Skip to comments.Trial set for early next year in Libby case
Posted on 02/03/2006 1:01:20 PM PST by Cboldt
A federal judge on Friday set a January 2007 trial date [jury selection starts on January 8, 2007] for a former top White House aide facing perjury and other charges in the leak of a CIA operative's identity, pushing the trial past November's congressional elections.
The judge said jury selection would begin on January 8 in the case of Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff. ...
Afterward, prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald declined to comment but defense lawyer Theodore Wells said he was happy with the trial date. ...
Wells said in the next three weeks he expected to file a motion arguing that the indictment should be dismissed. He gave no details.
(Excerpt) Read more at today.reuters.com ...
I think this is the subpeona doc with fewer redactions:
I look forward to the trial of the New York Times reporters who leaked the NSA secrets. Doesn't that work the same way? It should.
In the April 2005 reissue, Tatel's opnion was redacted starting at its page 30. Thanks for the link, I'll be reading it shortly.
The recently released parts give a good window into the heart of Fitzgerald's case against Libby.
Thanks again for the link.
I have a hunch this motion is going to cause paint to blister in Fitz's office. This is the real news. This puppy is NEVER going to trial.
Yes it does. The leak is investigated (although I don't think there will be a political cry of an independent counsel as there was with the Plame case). If the investigation shows criminal activity, and the prosecutor decides to push it, then an indictment will issue forthwith.
I don't think there is a case against the NYT.
With respect to Miller, the special counsel seeks evidence regarding two exchanges with I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff and National Security Adviser: first, an in-person meeting in Washington, D.C. on July 8, 2003, and second, a telephone conversation on July 12, 2003. Before the grand jury, Libby testified that although he had previously learned about Wilson's wife's employment, he had forgotten it by July 8 and recalled no discussion of Wilson during his meeting with Miller. (I-105, 134-35, 279.) As to the July 12 conversation, Libby stated, "I said to her that, that I didn't know if it was true, but that reporters had told us that the ambassador's wife works at the CIA, that I didn't know anything [page 31] about it." (I-208.) Because other testimony and evidence raises doubts about Libby's claims, the special counsel believes Miller's testimony is "essential to determining whether Libby is guilty of crimes, including perjury, false statements and the improper disclosure of national defense information." (8/27/04 Aff. at 28; see also id. at 1-2.)
The special counsel's argument is persuasive. As Libby admits, in mid-June 2003, when reports first appeared about the Niger trip, the vice president informed Libby "in an off sort of curiosity sort of fashion" that the Niger envoy's wife worked at the CIA's counterproliferation division. (I-50-55, 245-46.) In addition, handwritten notes by Libby's CIA briefer indicate that Libby referred to "Joe Wilson" and "Valerie Wilson" in a conversation on June 14. (8/27/04 Aff. at 12.) Nevertheless, Libby maintains that he believed he was learning about Wilson's wife's identity for the first time when he spoke with NBC Washington Bureau Chief Tim Russert on July 10 or 11 regarding coverage of the Niger issue by MSNBC correspondent Chris Matthews. (I-162-69; 8/27/04 Aff. at 9-10.) According to Libby, Russert told him, "[D]id you know that Ambassador Wilson's wife works at the CIA? . . . [A]ll the reporters know it." (I-166.) Claiming to have been "a little taken aback by that," Libby testified, "I said, no, I don't know that intentionally because I didn't want him to take anything I was saying as in any way confirming what he said, because at that point in time I did not recall that I had ever known, and I thought this is something that he was telling me that I was first learning." (I166.)
Russert recalls this conversation very differently. In his deposition, describing Plame's employment as a fact that would have been "[v]ery" significant to him -- one he would have discussed with NBC management and potentially sought to broadcast -- Russert stated, "I have no recollection of knowing that [Wilson's wife worked at the CIA], so it was impossible for [page 32] me to have [told Libby] that." (I-43, 32.) Asked to describe his "reaction" to Novak's July 14 column, Russert said, "Wow. When I read that -- it was the first time I knew who Joe Wilson's wife was and that she was a CIA operative. . . . [I]t was news to me." (I-433.)
Also contrary to Libby's testimony, it appears that Libby discussed Plame's employment on several occasions before July 10. (See 8/27/04 Aff. at 11-12.) For example, then-White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer recalls that over lunch on July 7, the day before Libby's meeting with Miller, Libby told him, "[T]he Vice-President did not send Ambassador Wilson to Niger . . . the CIA sent Ambassador Wilson to Niger. . . . [H]e was sent by his wife. . . . [S]he works in . . . the Counterproliferation area of the CIA." (II-545-47.) Describing the lunch as "kind of weird" (II-590-91), and noting that Libby typically "operated in a very closed-lip fashion" (II-592), Fleischer recalled that Libby "added something along the lines of, you know, this is hush-hush, nobody knows about this. This is on the q.t." (II-546-47.) Though Libby remembers the lunch meeting, and even says he thanked Fleischer for making a statement about the Niger issue, he denies discussing Wilson's wife. (I-108-09, 156, 226-27.) As to the July 12 conversation,
* * * * * [REDACTED] * * * * *
Libby called several journalists, including Cooper and Miller. (I-202-03.) As Libby tells it, Cooper, whom he reached first, asked him why Wilson claimed Cheney had ordered the trip, to which Libby responded, "[Y]ou know, off-the-record, reporters are telling us that Ambassador Wilson's wife works at the CIA and I don't know if it's true. . . . [W]e don't know Mr. Wilson, we didn't know anything about his [page 33] mission, so I don't know if it's true. But if it's true, it may explain how he knows some people at the Agency and maybe he got some bad skinny, you know, some bad information." (I-20306.) According to Libby, Miller, too, said something that "triggered" him to mention that "reporters had told us that the ambassador's wife works at the CIA." (I-207-09.)
In contrast, in a deposition limited to Cooper's contacts with Libby (see II-32-33, 107), Cooper said that he (Cooper) asked Libby "something along the lines of what do you know about Wilson's wife being involved in, you know, sending him on this mission?" (II-53.) According to Cooper, Libby responded, "[Y]eah, I've heard that too" (II-54), which Cooper took as confirmation (II-81-91).
* * * * * [REDACTED] * * * * *
Given the evidence contradicting Libby's testimony, the special counsel appears already to have at least circumstantial grounds for a perjury charge, if nothing else. Miller's testimony, however, could settle the matter. If Libby mentioned Plame during the July 8 meeting -- and Miller's responses to the documentary subpoena suggest she has notes from that conversation (see 8/27/04 Aff. at 19-20) -- then Libby's version of events would be demonstrably false, since the conversation occurred before he spoke to Russert. Even if he first mentioned Plame on July 12, as he claims, inconsistencies between his recollection and Miller's could reinforce suspicions of perjury. What's more, if Libby mentioned Plame's covert status in either [page 34] conversation, charges under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, 50 U.S.C. Â§ 421, currently off the table for lack of evidence (see 8/27/04 Aff. at 28 & n.15), might become viable. Thus, because Miller may provide key corroboration or contradiction of Libby's claims -- evidence obviously available from no other source -- the special counsel has made a compelling showing that the subpoenas directed at Miller are vital to an accurate assessment of Libby's conduct.
Regarding Cooper, * * * * * [REDACTED] * * * *
In any event, as with the Miller subpoenas, the evidence sought from Cooper appears essential to accurate understanding of events and could obviously provide information unavailable elsewhere. Thus, again, the special counsel has shown that this evidence is crucial to accurate decision-making by the grand jury.
[page 38] As to the leaks' harmfulness, although the record omits specifics about Plame's work, it appears to confirm, as alleged in the public record and reported in the press, that she worked for the CIA in some unusual capacity relating to counte rproliferation. Addressing deficiencies of proof regarding the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, the special counsel refers to Plame as "a person whose identity the CIA was making specific efforts to conceal and who had carried out covert work overseas within the last 5 years" -- representations I trust the special counsel would not make without support. (8/27/04 Aff. at 28 n.15.) In addition, Libby said that Plame worked in the CIA's counterproliferation division (I-53-55, 24546), * * * * * [REDACTED] * * * * *
Most telling of all, Harlow, the CIA spokesperson, though confirming Plame's employment, asked Novak to withhold her name, stating that "although it is very unlikely that she will ever be on another overseas mission . . . it might be embarrassing if she goes on foreign travel on her own" (II-168-69), a statement that strongly implies Plame was covert at least at some point. While another case might require more specific evidence that a leak harmed national security, this showing suffices here, given the information's extremely slight news value and the lack of any serious dispute regarding Plame's employment.
Finally, while it is true that on the current record the special counsel's strongest charges are for perjury and false statements rather than security-related crimes, that fact does not alter the privilege analysis. Insofar as false testimony may have impaired the special counsel's identification of culprits, perjury in this context is itself a crime with national security implications. What's more, because the charges contemplated here relate to false denials of responsibility for Plame's exposure, prosecuting perjury or false statements would be [page 39] tantamount to punishing the leak. Thus, given the compelling showing of need and exhaustion, plus the sharply tilted balance between harm and news value, the special counsel may overcome the reporters' qualified privilege, even if his only purpose -- at least at this stage of his investigation -- is to shore up perjury charges against leading suspects such as Libby
* * * * * [REDACTED] * * * * *
I like the ending...
"leading suspects such as Libby ****REDACTED****"
...and who? Doh!
Heheheh. Given the way the redactions are arranged, I think that Fitzgerald had another person in his sight, I'd guess Rove. Now, since Libby has been indicted, there is no harm in making Libby-related material public.
If Libby mentioned Plame during the July 8 meeting -- and Miller's responses to the documentary subpoena suggest she has notes from that conversation (see 8/27/04 Aff. at 19-20) -- then Libby's version of events would be demonstrably false, since the conversation occurred before he spoke to Russert.
And this, from the indictment ...
17. On or about the morning of July 8, 2003, LIBBY met with New York Times reporter Judith Miller. When the conversation turned to the subject of Joseph Wilson, LIBBY asked that the information LIBBY provided on the topic of Wilson be attributed to a "former Hill staffer" rather than to a "senior administration official," as had been the understanding with respect to other information that LIBBY provided to Miller during this meeting. LIBBY thereafter discussed with Miller Wilson's trip and criticized the CIA reporting concerning Wilson's trip. During this discussion, LIBBY advised Miller of his belief that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA.
Thanks for posting this.
If any part of Fitz's trial case is going to rely on Miller's testimony, he is going to have a problem. Per Miller's article on her testimony regarding July 8 meeting, she says in part:
"Mr. Fitzgerald asked me about another entry in my notebook, where I had written the words "Valerie Flame," clearly a reference to Ms. Plame. Mr. Fitzgerald wanted to know whether the entry was based on my conversations with Mr. Libby. I said I didn't think so. I said I believed the information came from another source, whom I could not recall.
Mr. Fitzgerald asked if I could recall discussing the Wilson-Plame connection with other sources. I said I had, though I could not recall any by name or when those conversations occurred."
And here is another article by a prior colleague of hers describing her notetaking and memory skills:
"... "For some reason none of us had a tape recorder, so on the flight back to Casablanca we compared our notes from the one interview wed had with a Moroccan general a few hours before. We wanted to be sure the phrases wed scribbled down were accurate. But there was a problem. Judy had many more quotes in her notebook than I and another reporter had in ours. And Judys were much better. Then I realized why. Id done a lot more homework on that particular story than she did, and I was asking much more detailed questions. Shed written them down, and now she thought they came from the General, but many of the quotes actually were from me." ..."
I think the defense team would have an easy time portraying her as not having the greatest memory and not a reliable witness.
Frankly I like the case where the New York Times corporation is put on trial, found guilty, and then various executives are selected to pay the penalty on behalf of the company ~ up to and including death.
I've noticed that the NYT has been more careful since threads on FR have begun discussing what might/should happen to them as a result of their espionage, so they, themselves, may well be taking the threat seriously.
The case is going to be dismissed when it is discovered that none of the witnesses is willing to appear in court.
In paragraph 23, he has Libby admitting that he conversed with the VP regarding Plame, in June, but had forgotten that fact when he talked with Russert in July.
If Libby can convince the jury that he forgot about the conversation with Cheney, and the other events that add up to "Libby had authoritative knowledge that Plame worked at CIA," then the charges in this indictment will result in a not-guilty verdict.
But on pages 11 & 12, Fitz notes additional contact involving Libby (outside of reporters) that would impart actual knowledge that Plame worked at the CIA. I think items "(4)", "(5)" and "(7)" are the toughest ones to "reconcile with Libby's assertion of "I forgot I knew."
Footnote 15 on page 28 is on the point of "leaking covert agent" and says, in part,
If Libby knowingly disclosed information about Plame's status with the CIA, Libby would appear to have violated Title 18, United States Code, Section 793 if the information is considered "information respecting national defense." In order to establish a violation of Title 50, United States Code 421, it would be necessary to establish that Libby knew or believed that Plame was a person whose identity the CIA was making specific efforts to conceal and who has carried out cover work overseas within the last 5 years. To date, we have no direct evidence that Libby knew or believed that Wilson's wife was engaged in covert work [emphasis added]
On a quick read, the (heavily redacted) August 27 affidavit does not provide many facts that Fitz may have relied on for the belief that the CIA was protecting Plame's identity.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.