Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Why Scooter was convicted

This piece from Byron York at National Review Online is about as good a piece of instant analysis as I've seen on the Scooter Libby case. Libby was convicted (on four of five counts) mainly because the jury found Tim Russert more credible.

I have little doubt that after former ambassador Joe Wilson wrote the piece questioning the African uranium connection with Saddam (July 6 2003 in the NYT if I remember correctly), that Libby, probably at Cheney's behest, among other administration figures, participated in a full-court press to discredit Wilson, and that suggesting that Wilson's trip to Africa happened because Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, worked at the CIA, possibly raising questions as to whether Wilson was really the best guy to take the trip (as Robert Novak suggested in his Juily 14 2003 column) was part of the campaign.

I question whether prosecuting Libby for lying to or misleading the FBI and the grand jury was a good decision. Revealing the identity of a covert CIA agent (the CIA doesn't comment on who is clandestine, which is convenient for all concerned) is against the law, but nobody was charged with that crime. And special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald knew by October 2003 that Libby wasn't the source of the leak to Novak; rather, former deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage was (confirmed by White House political guru Karl Rove, with whom Novak apparently chatted several times a week).

Now misleading FBI investigators is hardly nice, but if the prosecutor already knows Libby wasn't the leaker, is it obstruction of justice? Why was Libby targeted with FBI questions and grand jury appearances after Fitzgerald already knew Armitage was the leaker and (probably) knew he wasn't going to prosecute him. Did he need a scalp for his belt after all the fooforaw? Is that justice?

I hold no brief for Libby, who was a significant player in getting us into this stupid war in Iraq (and whom I didn't find likeable the time I met him, when he was working for Chris Cox). But I think he's been made the fall guy here. I wish a juror had held out for justice over the strict application of the law, which might have been more appropriate here.

1 comment:

taylor said...

That Libby juror asked the right question: where's Karl Rove?

From Americablog: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDaRFf7Cd6M

You know you're in trouble when the kids start f-ing with you.