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Bush Sets Libby Free:
Wow, that was fast: President Bush set Scooter Libby free today, just hours after the D.C. Circuit's ruling.

  Bush "commuted" Libby's sentence, which means that Libby doesn't have to go to jail but he still has to be on probation for two years and still must pay the fine imposed by the District Court. In case you're wondering, yup, this is perfectly legal. The President's powers here are absolute. And whether Scooter Libby's original sentence was exactly correct is an interesting question I can't answer; while I have a rough sense it was in the right ballpark, I didn't follow the case closely enough to have any particular views of that.

  Nonetheless, I find Bush's action very troubling because of the obvious special treatment Libby received. President Bush has set a remarkable record in the last 6+ years for essentially never exercising his powers to commute sentences or pardon those in jail. His handful of pardons have been almost all symbolic gestures involving cases decades old, sometimes for people who are long dead. Come to think of it, I don't know if Bush has ever actually used his powers to get one single person out of jail even one day early. If there are such cases, they are certainly few and far between. So Libby's treatment was very special indeed.

  UPDATE: I have amended the post to take out my effort to try to characterize commuting the sentence; some readers objected, and the point wasn't relevant to the post.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Scooter Libby Commutation:
  2. Bush Sets Libby Free:
Constitutional Crisis (mail):
Contempt for the law. That's all there is to it. It's been demonstrated time and again by this administration, and it bothers me to no end that there are still attorneys who will shill for it.
7.2.2007 9:24pm
Smokey:
This is today's Investor's Business Daily editorial on Libby. It's a good one:

Justice: Late Monday came the welcome news that President Bush has commuted the 30-month prison sentence of former vice presidential aide Scooter Libby. It was the least he could do.

We've suggested before that it would be a good idea to give Libby a full pardon. After all, he was found guilty only after what was clearly a politically motivated trial during which he was charged with covering up a non-crime.

Libby's life and career have been exemplary. Yet, for misremembering some comments he made to journalists, he got 30 months in prison — a grave miscarriage of justice if ever there was one.

Is a full pardon coming?

We've often wondered why this farce, pursued with Ahab-like zeal by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, was even allowed to continue.

Libby's own defense team put it best in describing the trial as "unwarranted, unjust and motivated by politics." Even liberal Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen called the prosecution of Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff a "runaway train."

Fair-minded Americans look at the case and see there wasn't one to be made. So why was he pursued?

In a sentencing memo filed in late May after Libby's conviction, Fitzgerald made it clear Libby wasn't his real quarry at all. He wanted to show that Libby's disclosures to the media about former CIA spook Valerie Plame "may have been personally sanctioned by the vice president."

That couldn't be proved in court, of course. It was a giant fishing expedition. Nor could Fitzgerald prove the underlying charges he promised in 2005 when he first went after Libby.

At the time, he said he would prove Libby had violated the law by revealing Plame's identity. He didn't. But he did the next best thing: He took some of Libby's poorly remembered testimony and crafted around it a sham case of obstruction and lying.

Even some of the jurors who found Libby guilty on technical points of the law said they hoped he'd be pardoned.

Once this travesty occurred, it seemed clear Libby would do some hard time. The White House had kept quiet, perhaps fearing a fight with the Democrats that control both Congress and much of the political agenda of what remains of President Bush's second term.

Bush's political advisers no doubt told him any kind of leniency would have heavy political costs. So we congratulate him for commuting Libby's sentence, and hope he'll step up to the plate again when he leaves office and issue a full pardon.

There are a lot of scoundrels in the world. Libby isn't one of them.
7.2.2007 9:26pm
Xenos:
"Contempt for the law" seems correct to me.
7.2.2007 9:27pm
Steve:
He wanted to show that Libby's disclosures to the media about former CIA spook Valerie Plame "may have been personally sanctioned by the vice president."

That couldn't be proved in court, of course. It was a giant fishing expedition. Nor could Fitzgerald prove the underlying charges he promised in 2005 when he first went after Libby.

Well of course it couldn't be proved in court, because that was one of the elements of Fitzgerald's investigation that Libby obstructed by lying about the source of his information on Plame. What a remarkable "insight" by such a studiously neutral publication as the Investor's Business Daily.
7.2.2007 9:30pm
Elais:
Smokey,

Justice was served and Bush has now thwarted it. Very typical of Bush's regime since attaining office.
7.2.2007 9:31pm
OrinKerr:
Smokey,

I assume you favor pardons/commutations for all persons in federal prison who are not "scoundrels"? Can you elaborate more on your "scoundrel" test so we can tell which federal prison inmates should be freed and which ones should remain in jail?
7.2.2007 9:31pm
JohnO (mail):
This is not "effectively pardoning" Libby. His conviction still stands. The existing conviction will have collateral effects, one of which presumably will be the loss of Libby's law license. It's a remarkable act, one that has profound effects for Libby, maybe more than he deserves. But it's hyperbole to say this is essentially a pardon.
7.2.2007 9:32pm
Counterfactual (mail):
I am reminded of the famous statement that the law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets or steal bread. For the Bush Administration, even this is too even handed. Now we need a coda pointing out that as long as the rich are friends of the President, what the law forbids doesn't really matter at all.
7.2.2007 9:33pm
ATRGeek:
As I understand it, Bush's guidelines for commutation as promulgated by the DOJ require that the petitioner have started serving his sentence and have exhausted or abandoned all appeals. So, yes, I gather Bush has made a singular exception for someone who committed his crimes on behalf of Bush's Administration.

"Troubling" may be a bit of an understatement.
7.2.2007 9:34pm
ATRGeek:
By the way, I gather one of the beneficial effects for Libby of a commutation rather than a full pardon is that he can still pursue his appeal. And, of course, if that appeal doesn't work he can still be pardoned.
7.2.2007 9:37pm
Nathan_M (mail):
Bush 1, Rule of Law 0.

Bush is up by more, of course, that's just the score for today.
7.2.2007 9:38pm
MMF:
Odds are they commute now, pardon in December of '08....
7.2.2007 9:40pm
OrinKerr:
JohnO,

That's an interesting point about Libby's law license; if we know that Libby will lose it, and we know that he planned to practice law again, then that is certainly an important difference. Can you tell us more about the likely effect of the conviction on his license? I don't know how the bar of Libby's jurisdiction is likely to deal with that.
7.2.2007 9:41pm
GB (mail):
One thing the piece above does not seem to mention is the fact that we had a jury verdict in this case. Even if this was a case with a zealous prosecutor, the jury system, as well as adversarial advocacy, is designed to protect against abuse. Of course, Bush gets around this by criticizing the sentence, not the jury verdict. It should be noted that Libby was given a sentence within the Guidelines. It's a bit ironic that Bush called Libby's sentence "excessive" while DOJ is calling for district court judges to depend more on Guidelines calculations, rather than utilize their own discretion under Booker. Seems rather hypocritical.
7.2.2007 9:42pm
ATRGeek:
GB,

It would be interesting if all this caused some people to question the excessive punitiveness of our criminal law. Unfortunately, the all-too-explicit argument has been that dear ole' Scooter is not one of THOSE criminals (you know, the ones we like seeing punished). See, for example, here:

Wash Post Editorial

"To pardon Scooter Libby would not be consistent with the imperative that the mechanisms of law be able to demand, and receive, the truth. But to leave the sentence undisturbed would be an injustice to a person who, though guilty in this instance, is not what most people would, or should, think of as a criminal."
7.2.2007 9:48pm
Crust (mail):
Of course, Bush could still pardon Libby, say at the end of his term. He could pardon Libby specifically or as part of some broader class. I don't think there's any legal reason why Bush couldn't even issue a blanket pardon for, say, any crimes committed by any member of his administration in the course of their duties. That would be unprecedented. It would be terrible for the rule of law, for his historical legacy if he has any hope of salvaging it, for the reputation of the United States, etc., etc. But not illegal. A lot of things I would have though would never happen in the United States have already happened. So who knows.
7.2.2007 9:48pm
Duncan Frissell (mail):
It wasn't an act against the rule of law since pardons and lesser commutations are specifically provided for in law.
7.2.2007 9:48pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
As I understand it, Bush's guidelines for commutation as promulgated by the DOJ require that the petitioner have started serving his sentence and have exhausted or abandoned all appeals. So, yes, I gather Bush has made a singular exception for someone who committed his crimes on behalf of Bush's Administration.


As I understand it, Libby was already being required to serve his sentence before his appeals had been exhausted. In which case it doesn’t seem like much of a deviation from a guideline which seems drafted for a situation in which someone isn’t yet serving a prison sentence because they’re still appealing their case.
7.2.2007 9:49pm
ajftoo:

...effectively pardoned...

Technically Bush "commuted"...


Charlatan.
7.2.2007 9:50pm
OrinKerr:
Duncan,

Tongue firmly planted in cheek, I assume?
7.2.2007 9:51pm
boonelsj (mail):
Commuting seems like an odd choice to me, given the general bluster about this being some sort of politically-motivated prosecution where no "real" crime was committed. If that's the case, why not just a full pardon? This is just admitting that, sure, he obstructed a federal investigation, but he shouldn't have to go to prison as a result.

Also, how pissed must Steven Griles be right now?
7.2.2007 9:51pm
Crust (mail):
ATRGeek, that's a great quote from WaPo. So apparently the "scoundrel test" OK was asking for is simply whether the person is or is not "what people would, or should, think of as a criminal." It's crystal clear now.
7.2.2007 9:52pm
Disgusting:
For Bush to justify the commutation on the ground that Judge Walton's sentence -- within the sentencing guidelines that this Administration has so vigorously warned judges not to depart from -- was "excessive" is an unspeakable act of hypocrisy. This administration has for years refused to even consider any legislative reforms to the crack-powder laws -- which nearly everyone agrees are fundamentally unfair -- and has pushed for higher sentences and reduced judicial discretion across the board.
7.2.2007 9:53pm
Henri LeCompte (mail):
I'm curious. How many of you scolds tut-tutting this decision by the President were equally outraged when it came to President Clinton's perjury? How many of you mourned "the rule of law" when he got off with a slap on the wrist?

Please!. This whole mean-spirited affair was partisan warfare by another means.
7.2.2007 9:56pm
ATRGeek:
Thorley,

As usual, it paid for me to do a little research rather than rely on the press. Here is the actual guideline:

Commutation Guideline

"No petition for commutation of sentence, including remission of fine, should be filed if other forms of judicial or administrative relief are available, except upon a showing of exceptional circumstances."

Libby could appeal, so that would rule out his petition absent "exceptional circumstances". Which, again, appear to be that he committed his crime on behalf of the Administration.
7.2.2007 9:56pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Commuting seems like an odd choice to me, given the general bluster about this being some sort of politically-motivated prosecution where no "real" crime was committed. If that's the case, why not just a full pardon? This is just admitting that, sure, he obstructed a federal investigation, but he shouldn't have to go to prison as a result.


I haven’t followed this story that closely but my understanding is that Libby is still appealing his case. It may be that he still hopes to win on appeal and get the conviction overturned in which case a pardon wouldn’t be necessary.
7.2.2007 9:57pm
ATRGeek:
Henri,

Good point. Clearly a Republican-appointed prosecutor, Republican-appointed trial judge, and Republican-appointed appellate judges were engaged in partisan warfare against Libby.
7.2.2007 9:59pm
OrinKerr:
Henri LeCompte,

I'm curious: How could a criminal prosecution of a Bush Administration official by a Bush-appointed prosecutor and a sentence imposed by a Bush-appointed judge be "partisan warfare"?
7.2.2007 10:02pm
BruceM (mail) (www):
My thoughts on this great hypocrisy. Bush just won an appeal at SCOTUS saying that a within-guideline sentence like Libby's was presumtively reasonable. No reason that Libby's was not, other than the fact he's a Bush Crony. Suddenly the republicans find their beloved sentencing guideliens unfair and too harsh. Jackasses.
7.2.2007 10:03pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
That's an interesting point about Libby's law license; if we know that Libby will lose it, and we know that he planned to practice law again, then that is certainly an important difference. Can you tell us more about the likely effect of the conviction on his license? I don't know how the bar of Libby's jurisdiction is likely to deal with that.


Orin, Libby was licensed to practice in Washington DC and Pennsylvania per Wikipedia:



Lewis Libby is no longer listed as a "member" of the DC Bar, which revised its "Professional Rules of Conduct" on 1 February 2007, according to its "Bar News" section, both accessed 5 June 2007. On 3 April 2007, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals filed an "Order" ("In the Matter of I. Lewis Libby, Jr. ... Bar Registration No. 950758"), suspending Libby "immediately from the practice of law in the District of Columbia pending resolution of this matter [in United States v. Libby]," which the Office of Bar Counsel (DC Bar) received on 4 April 2007, directing it to "inform the Court if the matter is resolved without the necessity of further court action." In that order, "the Board directed the Bar Counsel to file a brief addressing whether [Libby's] crimes inherently involve moral turpitude." In its brief, filed on 24 April 2007, entitled "Statement of Bar Counsel", the DC Bar stated that his crimes did so and recommended to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals Board on Professional Responsiblity that Libby "be disbarred pursuant to D.C. Code § 11-2503(a)," which reads "in pertinent part": "When a member of the bar of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals is convicted of an offense involving moral turpitude, ... the court shall, pending final determination of an appeal from the conviction, suspend the member of the bar from practice.... If a final judgment of conviction is certified to the court, the name of the member of the bar so convicted shall be struck from the roll of the members of the bar and such person shall thereafter cease to be a member." Pursuant to the policy on "Moral Turpitude" contained therein, it is also noted (n. 4) that Libby's "disbarment should be deemed to commence, for reinstatement purposes, on April 11, 2007, the date that [he] filed an affidavit in compliance with D.C. Bar R. XI, § 14(g)." The brief lists Libby's admission to practice law in that jurisdiction as 19 May 1978.


The Pennsylvania disciplinary board lists him as “inactive” but I wasn’t able to find any record of disciplinary action against him on their site.
7.2.2007 10:06pm
Crust (mail):
In his statement, Bush tries to make the case that the sentence was excessive, by pointing to the recommendation of the probation office. But as Anonymous Liberal points out, the probation office recommended almost 2 years. So how does Bush justify going down to zero prison time? Answer: he doesn't even try (if you don't believe me, read the statement yourself).
7.2.2007 10:08pm
TyWebb:
Out of curiosity, does anyone know of a source online for a sampling of pardon requests that were denied by President Bush? Given that he's denied so many, they might be interesting reading relative to the facts of Mr. Libby's case.
7.2.2007 10:10pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
"Contempt for the law?" I'm sorry, I missed the part in the Constitution that limits Bush's power in commuting Libby's sentence. Also, I can't find the part that says DOJ Regulations trump Article II. Perhaps my Constitution is out of date.

Now, if you disagree for other reasons, then that is certainly understandable. But to say it was illegal or imply it was it simply wrong. Look, let's not kid anybody. Most people want Libby in jail for political reasons. There was no crime committed vis a vis Valerie Plame. (I'm sure I'll see them all over TV tonight and tomorrow, with a few plugs for their book thrown in). Patrick Fitzgerald basically charged him for not having his story line up perfectly with Tim Russert's. And, he got a friendly, anti-Republican D.C. jury that had Libby in jail before opening arguments. In my view, the President's power to pardon offenses against the United States is to stop political imprisonments like this.

In sum, you think it is bad policy? I'll hear your argument and potentially agree to an extent. Against the law, illegal, or anything like that? Don't waste my time.
7.2.2007 10:10pm
ATRGeek:
Crust,

And it is not like this is the first time a judge has given a longer sentence than the probation office recommended.

Orin's point is exactly right: President Bush made a unique exception for Libby, and for about the worse possible reason (that last bit is my addition).
7.2.2007 10:12pm
ATRGeek:
Brian G,

Excellent point. Not only did a Republican-appointed prosecutor seek Libby's imprisonment for political reasons, but a Republican-appointed trial judge sentenced him to prison for political reasons, and the Republican-appointed judges on the appellate panel denied him bail for political reasons.
7.2.2007 10:15pm
SteveW:
If I understand the precedents correctly, a commutation allows Libby to continue to appeal the conviction while at the same time taking advantage of staying out of jail. If Bush had pardoned Libby, instead of commuting the sentence, then Libby would have had to assert the pardon to stay out of jail, and doing so would be an admission of guilt, precluding further appeals.

Burdick v. U.S. (pardon) and Biddle v. Perovich (commutation) are the two cases.
7.2.2007 10:20pm
JohnO (mail):
Orin:

In response to your question, I'll adopt Thorley Winston's remarks. My sense (as a member of the DC bar) is that a felony conviction involving perjury would be more or less fatal to a DC law license, but I didn;t know that the wheels of justice had already begun turning.
7.2.2007 10:20pm
OrinKerr:
Brian G,

Um, no one has actually suggested that this was illegal (as far as I can tell).
7.2.2007 10:20pm
OrinKerr:
Thanks, JohnO -- I amended the post to avoid confusion.
7.2.2007 10:21pm
Crust (mail):
ATRGeek:

And it is not like this is the first time a judge has given a longer sentence than the probation office recommended.

For sure. It's a pathetic argument for reducing the jail term by the extraordinary means of commutation. But at leasts it's an argument. Bush gives literally no argument for eliminating the jail term (as opposed to reducing it).
7.2.2007 10:22pm
CaseyL (mail):
Commuting, rather than pardoning, Libby means that Libby can still use 5th Amendment protection to avoid testifying on any other cases coming out of the Plame matter. That might be irrelevant, since Fitzgerald ins't going to re-open the investigation, but I'm sure it was one of the considerations.

The Right will take its no-underling-crime talking point to its collective grave. But that talking point is bull. An NOC investigating WMD was outed and her network destroyed, and that was done against a backdrop of Bush-Cheney's using WMD as justifications for war, more war, and the Unitary Executive. It was also done in the context of Bush-Cheney undermining every non-proliferation agreement we had.

Because the CIA never reveals such things, we'll never know just how much damage outing Plame did to our national security. This is not only because Plame's network was ruined, but also because outing an NOC sent a very strong signal to other NOCs: find the intel Bush-Cheney want you to find, or else you, too, can be outed.
7.2.2007 10:23pm
Splunge (mail):
Nonetheless, I find Bush's action very troubling because of the obvious special treatment Libby received.

Hmm. I've run red lights when transporting someone bleeding from a seriously cut wrist to the hospital. Once I recall a helicopter landing right in the middle of the road, snarling traffic hideously, to transport a child involved in a sledding accident down a mountain.

It would appear that this troubling business of people doing unusual things in response to unusual circumstances is shockingly widespread.
7.2.2007 10:25pm
ATRGeek:
Crust,

True. And as I and others have pointed out, in a sense this is the best possible result for Libby at this time because he is free but still able to pursue his appeal.
7.2.2007 10:25pm
charles vine:
I wonder if this commutation is any worse than Bill Clinton's pardon-for-money of Marc Rich. Oops, Clinton gave the money back, so no harm done. "I did not take any money from that man Mr. Rich."
7.2.2007 10:25pm
Kepler (mail):
Well of course it couldn't be proved in court, because that was one of the elements of Fitzgerald's investigation that Libby obstructed by lying about the source of his information on Plame. What a remarkable "insight" by such a studiously neutral publication as the Investor's Business Daily.

A: Fitz couldn't prove it cuz Scooter was lying about it.
B: Lying about what?
A: Lying about what Fitz couldn't prove!
B: ummmm??!!

Wow. The complete absence of smoke is proof of a well-concealed fire.

Steve, the word is tautology. Go look it up. Yeah, that really big book on your shelf. It's called a dictionary.
7.2.2007 10:27pm
David Sucher (mail) (www):
Reckless.
But it fits with the War in Iraq.
7.2.2007 10:27pm
ATRGeek:
Splunge,

Right, even the guidelines make an exception for extraordinary circumstances. And in this case the extraordinary circumstances were that (drum roll please) ... Libby committed his crimes on behalf of the Administration.

Again, "troubling" is an understatement.
7.2.2007 10:27pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Among other eye-brow raisers in the IBD article was this line:

Fair-minded Americans look at the case and see there wasn't one to be made.

The polls I've seen have opposition to a pardon at around 67%-72% and about 19% favoring a pardon. So, according to IBD, only about 19% of Americans are "fair minded"? Why does IBD hate America?
7.2.2007 10:32pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
I'm curious: How could a criminal prosecution of a Bush Administration official by a Bush-appointed prosecutor and a sentence imposed by a Bush-appointed judge be "partisan warfare"?


Good point and one that should be remembered the next time someone tries to refer to the Clinton-appointed independent counsel’s investigation that lead to his impeachment as a “partisan witch hunt” or “partisan warfare.”

;)
7.2.2007 10:33pm
Steve:
Lying about what?

Lying about the circumstances under which he learned of Plame's CIA employment.

It's all right there, in the court filings, if you care to look it up.
7.2.2007 10:33pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Via DeLong, someone at dKos finds this gem from a 1974 "Judiciary Committee" (House? Senate?) report:

In the [Constitutional] convention George Mason argued that the President might use his pardoning power to "pardon crimes which were advised by himself" or, before indictment or conviction, "to stop inquiry and prevent detection." James Madison responded:

[I]f the President be connected, in any suspicious manner, with any person, and there be grounds [to] believe he will shelter him, the House of Representatives can impeach him; they can remove him if found guilty...

Madison went on to [say] contrary to his position in the Philadelphia convention, that the President could be suspended when suspected, and his powers would devolve on the Vice President, who could likewise be suspended until impeached and convicted, if he were also suspected...


Oh, Madison. So tough-minded, yet so naive. Who in 1789 could've foreseen how eager a future Congress would be to defer to an executive named George?
7.2.2007 10:34pm
Justin (mail):
Thorley,

You're not correct. The purpose of the guidelines for a commutation is not to keep people who are out of jail from having their sentence commuting, otherwise the dual requirements of the guidelines would have been redundant. There is an actual benefit in allowing the judicial branch to rectify wrongs, and a parrallel acceptance of some minimal allowance of "suffering" as part of that comity.
7.2.2007 10:36pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
In response to your question, I'll adopt Thorley Winston's remarks. My sense (as a member of the DC bar) is that a felony conviction involving perjury would be more or less fatal to a DC law license, but I didn;t know that the wheels of justice had already begun turning.


John O as a member of the DC Bar, perhaps you could answer a question. The Wikipedia article I linked to said that the DC Bar “revised its "Professional Rules of Conduct" on 1 February 2007.” I’m just curious would you have any knowledge as to what these revisions were and what if any effect they may have had on the Libby case that was already in process.
7.2.2007 10:37pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
One more: Hilzoy quotes Emptywheel:

""He commuted Libby's sentence, guaranteeing not only that Libby wouldn't talk, but retaining Libby's right to invoke the Fifth."

What's the word -- "heh"?
7.2.2007 10:37pm
ATRGeek:
Thorley,

Actually, while Robert Fiske was appointed by AG Reno, Kenneth Starr was appointed by the Special Division, a three-judge panel led by Judge Sentelle.
7.2.2007 10:37pm
frankcross (mail):
Thorley, Ken Starr was not Clinton-appointed
7.2.2007 10:38pm
Lonetown (mail):
Clearly the commutation was taken to keep the appeal process open.

In fact, some are speculating the prosecutor and judge took an unreasonable line i.e. excessive sentence and refusal to let Libby stay free during appeal, in order to provoke a pardon. The idea being, a win on appeal would make them look bad.

It seems many feel a win is likely and Waltons extraordinary response to what amounts to a who's who of juriprudence recomending he stay free during apepeal, would suggest the idea that Walton and Fitzgerald will be overturned is likely.
7.2.2007 10:39pm
Justin (mail):
Lonetown, other than the vague reference to "some", is there anything, either factual OR logical, that supports ANY of your contentions?
7.2.2007 10:42pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):

Actually, while Robert Fiske was appointed by AG Reno, Kenneth Starr was appointed by the Special Division, a three-judge panel led by Judge Sentelle.

. . . .

Thorley, Ken Starr was not Clinton-appointed


Oops, I stand corrected.
7.2.2007 10:44pm
ATRGeek:
Lonetown,

Great point. And the three-judge appellate panel, including two Republican appointees, unanimously denied bail because clearly they too believed Libby was likely to win on appeal.
7.2.2007 10:44pm
dwa:

Brian G,

Excellent point. Not only did a Republican-appointed prosecutor seek Libby's imprisonment for political reasons, but a Republican-appointed trial judge sentenced him to prison for political reasons, and the Republican-appointed judges on the appellate panel denied him bail for political reasons.



Remember kids: someone appointed by someone of a particular party, bent, or even passing fancy must, by definition, also share those attributes, and in perpetuum no less.

On point, I fail to see the big deal. Bush apparantly was of the opinion (shared by quite a few people, but they don't count because they're all partisan hacks or something) that Libby was not convicted based upon the merits (the idea that not remembering a conversation exactly as someone else did, someone who was later shown to be mistaken about more than a few things, no less, is rather chilling, moreso than anything Bush has done here) but rather upon the politics. If the President's Article II powers to commute or vacate sentances doesn't hold in just this sort of situation, I cannot for the life of me imagine where it would.
7.2.2007 10:45pm
Crust (mail):
Actually, while Robert Fiske was appointed by AG Reno, Kenneth Starr was appointed by the Special Division, a three-judge panel led by Judge Sentelle.

Sentelle, of course, is a Republican. By the way, he was also one of the three appellate judges who voted that Libby should not stay free on appeal.
7.2.2007 10:46pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Orin,

Doesn't a presidential pardon for anyone imply special treatment?
Let A = total convictions in US history.
Let B = total presidential pardons.

I suggest B/A = a very, very small number.

Whether it's Marc Rich or Stuart Libby, it's always special treatment.
7.2.2007 10:49pm
ATRGeek:
dwa,

You might want to read Bush's statement before leaping to conclusions:

Bush Statement

By the way, it is an interesting issue where the BEST talking point is actually "Clinton did it!"
7.2.2007 10:49pm
ATRGeek:
Elliot123,

I believe Orin's point, as confirmed by the guidelines, is that Bush made a special exception to his otherwise strict commutation rules for Libby.
7.2.2007 10:54pm
Riley Still (mail):
Ditto Brain G.

Fitzgerald continued a politically motivated investigation long after he knew the law in question had not been violated and long after he knew the person who had done the deed that was potentially unlawful was not Mr. Libby. One must ask why?

Fitzgerald's behavior after he new the essential facts smacks of police state behavior. What was he looking for after he knew no one had violated the law for which he was chartered to investigate? How many questions asked by how many investigators were necessary to get Mr. Libby to contradic himself or someone else?

I don't care who appointed him or how deep his Republican credentials were/are. His investigation was almost perfectly analogous to that of Nifong's
7.2.2007 10:57pm
JohnO (mail):
Thorley, other than my sense that felony perjury = bad, I can't say I have followed whatever changes might have occurred to the DC rules of professional responsibility lately. In my mind, the trick is to have standards higher than whatever norm the Bar could adopt, thereby obviating the need to follow changes too closely.
7.2.2007 10:59pm
Adam J:
Charles, can we please stop comparing this to Clinton's Marc Rich pardon. It's ridiculous, it's like listening to a kid that got caught hitting another in a school yard whining that he should be allowed to cause "Bill did it yesterday."

Yes, Clinton did gave a poorly concieved pardon during his presidency to Rich, but doesn't make right for Bush to give a pardon to Libby.
7.2.2007 10:59pm
Hrm (mail):

Great point. And the three-judge appellate panel, including two Republican appointees, unanimously denied bail because clearly they too believed Libby was likely to win on appeal.


In a world where we cannot read each other's thoughts, it is often difficult to truly say why anyone did anything :)

The reality is that it is just as likely that these judges did not want to spank Walton, and expected that the President would not allow Libby to go to jail. Therefor they risked little in disallowing him to stay out pending appeal. But had they allowed him out, THEY would take the brunt of criticism. It would be foolish to think that the majority of the pundits who decry Bush for the commutation would suddenly have been happy and silent had the three judges let Libby free on appeal (mind you, some would; but I do not believe the majority would) :)

As per your suggestion that the fact that someone is appointed by members of one party means that person will always do what either the party or the appointer wants, I point to "Fired Assistant US Attorney" mess. I'm sure if these individuals had followed exactly what Bush (or whoever was pulling the strings) wanted, they might still be in their positions :)

To go one more, I bring up many justices who are either conservative or liberal upon appointment, but over the years drift the other way. There are certain individuals on the Supreme Court who would never have been nominated if the nominater knew what they would have done a decade later :)
7.2.2007 11:02pm
DWPittelli (mail) (www):
It is reasonable to believe that Bush reasonably sees the prosecution of Libby as "political." Not political in the partisan sense that the prosecutor was motivated by animus toward Bush or Republicans, but political in the sense that the prosecution of Libby would not have happened under ordinary nonpolitical circumstances where a prosecutor has discretion as to what merits prosecution and no need to justify his assignment by taking on an unmerited or marginal prosecution in a given matter.

It is only because Libby worked for the Bush Administration (i.e., OVP) that he was pursued by a specially and specifically assigned prosecutor. It is only because of Bush's publicly announced demand that Libby had to answer any questions put to him by that prosecutor. And it is only under the microscope of such an investigation that such inconsistencies in memory and testimony would be prosecuted, with the inconsistencies of journalists and other Administration outsiders overlooked.

Thus it should not surprise us that Bush would see that commuting Libby's sentence is proper, and indeed morally obligatory for Bush.

Of course, Bush's opponents do not know, and cannot be expected to believe, that Bush's motives are pure. For those who believe that Cheney, Libby and Bush were engaging in a sinister outing conspiracy, this commutation is the latest chapter in their nefarious project.

Without knowing what is in Bush's conscience, we cannot know if his act today was morally upright -- required even -- or condemnable, and it is absurd for us to pretend otherwise, on either side, when we are all grasping at shadows.
7.2.2007 11:02pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):

On point, I fail to see the big deal. Bush apparantly was of the opinion (shared by quite a few people, but they don't count because they're all partisan hacks or something) that Libby was not convicted based upon the merits (the idea that not remembering a conversation exactly as someone else did, someone who was later shown to be mistaken about more than a few things, no less, is rather chilling, moreso than anything Bush has done here) but rather upon the politics. If the President's Article II powers to commute or vacate sentances doesn't hold in just this sort of situation, I cannot for the life of me imagine where it would.


I asked this question on the other thread but I’ll ask it here as well – does anyone know what the substance was of Libby’s supposed perjury? What actual factual statements was he convicted of lying under oath about?
7.2.2007 11:08pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
a politically motivated investigation

Okay, I'll bite.

"Politically motivated" how?

Whose politics motivated it?

Explain, with actual references to the initiation of the investigation, how it was motivated by politics.

I'm all ears.
7.2.2007 11:13pm
charles vine:
I brought up the Marc Rich pardon not because I necessarily think like a schoolboy, but because I am looking toward the near future: when Bush is gone, for better or worse, he stays gone (I am unaware of any Lurleen Wallace-like plans for Laura Bush to run for her husband's office).

But there is clearly a very real possibility that Bill Clinton, unchastened, whether titular president or no, will soon be roaming the halls of the White House looking for opportunities.
7.2.2007 11:15pm
ATRGeek:
Riley,

Stellar point. Fitzgerald, the trial judges, the appellate judges--a pack of Nifongs the lot of them.

Hrm,

Spectacular point. Clearly the most likely possibility is that every single judge in question ignored their legal duties and left it to the President to take the heat instead. The most likely possibility is also that every single Republican appointee in question had drifted into deep liberal territory.

DWPittelli,

You do realize you are saying that it is reasonable to believe that President Bush lied in his commutation statement? I'm just checking.
7.2.2007 11:15pm
ATRGeek:
Thorley,

And as I suggested elsewhere, the best thing for you to do is read the indictment.
7.2.2007 11:16pm
Randy R. (mail):
And after all this....

1. We know that Valerie Plame was working undercover as a CIA agent.
2. Her cover was blown by someone in the White House, possibly for political reasons, but certainly for no legitmate reasons.
3. Blowing her cover puts her and all her contacts at risk, and certainly undermines our nation's national security.
4. Bush said repeatedly that if anyone in his administration leaked her name, he or she wouldn't be working for him anymore.
5. No one in the Bush Administration has taken any responsibility for this, and no one was fired.

And yet, we see Republicans and conservatives repeatedly defending all this behavior. They talk about Libby being pursued for political reasons, without any foundation, and yet when a CIA agent's cover is blown for politcal reasons, they remain silent. It's okay for US to do it, but not YOU.

This is what conservativism has come to mean nowadays. I hope you are all proud of yourselves....
7.2.2007 11:25pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Tsk ... Randy R, Plame is culpable for her pre-9/11 mentality, which led her to address the issue of WMD's in Iraq from a reality-based standpoint.

We're an empire now; we can, and must, invade wherever we have *faith* that the WMD's will be found.
7.2.2007 11:29pm
Justin (mail):
Randy R, you also missed the fact that Plame (and her contacts) were working on Iranian WMD plans.
7.2.2007 11:36pm
BruceM (mail) (www):
I can only assume Weldon Angelos will have his sentence commuted by Bush since it is undeniably "too harsh"... especially when compared to Libby's.
7.2.2007 11:39pm
DWPittelli (mail) (www):
ATRGeek,
Please specify what you think a lie, and why.

Randy R,
Your claims are contentious half-truths. But even if we accept them, surely you must recognize that to the extent that Plame was undercover at the time, she was also outed by her own husband's reckless signed newspaper editorial?
7.2.2007 11:39pm
Justin (mail):
DWP,

Is your argument that Joseph Wilson should have been aware that the federal government would respond to his criticism by an ad hominem attack on his credibility, even though such attack was of minor relevance (at best), utterly destructive to our Iranian WMD intelligence outfit, and illegal?
7.2.2007 11:45pm
ATRGeek:
DWPitelli,

I don't say President Bush lied. I said if he believed what you say he believed, then he lied in his commutation statement.
7.2.2007 11:45pm
CaseyL (mail):
surely you must recognize that to the extent that Plame was undercover at the time, she was also outed by her own husband's reckless signed newspaper editorial?


How?

Where, in his editorial, did he say "My wife, the CIA agent"?

Where, in either of their bios in Who's Who, is Valerie Plame identified as a CIA agent?
7.2.2007 11:48pm
ATRGeek:
To wrap up a bit:

I think it is slowly dawning on Libby's defenders that President Bush's commutation statement does not support their standard talking points. So, it will be interesting to see how they react as that fact sinks in.
7.2.2007 11:51pm
DWPittelli (mail) (www):
ATRGeek,
I have read the commutation statement. And what would those (conditional) lies have been?

CaseyL
She could never again work undercover in WMDs while known to be the wife of an ambassador researching WMDs.
7.2.2007 11:52pm
ELBonline (mail):

Counterfactual,
1. "Now we need a coda pointing out that as long as the rich are friends of the President, what the law forbids doesn't really matter at all."

You're a little late - the Marc Rich thread closed a couple years ago.

2. Re: Guidelines; lesssee, last time I looked, guidelines are just that, guides, not laws. They are meant to be ignored when they don't fit the situation. And if the President who defines the guidelines chooses ignore them because they didn't fit the situation, then what's the problem?

A sitution such as
- A special prosecutor, who very well may have been illegitimately appointed,
- knows early on who released the info at question (a person is certainly not a friend of the administration), but spends another couple years trying to pin something on the Vice President,
- never establishes that the crime for which he is appointed to prosecute ever happened -- (note that Valerie Plame was never shown to be a covert agent under the law; indeed, this deterimination seemed to be actively avoided by Fitz and the CIA).
- And a judge, allegedly republican or not, who screwed up by, among other things, permitting a witness who could undercut the prosecution's case to be excluded,
- And numerous notable scholars of law file amicus briefs noting the problems with the case...

Yes, the President might conclude there is a "special" circumstance here, and find it "troubling," and exercise the least amount of power to correct the injustice to Libby, but allow the judicial process to proceed.

And Steve: Fitzgerald couldn't show the VP or Libby exposed anyone, not because so-called obstruction by Libby, but because Armitage is the one who blabbed to the media. VP and Libby had nothing to do with that. They were legitimately reponding to her husbands lies in the newpaper editorial. And note that Valerie's covert status could not be exposed, because it apparently did not exist.

3. In evaluating the justice of the situation, it would be worthwhile to note that the genesis of the whole situation was that Valerie's husband:

- who clearly did get his gig to Niger because his wife was involved
- whose actual verbal report to the CIA, as determined by the 911 commission, did support the administration's suspicions about Saddam's intentions
- who used an editorial to lie about his report to the CIA to try to discredit the administration.

Wilson should have been prosecuted for revealing his classified report but of course if you actually lie about your report, you didn't actually release it, did you? Besides, under "Sandy Bergler" rules, you can steal and destroy actual classified information to protect a Democrat Prez, but if you try to defend a Republican Prez, whoa! There's a crime!
7.2.2007 11:54pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
Professor Kerr,

I respect your sentiments. but there are quite a few commentors above that suggest what Bush did was illegal. I would not have written my comments if those comments weren't there.
7.2.2007 11:55pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
Boy, I have seen this comment on 5 blogs tonight, and several times here. The talking points got out fast. (By the way, as a response to my comment, I talked about the jury, not the prosecutors, etc.)


Excellent point. Not only did a Republican-appointed prosecutor seek Libby's imprisonment for political reasons, but a Republican-appointed trial judge sentenced him to prison for political reasons, and the Republican-appointed judges on the appellate panel denied him bail for political reasons.

7.2.2007 11:56pm
DWPittelli (mail) (www):
Justin: "Is your argument that Joseph Wilson should have been aware that the federal government would respond to his criticism by an ad hominem attack on his credibility, even though such attack was of minor relevance (at best), utterly destructive to our Iranian WMD intelligence outfit, and illegal?"

1) No. It is my argument that Wilson's editorial by itself effectively ended any undercover career of his wife, if such were not already over.

2) The logical rejoinder to an argument from authority is an ad hominem. It is of considerable relevance.

3) It would also be destructive of our national security to let false claims of dishonesty and malfeasance go unanswered.

4) The illegality remains in question. Note also that Armitage has not been prosecuted.
7.2.2007 11:58pm
Justin (mail):
I didn't even get past 1 - uhhhh....wanna elaborate on that one?
7.2.2007 11:59pm
uh_clem (mail):
Guidelines; lesssee, last time I looked, guidelines are just that, guides, not laws.

You need to look again. Federal sentencing guidelines have the force of law. Judges cannot just ignore them when it strikes their fancy. Next?
7.3.2007 12:03am
ATRGeek:
DWPitelli,

I think Bush's commutation statement clearly indicates that he believes that Libby was properly indicted for lying to investigators and the grand jury because "our entire system of justice relies on people telling the truth. And if a person does not tell the truth, particularly if he serves in government and holds the public trust, he must be held accountable."

If he instead secretly believed that "the prosecution of Libby would not have happened under ordinary nonpolitical circumstances where a prosecutor has discretion as to what merits prosecution and no need to justify his assignment by taking on an unmerited or marginal prosecution in a given matter," that statement would be a lie.

But let's turn it around: what in his commutation statement supports your view?
7.3.2007 12:03am
ATRGeek:
Brian G,

The odd thing is, Bush said he respected the jury's verdict. What he overruled was the imprisonment part of Libby's sentence--something the trial judge set, and the appellate judges refused to stay during appeal.
7.3.2007 12:05am
Bob from Ohio (mail):
President Bush was NEVER going to let Scooter go to jail. The Bush family does not leave its wounded on the political battlefield. See Weinberger, Casper and Gonzolez, Alberto.

It is of course special treatment. It is a political act aimed at Libby's strong supporters. A way to bring them back a little into the fold after the immigration fiasco. No political downside, the President's ratings are as low as they can go.

It is naive to think that presidents and governors exercise their extraordinary powers based on clear eyed analysis of the legal and ethical pros and cons. Pardons and commutations of people in actual need of such are always political acts.
7.3.2007 12:06am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
It is interesting to hear statements to the effect that a CIA agent of some incredibly covert status was outed....
That's clearly an attempt to lead on to believe that Libby did it, or someone in the OVP did it. Instead, we know, as did Fitz when this started, that Armitage did it.
Armitage, to this point not indicted, did the outing.
We don't know why Fitz gave him a pass. Couldn't get to Bush through Armitage? Plame wasn't covert so Armitage couldn't be indicted? We don't know. But we do know that Armitage was the leaker and that he kept his mouth shut through all this folderol about Libby. Except for telling Fitz, I mean. In advance.

The reason for mentioning the Rich pardon is not to say that two wrongs don't make a right. The next step in the argument is so obvious that the argument maker doesn't think it's necessary to state it. But I will. The next step is to make the point that if you said nothing about Rich, you have no moral standing to complain about Libby. Your pretense to be interested in principle is a lie. You're a partisan hack.
If you insist you're interested in principle, please explain how the two are sufficiently similar, but still different enough that you weren't required by principle to complain about Rich.
7.3.2007 12:07am
Anon Y. Mous:

Nonetheless, I find Bush's action very troubling because of the obvious special treatment Libby received. President Bush has set a remarkable record in the last 6+ years for essentially never exercising his powers to commute sentences or pardon those in jail. His handful of pardons have been almost all symbolic gestures involving cases decades old, sometimes for people who are long dead. Come to think of it, I don't know if Bush has ever actually used his powers to get one single person out of jail even one day early. If there are such cases, they are certainly few and far between. So Libby's treatment was very special indeed.
I don't want to put words in your mouth, but it sounds like you believe that Bush has been wrong in his unwillingness to be more liberal in his usage of the pardon. I get the impression that Bush has been very skeptical, both as Governor and as President, of overruling the judges and juries that made the call in the first place. Now, in a case he's close to, he has apparently come to believe that an injustice has been done, and feels he's obligated to right it.

Shouldn't you be happy that he's coming closer to your views on the appropriateness of the judicious use of his pardon powers?
7.3.2007 12:14am
ATRGeek:
Richard,

First, Armitrage was A leaker. THE leaker is incorrect.

Second, the problem with raising Rich is that no one here is offering to defend the Rich pardon. And until someone does, your point about moral standing is irrelevant.
7.3.2007 12:15am
CaseyL (mail):
She could never again work undercover in WMDs while known to be the wife of an ambassador researching WMDs.


HUH???

Wilson was neither active in the ambassadorial corps nor was he 'researching WMDs.' He was a former ambassador, currently businessperson/consultant, sent by the CIA* to check out a specific story about Saddam acquiring yellowcake from Niger. He was covering ground already covered by the then-official Ambassador to Niger, and came up with the same result.

BTW, why don't you look up that official Ambassador's husband, and tell me what he does for a living. Tell me if you can infer, from whatever information you find about him, whether he, too, is a covert op.

In fact, why not go whole hog? Check out all the ambassadors currently serving, and their spouses - and their kids, while you're at it - and tell me which of them is a covert op. Since you're so sure anyone could figure it out just with the facts available to the public.


*Valerie Plame's notes indicate that she was following up on a comment made previous to that meeting - not by her, but by another person in the Agency - suggesting Joe Wilson for the job. All she said was that he did have expertise and contacts in Niger, and that he might be helpful. She didn't say how he might be helpful, and in fact wasn't keen on him going to Niger himself; for all we know, shat she meant was that he could recommend someone else.
7.3.2007 12:18am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
ATR. If there were others, where's the budget incrase for Fitz to go after them? Why isn't Armitage in the dock for ginned-up offenses of one or another mythical nature in order to get leverage on him for what he knows?

In the IIPA world, it is very hard to get more than one leaker. About the only way is for nobody to listen to, or pass on, the leak. Once it's public, others who mention it are not liable. But Armitage told Novak. Anyway, where's the investigation about the leak.

ATR, if this were a blog for mechanical engineeers, you'd still look like a lawyer. But not a good one. Your reframing a point to pretend you answered it is too transparent.

I didn't say anything about "defending" the Rich pardon. I said complaining about. Didn't do the one, have no standing to do the other, unless you can, as I say, explain why the principles are the same but different enough that letting Rich go uncomplained about fits the principle.

Jump right in.
7.3.2007 12:23am
DWPittelli (mail) (www):
ATRGeek,

Bush agrees that perjury is serious, but he studiously uses the terms "Others" and "They" for the points specifically concerning Libby's guilt, because Bush does not choose to say that he thinks Libby is guilty:

"Others point out that a jury of citizens weighed all the evidence and listened to all the testimony and found Mr. Libby guilty of perjury and obstructing justice. They argue, correctly, that our entire system of justice relies on people telling the truth. And if a person does not tell the truth, particularly if he serves in government and holds the public trust, he must be held accountable. They say that had Mr. Libby only told the truth, he would have never been indicted in the first place."

Bush is no more attached to the position that Cheney is truly guilty than he was to the positions of Fitzgerald critics which he listed in the previous paragraph.

Granted, Bush likewise does not say that he thinks the prosecution was an overreach. I would not expect him to say so: He is not an idiot, and this was not an off-the-cuff remark, but rather a carefully crafted written statement.

Bush does say the sentence was excessive. It is not a lie for him to not list all the reasons for his thinking so.

Naturally different people will notice different statements and come to different inferences. For example, "I made it clear to the White House staff and anyone serving in my administration that I expected full cooperation with the Justice Department" is not obviously relevant to the commutation. It could have been put in there exclusively for PR purposes, or it could also be part of the reason for the commutation, as I believe.
7.3.2007 12:26am
ATRGeek:
Aubrey,

I actually have no idea what budget Fitzgerald has, and I have no reason to believe he needs a budget increase.

As for Armitrage, to my knowledge he has cooperated with the investigation.

As for the IIPA, you are wrong. You can have a conspiracy to commit an IIPA violation.

As for complaining about Rich--are you seriously suggesting that every time a person complains about one bad use of the pardon power, they also have to enumerate a list of all the other pardons in the history of the Republic that they think are bad? That is a silly argument. But if you can find someone actually defending the Rich pardon, I invite you to have at them.
7.3.2007 12:28am
DWPittelli (mail) (www):
CaseyL,

Pardon me for thinking a man's writing in the NY Times that he was in Africa researching attempted uranium purchases means he has outed himself as a researcher of WMDs, such that his wife might have trouble secretly doing so in the future.
7.3.2007 12:29am
ATRGeek:
DWPittelli,

"They argue, correctly ...."

But hey, far be it from me to stop you from subsituting your preferred commutation statement for the one the President actually provided.
7.3.2007 12:31am
ATRGeek:
Well, I've had enough fun mocking talking points for tonight, so I'll leave you good folks to it.
7.3.2007 12:32am
CaseyL (mail):
Pardon me for thinking a man's writing in the NY Times that he was in Africa researching attempted uranium purchases means he has outed himself as a researcher of WMDs, such that his wife might have trouble secretly doing so in the future.


First, do your research into all the other ambassadors, their public utterances, their spouses and adult children, and get back to me with a list of which ones are covert ops.
7.3.2007 12:39am
Riley Still (mail):
My Dear Anderson:

Re: "Politically motivated" how?


Joe Wilson started the politics by joining the Kerry campaign in May 2003 and writing an op ed for the NYT claiming that VP Cheney had sent him on a mission to Africa in 2002 to verify the Iraq sought nuclear materials from Niger. Wilson claimed in his op ed that there was no evidence in Africa that Iraq had sought nuclear materials.

Cheney went public to refute Wilson’s claims that Cheney sent Wilson and that no evidence was found of Iraq’s inquiries. Cheney revealed that Wilson’s wife, who worked for the CIA, had recommended that Wilson make the trip.

The politics here is that the Wilson – Plame axis in the CIA was and is anti-Republican and anti-Bush and was out to defame the Bush war decisions and to protect its own hide for delivering erroneous intelligence to the NSC and to Congress. Having Wilson go public was very useful to the CIA, especially the division where his wife worked — because it served to shift blame for failed "slam dunk" intelligence claims away from the agency. To say that Bush "twisted" intelligence was to presume — falsely — that the CIA had gotten it right.

Then Novak revealed that Wilson’s wife was named Plame, and Novak inferred that she was an agent.

Politics took over again when the NYT egged on by such objective observers as Chuck Shumer demanded an investigation. Eager to cover its tail again the CIA demanded a criminal probe too — and then itself broke the law by leaking that news.

The CIA obviously knew the facts of the case. CIA's entire referral was dishonest. It was political. The agency knew Plame wasn't a covert agent under the terms of the law, because she hadn't had an overseas posting in the past five years.

So the politics was that of Democrat operatives in the CIA, the NYT, the Senate, and possibly the State Department on a vendetta to get Rove, Cheney, and/or Bush. Had the investigation been able to prove that Cheney or Bush lied about the intelligence and/or purposely revealed the identity of a covert agent (thereby risking his/her life) for political purposes, Articles of Impeachment would have been next. It’s that simple.


And Randy R … after all this we know that:

1 V Plame was not a covert agent or operations officer under the law.

2 Her cover was blown by Richard Armitage of the State Department.

3 Blowing her cover did not put her at risk or anyone else at risk because her husband by writing the op ed could have put her affiliation at risk. He knew there was no risk.

4 Bush kept his word. R Armatage is not working for Bush anymore.

5 Libby was fired. Unfortunately, he was the wrong person.
7.3.2007 12:53am
Thomasly (mail):
Special treatment? Have the others also been subject to their very own prosecutor?
7.3.2007 1:00am
ATRGeek:
Riley Still,

The problem with your narrative is you don't explain how the "Democrat operatives" in question got a Republican-appointed prosecutor and a series of Republican-appointed judges to go along with them.

Also, the CIA and Fitzgerald continue to allege that Plame WAS a covert agent under the law. The talking point that she was not has always been unfounded speculation.
7.3.2007 1:01am
uh_clem (mail):
... the problem with raising Rich is that no one here is offering to defend the Rich pardon. And until someone does, your point about moral standing is irrelevant.


The only person I can think of who's ever defended Marc Rich is his lawyer. But he's just an irrelevant footnote to history, some guy named Lewis Libby who, if I recall correctly, narrowly avoided prison himself through similar means.

So, no, nobody's defending Marc Rich.
7.3.2007 1:04am
Ricardo (mail):
I don't want to put words in your mouth, but it sounds like you believe that Bush has been wrong in his unwillingness to be more liberal in his usage of the pardon. I get the impression that Bush has been very skeptical, both as Governor and as President, of overruling the judges and juries that made the call in the first place. Now, in a case he's close to, he has apparently come to believe that an injustice has been done, and feels he's obligated to right it.

Shouldn't you be happy that he's coming closer to your views on the appropriateness of the judicious use of his pardon powers?


If Bush feels "close to" this case, then it seems to me he has an obligation to feel close to lots of other cases that involve genuine hard luck cases. The chances Bush will do this with his remaining term in office are virtually zero, though.

I obviously cannot speak for Orin but I do believe the President should be more liberal in his pardoning power. However, he also has the obligation to be even-handed in the exercise of powers which he clearly was not. Selectively pardoning friends and supporters is worse than the status quo because, first of all, it is an affront to the principles of fairness and equality under the law. Second of all, most fair-minded people can agree that the Federal justice system can be particularly unforgiving and harsh in its treatment of people. To the extent that politically connected people get any kind of break from the rigid inflexibility of the system, it doesn't give them an incentive to press for reform. The less of a chance you have of being subjected to the rules you advocate for everyone else, the more likely you are to advocate harsh rules.

Finally, if Martha Stewart can do her time for lying to federal investigators, so can Libby. The commutation is downright offensive.
7.3.2007 1:07am
Adam J:
Rich, you're showing some your colors a bit too much here. We're not complaining about Rich because it didn't happen TODAY, as anyone with either half a brain or isn't completely partisan would realize. I'm guessing you're the latter, but I'm starting to wonder...
7.3.2007 1:11am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
ATR. The covert agent under the law issue is one thing. But until Fitz or somebody explains the IIPA violations, there's nothing there.
Still's narrative certainly explains why the CIA insists--if they do, which to date they have not detailed--that Plame was covert. If they admit she was not, they have no beef with the administration in which they can make themselves look like the victims. This is Still's point, as I see it.
Read an article by a recent intel exec--Seabury or Codevilla, too late to go back and get it again but I may try tomorrow--to the extent that as recently as 2003, all the CIA's foreign sources turned out to be controlled by foreigners, which is not exactly what foreign sources is supposed to mean. IF this is even remotely the case, active CYA would be indicated. Libby is a victim.
7.3.2007 1:13am
LM (mail):
Richard Aubrey:

The next step is to make the point that if you said nothing about Rich, you have no moral standing to complain about Libby. Your pretense to be interested in principle is a lie. You're a partisan hack.

If you insist you're interested in principle, please explain how the two are sufficiently similar, but still different enough that you weren't required by principle to complain about Rich.

Should I infer from this that you do object to the Libby example, or is it that you're OK with Rich?
7.3.2007 1:13am
Riley Still (mail):
ATRGeek:

Republicans always want to do the right thing, so when Ashcroft was accused of being a Bush appointee, and therefore not unbiased, he did the right thing and appointed an independent, some would say rogue, prosecutor. Once appointed the prosecutor had to get somebody. As for the judges, when the under-informed jurors said "guilty" the judges had to deliver a lesson to the "high and mighty."

Of course they continue to make such claims. That's part of the politics. If Fitzgerald could prove that law was broken, why didn't he??
7.3.2007 1:23am
uh_clem (mail):
<i>If Fitzgerald could prove that law was broken, why didn't he??</i>

He did. That's why Libby was <i>convicted</i> and <i>sentenced</i> to 30 months in prison.

What's so hard to understand about <i>lying</i> and <i>obstruction of justice</i>?
7.3.2007 1:26am
Jamesaust (mail):
So, Putin comes to America and Bush is determined to show him how a real democracy works, starting with the "Rule of Law." He then promptly demonstrates that the purpose of power is to use it to better your cronies - like Putin didn't already know that.
7.3.2007 1:26am
uh_clem (mail):
If Fitzgerald could prove that law was broken, why didn't he??

He did. That's why Libby was convicted and sentenced to 30 months in prison.

What's so hard to understand about lying and obstruction of justice?
7.3.2007 1:27am
Angus:

1 V Plame was not a covert agent or operations officer under the law.
2 Her cover was blown by Richard Armitage of the State Department.
3 Blowing her cover did not put her at risk or anyone else at risk because her husband by writing the op ed could have put her affiliation at risk. He knew there was no risk.
4 Bush kept his word. R Armatage is not working for Bush anymore.
5 Libby was fired. Unfortunately, he was the wrong person.

The problem with your list, Riley, is that your #1-3 are dead wrong. The CIA has insisted that Plame was an undercover operative at the time she was outed. Her cover was blown by at least 3 different people: Armitage, Rove, and Libby--the issue was whether or not her cover was blown illegally, which requires both knowledge of her status and malicious motive. During the questioning, Libby lied repeatedly and blatantly to investigators, making it impossible to determine whether the initial act was criminal or not. Because her cover was blown, everyone she ever worked with while undercover is now also exposed. And Joe Wilson did not out his wife in his op ed.
7.3.2007 1:36am
Lev:
The trial judge said Libby would go to prison during his appeal.

What standard did the three judge panel use in evaluating that?

Abuse of discretion?
7.3.2007 1:42am
uh_clem (mail):
The problem with your list, Riley, is that your #1-3 are dead wrong

It is widely known that facts have a liberal bias. Your insistence on bringing facts to the discussion indicates that you have a liberal bias as well.
7.3.2007 1:44am
Riley Still (mail):
Uh_Clem and Angus:

We just don't agree on the facts. Unfortunately, Fitzgerald never exposed these facts to cross examination in public, so we will just have to beg to differ.
7.3.2007 1:47am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
I'm amused to see Democrats whining about this commutation of a sentence for perjury. Let's see: when President Clinton did it in a civil case, it was okay because it was "about sex." But Libby perjured himself to cover up something that wasn't even a crime!

I do agree that Bush should have pardoned Libby, not commuted the sentence, if the reason was that the prosecution was politically motivated (as it appears to have been). I suspect that the goal was enable Libby to continue his appeals.
7.3.2007 1:47am
uh_clem (mail):
We just don't agree on the facts.

Right. You keep asserting things that have no evidentiary basis as "facts". For instance: "V Plame was not a covert agent or operations officer under the law. " You have nothing to back up that assertion. Nothing. (BTW, it may be true, but unless you have access to information that is not in the public domain you cannot make that assertion.)

Granted, it would be convienent for your world view for it to be true, but that doesn't make it so.

Yes, we disagree on the facts. But that's because your "facts" are a post-hoc construction to arrive at a predetermined conclusion that affirms things you want to believe.
7.3.2007 2:00am
Angus:

But Libby perjured himself to cover up something that wasn't even a crime!


Investigators don't know for sure if it was a crime or not, because Libby's cover up worked. They nailed him for the cover up, which they could prove in court.

Same thing happened to Alger Hiss. He was not convicted of spying, but of lying to investigators about his activities.
7.3.2007 2:08am
Hewart:
It has remarkable staying power that particular false talking point. Like Saddam had WMDs and Saddam was behind 9/11. Lots of people still believe these things even thought they've been soundly refuted.

But again, for the record, Plame WAS covert. The CIA themselves said so.

So unless you have a better source than the CIA, I think some folks had better man up and admit this particular fact.

Again, for those not paying close attention: the CIA has already confirmed that Plame was covert when her name was leaked.

Bonus points for dropping the "there was no underlying crime" talking point. After all, perjury and onstruction of justice are crimes enough, in themselves.
7.3.2007 2:34am
Adam J:
Clayton, nobody here suggested that Clinton's perjury was okay- will people please stop using Clinton's bad acts as justification for Bush's (or Libby, or anyone elses) bad acts, it's an embarrassingly weak argument.

Nor can I honestly understand how you think the prosecution was political- as many have previously pointed out he was prosecuted by a republican appointed prosecutor before republican appointed judges. Not to mention he was found guilty by a jury, which I hope your aren't suggested found him guilty for political reasons.

Also, are you seriously suggesting that it's okay to lie under oath- so long as it's not to cover up a crime. The problem with this of course is that the prosecutor frequently cannot prove the crime, because the perjury has covered it up.
7.3.2007 2:42am
Lev:
Let me pick a few nits here.


the CIA has already confirmed that Plame was covert when her name was leaked.


Has it? By which I mean, is the CIA use of the word "covert" the same meaning of the word "covert" as used in the Intelligence Identity Protection Act?

Doesn't Fitzgerald have to prove she was "covert" as used in the Intelligence Identity Protection Act?

Doesn't a defendant have the right to contest whether she was in fact "covert" as used in the Intelligence Identity Protection Act, or does the CIA assertion end the discussion?

Where did Libby ever get the opportunity to contest whether she was "covert" as used in the Intelligence Identity Protection Act?

What was released was not her actual employment record, which would presumably be a business record, nor was it part of her employment record. It was a summary prepared by somebody who supposedly saw her actual employment record. Doesn't a defendant get the opportunity to test the accuracy of the summary by examining the person(s) who prepared it?

In the summary, when it says "Ms. Wilson was a covert employee for whom the CIA was taking affirmative measures to conceal her intelligence relationship to the US" - isn't that a bunch of legal conclusions, as opposed to facts?

With respect to the "there was no underlying crime", I ask this: Since Fitzgerald's charge was to find out who leaked Plame's status to the press and so "outed" her, and since Armitage and Colin Powell said Fitzgerald was told on his first day on the job that Armitage outed her, why did Fitzgerald continue on for another two years? Why did he put Judith Miller in the can?
7.3.2007 3:14am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
dwp: "It would … be destructive of our national security to let false claims of dishonesty and malfeasance go unanswered."

You're claiming that when Bush's people (Libby, Rove and Fleischer, in particular) discussed Plame's CIA employment with reporters, that this was simply a legitimate effort to provide a "logical rejoinder" to Wilson's "false claims," and that this effort was necessary to protect our "national security."

Trouble is, all those folks insisted on standing behind a curtain. For example, Libby specifically instructed Judith Miller with regard to how he wanted his identity to be hidden. Simple question: why? If they believed there was nothing wrong with discussing Plame with reporters, and if they believed they were simply providing a "logical rejoinder" to Wilson, then why the secrecy? Why not just go on the record and say Wilson was wrong, and his trip didn't mean anything, because he had been sent on a junket by his wife?

If all this was the true and proper "rejoinder" to Wilson, and if Plame's employment status wasn't classified information, then why the hiding?

This question is seldom asked and never answered (as far as I can tell), so hopefully you or someone else here can solve the puzzle.
7.3.2007 3:14am
LM (mail):
Clayton:

I'm amused to see Democrats whining about this commutation of a sentence for perjury. Let's see: when President Clinton did it in a civil case, it was okay because it was "about sex." But Libby perjured himself to cover up something that wasn't even a crime!

OK, I get it. Wrong for one means wrong for the other.

I do agree that Bush should have pardoned Libby, not commuted the sentence [...]

So then you think Clinton didn't deserve punishment either, right?
7.3.2007 3:20am
Michael B (mail):
"... the problem with raising Rich is that no one here is offering to defend the Rich pardon."

Nor were there criticisms forwarded against the Rich pardon from certain partisan quarters, which gets more to the point since people now are presenting themselves as standing upon moral/legal principle, principle decidedly lacking from those same quarters when Clinton's 140+ pardons - including pardons for those who had been convicted of perjury, fraud and making false statements - were making news. In sum, I wouldn't make very much of either the Clinton or the GWB pardons and commutations, but that is more or less the point, especially so given players such as Joseph Wilson and R. Armitage and what they represent within the wider political soap opera. The entire country could use a pardon, a reprieve, from such machinations and antics.

Simple fact is, what the Pres. did today conforms to the spirit and the tenets of justice and mercy both, fully within respect for the rule of law.
7.3.2007 3:23am
Harvey Mosley (mail):
Ok, lets compare the pardon from Clinton and the commutation from Bush: they both smell like favoritism, and there was at least the perception that Clinton was making money off of his. However, that is unproven, and even if true, probably not technically illegal. Doesn't matter anyway, the president can pretty much pardon (or commute the sentence of) anyone he wants, whether his name starts with a B, a C or any other letter of the alphabet.

Now, lets compare perjury cases. Libby was convicted of perjury, and many people on one side said something like: Hey, all he did was lie about what was said!

Clinton was accused of perjury and many people said something like: Hey, all he lied about was sex! As far as I can tell, they both lied in situations that made it illegal to lie. Libby should have been convicted (and, of course, he was) and Clinton should have been impeached and removed from office.

I do believe it is a matter of principle. I could wish that the Right behaved at least a little better than the Left, since politically I tend find myself on that side most often, but wishing doesn't make it so, does it? My principles won't let me pretend that one is somehow extraordinarily different than the other.

Bottom line, both Bush and Clinton played favorites, and there isn't really anything we can do about it.
7.3.2007 3:48am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
riley: "writing an op ed for the NYT claiming that VP Cheney had sent him on a mission to Africa"

Many lies are told about Wilson, and that's one of the most popular ones. Wilson never claimed, in his op-ed or anywhere ese, that "Cheney had sent him."

Wilson's op-ed is here. More details about your false claim are here.

"Cheney revealed that Wilson’s wife, who worked for the CIA, had recommended that Wilson make the trip."

Another bogus talking point. Sen. Bond recently made an attempt to discredit Plame, but in the process he reported facts which have the opposite effect. See her memo (pdf, p. 207) which says this: "As you may recall [redacted] of CP/[office 2] recently [2001] approached my husband to possibly use his contacts in Niger to investigate [redacted] [a separate Niger matter]." In other words, her memo indicates that someone else, not her, was apparently first to start raising the idea that CIA might have reason to send Wilson to Niger. (And the idea that it was "a separate Niger matter" seems to be a highly suspect claim made by Bond, with no support whatsover; what other possible reason could CIA have to send Wilson to Niger?).

Bond also quoted the CIA reports officer, who said she wasn't "involved in the decisionmaking."

Of course you're far from the first to present false information on this point. The White House made a concerted effort to spread the idea that Plame sent Wilson on his trip. Rove told Cooper that Plame "authorized the trip." Guess who else said Plame sent Wilson: Libby, talking to Fleischer. And Bartlett, talking to Fleischer. That's in Fleischer's testimony. And then Fleischer conveyed that misinformation to multiple reporters.

And Bush's media outlets took that idea and ran with it. Here's a very typical example from Fox: "the vice president [was] entitled to say: I didn't send that guy to Niger. It was his wife."

It's also not hard to understand where this idea started. Cheney wrote this on a clipping of Wilson's op-ed (pdf): "Or did his wife send him on a junket?" And Libby testified that he and Cheney discussed this idea, that Plame sent Wilson.

One small problem: Plame didn't send Wilson. The reports officer is on record saying she wasn't "involved in the decisionmaking." Even Bond has been forced to backpedal (pdf, p. 210): "[we] never claimed that Mrs. Wilson made the decision to send him …"

Trouble is, Bush's people did indeed make that false claim, essentially the same claim you made in this thread.
7.3.2007 4:01am
scote (mail):

Thomasly (mail):
Special treatment? Have the others also been subject to their very own prosecutor?

Libby didn't have his "very own prosecutor". Fitz was appointed to investigate the leak, not any particular individual.

Libby could have avoided this whole issue by telling the truth rather than lying to a Grand Jury and to investigators about facts material to the investigation. Armitage did and he hasn't been prosecuted. Libby is a scoundrel for trying to illegally cover up the outing of an active CIA agent. He deserves prison, not a fine that his supporters will pay for him and "probation." OOOOhhhhh, probation. BFD. What does he have to do to avoid violating it? Avoid lying to prosecutors? Doesn't matter if he violates his probation since Bush will just commute any time he gets for that, too.
7.3.2007 4:14am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
I meant to include this page number reference. In Bond's pdf, see p. 210 for the statement by the reports officer, explaining that Plame wasn't "involved in the decisionmaking" with regard to Wilson's trip, and only went as far as mentioning that Wilson "had experience and was willing to travel."
7.3.2007 4:15am
Steve Rosenbach (www):
I think it would have been more appropriate for Bush to provide a Presidential *respite* rather than a commutation at this point. A respite would have served the salutory purpose of keeping Libby out of jail pending appeal, while not altering the sentence. The respite could have been renewed as necessary for the duration of the appeal process. It would not have precluded a commutation if the appeal process were to fail for Libby.

As to Plame's status: Congressman Pete Hoekstra asked for a definitive statement from CIA counsel, and in March, got an answer of "...it's complicated, we're still working on it." (paraphrased). As of today, AFAIK, Hoekstra still has not gotten an answer.

CIA would have to do a lot of explaining as to how a woman who drives on public roads, clearly visible to anyone hanging around the CIA HQ entrance in Langley, could possibly be covert, let alone someone covered by IIPA.

Further, a State Department memo from 2002 that summarizes a meeting that included Wilson and Plame with regard to the then-upcoming trip to Niger clearly identified Plame. The State Dept personnel attending that meeting were not in a need-to-know position as to the identity of a covert agent. This is a real problem for the CIA to content that they were actively trying to conceal her work.

Even Richard Armitage said that he saw her name in a State Dept memo, and that in all his years of service, he had never seen the name of a classified individual in a memo like that.
7.3.2007 4:39am
Michael B (mail):
The allegation (one of them) against Wilson wasn't that he stated his wife wasn't involved in the "decisionmaking" or that Plame "sen[t] Wilson" but that she wasn't involved in so much as suggesting him for the mission. Couldn't find an indication of this in the NYT, but the WaPo has the story, here.

From the same WaPo article:

"Wilson's reports to the CIA added to the evidence that Iraq may have tried to buy uranium in Niger, although officials at the State Department remained highly skeptical, the report said.

"Wilson said that a former prime minister of Niger, Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, was unaware of any sales contract with Iraq, but said that in June 1999 a businessman approached him, insisting that he meet with an Iraqi delegation to discuss "expanding commercial relations" between Niger and Iraq -- which Mayaki interpreted to mean they wanted to discuss yellowcake sales. A report CIA officials drafted after debriefing Wilson said that 'although the meeting took place, Mayaki let the matter drop due to UN sanctions on Iraq.'

"According to the former Niger mining minister, Wilson told his CIA contacts, Iraq tried to buy 400 tons of uranium in 1998."
7.3.2007 4:44am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
steve: "a woman who drives on public roads, clearly visible to anyone hanging around the CIA HQ entrance"

Please show your proof with regard to how often Plame did what you just claimed she did. Also please show your proof that covert agents never, ever do what you described.

We realize you're sure that she didn't do most or all of her work from some alternate location. We just want to know how you became sure.

"a definitive statement from CIA counsel"

Hayden said she was covert. His word should be considered sufficiently definitive.

"a State Department memo from 2002"

Unless you've got some memo that us mere mortals haven't seen, you're talking about a memo from 2003 (which includes a page of meeting notes from 2002).

"The State Dept personnel attending that meeting were not in a need-to-know position as to the identity of a covert agent."

Really? You should name for us who from State was at that meeting, and tell us what their security clearance was.

Anyway, you're essentially claiming something like this: 'CIA told INR about Plame, so therefore it was OK for Libby to tell Judith Miller about Plame.' Not too impressive.

"Even Richard Armitage said that he saw her name in a State Dept memo, and that in all his years of service, he had never seen the name of a classified individual in a memo like that."

The memo, from 6/10/03, was only written to begin with because Cheney was asking so many questions about Wilson. Armitage would not have known about Plame if not for this memo, and this memo would not have existed if Cheney had not become obsessed with discrediting Wilson. And it's no surprise that the memo mentioned Plame, since Cheney seemed determined to learn every last detail about every aspect of Wilson's trip. She had a minor role, so therefore the memo mentioned that role.
7.3.2007 5:30am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
michael: "From the same WaPo article"

What a joke. Do you really not know how distorted and plain wrong that article is?

"According to the former Niger mining minister, Wilson told his CIA contacts, Iraq tried to buy 400 tons of uranium in 1998."

You cited those words. Trouble is, they're false. WP posted a correction sidebar, although they didn't correct the original article. That's terribly convenient for people who are interesting in promoting lies about Wilson. Like Power Line, who did exactly what you did. More details at the bottom of a post here.

"Wilson's reports to the CIA added to the evidence that Iraq may have tried to buy uranium in Niger"

That's another example of how Schmidt distorts the truth (and it's hard to know whether she's dumb, dishonest, or both). The claim she asserts is not from the main, bipartisan part of the SSCI report. It's from the "Additional Views" section, which was not bipartisan. She's essentially quoting from p. 444, which was signed only by three Republicans. The bipartisan language on this aspect is on p. 46: "CIA analysts did not believe that [Wilson's] report added any new information to clarify the issue."

Of course this distortion and the falsehood mentioned above tend to very strongly reinforce each other.

"The documents -- purported sales agreements between Niger and Iraq -- were not in U.S. hands until eight months after Wilson made his trip to Niger."

You didn't quote this passage, but it's another very important distortion in Schmidt's article. Yes, page-image copies of the documents were indeed "not in U.S. hands" until 10/02. But according to SSCI and Silberman-Robb, we had verbatim text of the sales agreement in 2/02, and this text was enough to reveal the forgery (to Wilson and others). A lot of people are very confused about this point. Details here.

Practically every sentence in her article is packed with similar distortions. That darn liberal media.
7.3.2007 6:26am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
A key anti-Wilson talking point is to claim that his "reports to the CIA added to the evidence that Iraq may have tried to buy uranium in Niger."

Promoters of that idea go out of their way to gloss over this passage from SSCI (p. 42):

Ambassador Owens-Kirkpatrick told Committee staff she recalled the former ambassador saying "he had reached the same conclusions that the embassy had reached, that it was highly unlikely that anything was going on."


The anti-Wilson crowd wants to claim that his post-Niger report was congruent with Bush's 16 words, and that Wilson lied when he later claimed otherwise. The statement by Owens-Kirkpatrick proves that this claim is nonsense. That's why righty bloggers consistently sweep that statement under the rug.
7.3.2007 6:54am
Angus:

CIA would have to do a lot of explaining as to how a woman who drives on public roads, clearly visible to anyone hanging around the CIA HQ entrance in Langley, could possibly be covert, let alone someone covered by IIPA.

What was she supposed to do, drive her invisible-field car on secret extra-dimensional private roads?
7.3.2007 7:18am
Michael B (mail):
jukeboxgrad,

Your confidence is not well placed, at least not obviously so. Thanks for the PowerLine reminder though, it was helpful. I regard no source as definitive when it comes to the truth in these matter, but a variety of sources can be helpful.

Firstly, I'd note you didn't correct - or acknowledge - the point made concerning Plame suggesting Wilson make the Niger trip, vs. Plame doing the "decisionmaking" concerning that trip. But perhaps that neatly falls within plausible deniability or Wilson misremembering or being conveniently confused.

Secondly, the sidebar corrections you're presumably referring to follows:

"In some editions of the Post, a July 10 story on a new Senate report on intelligence failures said that former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV told his contacts at the CIA that Iraq had tried to buy 400 tons of uranium from the African nation of Niger in 1998. In fact, it was Iran that was interested in making that purchase, but no contract was signed, according to the report."

So the fact it was Iran, at least in 1998, rather than Iraq, entirely obviates the concern with Niger and any Iraq/Niger suspicion? In fact I found a different PowerLine post which indicated, in an update/correction:

"The Post reporter apparently misread the Intelligence Committee report; it was Iran, not Iraq, that tried to buy 400 tons of uranium in 1998. The report indicates that Iran was looking for uranium in 1998, and Iraq in 1999." (emphasis added)

So again, how does that allay the concern with Iraq and Niger? And even if it had only reflected an Iran/Niger connection, would that have given us reasons to be unconcerned, entirely, with a Niger connection? (I.e. reflective of Wilson's scoffing dismissal?)

Thirdly, you confuse conceptions of truth with whether or not a particular section of the report has a bi-partisan sanction vs. a partisan sanction. I'm not given to think of truth as being associated with either of those categories, certainly not necessarily so. "Bi-partisan" may simply suggest some type of compromise, including forms of compromise which erode rather than support truth. Likewise, "partisan" may suggest the party making the claims is, in any particular case, more in line with the facts of the matter; or perhaps the party that is unwilling to grant their sanction is doing so for political and calculated reasons, rather than reasons reflective of any truth-seeking motive. It depends upon the specifics, but to simply correlate truth with bi-partisan and a lack of truth with partisan is more than a little disingenuous or naive.

Other and similar dubious qualities are reflected in your posts, but enough for now. Have a good 4th.

(A couple of other helpful PowerLine leads can be found here and here. Again, no single source is definitive in matters political, but that's a truth to be applied to all quarters, including "bi-partisan" quarters and compromises.)
7.3.2007 7:46am
DWPittelli (mail) (www):
ATRGeek:
"They argue, correctly, that our entire system of justice relies on people telling the truth."

ATRGeek, whether you bold the word "correctly" or not, or lift a fragment of the above sentence to make a point, the sentence does not say that Libby failed to tell the truth. It says that Bush agrees that truth-telling is important.

Bush also agrees that Libby's prosecution was legitimate, as was the jury's verdict. But that does not mean he agrees that the verdict is accurate, let alone fair to Libby. On that, he is carefully agnostic. Your inferences to the contrary do not make Bush a liar, regardless of what Bush really believes.
7.3.2007 7:57am
ATRGeek:
Lev,

The standard for granting bail while an appeal is pending is actually statutory, and is contained in 18 USC 3143. The crucial part is in 3143(b)(1)(B), which provides the court must find:

"(B) that the appeal is not for the purpose of delay and raises a substantial question of law or fact likely to result in—
(i) reversal,
(ii) an order for a new trial,
(iii) a sentence that does not include a term of imprisonment, or
(iv) a reduced sentence to a term of imprisonment less than the total of the time already served plus the expected duration of the appeal process."

The problem for many of Libby's defenders is that they have not only claimed he was wrongfully convicted and wrongfully sentenced, but that no reasonable person could think otherwise. Apparently the appellate panel disagrees.

DWPittelli,

I don't actually understand what hair you are splitting. Bush says in his statement:

"I respect the jury's verdict. But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby's sentence that required him to spend thirty months in prison.

My decision to commute his prison sentence leaves in place a harsh punishment for Mr. Libby. . . ."

Again, I should emphasize I am not claiming Bush is lying in this statement. Rather, I am pointing out that if Bush actually believed the verdict was inaccurate and unfair to Libby, then he would be lying in this statement.

So, the problem is on your end: you want to substitute your version of what you think Bush believes for what Bush actually said he believes.
7.3.2007 8:38am
DWPittelli (mail) (www):
"I respect the jury verdict" does not mean "I agree with the jury verdict." Like the rest of us, Bush, most likely, does not know whether Libby was lying, or had a bad memory and the bad judgment not to say "I don't recall" more often. Believing that Libby's prosecution was unfair in the sense that people not connected to the Executive Branch would never be subject to such a prosecution, does not mean believing the jury (or the judge or even Fitzgerald) acted improperly or that they or the system are not worthy of "respect."
7.3.2007 10:15am
DWPittelli (mail) (www):
The question at hand is to what extent we should be shocked or concerned that the President is commuting the sentence of one of his cronies, especially given the dearth of pardons for non-cronies. If the President believes Libby was subject to prosecution of an intensity which he never would face were it not for his status as a Presidential crony, and that Libby was also tripped up by the President's demand for full cooperation (which would tend to indicate refusal to countenance 100 "I don't recall" answers, even when warranted, and despite such answers' utility in other cases), then the President believes that Libby was tripped up by his association with and loyalty to the President. If so -- and I have granted that none of us know if this is so or not -- then the President is morally obligated, not just permitted, to commute Libby's sentence.
7.3.2007 10:28am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
angus: "What was she supposed to do, drive her invisible-field car on secret extra-dimensional private roads?"

I'm guessing you're someone else who's not prepared to prove that she drove to Langley ever, let alone regularly.
7.3.2007 10:38am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
dwp: "Bush also agrees that Libby's prosecution was legitimate, as was the jury's verdict. But that does not mean he agrees that the verdict is accurate"

ATR already gave you a fine answer, but I'll answer you anyway.

It's hard to imagine a verdict that is "legitimate" but not "accurate." The former word usually means things like 'valid' and 'sound.' Likewise for the latter, which comes from a root which means "careful." As ATR suggested, you're indulging in hair-splitting that is beyond Clintonesque.

"people not connected to the Executive Branch would never be subject to such a prosecution"

That's only because "people not connected to the Executive Branch" rarely have a chance to leak classified information and then lie about it.

"refusal to countenance 100 'I don't recall' answers"

That answer ("I don't recall") is the proper answer 100% of the time that it's truthful, and it's the improper answer 100% of the time that it's not. Not that complicated. So you're being silly. Also, Bush is obviously very willing to "countenance" such answers (exhibit A: Gonzales). In fact, he was willing to "countenance" Scottie lying to us and telling us that Rove and Libby were not involved. Another indication that you're being silly.
7.3.2007 10:41am
Fury:
jukeboxgrad wrote:


“Another bogus talking point. Sen. Bond recently made an attempt to discredit Plame, but in the process he reported facts which have the opposite effect. See her memo (pdf, p. 207) which says this: "As you may recall [redacted] of CP/[office 2] recently [2001] approached my husband to possibly use his contacts in Niger to investigate [redacted] [a separate Niger matter]." In other words, her memo indicates that someone else, not her, was apparently first to start raising the idea that CIA might have reason to send Wilson to Niger. (And the idea that it was "a separate Niger matter" seems to be a highly suspect claim made by Bond, with no support whatsover; what other possible reason could CIA have to send Wilson to Niger?).”


see http://volokh.com/posts/1183422066.shtml#238107


I would respectfully offer a different perspective. From jukeboxgrad’s quote of Plame’s memo:


“"As you may recall [redacted] of CP/[office 2] recently [2001] approached my husband to possibly use his contacts in Niger to investigate [redacted] [a separate Niger matter]."



is a bit incomplete. Here is the quote from Plame’s 12/20/2002 memo as noted in the Additional Views section of the SSCI report:


“So where do I fit in? As you may recall, [redacted] of CP/[office 2] recently approached my husband to possibly use his contacts in Niger to investigate [a separate Niger matter]. After many fits and starts, [redacted] finally advised that the station wished to pursue this with liaison. My husband is willing to help, if it makes sense, but no problem if not. End of story.


additionally, in that same memo (noted on p. 207 of the SSCI report):

“Now, with this report, it is clear that the IC is still wondering what is going on… my husband has good relations with both the PM and the former minister of mines, not to mention lots of French contacts, both of whom could possibly shed light on this sort of activity. To be frank with you, I was somewhat embarrassed by the agency’s sloppy work last go-round, and I am hesitant to suggest anything again. However, [my husband] may be in a position to assist. Therefore, request your thoughts on what, if anything, to pursue here. Thank you for your time on this.”

see - http://intelligence.senate.gov/prewar.pdf


I believe Valerie Plame’s recollections about the matter in regards to how her husband’s name came up have changed from her House testimony where she stated on 03/16/2007 (noted on p. 211 of the SSCI report):

“I did not recommend him. I did not suggest him.”


People have come to their own conclusions if this is a significant matter, but I wanted to provide the comments in Plame’s memo in a broader context. The available information indicates that Valerie Plame did not “send” her husband to Niger. Her 03/16/2007 House testimony where she discussed how her husband's name came up in a mission to Niger indicates a more passive role in the process, whereas her 12/20/2002 memo indicates a more active role in regards to suggesting her husband for the trip to Niger.

Laslty, let’s not forget that the 12/20/2002 Plame memo was released in full in the SSCI report in part because of J. Wilson’s claim as “not true” that his being sent to Niger was suggested by his wife. Did she do anything wrong? No, but her House testimony of 03/16/2007 appears to be at odds with her memo of 12/02/2002 in regards to this point.
7.3.2007 10:43am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
michael: "the point made concerning Plame suggesting Wilson"

I'm going to address a number of things you said, but not all in one comment.

What you've alluded to twice is the idea that Wilson must be a liar, because we all know that Plame 'suggested' Wilson, and we all know that Wilson claimed that Plame had nothing to do with the trip.

This whole business about 'suggested' is worth a close look. The first problem is that Bush et al didn't content themselves with that watery, ambigous claim (that Plame 'suggested' Wilson for the trip). It was too weak to suit their purposes, so they went much further; they flatly said 'she sent him' (that's documented in Fleischer's testimony, which I've cited). Rove said she "authorized" the trip (that's documented in Cooper's email, which I've cited). Trouble is, those are lies. She didn't send him. She didn't authorize the trip.

When it came time to present the Bushist narrative in the 2004 SSCI report, Bond knew he couldn't get away with saying what Rove and Libby had said. So Bond had to settle for a weak, slippery claim: that she 'suggested' him. This is a bit less dishonest than what Rove and Libby said, but it's still highly misleading. It implies that she was the first and only person to 'suggest' him, and that she played a major role in making sure he got the mission. Trouble is, those are also lies. Yes, she responded to questions about his qualifications, but this was only in the context of going along with a proposal that was conceived and managed by others. This is clear from facts in Bond's latest report, which I've cited.

The other very relevant element of this subtopic is what Wilson said. Many people, including and especially Schmidt (WP), quote Wilson as follows: "Valerie had nothing to do with the matter." Trouble is, this quote is very much distorted and out-of-context. Wilson didn't flatly say "Valerie had nothing to do with the matter." He said "apart from being the conduit of a message from a colleague in her office asking if I would be willing to have a conversation about Niger's uranium industry, Valerie had had nothing to do with the matter." (I've been using amazon links to this page in Wilson's book, but for some annoying reason the links go stale after a while. In any case, it's easy enough to find Wilson's book on amazon and browse to page 5.)

Schmidt obviously changed the meaning of Wilson's words by truncating them. She omitted the part of the sentence that precedes "Valerie," and this part of the sentence is highly material, because it shows that Wilson's account is essentially identical with the account offered by various CIA sources, including, ironically enough, a source quoted by Novak himself: "At the CIA, the official designated to talk to me denied that Wilson's wife had inspired his selection but said she was delegated to request his help."

Schmidt also threw in another distortion. She claimed this exact sequence of words appears in Wilson's book: "Valerie had nothing to do with the matter." Trouble is, that exact sequence of words does not appear in Wilson's book. A very similar sequence appears in Wilson's book: "Valerie had had nothing to do with the matter." The missing "had" is material, because in my opinion the distinctive original formulation ("had had") hints to the reader that something important preceded the word "Valerie." In other words, by unfairly removing the extra "had," it was a bit easier for Schmidt to get away with tricking the reader into assuming that nothing important preceded "Valerie."

Of course I can't know for sure if this is why Schmidt dropped "had." Maybe she, or an editor, was just sloppy. But the effect is the same: what WP explicitly claims to be an exact, direct quote is simply not. Also note that while the paper is running a correction regarding the Iran/Iraq error, they are doing nothing to deal with the fact that Schmidt both truncated and altered Wilson's words.

Many people have taken advantage of Schmidt's carelessness. The exact same distorted quoting was committed (in some cases "crediting" Schmidt, but usually not, but always with the altered "had") by NRO/Levin, NRO/May, Senator Bond (he also entered this misinformation into the Congressional Record), WSJ, and many, many others. Power Line does it in a piece titled, with their typical unintentional irony, "Journalistic Malpractice." Time did it as recently as 7/25/05. Slate/Hitchens. The Seattle Times. Bloomberg. The Boston Herald. The list goes on and on.

Every one of these sources used "Valerie had nothing to do with the matter" as if it is a complete and direct quote from Wilson's book, when in fact it is neither.

Wilson is very widely quoted as claiming that Plame had no role whatsoever. Trouble is, that's not what he said; he said she had a role, but it was quite minor. And this claim is completely congruent with various primary documents that have eventually appeared.
7.3.2007 10:45am
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
Just for the record, I'll defend the Marc Rich pardon.

I was living in Israel at the time Rich was pardoned, and the story went something like this: The USA owed the Israeli intelligence services a big favor as a result of their restraint against Arafat and their cooperation in Ehud Barak's doomed peacemaking efforts (with Clinton). The Mossad wanted a pardon for their spy Jonathan Pollard, but that was totally unacceptable to the USA. Marc Rich also has a relationship with Israeli intelligence, and a pardon for him was (somewhat) more acceptable, so Rich got his as a make-good for Pollard.
7.3.2007 11:15am
Elliot123 (mail):
ATRGreek,

I would agree that Libby got special treatment if we use Bush's guidelines as a standard. However, those guidelines are guidelines for granting special treatment. I guess we might ask if the basis for special treatment criticism would exist if the commutation had been granted by Carter, Reagan, Bush I, or Clinton. A presidential commutation remains a very special treatment in any presidency.

Historical standards show Libby's commutation is hardly special within the set of all presidential pardons and commutations, is special within Bush's guidelines, and is very special in the set of all convictions. So what?
7.3.2007 11:29am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Investigators don't know for sure if it was a crime or not, because Libby's cover up worked. They nailed him for the cover up, which they could prove in court.
This is nonsensical. Libby's coverup consisted of lying about who he told, what he told them, and when. The only way they could convict him for that was to prove who he told, what he told them, and when. The only way they could prove who he told, what he told them, and when, was if they knew who he told, what he told them, and when. And if they knew that, then they could have prosecuted him for those things, if those things violated the law.
Same thing happened to Alger Hiss. He was not convicted of spying, but of lying to investigators about his activities.
No. Hiss was not convicted of spying because the statute of limitations had expired, not because there was a question as to whether passing classified information to the Soviets was a crime.


Again, for those not paying close attention: the CIA has already confirmed that Plame was covert when her name was leaked.
Again, for those not paying close attention: the CIA did not do any such thing. The CIA said that she was covert by the CIA's definition, not by the statutory definition. The same word can be used differently in different contexts. The CIA, for obvious reasons, defines covert broadly; the IIPA defines it very narrowly.


Jukeboxgrad: You're full of word games. Yes, Plame did not make the "decision" to send Wilson to Niger. But she played a role in his selection. And then there's this:
Ambassador Owens-Kirkpatrick told Committee staff she recalled the former ambassador saying "he had reached the same conclusions that the embassy had reached, that it was highly unlikely that anything was going on."
But this is complete dishonesty. The conclusion Wilson reached, as he explained in his editorial, was that nothing was going on -- that there was no sale of uranium from Niger to Iraq because there were too many controls on the uranium to divert it. Fine. But that was never the issue. The issue was whether Iraq tried to buy it, not whether it actually did. For two reasons: (1) because that's what the "16 words" said that Wilson was supposedly refuting, and (2) because Iraq seeking to buy uranium, whether or not it succeeded, would have been very significant.
7.3.2007 11:43am
Forgotmypassword:
How is this worse than Marc Rich?
7.3.2007 12:30pm
Angus:
Forgotmypassword,

Because Bush is covering up crimes committed by his own administration?
7.3.2007 12:36pm
Forgotmypassword:
Angus,


What crimes? As far as I can tell there is substantial doubt as to whether or not leaking Plame's identity was a crime. In fact, didn't the authors of the law in question publish editorials in which they stated that the Libby case did not meet the criteria set forth in the statute?


Furthermore, how is Bush "covering up" anything? Libby is still guilty, he still has a criminal record. Would a conspiracy somehow magically be uncovered without the commutation?
7.3.2007 12:47pm
Ugly American (mail):
Orin: You are a partisan hack. Bite Me.
7.3.2007 1:22pm
Deoxy (mail):
"So Libby's treatment was very special indeed."

Yes, indeed it was... he was prosecuted for lying about a non-crime that would hurt the President, while the many who reveal real classified information about ongoing classified programs (as long as they can be used to make the President look bad) get a pass.

Yeah, that sounds "special" to me.

And to everyone talking about how terrible Bush is... I assume you were complaining at several times this level when Clinton pardoned that guy at the end of his term, right? You know, the guy who BOUGHT his pardon (that is, with actual money, not just "loyalty").

Yeah, thought not. :-/

And anyone who thinks this is a "cover-up" is a complete moron - this has been the most public investigation in years.
7.3.2007 1:50pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
michael: "So the fact it was Iran, at least in 1998, rather than Iraq, entirely obviates the concern with Niger and any Iraq/Niger suspicion?"

Of course not. But nice job using a pathetic straw man in order to miss the point. I'm not claiming what you claim I'm claiming. I'm claiming that this is a classic example of how Bushists repeatedly put their thumb on the scale.

Schmidt/WP made a claim that is provably, blatantly false. She claimed that SSCI said something they definitely didn't say. And Schmidt's false claim is highly material, because it simultaneously provides strong vindication for Bush's 16 words, while also strongly implicating Wilson as a blatant, outrageous liar. Therefore it's no surprise that many, many people have quoted this statement of hers, just like you did. It kills two birds with one stone. And her statement has extra power to mislead, because it comes from the ostensibly liberal WP. So folks like you get to say that 'even WP called Wilson a liar.' Indeed, they did. By using phony 'proof.'

Let's point out a few examples of how Schmidt's falsehood has echoed through the blogosphere. Jim Lindgren carried the meme for her, right here at VC. To his credit, he ultimately ran a correction, after his error was pointed out, here and elsewhere. On the other hand, an example of a major righty site posting the error, with no update or correction in sight, even today, is here.

And then, of course, it's interesting to note how Power Line has handled this issue.

"I found a different PowerLine post which indicated, in an update/correction"

Yes, in 2004 Power Line posted Schmidt's false statement, and then added an update acknowledging the error. But the update was itself fraudulent. As you noted, it said this:

The report indicates that Iran was looking for uranium in 1998, and Iraq in 1999.


Trouble is, it's quite a distortion to claim that SSCI "indicates" that Iraq was looking for uranium in 1999. The only such 'indication' are the three magic words spoken by Mayaki ("expanding commercial relations"). Hinderaker's update falsely implies that SSCI concluded that Iraq was looking for uranium in Niger in 1999. SSCI most definitely did not present such a conclusion. They merely reported something that Wilson said Mayaki said some unnamed person said (incidentally, we don't even know if that person was Iraqi). SSCI did not treat those three words, delivered via double or triple hearsay, as conclusive of anything. And neither did the CIA. SSCI explicitly tells us that "CIA analysts did not believe that [Wilson's] report added any new information to clarify the issue." In other words, no one at the time was very impressed by the three magic words, or took them very seriously. But the Bushist narrative, created post-7/03, works overtime to fraudulently inflate the importance of those words. The Power Line update ("the report indicates that … Iraq [was looking for uranium] in 1999") is a classic example.

Anyway, back to the 400 tons. As I just explained, Power Line promoted Schmidt's falsehood on 7/10/04, and then at some point added an update to withdraw that falsehood (and replace it with a different one). But Schmidt's falsehood was too valuable to ignore, so Power Line found a clever way to keep propagating it. On 3/13/05, they ran a post called "BEST OF PL: JOSEPH WILSON, LIAR." Scott Johnson said "I want to pull out one of [Hinderaker's] greatest hits of last year."

What's interesting about this "Best of PL" business is that Power Line ran eight such items in the period 8/04 to 10/04. Outside that period, they've done it only once, as far as I can tell (the example I just cited, which was posted on 3/13/05). This tends to create the impression that they were very motivated to revisit Schmidt's article, and they had a very specific reason for doing so: to run it sans correction. In other words, this post (3/13/05) seems to be a deliberate and blatant attempt to propagate a falsehood. Compare that post with the original version (7/10/04). They're essentially identical, except that the update/correction is missing in the later post. Why? And please note that several methods have been used to bring this "error" to Power Line's attention. Still no correction.

And of course you brought that same falsehood into this thread, and now seem to be trying to gloss over the significance of it.

Here's something else that's interesting. The Power Line update/correction is undated. However, courtesy of the wayback machine we can determine that the update was added in the interval between 2/15/06 and 4/27/06. In other words, they promoted the error for at least 19 months before getting around to 'fixing' it. What took them so long? And then they 'fixed' it by posting a distortion, and they somehow forgot to fix the duplicate post, of 3/13/05. And they're still 'forgetting' to fix that latter post, despite multiple reminders. In other words, they've somehow managed, since 7/10/04, to continuously have at least one uncorrected version of Schmidt's falsehood available on their site.

"you confuse conceptions of truth with whether or not a particular section of the report has a bi-partisan sanction vs. a partisan sanction"

Uh, no. Again, you're entirely missing the point. I'm not claiming that a bipartisan section of the report is always necessarily more truthful than a partisan section. I'm claiming that a bipartisan report carries more weight with the public (for obvious reasons), and I'm claiming that facts should be presented truthfully. Just as Bushists are eager to quote WP (when it suits them), because it is ostensibly liberal, they are also eager to quote SSCI, because it is ostensibly bipartisan. This has more value from a PR perspective, for obvious reasons. Trouble is, most people probably don't even realize that the SSCI report has partisan portions, and not just a bipartisan portion. It's simply outright fraud to pick statements from the former, and present them as if they are from the latter. It is essentially claiming this: 'look, even the Dems on the committee supported this particular statement.' Trouble is, they didn't. And there are many examples of precisely this fraud, at Power Line and other similar places.

"A couple of other helpful PowerLine leads can be found here and here"

They are helpful only in demonstrating that the same baloney gets repeated over and over again. Those posts contain little or nothing other than the same nonsense that I've already addressed.

I've proven that Power Line knowingly posted a blatant, material falsehood. They ignore repeated reminders that the falsehood should be withdrawn. Why would you promote such a source? The fact that you do is helpful information about your own credibility.
7.3.2007 2:13pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
fury: "I believe Valerie Plame’s recollections about the matter in regards to how her husband’s name came up have changed from her House testimony where she stated on 03/16/2007 (noted on p. 211 of the SSCI report): 'I did not recommend him. I did not suggest him.' "

You're doing precisely what Bond did: quote her out-of-context. I think it's helpful to keep in mind the question she was answering: "Did you make the decision to send Ambassador Wilson to Niger?" And this was her answer, in slightly fuller form:

No. I did not recommend him, I did not suggest him, there was no nepotism involved -- I didn't have the authority.


All she ever did is discuss Wilson's qualifications with her colleagues and superiors who were already interested in sending him, and who were in charge of deciding to send him. Flatly stating those qualifications, especially in response to a specific question, is not the same thing as 'recommending' or 'suggesting' him, especially when those words are used by Bushists to convey the impression that she was the first and only person to display a positive attitude about the idea of sending him, and that she was the one in control of the decision.

"The available information indicates that Valerie Plame did not 'send' her husband to Niger."

Indeed. Trouble is, that false claim is exactly what Libby and Rove propagated to the press. In other words, they lied, and decided to discredit Wilson by circulating a phony story (and these are things we know before we even get around to noticing that they leaked classified information). And Cheney's handwritten note (pdf) tends to create the impression that it was his idea, to promote a phony story to the effect that Plame 'sent' Wilson. Libby also testified that on several occasions Cheney discussed this point: the idea that Plame 'sent' Wilson.

"her 12/20/2002 memo indicates a more active role"

I disagree. Please keep reading.

"the 12/20/2002 Plame memo was released in full in the SSCI report"

Uh, no. It was not "released in full." It was released partially, and in an odd manner.

The key paragraph contains an ellipsis, in a key place. Is that ellipsis in the original? The context seems to indicate that the answer is no. But it's essentially impossible to answer this question, because for some strange reason, Bond gave us a retyped version of Plame's email, rather than a photo of a printed original. How odd. This is how many times I can find such a technique being used anywhere else in this Senate report, or in any other Senate report: zero. The rest of the pdf (containing Bond's version of the Plame email) is packed with documents presented in the usual way: photo images, with redactions.

Here's something else that's odd: he used two different redaction techniques (or three, if the ellipses is yet another redaction). It's hard to imagine why, unless he wanted to obscure the length of certain particular redactions.

I don't trust the way Bond presented this memo. And I think it's interesting to note that most of his R colleagues on the committee apparently feel the way I do; they declined to put their names on these pages that he produced.
7.3.2007 2:53pm
LM (mail):
Deoxy:

Some friendly advice. When you show up around the 13th hour of a very long thread, you might want to skim some to the comments before lighting your fuse. That way you may save yourself the embarrassment of appearing to believe you're offering novel arguments which have, in fact, already been mined at length and in detail.
7.3.2007 3:01pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
elliot: "Historical standards show Libby's commutation is hardly special within the set of all presidential pardons and commutations"

What makes this situation remarkable is that Bush has a long track record of pardoning almost no one. It's worth reviewing the story of Karla Faye Tucker. Bush smirkingly mocked her request for clemency. This despite the following:

Before Tucker was executed, there were pleas for clemency from Waly Bacre Ndiaye, the United Nations commissioner on summary and arbitrary executions, the World Council of Churches, Pope John Paul II, and Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, among other world figures. Unusual pleas came from conservative American political figures such as Newt Gingrich and Pat Robertson, interceding on her behalf. Tucker did not ask for a pardon, only commutation of her death sentence to life in prison. Huntsville Prison's warden testified that she was a model prisoner and that, after 14 years on death row, she likely had been reformed.


Welcome to the land of liberty and justice for the well-connected.
7.3.2007 3:27pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
david: "Libby's coverup consisted of lying about who he told, what he told them, and when."

Wrong. It consisted of more than that. It also consisted of lying about what he learned, from whom, and when. All this is relevant to prosecuting him and others.

"The CIA said that she was covert by the CIA's definition, not by the statutory definition."

You are suggesting that the CIA has said that she is not covered "by the statutory definition." Trouble is, the CIA has not said that. Lots of people like you are claiming, as if it's a fact, that she is not covered "by the statutory definition," but the trouble is that you have no proof. Toensing pretends that she knows a lot about the details of Plame's work history. Trouble is, she doesn't.

Lots of Republican appointees in CIA, DOJ, FBI and the court system took the position that a crime might have been committed. Meanwhile, people on the outside like you pretend that you know better, even though you have no proof one way or another. (Tenet is not a Bush appointee, but Bush kept him on the job and gave him a medal, so he might as well have been one.)

"Yes, Plame did not make the 'decision' to send Wilson to Niger."

Trouble is, the heart of the Cheney/Rove/Libby approach to the situation was to pretend otherwise: that she did indeed make the decision to send him. That's the plain meaning of "send," which is what Libby and Bartlett said to Fleischer, according to Fleischer's testimony. And it's also the plain meaning of "authorized," which is what Rove said to Cooper, according to Cooper's email.

Why is it OK with you that Rove and Libby spread a lie?

"she played a role in his selection"

Really? Please describe what the role was, and show your proof.

Her role was this: she responded to questions about Wilson's qualifications, she conveyed an invitation to him, and she introduced him at a meeting. And then she immediately left the meeting. Some "role." Her role was quite minor, which is exactly what Wilson said in his book.

Saying "she played a role in his selection" is like saying that Wilson's mom "played a role in his selection." After all, if he hadn't been born, he wouldn't have been selected, right?

Cheney et al were never interested in telling the world "she played a role in his selection." Who would have cared? They were interested in telling the world that she sent him. So that's what they told the world, even though it was a lie.

"The issue was whether Iraq tried to buy it, not whether it actually did."

You're understating what Wilson actually found, and believed (along with many other people, like Owens-Kirkpatrick). It wasn't just that there were many barriers to a successful sale. It's that there were so many barriers to a successful sale that there was no chance that Iraq would even waste time and take risks by raising the question (and this is aside from the fact that Iraq already had plenty of yellowcake). In other words, Wilson didn't just report that there was no sale. Wilson reported that there was no real reason to believe that Iraq had even tried, or would have any inclination to try.

"that's what the '16 words' said that Wilson was supposedly refuting"

The 16 words were designed to sweep lots of truth under the rug. Among other things, they were designed to obscure this important fact: even if Iraq tried, they were very likely to fail. This itself is a reason to understand that they were not likely to invite hot water by trying.

"Iraq seeking to buy uranium, whether or not it succeeded, would have been very significant."

Please consider the following three statements:

A) Iraq is not trying to buy yellowcake.

B) Iraq is trying to buy yellowcake from Niger. However, there's less than a snowball's chance in hell that they could ever succeed in doing such a thing, especially clandestinely. For one thing, moving the cited amount would require hiring most of the trucks in the country. And that's going to be done secretly? Very funny.

C) Iraq is trying to buy yellowcake from Niger. We're very worried, because we think they might succeed, or might already have succeeded.

You are correct to point out that B is more of a cause for concern than A. Trouble is, the 16 words were designed to communicate C, even though the IC clearly knew that B, not C, was much closer to the truth. This is one of many examples of how Bush went out of his way to exaggerate the threat.

Of course, here's something else Bush hid: that he was quoting UK specifically because CIA had taken steps to distance themselves from the yellowcake claim. And here's something else Bush hid: that Iraq already had plenty of yellowcake, and had no use for more. Especially because it lacked the means to enrich it.
7.3.2007 3:44pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
forgot: "didn't the authors of the law in question publish editorials in which they stated that the Libby case did not meet the criteria set forth in the statute?"

Toensing has done a nice job of impressing people like you, who don't realize that Toensing has no special knowledge about the details of Plame's employment.

"Would a conspiracy somehow magically be uncovered without the commutation?"

That possibility is quite real. If Libby knew he was facing jail, he might decide to turn on others, like Cheney. Also, because Bush commuted rather than pardoned (for now), Libby gets to have his cake and eat it too, in a way. Congress can't call Libby to testify, because he can plead the 5th.
7.3.2007 3:47pm
Michael B (mail):
jukeboxgrad,

Firstly, or rather fundamentally, I have never labeled Wilson a liar in such a general and unqualified sense, as if to suggest he is a liar pathologically. In much the same vein (and though I've admittedly been less guarded with my language here) I wouldn't even care to say "that Wilson must be a liar" (though I strongly suspect he has been), since there are so many competing stories and versions thereof - thus in an absolute or indubitable sense I simply don't know and freely admit that. (Though be aware that I also view Libby's perjury conviction in virtually the same light: a conviction before a court should be given its due, but in absolute and indubitable terms there are substantial reasons to doubt that Libby lied in the first place. E.g., I recall reading a post-trial interview wherein two of the jurors who partook in the Libby trial stated their doubts about this very fact - even while admitting they voted to convict within the guidelines outlined by the court - and additionally opined Libby should be pardoned by the Pres. given those doubts and given other aspects - such as the politics - of the investigation as well. That is germane since those jurors were present, were front and center, during the entirety of the trial.)

Beyond that I have no time presently, but those two or three points are absolutely basic to my views, which you are characterizing as something other than they are at that more basic level. Likewise, I doubt others are simply carrying water for or advancing a Whitehouse "meme" in the consciously mendacious sense you are suggesting.
7.3.2007 4:11pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Congress can't call Libby to testify, because he can plead the 5th.

Can't they offer him immunity? I mean, why not, at this point?
7.3.2007 4:26pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Wrong. It consisted of more than that. It also consisted of lying about what he learned, from whom, and when. All this is relevant to prosecuting him and others.
Even assuming this nitpick to be accurate, it is still irrelevant, for precisely the reason I stated: he can't be convicted of perjury unless one knows that he's lying, and one can't know he's lying unless one knows the truth. And if one knows the truth, then one can prosecute him and others.


You are suggesting that the CIA has said that she is not covered "by the statutory definition."
I think I know what I am suggesting, and that isn't it. I am suggesting -- in fact, I am stating outright -- that the CIA has not said that she is covered by the statutory definition.

Your misreading of what I wrote doesn't give me great confidence that you are interpreting statements made by others correctly. (I'm still puzzled by why you think "had had" is significantly different than "had." Since the sentence ends with "this matter," by definition there's something before "Valerie," whether it has one "had" or two. All that the second "had" does is change the tense.)

Really? Please describe what the role was, and show your proof.
Already posted by someone above.

Cheney et al were never interested in telling the world "she played a role in his selection." Who would have cared?
Nobody cared about any of it, until Wilson threw a tantrum. It was half a sentence in a Bob Novak column that passed virtually without notice (I think David Corn was the only one who did mention it) for months.

You're understating what Wilson actually found, and believed (along with many other people, like Owens-Kirkpatrick). It wasn't just that there were many barriers to a successful sale. It's that there were so many barriers to a successful sale that there was no chance that Iraq would even waste time and take risks by raising the question (and this is aside from the fact that Iraq already had plenty of yellowcake). In other words, Wilson didn't just report that there was no sale. Wilson reported that there was no real reason to believe that Iraq had even tried, or would have any inclination to try.
What Wilson "believed" is irrelevant here. He's not an expert on Iraqi nuclear scientist psychology or anything else that would give him any insight here into what Iraq would try to do. All he "actually found" is that it would have been very difficult for Iraq to obtain the uranium from Niger, and even that requires many assumptions. (E.g., that it would be impossible to bribe people to divert the uranium. I don't know where Wilson gets the expertise to determine that, either.)

C) Iraq is trying to buy yellowcake from Niger. We're very worried, because we think they might succeed, or might already have succeeded.
How about C) Iraq is trying to buy yellowcake from Niger. We're very worried, because yellowcake isn't used for dessert at birthday parties and bar mitzvahs; nor is it a collector's item like autographed baseball cards. There's no use for it besides a nuclear program, so if Iraq is seeking it that's a strong indication that they've got an active nuclear program.

It's true that the CIA ultimately was skeptical about the nuclear program, but it's also true that the CIA's track record on this score was poor. They missed the evidence before the first Gulf War. Even after that war, they were shocked to find out how much they had missed. They missed the Pakistani bomb.
7.3.2007 4:30pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
that the CIA has not said that she is covered by the statutory definition.

We see both sides of the fence played here -- the CIA isn't a court, so it can't determine whether she was covert under the IIPA; and yet, the CIA is nonetheless suspect *because* it didn't announce that she was covert under the IIPA.
7.3.2007 4:33pm
Hewart:
I've seen some tortuous twisting and spin in argumentation in my day, but the egregious lengths some folks are going to in order to ignore fact and abuse reason to make what Bush did today seem acceptable -- and what Libby did as trivial -- is simply astounding.
7.3.2007 5:07pm
Fury:
As I indicated in my initial post, I do not believe that V. Plame made the decision to send J. Wilson to Niger - of this we agree.

However, I do not believe that "all she ever did" was discuss Wilson's qualifications in her memo of 12/20/2002. I suppose that is what happens when a spouse is discussing who is a suitable recommendation for an assignment and she at some point in the discussion brings up her husband – the matter becomes subject to closer scrutiny. If the memo was for purposes of brainstorming who would be best to travel to Niger, it only mentions one name - Joe Wilson. I would have expected more from a brainstorming session.

Your comments on the memo being presented in full are well taken, and I will note that Senator Bond in his comments was explicit that what was being released was the full text of the document (referring to the 12/20/2002 memo). Why the full text and not a copy of the memo itself? That is not known - but I do believe it is reasonable to believe that if the text of the memo was in some way misrepresented or modified by Senator Bond to alter its' meaning, that this would have been publicly noted by other Senators or the staff of the SSCI.

The information presented by Bond needs to be evaluated critically regardless of how many Senators signed on to Bond's assertions. It's certainly reasonable for someone to conclude what Bond was asserting is plausible based on the available information presented, and that information being checked in regards to determining if V. Wilson recommend J. Wilson for the Niger trip.

Lastly, your comment of:


"But it's essentially impossible to answer this question, because for some strange reason, Bond gave us a retyped version of Plame's email, rather than a photo of a printed original. How odd. This is how many times I can find such a technique being used anywhere else in this Senate report, or in any other Senate report: zero. The rest of the pdf (containing Bond's version of the Plame email) is packed with documents presented in the usual way: photo images, with redactions."



If you are referring to reports published by the SSCI not using photos of a printed original, I can point to a SSCI report that does not use a photo of the printed original at Appendix A of A Review of United States Assistance to Peruvian Counter-Drug Air Interdiction Efforts and the Shootdown of a Civilian Aircraft. It appears to be a technique that is used by the SSCI depending on the situation, and again, I believe if the 12/20/2002 memo was misrepresented by Senator Bond, other SSCI members would have noted as such, and if such an objection was raised, I am open to reviewing that.
7.3.2007 5:30pm
DWPittelli (mail) (www):
jukeboxgrad:
"It's hard to imagine a verdict that is "legitimate" but not "accurate." The former word usually means things like 'valid' and 'sound.' Likewise for the latter, which comes from a root which means "careful." As ATR suggested, you're indulging in hair-splitting that is beyond Clintonesque."

Jukeboxgrad, I would call you a "dunce" but of course that would not be insulting to you, since the word comes from the name of John Duns Scotus, a wise philosopher. But note that "legitimate" also, and most applicably to a legal context, means "accordant with law or with established legal forms or requirements." And "accurate" means "free from error especially as the result of care" and "conforming exactly to truth or to a standard." See the difference? A verdict arrived at with proper procedures is not the same thing as a verdict which is accurate from an omniscient perspective.

Perhaps more to the point, Bush's language, that he "respects" the verdict, means that he considers it "worthy of high regard" or that he will "refrain from interfering with" it. All of the above definitions are from my Webster's New Collegiate. There are no other possibly relevant definitions of the verb "respect," and specifically none meaning "agree with."
7.3.2007 5:49pm
abb3w:
Orin Kerr: Come to think of it, I don't know if Bush has ever actually used his powers to get one single person out of jail even one day early.

If Wikipedia is accurate, there have been three other commutations of sentence during his terms. Still, this is extraordinary.
7.3.2007 5:55pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
michael: "I have never labeled Wilson a liar in such a general and unqualified sense, as if to suggest he is a liar pathologically."

I have no interest in those hairs you're splitting. I don't recall specifically claiming that you "labeled Wilson a liar." However, now that you mention it, I notice that you linked quite approvingly to posts with subtle titles like "JOSEPH WILSON, LIAR" and "JOSEPH WILSON, LIAR: PART II." Sounds pretty darn "general" and "unqualified."

Then again, maybe you're invoking the 16-words defense, where you indignantly protest that you never called Wilson a liar. You only cited UK intel --- oops, I mean Power Line --- who called Wilson a liar. Trained by experts! Information laundering is a handy modern skill (just like money laundering; after all, money is a form of information).

"I have no time presently"

I also notice that you have time for a mealy-mouthed response, but no time to acknowledge what I've proven: that you're promoting blatant falsehoods, including the falsehoods in those charming Power Line posts.

"there are so many competing stories and versions thereof"

Certain aspects of the story are confusing and hard to pin down. Other aspects are quite clear. I've demonstrated that. You've demonstrated that you're evasive, and that you have no inclination to take responsibility for promoting blatant misinformation.

"I doubt others are simply carrying water for or advancing a Whitehouse 'meme' in the consciously mendacious sense you are suggesting"

You haven't provided an alternate explanation for why Power Line is posting lies, and you also haven't provide any explanation for why you're promoting their lies. Maybe you expect us to suppose that your mendacious water-carrying is wholly unconscious.
7.3.2007 7:18pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
anderson: "Can't they offer him immunity?"

Some lawyer-sounding type somewhere convinced me, on this point. But I don't remember where or how. Sorry! I'm sure someone here (including you) knows better than me, so I'm open to learning something.
7.3.2007 7:20pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
I'm sure someone here (including you) knows better than me

Au contraire, alas. But after I posted that, I saw that Mark Kleiman had the same idea. Of course, he's not a lawyer, and I don't do criminal law, so we may be partners in ignorance.
7.3.2007 7:55pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
david: "if one knows the truth, then one can prosecute him and others"

You've truly lost me. Fitz knew enough "truth" to prosecute Libby, but not enough to prosecute others. I don't know how you object to this. Or why.

"the CIA has not said that she is covered by the statutory definition"

That assertion is helpfully unambiguous. Your earlier statement was not:

The CIA said that she was covert by the CIA's definition, not by the statutory definition.


That could be intepreted as follows: "The CIA said that she was [not] covert by … the statutory definition." If you didn't mean it that way, I'll take your word for it.

In other words, the following two statements are quite different:

A) the CIA has not said that she is covered by the statutory definition
B) the CIA has said that she is not covered by the statutory definition

The whole story is sufficiently complicated that it's a good idea to avoid gratuitous ambiguity.

"Your misreading of what I wrote doesn't give me great confidence that you are interpreting statements made by others correctly."

Your unwillingness to admit that you were unnecessarily ambiguous doesn't give me great confidence that I'm not utterly wasting my time expecting intellectual honesty from you.

By the way, it would help if you could provide a non-trivial example of me "interpreting statements made by others [in]correctly."

"I'm still puzzled by why you think 'had had' is significantly different than 'had.' "

I'm puzzled that you don't understand the explanation I already provided.

"by definition there's something before 'Valerie' "

Please consider the following two statements:

A) Valerie had nothing to do with the matter
B) Valerie had had nothing to do with the matter

In my opinion, it's easier to pass off A as a purportedly complete sentence, and convey the impression that no important information was omitted. In my opinion, B suggests that something interesting comes before B, in the form of "with the exception of," or "aside from."

Anyway, that point is less important than this point: quotes should be accurate. Period. I find it striking that so many very major publications mangled this quote.

And that point, in turn, is less important than this point: the words that preceded "Valerie" are relevant, and it is an act of distortion to pretend they don't exist. Trouble is, many, many people committed this act of distortion.

"Already posted by someone above."

You're pretending that this post establishes that "Plame played a role in his selection," as if that role was anything other than trivial. Trouble is, that post does not establish what you claim it established. I have already responded to that post, here, and you're ignoring exactly 100% of what I said. If you want to have a conversation with yourself, you can cancel your ISP and save a bunch of money.

"Nobody cared about any of it, until Wilson threw a tantrum. It was half a sentence in a Bob Novak column that passed virtually without notice"

It was noticed by the CIA, which decided to get DOJ and FBI involved. Anyway, the question is not whether or not the public paid attention to the message the White House was delivering. What's important is that the White House was greatly interested in delivering a certain message (that Plame sent Wilson). And the White House was determined to send this message even though the message was false, and even though sending the message required leaking classified information. And then Scottie walked up to the microphone and told an outright lie, that Rove and Libby weren't even slightly involved.

It's very important to understand why sending this message was very important to the White House. I think I answer this question in a fairly succint manner, here.

By the way, you haven't bothered to explain why it's (apparently) OK with you that the White House was telling lies about Plame. You also haven't explained why they conducted this effort secretly. Why do so, unless they understood they were behaving improperly?

"What Wilson 'believed' is irrelevant here."

It is indeed highly relevant to understand what he said in his report, because many people are making false claims about that. And what he said in his report is connected to what he "believed." No one is claiming that what Wilson reported, or believed, is the absolute last word about anything. The problem is that the Bushist narrative relies on telling a bogus tale with regard to the contents of what Wilson reported (along with telling a bogus tale with regard to who sent him).

Wilson's op-ed didn't claim that he knew the absolute truth about Nigerien yellowcake. He made a much more modest claim: that if the 16 words were about Niger, they were at odds with what he found in Niger. But this modest claim was enough to put Cheney et al into full mobilization. It appears that they decided to put more energy into dealing with Wilson than dealing with the war they had just launched. And it's clear enough why they were so deeply concerned.

"All he 'actually found' is that it would have been very difficult for Iraq to obtain the uranium from Niger, and even that requires many assumptions"

That's not all he 'actually found.' He also 'actually found' that there were no real signs that Saddam had made an attempt. By the way, it doesn't take "many assumptions" to understand that moving the cited amount of yellowcake would have required hiring most of the trucks in the country. Niger has no ports. A very long overland trek, through jungle and desert, would have been required. And this was going to be done clandestinely? You're the one who is making "many assumptions," by suggesting that such a thing was even remotely possible.

"E.g., that it would be impossible to bribe people to divert the uranium."

If it was possible "to bribe people to divert the uranium," then it would have been infinitely easier to do precisely the same thing to get access to the hundreds of tons of yellowcake that were already sitting inside Iraq, under UN supervision. The same UN that was also supervising Niger's yellowcake.

"if Iraq is seeking it that's a strong indication that they've got an active nuclear program"

True. Trouble is, they weren't seeking it. Anyway, nice job ducking the point, which is that Bush materially misled us when he neglected to mention that getting yellowcake out of Niger, clandestinely, would be extremely difficult. So difficult, in fact, that any theory suggesting that Saddam would attempt such a thing should be treated with great skepticism. Which has a lot to do with why our IC did, in fact, treat the yellowcake allegation with great skepticism. Which is why Bush had to import backing for his claim all the way from the UK. Blair was a loyal buddy, and this is a great example of buddiness in action.

"It's true that the CIA ultimately was skeptical about the nuclear program"

The IC, including people in the CIA, was not just "ultimately" skeptical about the yellowcake allegation. They were skeptical about it all along. With the exception of certain people who were unduly eager to please top management.

"the CIA's track record on this score was poor"

Which makes it even harder to understand why Bush was pretending to be utterly unskeptical about certain information being delivered to him by the IC. He fully embraced every finding that met his propaganda needs, and swept everything else under the rug. Not exactly honest.
7.3.2007 9:29pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
fury: "I do not believe that V. Plame made the decision to send J. Wilson"

Then it would be nice if you would take a moment to explain why it's (apparently) OK with you that the White House told precisely that lie.

"she at some point in the discussion brings up her husband"

You seem to be glossing over the fact that someone else suggested Wilson before she did. This is documented in her email

"If the memo was for purposes of brainstorming who would be best to travel to Niger, it only mentions one name - Joe Wilson. I would have expected more from a brainstorming session."

Portions are redacted. Do those portions contain other names? How do you know, one way or another?

Anyway, one of the many problems with the situation is that this one memo has been carefully cherrypicked, for your consumption. It's fair to assume that there are more than a trivial number of other documents that form a record of how Wilson's trip got off the ground. Why haven't we seen those documents? Please take a moment to consider who's ultimately in charge of those documents: Dubya is. What are the odds that they would still be secret, if they contained information that supported his narrative? If the other documents were helpful to Bush, Cheney would have been waving those documents under Brit Hume's nose, on camera, years ago.

For example, there is probably at least one memo/form/document officially authorizing Wilson's trip. Where is that document? I think it's fairly clear why we haven't seen it: the person who signed it is someone not named Plame.

And speaking of brainstorming: there could have been any number of other documents and/or meetings that were along the lines of the brainstorming that you imagine. I think the context of Plame's email is as follows: other folks had already established a lot of momentum in the direction of hiring Wilson (after all, CIA had already sent him on a similar mission, a few years prior), and she was being explicitly asked to comment and help the plan proceed further.

Please imagine the following analogy: you are on your knees looking through a keyhole. On the other side of the door, about an inch from the keyhole, is a very large, complex painting. You are being allowed to see about 1% of it. But it doesn't even occur to you to realize that there is anything on the other side of the door, other than what is visible to you through the keyhole.

Please try to expand your perspective a little bit and realize that someone is shoving something in front of your nose, hoping that you won't even think about all the things that they've got hidden in their back pocket, that they don't want you to know about. This isn't an outlandish perspective; the outlandish perspective is adopting the assumption, without even stopping to think about it, that the number of documents relevant to the genesis of Wilson's trip is precisely one: the one we've been allowed to see, sort of.

Speaking of hidden documents, we also haven't been allowed to see Wilson's report. In my opinion, this creates the impression that the contents of the report are not at all helpful to the Bushist narrative.

"Bond in his comments was explicit that what was being released was the full text of the document (referring to the 12/20/2002 memo)"

You are correct that Bond made this claim. However, this causes his credibility to shrink even further, because the text is obviously redacted in a number of places. In other words, he is plainly not giving us what he claims to be giving us.

"if the text of the memo was in some way misrepresented or modified by Senator Bond to alter its' meaning, that this would have been publicly noted by other Senators or the staff of the SSCI."

I'm not suggesting he's committing a blatant, unmistakable fraud. I'm suggesting that he's twisting the truth, which is what we see from him and his pals all throughout the entire process. It's enough for me that most of his R colleagues on the committee (let alone his D colleagues) decided they wanted nothing to do with this little anti-Plame crusade of his. I think it's too much to expect that they would call a press conference to make a fuss about his deceptive (I believe) redactions.

"The information presented by Bond needs to be evaluated critically regardless of how many Senators signed on to Bond's assertions"

Noticing that most of his R colleagues turned their back on his assertions is a highly relevant aspect of critically evaluating his assertions.

"a SSCI report that does not use a photo of the printed original at Appendix A"

The document you cited has no "Appendix A." You must mean "Annex A." But I don't find in Annex A what you claim is in Annex A, i.e., a retyped version of a separate document. However, the other annexes do have what I expect to find: several examples of separate documents that are incorporated in the normal way: photographically.

Maybe you can cite a specific page number, and explain why you think you're seeing something relevant. I don't see it.

"if such an objection was raised, I am open to reviewing that"

In my opinion, such an objection was raised in this form: 80% of the committee (and a majority of the Rs on the committee) chose to keep their names away from Bond's claims. I think it was reasonable for them to decide that no further protest was warranted. Keep in mind that a more vigorous protest would have served Bond's PR goals, by drawing more attention to his claims. The rest of the committee realized that sometimes the best way to handle a barking dog is by looking the other way.

Similarly, I think the nominally bipartisan section of SSCI 2004 contains all sorts of statements that the Dems didn't like. But they didn't run the committee, and they realize that you have to choose your battles. Bond's "Additional Views" section is sort of the reverse: the rest of the committee is obliged to provide slack for a minority, and let them say more-or-less whatever they want to say in an "Additional Views" section. In a way, that's the whole point of such a section.

If the others had complaints, Bond's proper rebuttal would have been this: 'well, if you don't like it, don't sign it.' So they didn't.
7.3.2007 10:19pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
dw: "See the difference?"

No. But I also had a lot of trouble grasping what Clinton was trying to say about the meaning of "is."

"Bush's language, that he 'respects' the verdict, means that he considers it 'worthy of high regard' "

A bad verdict is never "worthy of high regard."
7.3.2007 10:30pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
anderson: "Mark Kleiman had the same idea"

I'm sure you and Mark are right, and I'm glad to be wrong. Thanks for the correction.
7.3.2007 10:33pm
DWPittelli (mail) (www):
JukeBoxGrad,

Perhaps you should study the meaning of the word "or" and the standards by which selective quotation is logically acceptable.

Bush's language, that he "respects" the verdict, means that he considers it "worthy of high regard" or that he will "refrain from interfering with" it.

Because of that tricky and obscure word "or" only one of the two definitions has to fit. But in fact both do. Bush has in fact refrained from interfering with the verdict. He commuted the sentence, but did not pardon Libby. And Bush also did not criticize the jury or otherwise show low regard for its decision.
7.3.2007 11:29pm
Hewart:
In other words, "I respect the decision that the jury made in finding Scooter guilty and will not overturn that with a pardon. I am merely disrespecting the decision that the judge made in sentencing him to 30 months, and will commute that sentence."

That reading works, only as long as it's consistent with Bush's other stated positions on such sentencing. However, Bush is already on record as denying commutation of another perjury and obstruction sentence (Victor Rita) which was for 33 months of jail, saying that it was quite reasonable.

With that known, it puts all this into perspective: 30 months for perjury and obstruction of justice IS entirely reasonable for a sentence in Bush's mind, UNLESS it's being levied at one of his cronies.

Hence, the legitimacy of all the "special treatment" outrage.
7.4.2007 2:05am
Hewart:
Clarification: Bush is on record as filing an amicus brief supporting Rita's 33 month sentence as reasonable while, for his crony, Scooter, a 30 month sentence is considered excessive.

It's good to be the King.
7.4.2007 2:09am
Coke is it (mail):
This was a politically motivated trial. The jury was political, the case was very strange, and the offense was minor. I was a victim of an assault, and the convict received a much lighter sentence. It's bad to lie, and a punishment is deserved (if he lied, which who knows given the way this trial occured).

Bush used his constitutional power to protect his executive interests in having agents do what he wants without being subject to political witch hunts (dumb people: political witch hunts can still be Republican v. Republican).

bush used the power of the pardon precisely for one of the reasons it was designed for. Protecting his executive powers. No crime occurred, so you can't really impeach him or Cheney for anything either.

The Clinton Pardon scandal was pretty extreme, and the fact that dems will argue that Clinton's perjury wasn't a big deal because the underlying matter wasn't a crime isn't going to change just because that actually was the case for Scooter.
7.4.2007 2:21am
DWPittelli (mail) (www):
Hewart, come on. Your use of the Rita case shows you either didn't read the brief you linked to, or that you are being disingenuous.

1) I do not believe that anyone has argued that Bush has commuted Libby's sentence exclusively because 30 months was too long. Libby's association with the President is of course a key fact, yet that may -- or may not -- mean the commutation is improper (see, e.g., my first post).

2) While Rita was also convicted of perjury about phone calls, there are some differences between the Rita case and the Libby case. Rita denied calling a gun manufacturer at all, and denied being told by an ATF Agent that he needed to return his illegal machine gun parts. Rita then returned the wrong parts to the manufacturer, keeping the illegal machine gun parts.

3) Rita was not in the business of regularly calling dozens of gun manufacturers about such matters, allowing for the likelihood of confusion about these phone calls.

4) I have no knowledge that Rita was disallowed a defense memory expert at trial.

5) Rita's sentence was set in large part by the underlying crime being investigated: illegal importation of machine gun parts. While Fitzgerald's investigation was legitimately based on the possibility that Plame was "covert" by a specific statutory definition, he studiously avoided trying to make the case in court that she was so.

6) Rita had previously "been convicted in 1986 of making false statements in connection with the purchase of firearms." This was too old to effect how many points he got in the sentence range formula, but I do not believe judges or the Justice Department are required to "Chinese Wall" themselves from such knowledge of a similar crime (it is, after all, in the brief).
7.4.2007 8:26am
Fury:

"Then it would be nice if you would take a moment to explain why it's (apparently) OK with you that the White House told precisely that lie."


Please don't make such assumptions. I sense your anger and frustration with the situation, but it is not OK with me what the White House said.


"You seem to be glossing over the fact that someone else suggested Wilson before she did. This is documented in her email"


That was not my intention. I have read the available material available I can find. I don't like the idea of a spouse weighing in on a spouse for a potential visit of such import.


"Portions are redacted. Do those portions contain other names? How do you know, one way or another?"


We don't. If you know of a version that you consider more reliable, I am open to reviewing.


Anyway, one of the many problems with the situation is that this one memo has been carefully cherrypicked, for your consumption. It's fair to assume that there are more than a trivial number of other documents that form a record of how Wilson's trip got off the ground. Why haven't we seen those documents? Please take a moment to consider who's ultimately in charge of those documents: Dubya is. What are the odds that they would still be secret, if they contained information that supported his narrative? If the other documents were helpful to Bush, Cheney would have been waving those documents under Brit Hume's nose, on camera, years ago.

For example, there is probably at least one memo/form/document officially authorizing Wilson's trip. Where is that document? I think it's fairly clear why we haven't seen it: the person who signed it is someone not named Plame.

And speaking of brainstorming: there could have been any number of other documents and/or meetings that were along the lines of the brainstorming that you imagine. I think the context of Plame's email is as follows: other folks had already established a lot of momentum in the direction of hiring Wilson (after all, CIA had already sent him on a similar mission, a few years prior), and she was being explicitly asked to comment and help the plan proceed further.


Please see my previous comment on this. I do not like a spouse being consulted on a spouse for an assignment such as this.


Please imagine the following analogy: you are on your knees looking through a keyhole. On the other side of the door, about an inch from the keyhole, is a very large, complex painting. You are being allowed to see about 1% of it. But it doesn't even occur to you to realize that there is anything on the other side of the door, other than what is visible to you through the keyhole.

Please try to expand your perspective a little bit and realize that someone is shoving something in front of your nose, hoping that you won't even think about all the things that they've got hidden in their back pocket, that they don't want you to know about. This isn't an outlandish perspective; the outlandish perspective is adopting the assumption, without even stopping to think about it, that the number of documents relevant to the genesis of Wilson's trip is precisely one: the one we've been allowed to see, sort of.


Speaking of hidden documents, we also haven't been allowed to see Wilson's report. In my opinion, this creates the impression that the contents of the report are not at all helpful to the Bushist narrative.

Fury - "Bond in his comments was explicit that what was being released was the full text of the document (referring to the 12/20/2002 memo)"

You are correct that Bond made this claim. However, this causes his credibility to shrink even further, because the text is obviously redacted in a number of places. In other words, he is plainly not giving us what he claims to be giving us.

Fury - "if the text of the memo was in some way misrepresented or modified by Senator Bond to alter its' meaning, that this would have been publicly noted by other Senators or the staff of the SSCI."

I'm not suggesting he's committing a blatant, unmistakable fraud. I'm suggesting that he's twisting the truth, which is what we see from him and his pals all throughout the entire process. It's enough for me that most of his R colleagues on the committee (let alone his D colleagues) decided they wanted nothing to do with this little anti-Plame crusade of his. I think it's too much to expect that they would call a press conference to make a fuss about his deceptive (I believe) redactions.


We will agree to disagree on this. My belief is that in the political world of Washington, D.C., statements that tended to show V. Plame in a less favorable light in the SSCI report would be answered in some forum. Why? Because the V. Plame/J. Wilson issue is an important issue in the issue of cocnerns about information used to justify war in Iraq.


Fury - "The information presented by Bond needs to be evaluated critically regardless of how many Senators signed on to Bond's assertions"

Noticing that most of his R colleagues turned their back on his assertions is a highly relevant aspect of critically evaluating his assertions.

Fury - "a SSCI report that does not use a photo of the printed original at Appendix A"

The document you cited has no "Appendix A." You must mean "Annex A." But I don't find in Annex A what you claim is in Annex A, i.e., a retyped version of a separate document. However, the other annexes do have what I expect to find: several examples of separate documents that are incorporated in the normal way: photographically.

Maybe you can cite a specific page number, and explain why you think you're seeing something relevant. I don't see it.


Thanks for noting it is Annex A in A Review of United States Assistance to Peruvian Counter-Drug Air Interdiction Efforts and the Shootdown of a Civilian Aircraft . I see what I initially noted - a document that appears to me to not be an original. It is not signed with a signature, and I believe it is not a photocopy of the original document. The document (contained in Annex A) runs from pp. 34-50. But I do not believe it is an "original" document because the SSCI appears to have taken it from the DOJ web-site (you can see the document URL on the top right-hand corner of each page). For now, I will stick with my initial assertion.



Fury - "if such an objection was raised, I am open to reviewing that"

In my opinion, such an objection was raised in this form: 80% of the committee (and a majority of the Rs on the committee) chose to keep their names away from Bond's claims. I think it was reasonable for them to decide that no further protest was warranted. Keep in mind that a more vigorous protest would have served Bond's PR goals, by drawing more attention to his claims. The rest of the committee realized that sometimes the best way to handle a barking dog is by looking the other way.


We will agreee to disagree, especially considering the situation at the time. This was still at the time I would have expected people to complaint the loudest. "Scooter" Libby was indicted and his trial had ended in early March, and as such the V. Plame/J. Wilson matter was very fresh in people's minds. It was a time when the public's interest in this matter was heightened.


Similarly, I think the nominally bipartisan section of SSCI 2004 contains all sorts of statements that the Dems didn't like. But they didn't run the committee, and they realize that you have to choose your battles. Bond's "Additional Views" section is sort of the reverse: the rest of the committee is obliged to provide slack for a minority, and let them say more-or-less whatever they want to say in an "Additional Views" section. In a way, that's the whole point of such a section.


I don't believe that given the circumstances at the time, Democrats would have allowed statements to go unchallenged that would have tended to undermine the credibility of V. Plame or J. Wilson in regards to the trip to Niger. But your point is well taken and I can understand the value of not saying anything more on Senator Bond's assertions.
7.4.2007 9:47am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
fury: "the SSCI appears to have taken it from the DOJ web-site (you can see the document URL on the top right-hand corner of each page)"

Exactly. The URL is for this page. That page is essentially identical in appearance to pages 34-59 of the pdf you cited. What's obvious is that someone opened that web page in a browser, used the print command, produced 17 pages from a printer, and then made those 17 pages part of the SSCI report. There's nothing mysterious or exotic about that.

"It is not signed with a signature"

Walter Dellinger put his name at the bottom of the memo (as seen on page 44 of the pdf), but there's nothing odd about the fact that there's no signature.

"I believe it is not a photocopy of the original document"

In this instance there's no reason to think that there was any "original document," other than a memo that was originally published in the form of a web page. And what's included in the pdf is simply the 17-page printout of that web page.

There's no reason to think that the web page had any predecessor that is of any particular interest. For example, Dellinger might have had some hand-written notes, or some kind of a draft, which eventually appeared in final form on this web page. But there's no reason to think of some earlier draft as "the original document." The original document is what was published by Dellinger and DOJ, and that is visible here.

In other words, no one retyped anything. No hanky-panky. No redactions. Someone simply printed out a web page.

In contrast, with Plame's email, what we would call "the original document" is the email itself. The ordinary way to present this would be to open the email in an email program and use a print command. A page would be produced. Then this page, or a photocopy of this page, would be incorporated into Bond's pdf (redacted, as needed). Trouble is, Bond didn't do that. The page he presented was obviously not printed by an email program.

It appears that Bond took the text from Plame's email, and reformatted it to look like a memo. Why do this? Why not just show us a copy of the page printed by the email program?

By the way, I just noticed an error in the text. SSCI 2004 p. 39 indicates that Plame wrote this phrase: "my husband has good relations with." In Bond's pdf, he presents this phrase: "my husband has good relationships with."

SSCI 2004 gives us only one sentence to compare to what Bond gave us, and even that one sentence doesn't match up correctly. If Bond did his retyping this carelessly, why should we trust the rest of what he retyped? Especially because we have no idea why he retyped it, to begin with. We still have seen no other example of the Senate committee ever doing such a thing. The 17-page annex you cited is obviously not a retyped and altered version of the DOJ web page. On the contrary, it's simply a printout of that web page. Similarly, Bond should have given us a printout of Plame's email.

By the way, I also find it a bit strange that Bond can't decide whether to call it a memo or an email. SSCI 2004 called it a memo. Plame testified it was an email. Bond has released one or more other documents calling it an email, but his pdf publishing the purported email called the email a memo. And of course that in that pdf he retyped and reformatted the email to make it look like a memo. Maybe not a big deal, but just something I noticed.

It's also slightly interesting to notice that when Byron York presented the new text from Bond, York reverted to the formulation ("relations") found in SSCI 2004. Weird. It's almost as if York was trying to hide Bond's error.
7.5.2007 3:51am
Michael B (mail):
michael: "I have never labeled Wilson a liar in such a general and unqualified sense, as if to suggest he is a liar pathologically."
I have no interest in those hairs you're splitting. I don't recall specifically claiming that you "labeled Wilson a liar." However, now that you mention it, I notice that you linked quite approvingly to posts with subtle titles like "JOSEPH WILSON, LIAR" and "JOSEPH WILSON, LIAR: PART II." Sounds pretty darn "general" and "unqualified." jukeboxgrad
No.

Despite your presumption, your insinuating snide and contempt, in addition to your deceit, I was not splitting hairs, was more simply stating a fact: I have never painted Wilson with that broad of a brush. That is a fact. I have no interest in your own lack of interest in that relevancy and to state such a basic fact has nothing to do with mere "hairsplitting." As to your prior accusation, here's what you indicated previously, emphasis added:

"What you've alluded to twice is the idea that Wilson must be a liar ..."

Mimicing your own insinuating, accusative tone: it's "funny" how you emphasize something, then later forget that emphasis when it's convenient to do so. Too, and since you're in the midst of full-bore, unbridled accusations, keep better track of your own deceits, or minimally double check your own prior insinuations/accusations, before making yet further accusations still. As to the links provided, contrary to your characterization of suggesting "unqualified" support, I explicitly stated: "I regard no source as definitive when it comes to the truth in these matter, but a variety of sources can be helpful," then later reemphasizing that same caveat by explicitly stating "... no single source is definitive in matters political, but that's a truth to be applied to all quarters ..."

But given your presumption, snide and deceit, I'm hardly surprised you characterize such overt, emphasized and then re-emphasized caveats as representing "unqualified" support.

You are rife and riven with presumption and contempt, and as I've shown above you apply deceit when it suits your purpose as well. Not terribly surprising. Whether that deceit is a result of convenient forgetfulness or some other motive is something I "have no interest in."

I'll get to some remaining detail later, as I have time. You are not high on my list of priorities.
7.6.2007 8:56am
Michael B (mail):
"I have no time presently"
I also notice that you have time for a mealy-mouthed response, but no time to acknowledge what I've proven: that you're promoting blatant falsehoods, including the falsehoods in those charming Power Line posts. jukeboxgrad
Again, no.

Indicating I had time to post a two or three paragraph comment does not mean I had time to parse through all your insinuating snide and contempt, together with the particulars of the commutation you had to offer.

To fail to jump when you indicate "jump!" is not to be "mealy-mouthed." That you need to be informed of such is telling in and of itself.
7.6.2007 9:50am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
michael: "I have never painted Wilson with that broad of a brush."

Of course not. You just repeatedly referenced the fine people at Power Line, who have indeed "painted Wilson with that broad of a brush," in precisely the posts you happily cited and described as "helpful." Posts with these understated titles: "JOSEPH WILSON, LIAR" and "JOSEPH WILSON, LIAR: PART II." Nothing 'broad-brush' about that. No sirree.

The trouble with your attempt at plausible deniability is that your fig leaf is a bit on the skimpy side.

"keep better track of your own deceits"

How typical of you that you claim I've been deceitful, but you can't be bothered to present a single meaningful example. I'm sorry I couldn't remember whether or not I had insinuated that you're a liar. I'm also sorry I haven't been more blunt with you, to begin with. I should have realized that my carefully measured words like "specifically" and "alluded" wouldn't do any good when dealing with the likes of you. In retrospect, I should have just said this: you're a liar. So, in the interest of making up for lost time, I'll say it now: you're a liar.

You're a liar because you have repeatedly, approvingly cited a source that's packed with lies, and you show no interest in taking responsibility for doing so. Even though I've explained in some detail the exact nature of the lies in the posts that you promoted.

"a variety of sources can be helpful"

Indeed. Therefore it's interesting to notice what you consider "a variety of sources," as reflected in your posts in this thread: a wiki article listing Clinton's pardons, posts from Power Line, and a WP article that could have been written by Power Line. Yup, that's "a variety of sources," all right.

"I regard no source as definitive"

Your flimsy disclaimer is roughly as impressive as Bush saying the 16 words weren't really his, because he just borrowed them from UK. When he was over there to get a cup of sugar, I guess. Maybe things would have worked out better for him if he had applied some humor in the form of a British accent.

"I'm hardly surprised you characterize such overt, emphasized and then re-emphasized caveats as representing 'unqualified' support."

It's fair to regard your support for Power Line as "unqualified" because you haven't lifted a finger to show any sense of accountability for the falsehoods you're promoting, both directly and indirectly. Actions speak louder than words. Your actions, and lack of actions, mean infinitely more than your hollow, superficial disclaimers. I am referring, for example, to this specific falsehood:

According to the former Niger mining minister, Wilson told his CIA contacts, Iraq tried to buy 400 tons of uranium in 1998.


That bit of egregious, irresponsible misinformation has been incessantly promoted by Power Line, over a period of years. You decided to promote that trash in this thread. And after I pointed out to you that it's trash, your response was to pretend that it's OK to promote trash, and that there's no need for you or Power Line to take responsibility for promoting trash. Here's what that makes you: a liar. If you have any sense of disapproval with regard to the way Power Line has promoted that trash, you've been doing a fine job of keeping that disapproval to yourself. Likewise with regard to any sense of responsibility for your own role in propagating that trash.

"Whether that deceit is a result of convenient forgetfulness or some other motive is something I 'have no interest in.' "

Next time you post a whiney, evasive tantrum, completely devoid of substance, try to at least be internally consistent. If it was "forgetfulness," then it wasn't 'deceit.'

"I'll get to some remaining detail later, as I have time."

Promises, promises. Here's an idea: wait until the thread is ice-cold.

"You are not high on my list of priorities."

The problem is not that I'm not "high on [your] list of priorities." The problem is that getting your facts straight and taking responsibility for the trash you promote is not "high on [your] list of priorities."

"Indicating I had time to post a two or three paragraph comment does not mean I had time to parse through all your insinuating snide and contempt"

You're suggesting that the falsehood I cited above, promoted by Power Line and you, is something subtle or complicated, and that you aren't in a position to acknowledge that it's a falsehood until you take the "time to parse through all [my] insinuating snide and contempt." That's hysterically funny, because the falsehood is extremely obvious, and Power Line's willingness to promote it, for years, uncorrected, is also extremely obvious. What's also obvious is that you seem highly disinclined to provide anything remotely resembling a substantive defense of the various other bogus claims you've made in this thread.
7.6.2007 2:25pm
Michael B (mail):
Well, no, if I don't fall within the narrower confine you'd like to put me in, that's not my problem, it's yours. Hence quoteing me partially, rather than more fully. In terms of a deceit I plainly noted one of those misrepresentations. Again, that I don't represent what you'd like me to represent is your problem, not my own. Too, in terms of what I'd admit to one type of commentator vs. a commentator such as yourself, that's up to my discretion and I make no apologies, whatsoever, for using that discretion.

In terms of Libby and Fitzgerald and the entire cast and crew, there are all manner of contexts, political and otherwise, that are relevant.

There is the relevancy of the fact that Libby was not charged with violating the IIPA, the Intelligence Identities Protection Act.

There is the relevancy of the fact that, according to Fitzgerald himself, no one had violated the IIPA, not Libby, not Armitage, no one. Nada. If someone would have been chargeable, it would presumably have been Armitage, not Libby.

There is the relevancy of the fact that it was prior to Libby's discussion with Tim Russert, not afterward, that Robert Novak had placed his revelation of Plame, his column, on the AP(?) wire.

There is the relevancy that Libby's call to Tim Russert was made to discuss Chris Matthew's inordinate association of a certain ethnic group with the removal of Saddam Hussein-&-Sons and that Plame only came up as an incidental or secondary matter, thus underscoring the fact that Libby's inconsistency was not unusual. In this vein there is the additional relevant fact that Judge Walton, nonetheless, would not allow a memory expert to testify before the jury and would not even allow testimony concerning Libby's extremely heavy workload during that period, a fact which further still underscores the secondary and incidental quality of Libby's inconsistency and lack of clear recollection vis-a-vis Plame.

There is the relevancy of the fact that of the other two counts in the case, the jury found for Libby on the Cooper related count and Judge Walton threw out the Judity Miller related count.

(Re, here)

There are the wider relevant contexts as well. E.g., all this is occurring within a Bush/Blair=Stalin/Hitler set of political offensives. E.g., there is the Juanita Broaddrick and lying under oath context, where a violent rape is denied its import within a discovery phase of an investigation. Other examples still come to mind.

Hence all your trash talk and snide and presumption, once given these and other contexts, are revealed more clearly for what they are, not nearly as meaningful, in terms of the jurisprudence involved, as what you're attempting to forward. You present some facts, but you also fail to frame most of what you do present within their wider and more meaningful contexts. There are several additional relevancies, both facts and broader contexts, as well, but enough for now.
7.6.2007 4:46pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
michael: "I don't fall within the narrower confine you'd like to put me in"

I didn't put you in the "narrower confine" of someone who repeatedly cites bogus Power Line posts that call Wilson a liar. You put yourself in that "narrower confine."

"according to Fitzgerald himself, no one had violated the IIPA"

Where did Fitz say that? The fact no one was charged with an IIPA violation does not mean that no one committed an IIPA violation. Please show us your source.

"If someone would have been chargeable, it would presumably have been Armitage, not Libby."

Really? "Presumably" you'll tell us what your presumption is based on, since you have a habit of presenting presumptions sans proof.

"There is the relevancy of the fact that it was prior to Libby's discussion with Tim Russert, not afterward, that Robert Novak had placed his revelation of Plame, his column, on the AP(?) wire."

Really? According to Libby's grand jury testimony, he talked to Russert on 7/10/03 or 7/11/03. Novak's column was dated 7/14/03. You should tell us your basis for claiming that 7/14/03 was "prior to" 7/10/03.

Aside from that, you should explain what you think the "relevancy" is. It's awfully hard to guess where you're going with this particular bogus point. Libby claimed he was "surprised" when he (supposedly) heard it from Russert. If Novak's column was already out, Libby would have heard about it, and he wouldn't have been surprised.

"Plame only came up as an incidental or secondary matter"

An unauthorized disclosure of classified information is still an unauthorized disclosure of classified information, even if it allegedly "only came up as an incidental or secondary matter."

"would not even allow testimony concerning Libby's extremely heavy workload during that period"

Lots of people in the White House work hard. A bunch of those people testified, and they remembered discussing Plame with Libby. In other words, they didn't have amnesia, despite their "extremely heavy workload during that period." But Libby did. How odd.

"of the other two counts in the case, the jury found for Libby on the Cooper related count and Judge Walton threw out the Judity Miller related count."

You're paraphrasing Hitchens. Unfortunately, his statement is both incoherent and fraudulent. First let's review the facts, and then it will be easier to explain how Hitchens and you mangled the facts. The indictment is here (pdf). There are five counts. Count 1 is obstruction of justice. Counts 2-5 are perjury. Count 1 (obstruction of justice), as described in the indictment, relates to Russert, Cooper and Miller (i.e., conversations Libby had with those reporters). Count 2 (perjury) relates to Russert. Count 3 (perjury) relates to Cooper. Count 4 (perjury) relates to Russert. Count 5 (perjury) relates to Cooper.

In the end, Libby was found guilty on 4 out of 5 counts. He was found not guilty on Count 3. Most of what I just described is helpfully summarized here.

Let's notice that while Counts 2-5 were each related to one and only one reporter, Count 1, as described in the indictment, was related to three reporters (Russert, Cooper and Miller). At trial, Fitz presented testimony regarding the Russert and Cooper portions of Count 1, but didn't bother presenting testimony regarding the Miller portion of Count 1. Why not? I don't know. Maybe he was lazy. Maybe he was tired. Or, more likely, he calculated (correctly, as it turned out) that he had already proven Count 1 by virtue of the testimony supporting the Russert and Cooper portions of Count 1. In other words, Fitz dropped the Miller portion of Count 1 because it seems that he decided that the Miller portion of Count 1 was not necessary to win a guilty verdict on Count 1. And the jury did indeed return a guilty verdict on Count 1, even though Fitz did not attempt to prove the Miller portion of Count 1.

Since Fitz dropped the Miller portion of Count 1, Libby asked the judge to make sure the jury understood this. Libby did this in Document 279, filed on 2/12/07. In that document, Libby asked the judge to instruct the jury that even though the indictment described Count 1 as relating to Russert, Cooper and Miller, that the Miller portion had been dropped/dismissed. In the end, in other words, Count 1 was about Russert and Cooper, not Russert, Cooper and Miller. Fitz did not object, and the judge did what Libby asked. And then the jury went ahead and found Libby guilty on Count 1, anyway.

Now let's turn our attention to what Hitchens said:

In the other two "counts" in the case, both involving conversations with reporters (Judith Miller of the New York Times and Matthew Cooper of Time), Judge Reggie Walton threw out the Miller count while the jury found for Libby on the Cooper count.


This is incoherent, because he starts by talking about "the other two 'counts.' " The word "other" implies that he was just talking about certain 'counts,' which he has disposed of in some way, and now he's going to talk about the 'other' (remaining) counts. In other words, he's suggesting that he has somehow disposed of three counts, and he only has two counts left that he has to deal with. Trouble is, prior to this paragraph, he said nothing whatsoever about any 'counts' at all. So his use of the word "other" is utterly perplexing and misleading. (He doesn't say anything about 'counts' after this paragraph, either.)

Aside from that, almost every word in the paragraph is some kind of fraud. Here's the heart of the fraud:

Walton threw out the Miller count


Really? What "Miller count?" There was no "Miller count." There was a portion of a count that related to Miller. Count 1 is not fairly described as "the Miller count," because that implies that the count was all about Miller. Trouble is, it wasn't. It was mostly not about Miller.

And it's a fraud to claim that Walton "threw out" a count. This suggests that he threw out Count 1. He didn't. This is the number of counts that Walton "threw out:" zero. By suggesting that Count 1 is fairly called "the Miller count" (even though it's not), and by further suggesting that Walton "threw out" Count 1 (even though he didn't), this creates the impression that Libby was not found guilty on Count 1. Trouble is, he was.

And Walton didn't even 'throw out' a part of a count. Fitz walked away from the Miller portion of Count 1, probably because he decided he didn't need it. Libby asked the judge to make sure the jury understood this. That's all that happened. And Fitz was right: he didn't need the Miller portion of Count 1. Fitz was able to prove Count 1 just based on the Cooper and Russert portions of Count 1.

Let's take a look at something else Hitchens said:

the jury found for Libby on the Cooper count


That's also a distortion. Here's a true statement: the jury found for Libby on one of the three counts that were partially or wholly about Cooper.

Yes, "the jury found for Libby" on Count 3, which was all about Cooper. Trouble is, Hitchen's statement is misleading, because it glosses over the fact that the jury found against Libby on Count 5, which was also all about Cooper, and the jury also found against Libby on Count 1, which was partially about Cooper.

It's very misleading for Hitchens to suggest that there was something fairly called "the Miller count" and something else fairly called "the Cooper count."

By the way, I have a feeling you understand at least some of this, and are intentionally trying to mislead us. Why? Because Hitchens said "the Miller count," and you paraphrased this as "the Judity Miller related count" (emphasis added). I think this indicates that you understand that Hitchens was misleading us when he claimed there was such a thing as "the Miller count." And even though you softened part of his distortion, you embraced the rest of it. You said "Walton threw out the Judity Miller related count." Uh, no. As I explained, Walton "threw out" this number of counts: zero.

"a violent rape"

Why not also tell us about how Clinton killed Vince Foster?

I've asked you (several times now) to take responsibility for promoting this lie:

According to the former Niger mining minister, Wilson told his CIA contacts, Iraq tried to buy 400 tons of uranium in 1998


But instead of doing so, you try to change the subject, and introduce a series of new lies and distortions. How typical.
7.8.2007 12:28am
Michael B (mail):
No, I obviously did not place myself in any "narrower confine" since I bracketed the links I presented with overt and even rather assertive caveats, as repeatedly noted above; you are careful to quote me when it seems to suit your purpose, you are careful in refraining from quoting me when it does not suit your purpose. Once again, those quotes and caveats follow:

"I regard no source as definitive when it comes to the truth in these matter, but a variety of sources can be helpful," later reemphasizing that same caveat by stating "... no single source is definitive in matters political, but that's a truth to be applied to all quarters ..."

The fact that you dismiss and sneer at such unambiguous assertions and caveats, again, is not my problem, it's yours. You pile presumption upon presumption, not the least of which is your "knowing" sense that I'm attempting to lie or promote lies.

You also don't quote me when you agree with me, for example when I stated: "There is the relevancy of the fact that Libby was not charged with violating the IIPA, the Intelligence Identities Protection Act." Instead you state, in response to a contrary assertion, that "The fact no one was charged with an IIPA violation does not mean that no one committed an IIPA violation." That's true enough, but the salient and critical fact remains - the one I was essentially summarizing - no one was charged with an IIPA violation. That's a fact, one that has great import, your suggestion otherwise notwithstanding. I'm inclined to think, to believe, to hypothesize, that if Fitzgerald had had proof that Libby had violated the IIPA that he would in fact have proceeded with such a charge. I have no absolute knowledged in that vein, but I'm not presuming otherwise in such an absolute sense, in contrast to some of your own presumptions, insinuations, etc.

Another example still is that Vince Foster was never taken seriously by anyone beyond the most obtuse conspiracy theorists, not so the Juanita Broaddrick situation, even to the contrary. So you're obfuscating entirely different scenarios and are doing so in order to deny, to once again sneer at, the comparison of Clinton's lying under oath with Libby's perjury. That you forward mere dismissive contempt in order to deny the relevancy of the comparison of lying under oath and perjury (especially so when you're otherwise seemingly sure that Libby violated the IIPA, despite not even having been charged with such a violation) is telling of your partisan interests, not your interest in justice and mercy as more equitably and judiciously applied.

Neither, to address your latter point, did I change the subject, to the contrary I addressed the subject directly when I stated: "in terms of what I'd admit to one type of commentator vs. a commentator such as yourself, that's up to my discretion and I make no apologies, whatsoever, for using that discretion." That is obviously not the answer you'd prefer, but it does not change the subject.

In sum, I don't know if Libby is guilty of perjury or if he's entirely innocent. I know he is not charged with nor convicted with violation of the IIPA and I know the helter-skelter of highly partisan motives has evidenced itself despite that relevant fact and context, among other relevant contexts as well.
7.9.2007 4:29pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
michael: "your 'knowing' sense that I'm attempting to lie or promote lies"

Your actions speak for themselves. You have deposited numerous falsehoods, and you still have not acknowledged doing so or taken responsibility for doing so.

"I'm inclined to think … that if Fitzgerald had had proof that Libby had violated the IIPA that he would in fact have proceeded with such a charge."

Indeed. Big deal. So what? What's your point, if not to suggest that the investigation was not proper?

I'm not claiming Fitz had proof. I'm claiming that Fitz had sufficient evidence to indicate that an investigation was warranted. A bunch of people in CIA, DOJ and the court system agreed with him. Trouble is, Libby obstructed the investigation.

Do you really not understand that the level of proof required to warrant an investigation is not the same as the level of proof required to win a conviction?

"Juanita Broaddrick"

I realize you'd love to change the subject, and do the usual thing of hiding behind Clinton, but that's pathetic.

"you're otherwise seemingly sure that Libby violated the IIPA"

It's hysterically funny that you claim I'm presumptive. You're the one who's presumptive. I don't claim to be sure that "Libby violated the IIPA." I claim to be sure that Libby behaved improperly, spreading a falsehood about Wilson's trip ('Plame sent Wilson'), and outing a covert agent, and then sending Scottie to lie to the public about all this.

I claim also that Libby is a convicted felon who belongs in jail.

I claim also that Libby might have violated IIPA, along with other folks, but we'll never know because he obstructed the investigation. I also speculate that he lied intentionally and deliberately, knowing that he had a get-out-of-jail free card in his back pocket, right from the start. In my opinion, there is no other way to explain why a smart guy like him would lie to the FBI and a grand jury, knowing the seriousness and the penalties.

"relevant fact and context"

I realize you're not going to bother acknowledging what I've proven, that you presented a bunch of "relevant fact and context" that was pure nonsense. Like recycling Hitchens' bogus claim regarding a non-existent "Miller count."

And of course you're not going to bother explaining why you said this:

it was prior to Libby's discussion with Tim Russert, not afterward, that Robert Novak had placed his revelation of Plame, his column, on the AP(?) wire


Where did you get the idea that you can present outright fabrications, which you refuse to explain or defend, and nevertheless maintain any semblance of credibility?

It's entirely unsurprising that liars rise up to defend a liar.
7.10.2007 1:33pm
Michael B (mail):
Well, "unsurprising" is the right word.

But no, bringing up Juanita Broaddrick's violent rape is not "pathetic," I brought her up specifically and solely because Clinton's lying under oath - in part to obscure and raise a defense against discovery issues, including Broaddrick's - is roughly commensurate with the charge of perjury, thus the comparison serves to highlight the helter-skelter of acrimonious and venomous partisanship involved, and previously referred to, rather than any more balanced and equitable justice.

You are more than welcome to the final "high minded" comment.
7.10.2007 4:08pm