mirrors his approach to previous cases. In December 2003, for example, Fitzgerald announced the indictment of former Illinois Governor George Ryan on corruption charges in Operation Safe Road, which began in 1998. In that year, the investigation of a fatal accident revealed that truckers were purchasing commercial licenses from state officials. Indictments were announced in stages, culminating in the indictment of Ryan, who was the 66th defendant in the case. In the Libby case, the allegations suggest he was merely one of many officials -- including an unnamed Under Secretary of State and "Official A," a Senior White House Official -- who were involved in revealing classified information about Joseph Wilson's wife Valerie Plame. No other individuals are named as defendants, and they should not be considered so at this point, but the complexity of the indictment suggests that the investigation may follow a pattern similar to that used by Fitzgerald in the Illinois corruption case.

 

We should not expect to hear much more from Fitzgerald. The Special Counsel has been widely admired, and sometimes criticized, for his "tight-lipped" approach and "leak-free" grand jury investigation. But that, folks, is how it's supposed to be. Federal prosecutors are required to maintain grand jury secrecy. If they don't do that, they not only jeopardize their investigations, they could lose their jobs and/or be charged with a crime. The public has come to expect leaks from grand jury investigations because Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, who was not a federal prosecutor, ignored secrecy rules during the investigation of President Clinton (and got away with it). Even after indictment, Department of Justice (DOJ) press guidelines permit release of only limited facts about the defendant, the charges against him, and court documents or testimony that may become public during the prosecution. Don't hold your breath waiting for Fitzgerald to explain evidence not alleged in the indictment; nor will he appear on talk shows to debate defense representatives.

 

We should not expect a smoking gun. Even when there actually is a gun, there's hardly ever a smoking gun. In the case against Libby, as in most white-collar crime cases, the evidence is likely to consist mainly of documents, thousands of them. And considering that the weapon employed in this crime appears to be a telephone, the closest thing to a smoking gun may well be telephone records.

 

We should not expect the President to take steps to "get to the bottom of this." He professed that desire in October 2003, but belied it in the next breath, saying he "had no idea who the leaker was and didn't know if we'd ever find out. "There's a lot of senior officials [out there]," he commented. "You tell me," he asked a group of reporters, "how many sources have you had that's leaked information, that you've exposed, or had been exposed? Probably none." Of course, assuming Bush didn't already know who the leakers were, all he had to do was make darned sure his aides told him. After all, organizations routinely conduct internal probes in parallel with criminal investigations. Indeed, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines consider such inquiries to strongly indicate corporate acceptance of responsibility. But accepting responsibility for the CIA leak would have put quite a damper on the Bush reelection campaign. So, with his usual Janus-like approach to every threat, the President managed to declare himself above such petty politics while allowing surrogates to spread disinformation. In other words, the administration has attempted to derail the prosecution in precisely the same way it tried to derail ex-ambassador Joseph Wilson's credibility in the first place.

 

We should expect red herrings from the defense (even if not smoking guns from the prosecution). Fox hunters once tossed smoked red herrings out to test whether their dogs could stay on the right trail. Now, of course, the term means a distraction from the real issue; and if the Republican Talking Points rolled out thus far are any indication, we are going to be tripping over red herrings galore in the upcoming months.

 

We should expect more attacks on Joseph Wilson, even though they represent a very large red herring (more the size of a mackerel). These will be meant only for the court of public opinion. Since the White House has already admitted, repeatedly, that it had insufficient evidence to mention that Saddam Hussein was seeking Niger "yellowcake" uranium in the President's State of the Union address in 2003, claims that Wilson went to Niger on a boondoggle or that he is merely a partisan critic (both of which appear to be untrue) have never been the least bit relevant. If you don't dispute the essence of the testimony of a witness, then undermining his credibility is pointless in a court of law.

 

We should expect another red herring, one that should have been thrown back in the river long ago: that perjury, obstruction of justice, and false statements charges are not "substantive," and so somehow less serious. "Substantive" is a legal term, referring to a crime that can be proved without reference to the elements of another crime. For example, bank robbery is a "substantive crime" and conspiracy to commit bank robbery is not. (But they're both crimes.) Perjury, obstruction of justice, and false statements may arise out of the investigation of other crimes, but they stand on their own. So they too are "substantive" crimes. More to the point, as Patrick Fitzgerald eloquently explained in his press conference, lying in an investigation is extraordinarily serious, because it undermines the integrity of the process.

 

We should expect attempts by pundits to derive "meaning" from the absence of charges under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act or the Espionage Act. Reasons for the absence of such charges can range from insufficient evidence to concerns about the Classified Information Procedures Act, which governs the use of classified information in a criminal case. No one other than Fitzgerald, his staff, and the grand jury knows why certain charges were not brought and they will never be able to explain their decisions.

 

We should expect a campaign to demonize Fitzgerald through claims that he is overzealous and has exceeded his authority. Such attacks are legally irrelevant, but more important, they're wrong. Fitzgerald's original mandate, contained in a letter from Deputy Attorney General James Comey, was to investigate all crimes arising from the outing of Valerie Plame. Out of an apparent abundance of caution, Fitzgerald requested clarification of the term "all" and was advised, again by Comey, that it included both underlying crimes and crimes that stemmed from the investigation of the underlying crimes. At no time did Fitzgerald seek, or receive, an expansion of his authority: it was there all along, as it would be in any investigation of federal crimes.

 

We should also expect pundits to argue that this prosecution is political. That is the most despicable of red herrings considering that Fitzgerald has been a career prosecutor forbidden by the Hatch Act to participate in politics for twenty years, is registered without political affiliation, and was appointed by a Republican. Also, the resulting indictments were returned by grand jurors who heard evidence for two years, after which a majority, at least 12 out of 23, decided that there was probable cause to believe -- in other words, it was "more likely than not" -- that the defendant had committed all the elements of the crimes charged. In other words, in investigating and returning an indictment against the Vice President's Chief of Staff, Patrick Fitzgerald and the grand jury have followed one of the most basic principles of criminal jurisprudence: that the law is no respecter of persons, that all persons stand equal before it. It would have been the most flagrant violation of the rule of law if the prosecutor and grand jury had walked away from Lewis Libby's deliberate deceptions simply because he was an important government official.

 

But should we expect, given the Republicans' attempts to belittle and politicize the case thus far, that President Bush will pardon his senior administration official if Libby is convicted on these serious charges? The 1992 Christmas Eve pardons of Iran/contra defendants by former President George Bush Sr. provide cause for concern. Let us hope that the current President Bush will not undermine the rule of law in this way.

 

Elizabeth de la Vega has recently retired after serving more than 20 years as a federal prosecutor in Minneapolis and San Jose. During her tenure, she was a member of the Organized Crime Strike Force and Chief of the San Jose Branch of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California.

 

 

 

Copyright 2005 Elizabeth de la Vega

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please.... nothing will change.

 

Libby is going to take the Fall so Rove doesn't have to.

Bush said he would dismiss anyone found guilty of leaking info,

but he's clearly not going to push that on Rove. Rove built Bush.

Novak addmitted that he was leaked info from two sources, and

Libby lied about being one of them. He's going down for getting

caught in a lie, but Rove also broke the law (by revealing a CIA agent)

but he's not going to get any kind of heat for it.

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aha...i dare to say i think you will be proven wrong.

i will agree that if it does stop with libby, which i really

don't think it will, he will be pardoned when bush shamefully

exits. however, i think this is the 'tipping point' we've all been

salivating for. if you read the indictment and some of the

analysis floating around, it really leaves some nice hints for

future indictments. also considering that fitz has extended the

investigation says alot. and as the above article by federal prosecutor de la vega

points out, it's looking like this may well be only the start.

also, i don't think libby is specifically rove's fall guy. or for that matter

a fall guy for anyone really. people are already calling for an official

explanation from bush, and calling for rove to be fired. how is bush

to get out of this? i don't think he can, unless he just completely ignores

the intensity of the situation and disregards the pulse of the nation right now.

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Originally posted by POIESIS@Oct 31 2005, 03:09 PM

unless he just completely ignores the intensity of the situation and disregards the pulse of the nation right now.

 

 

that would never happen. :rolleyes:

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true, i think this is different though. a senior senior official just got

indicted and his right hand man is still under investigation. shit's hairy.

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weren't all of these people privy to this type of information?

it's just the possible conspiracy to smear joe wilson and the lie libby told that has fucked everything for them. gotta hand it to them, more than five years of lies is a pretty long streak.

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so far there have been two illegal acts

 

1 - knowingly revealing the identity of a CIA operative

2 - lying to cover up #1

 

Libby's only getting charged with #2, so who's getting #1?

 

I'm hoping it's 'Official A' (aka Rove)

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yeah, but there are others. someone

said it earlier, rove is who made bush

governor as well as president. life long

'buddies' these two guys are.

 

that would absolutely destroy this administration.

the republinazis are full aware of this and

will probably stop at nothing to make sure that doesn't happen.

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hell yes they were all privy to it.

the kicker for libby is he's an old national security type guy, privy to all

sorts of classified material...he's going to have to convince the courts that

he just didn't know that plame's employment division, the counter proliferation dept., fell under the DO. it's laughable.

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yeah, it all is pretty much.

i think i heard don imus remark this morning

that this new choice for supreme court guy is

here to take attention off of the investigation.

 

i bet all their talking points this morning (white house releases

talking points to media type) were about him and the leak investigation is kinda downplayed for a minute.

 

 

very funny things to ahppen soon./

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a major part of the white house covert operation to swindle americans into supporting the invasion was the the claim saddam sought yellowcake from niger.

wilson discovered, as did cursory investigatons by western intelligence, that the

documents were crude forgeries. however, where those forgeries originated, and how, has never been fully explored and could provide tantalizing complications for bush and his scummy pals. ever-awesome josh marshall lays it out:

 

The Italian Connection, Part I

 

(ed.note: At various points over the last two years, I've discussed here at tpm reporting I've done on the origins of the Niger forgeries. I've never put all the reporting in one place; and until now there was still a good bit of information I wasn't at liberty to report. This is the first of a series of installments I'm going to publish here at TPM in which I will lay out the story as I understand it based on my own reporting and research.)

 

On March 7th, 2003, on the eve of the Iraq War, Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told the UN Security Council that documents purporting to show that Iraq had purchased uranium ore from Niger were in fact forgeries. The documents had been provided to the IAEA by the United States. "Based on thorough analysis," said ElBaradei, "the IAEA has concluded, with the concurrence of outside experts, that these documents - which formed the basis for the reports of recent uranium transactions between Iraq and Niger - are in fact not authentic."

 

As the world would soon learn, the documents had first emerged in Rome in October 2002 when an unnamed ‘security consultant’ had tried to sell them to Elisabetta Burba, a journalist working for the Italian magazine Panorama. From there, the documents made their way to the American Embassy in Rome and finally back to Washington. In early 2003, the IAEA had demanded that the US provide whatever evidence it had to support its claims that Iraq had reconstituted its nuclear weapons program. And in response the US handed over copies of the documents.

 

Ever since ElBaradei’s revelation, the story had been one that interested me greatly, as it did many others. And my interest only grew that summer when renewed controversy erupted over the claims retired Ambassador Joe Wilson made about his fact-finding trip to Niger. But the following winter, two streams of information opened up to me which suggested that the forgeries story went well beyond this unnamed Italian ‘security consultant’ and that the US government appeared less than interested in discovering the identities of either the forgers or those who had used the documents to deceive the American people.

 

One stream of information came from sources within the US government itself.

 

According to US government sources I spoke to in the course of my reporting, there was far more tying the forgeries to Italy than the mere fact that they had first emerged in Rome in October 2002. Almost a year earlier, US suspicions about an illicit uranium trade between Iraq and Niger had begun with intelligence reports from Italy. Soon after the September 11th attacks, the Italian military intelligence agency SISMI sent its first report to the US government including details of an alleged Iraqi purchase of 500 tons of lightly-processed uranium ore from Niger.

 

Details of this and a subsequent SISMI report formed the basis of a reference to alleged Iraq-Niger uranium sales which was included in a CIA briefing Vice President Cheney received in early 2002. It was that briefing that prompted Cheney's request for more information on the Iraq-Niger sale. And that request led, in turn, to the CIA's decision to dispatch Joe Wilson on his trip to Niger. The Italian reports had set the whole process in motion.

 

But there was another key detail: The reports out of Italy were not a separate source of intelligence from the forgeries. They were the forgeries. To be precise, the intelligence reports from Italy were actually text transcriptions and summaries of the forged documents. The reports from Italy and the forgeries were one and the same. The distinction is rather like saying you haven't seen the PDF of a letter only the text from the letter that someone copied down from the PDF. The fact that the Italian reports came from as-yet-to-be-revealed forgeries of course could not be known at the time. That only became clear to intelligence officials much later when these post-9/11 Italian reports and the forgeries were compared. But looking back in retrospect, it was clear that the whole Niger uranium canard seemed to lead back to those forgeries.

 

Just what that meant for Italy's role wasn’t clear. Indeed, it still isn’t entirely clear. What was quite clear, however, was that the Italian government would be a key place to start to get to the bottom of the forgeries’ mystery.

 

And there was more.

 

I also learned of the existence of a Joint State Department-CIA Inspectors General report on the “16 words� and the Niger forgeries which was produced in the fall of 2003. Much of the report detailed information later revealed in the Senate intelligence committee report. But there were other briefly noted but intriguing details.

 

For instance, the State-CIA IG report briefly noted a murky story about contacts between SISMI and the CIA in the summer of 2002. That summer SISMI had approached the CIA about an operation they intended to run against the Station Chief of Iraqi intelligence in Rome. The plan was to send disinformation about the Iraqi Station Chief back to Baghdad via a third country. And the subject of the disinformation was to be trade between Iraq and Niger. (The Americans did not object but declined to participate.)

 

That was certainly interesting.

 

Later, from other US government sources, I learned another detail. When the forgeries arrived at the US Embassy in Rome in October 2002, the first reaction of the CIA Station chief was to wonder whether this wasn’t the same story the Italians had suggested using against the Iraqi only months before.

 

As you can see, quite a lot of information seemed to suggest that the Italian government played a large role in the story of the Niger forgeries, even if it might be an innocent or unwitting one. Yet neither the CIA nor the FBI, a knowledgeable source told me, seemed intent on getting to the bottom of what had happened.

 

In addition to these clues, there was one more piece of information. And here is where the two streams of information I noted above flowed together. A US government source pointed me toward a series of suspicious points of overlap between the forgeries story and a series of unauthorized meetings between Italian intelligence figures, two Pentagon employees working under Doug Feith, other Americans and the disgraced Iran-Contra figure Manucher Ghorbanifar. These meetings were the subject of an article ("Iran-Contra II?") I published with Laura Rozen and Paul Glastris in the Washington Monthly in early September 2004. Around the same time, another source -- this one outside the US government – told me a murky series of details about the meetings which purported to connect them to the emergence of the forgeries in Rome in October 2002.

 

These were the details -- some quite specific and solidly-sourced, others murky but intriguing -- that led me to start reporting on the Niger forgeries in earnest in early 2004. In the second installment, how the Washington Monthly, Laura Rozen, and finally 60 Minutes came into the picture, and new information pointing toward the role of Italian intelligence.

 

-Josh Marshall

http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com

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democrats are calligna closed session to discuss

reasons for going to war with iraq. let's hope they

don't let this go and it brings more press to this shit.

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^ha..

it's actually pretty disturbing..

little girls being forced into bestiality? wtf?

 

 

http://citypages.com/databank/26/1300/article13827.asp

 

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald isn't finished with the Bush White House yet

The CIA leak investigation: Bigger fish, deeper water

 

by Steve Perry

November 2, 2005

Winston Churchill once said that "There is nothing more exhilarating than to be shot at and missed," and last Friday afternoon a lot of Bush partisans were buoyed by the same sentiment. Writing at Power Line, John Hinderaker mused, "Having now read 15 or 20 news stories about what a devastating blow the Lewis Libby indictment was to the administration...I couldn't help wondering: does anyone remember who Al Gore's chief of staff was when he was vice-president? My guess is that the large majority of people who read these stories are asking themselves, 'Scooter who?'"

He's right. On its own, the public fallout from Libby's indictment on five counts of perjury, false statements, and obstruction of justice will be minimal. One could even add that the indictment of Karl Rove would make less difference in the court of popular opinion than most followers of the case think. Poll after poll has shown that only about half of Americans have ever heard of Rove. The gravity of his loss would be strategic: Without him, the great orchestra of White House staffers, congressional GOP foot soldiers, and the Washington press corps would be without a conductor. Meantime, only a very few pundits of the right made mention of the shoe that has not yet dropped. Proving again that crazy is not the same as stupid, Ann Coulter told CNN that the extension of special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation "is, like, the worst possible outcome." She is right, too.

 

Advertisement

 

 

Where is Fitzgerald's case headed now? The arc of Plame leak coverage in the press underscores the futility of reading too much into any particular leak from the grand jury. As recently as last Friday, the New York Times and Washington Post were diametrically opposed on the very basic question of whether the probe would continue. (The Times said yes, the Post no.) The trouble is that all the leaks seem to be coming from defense attorneys close to the case, and criminal lawyers a) don't know Fitzgerald's theory of the case, only what he has said to them regarding their clients; and b) are duty-bound, wherever possible, to spin any disclosures they make so as to aid their clients.

But there is one point on which every major news outlet, and presumably every leaker, has fallen into accord in the past week or two. Last Wednesday's Wall Street Journal put it concisely: "With the grand jury in the CIA leak case expected to vote as soon as today to bring charges against White House officials, the two-year probe appears to be focused on the office of Vice President Dick Cheney, one of the chief architects and defenders of the administration's Iraq war policy." The accent belongs on the last clause. Cheney's office is the Pandora's Box of the Bush administration campaign to invade Iraq. Most of the planning as to both the waging and selling of the war occurred under his direction, along with that of Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz at the Pentagon. It was Cheney who played the point in beating up the CIA for its unhelpful analysis of the non-threat posed by Saddam, and Cheney along with his Defense Department pals who effectively circumvented the CIA by setting up the Office of Special Plans at the Pentagon to funnel the administration the kind of intelligence it wanted, largely courtesy of their longtime double-dealing stooge, Ahmed Chalabi.

At this point it's altogether unclear where or when Fitzgerald's investigation will conclude--or simply run into a wall he can't break through. But there's little need to speculate as to how far he's reaching. The investigative reporter Jason Leopold, a former Dow-Jones Newswire reporter who has put the Raw Story website on the map in a new way with his Plame leak reporting, points out that a court filing posted at Fitzgerald's DoJ website refers to subpoenas issued regarding "conversations between [NYT reporter Judith] Miller and a specified government official occurring between on or about July 6, 2003 and on or about July 13, 2003, concerning Valerie Plame Wilson (whether referred to by name or by description) or concerning Iraqi efforts to obtain uranium." [emphasis added]

The implication is that Fitzgerald's inquiry is now looking all the way back to the claims about Saddam, uranium, and Niger that were touted in a pair of 2001 forged documents that turned up in Italy. This jibes with a little-noted story filed by veteran UPI editor Martin Walker on October 23. In what may be the first major leak in the case not disseminated by criminal defense lawyers, Walker cited "NATO intelligence sources" as saying, "Fitzgerald's team of investigators has sought and obtained documentation on the forgeries from the Italian government. Fitzgerald's team has been given the full, and as yet unpublished report of the Italian parliamentary inquiry into the affair.... This opens the door to what has always been the most serious implication of the CIA leak case, that the Bush administration could face a brutally damaging and public inquiry into the case for war against Iraq being false or artificially exaggerated."

All we know for sure now is that, as the dolorous Coulter saw too well, every outcome remains on the table. It's entirely possible that no more indictments in the case will be forthcoming--though unless the leaks last week about conferences between Fitzgerald and Rove attorney Robert Luskin were pure hooey, that seems doubtful. On the other hand, it is also possible that this investigation will dog Cheney from now until 2008 and raise him to the status of unindicted co-conspirator, or beyond. If that is where Fitzgerald means to go, there's every reason to suppose he'll find ample cooperation from the ranks of CIA and State Department officialdom whose advice was spurned or subverted en route to war. The list starts with former CIA director George Tenet, who was first pressured to disregard the word of his own analysts and then made to fall on his sword for having done so, and also includes Colin Powell and a host of folks most of us have never heard of. One of them, former Powell chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson, wrote a fairly breathtaking op-ed titled "The White House Cabal" in the L.A. Times on October 25. I've never read anything remotely like it from a former member of a sitting administration:

 

 

In President Bush's first term, some of the most important decisions about U.S. national security--including vital decisions about postwar Iraq--were made by a secretive, little-known cabal. It was made up of a very small group of people led by Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.... I believe that the decisions of this cabal were sometimes made with the full and witting support of the president and sometimes with something less....

The administration's performance during its first four years would have been even worse without Powell's damage control. At least once a week, it seemed, Powell trooped over to the Oval Office and cleaned all the dog poop off the carpet....

Today, we have a president whose approval rating is 38 percent and a vice president who speaks only to Rush Limbaugh and assembled military forces. We have a secretary of Defense presiding over the death-by-a-thousand-cuts of our overstretched armed forces (no surprise to ignored dissenters such as former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki or former Army Secretary Thomas White). It's a disaster. Given the choice, I'd choose a frustrating bureaucracy over an efficient cabal every time.

 

These are the sorts of folk the Bush White House's pursuit of the Iraq war has left waiting in the wings with scores to settle. Time will tell whether Fitzgerald can work his way to them, but knowing they are out there cannot be good for Dick Cheney's heart, or his sleep.

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another persuasive breakdown of the indictment and

how fitzgerald's language hints at cheneyslime being the big fish...

 

 

http://writ.news.findlaw.com/dean/20051104.html

 

A Cheney-Libby Conspiracy, Or Worse? Reading Between the Lines of the Libby Indictment

By JOHN W. DEAN

----

Friday, Nov. 04, 2005

 

 

In my last column, I tried to deflate expectations a bit about the likely consequences of the work of Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald; to bring them down to the realistic level at which he was likely to proceed. I warned, for instance, that there might not be any indictments, and Fitzgerald might close up shop as the last days of the grand jury's term elapsed. And I was certain he would only indict if he had a patently clear case.

 

Now, however, one indictment has been issued -- naming Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby as the defendant, and charging false statements, perjury and obstruction of justice. If the indictment is to be believed, the case against Libby is, indeed, a clear one.

 

 

Having read the indictment against Libby, I am inclined to believe more will be issued. In fact, I will be stunned if no one else is indicted.

 

Indeed, when one studies the indictment, and carefully reads the transcript of the press conference, it appears Libby's saga may be only Act Two in a three-act play. And in my view, the person who should be tossing and turning at night, in anticipation of the last act, is the Vice President of the United States, Richard B. Cheney.

 

The Indictment: Invoking the Espionage Act Unnecessarily

 

Typically, federal criminal indictments are absolutely bare bones. Just enough to inform a defendant of the charges against him.

 

For example, the United States Attorney's Manual, which Fitzgerald said he was following, notes that under the Sixth Amendment an accused must "be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation." And Rule 7©(1) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure requires that, "The indictment . . . be a plain, concise and definite written statement of the essential facts constituting the offense charged." That is all.

 

Federal prosecutors excel at these "plain, concise and definite" statement indictments - drawing on form books and institutional experience in drafting them. Thus, the typical federal indictment is the quintessence of pith: as short and to the point as the circumstances will permit.

 

Again, Libby is charged with having perjured himself, made false statements, and obstructed justice by lying to FBI agents and the grand jury. A bare-bones indictment would address only these alleged crimes.

 

But this indictment went much further - delving into a statute under which Libby is not charged.

 

Count One, paragraph 1(b) is particularly revealing. Its first sentence establishes that Libby had security clearances giving him access to classified information. Then 1(b) goes on to state: "As a person with such clearances, LIBBY was obligated by applicable laws and regulations, including Title 18, United States Code, Section 793, and Executive Order 12958 (as modified by Executive Order13292), not to disclose classified information to persons not authorized to receive such information, and otherwise to exercise proper care to safeguard classified information against unauthorized disclosure." (The section also goes on to stress that Libby executed, on January 23, 2001, an agreement indicating understanding that he was receiving classified information, the disclosure of which could bring penalties.)

 

What is Title 18, United States Code, Section 793? It's the Espionage Act -- a broad, longstanding part of the criminal code.

 

 

The Espionage Act criminalizes, among other things, the willful - or grossly negligent -- communication of national-defense related information that "the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation." It also criminalizes conspiring to violate this anti-disclosure provision

 

 

But Libby isn't charged with espionage. He's charged with lying to our government and thereby obstructing justice. So what's going on? Why is Fitzgerald referencing the Espionage Act?

 

 

The press conference added some clarity on this point.

 

 

 

 

Libby's Obstruction Has Blocked An Espionage Act Charge

 

The Special Counsel was asked, "If Mr. Libby had testified truthfully, would he be being charged in this crime today?" His response was more oblique than most.

 

In answering, he pointed out that "if national defense information which is involved because [of Plame's] affiliation with the CIA, whether or not she was covert, was classified, if that was intentionally transmitted, that would violate the statute known as Section 793, which is the Espionage Act." (Emphasis added). (As noted above, gross negligence would also suffice.)

 

But, as Fitzgerald also noted at his press conference, great care needs to be taken in applying the Espionage Act: "So there are people," he said, "who argue that you should never use that statute because it would become like the [british] Official Secrets Act. I don't buy that theory, but I do know you should be very careful in applying that law because there are a lot of interests that could be implicated in making sure that you picked the right case to charge that statute."

 

His further example was also revealing. "Let's not presume that Mr. Libby is guilty. But let's assume, for the moment, that the allegations in the indictment are true. If that is true, you cannot figure out the right judgment to make, whether or not you should charge someone with a serious national security crime or walk away from it or recommend any other course of action, if you don't know the truth.... If he had told the truth, we would have made the judgment based upon those facts...." (Emphases added.)

 

Finally, he added. "We have not charged him with [that] crime. I'm not making an allegation that he violated [the Espionage Act]. What I'm simply saying is one of the harms in obstruction is that you don't have a clear view of what should be done. And that's why people ought to walk in, go into the grand jury, you're going to take an oath, tell us the who, what, when, where and why -- straight." (Emphasis added)

 

In short, because Libby has lied, and apparently stuck to his lie, Fitzgerald is unable to build a case against him or anyone else under Section 793, a provision which he is willing to invoke, albeit with care.

 

And who is most vulnerable under the Espionage Act? Dick Cheney - as I will explain.

 

Libby Is The Firewall Protecting Vice President Cheney

 

The Libby indictment asserts that "[o]n or about June 12, 2003 Libby was advised by the Vice President of the United States that Wilson's wife worked at the Central Intelligence Agency in the Counterproliferation Division. Libby understood that the Vice President had learned this information from the CIA."

 

In short, Cheney provided the classified information to Libby - who then told the press. Anyone who works in national security matters knows that the Counterproliferation Division is part of the Directorate of Operations -- the covert side of the CIA, where most everything and everyone are classified.

 

According to Fitzgerald, Libby admits he learned the information from Cheney at the time specified in the indictment. But, according to Fitzgerald, Libby also maintained - in speaking to both FBI agents and the grand jury - that Cheney's disclosure played no role whatsoever in Libby's disclosure to the media.

 

Or as Fitzgerald noted at his press conference, Libby said, "he had learned from the vice president earlier in June 2003 information about Wilson's wife, but he had forgotten it, and that when he learned the information from [the reporter] Mr. [Tim] Russert during this phone call he learned it as if it were new."

 

So, in Fitzgerald's words, Libby's story was that when Libby "passed the information on to reporters Cooper and Miller late in the week, he passed it on thinking it was just information he received from reporters; that he told reporters that, in fact, he didn't even know if it were true. He was just passing gossip from one reporter to another at the long end of a chain of phone calls."

 

This story is, of course, a lie, but it was a clever one on Libby's part.

 

It protects Cheney because it suggests that Cheney's disclosure to Libby was causally separate from Libby's later, potentially Espionage-Act-violating disclosure to the press. Thus, it also denies any possible conspiracy between Cheney and Libby.

 

And it protects Libby himself - by suggesting that since he believed he was getting information from reporters, not indirectly from the CIA, he may not have had have the state of mind necessary to violate the Espionage Act.

 

Thus, from the outset of the investigation, Libby has been Dick Cheney's firewall. And it appears that Fitzgerald is actively trying to penetrate that firewall.

 

What Is Likely To Occur Next?

 

It has been reported that Libby's attorney tried to work out a plea deal. But Fitzgerald insisted on jail time, so Libby refused to make a deal. It appears that only Libby, in addition to Cheney, knows what Cheney knew, and when he knew, and why he knew, and what he did with his knowledge.

 

Fitzgerald has clearly thrown a stacked indictment at Libby, laying it on him as heavy as the law and propriety permits. He has taken one continuous false statement, out of several hours of interrogation, and made it into a five-count indictment. It appears he is trying to flip Libby - that is, to get him to testify against Cheney -- and not without good reason. Cheney is the big fish in this case.

 

Will Libby flip? Unlikely. Neither Cheney nor Libby (I believe) will be so foolish as to crack a deal. And Libby probably (and no doubt correctly) assumes that Cheney - a former boss with whom he has a close relationship -- will (at the right time and place) help Libby out, either with a pardon or financially, if necessary. Libby's goal, meanwhile, will be to stall going to trial as long as possible, so as not to hurt Republicans' showing in the 2006 elections.

 

So if Libby can take the heat for a time, he and his former boss (and friend) may get through this. But should Republicans lose control of the Senate (where they are blocking all oversight of this administration), I predict Cheney will resign "for health reasons."

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

John W. Dean, a FindLaw columnist, is a former counsel to the President.

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I cannot express how fucking relieved I am that indictments are being handed out. After years of eating shit the dogs day has come. I would even buy symbols flowers in celebration.

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you are ruining my moment.

 

besides, an assassination would only aggravate the situation further, and the wheels of justice are already in motion and cannot be stopped. once something is on the record, it is gospel.

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