What the Libby Trial is Not

Jury selection begins this morning in the perjury and obstruction trial of former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby and while some analysts believe we are about to see "political theater" I think it is far more likely we are about to endure a rather dense, technical trial that focuses more upon the nuances of perjury law than upon the justifications for the war in Iraq. In other words, most of the political wind in this case already has blown-- now, there will be mostly law in the air.

That's not to say that the Libby trial won't see it's share of political drama. Just seeing Vice President Dick Cheney in a courtroom with jurors and regular old members of the media and public, raising his right hand and then being subject to cross-examination, is likely to send political pundits into convulsions of glee. But U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton has said over and over again that he is going to limit this trial to the question of whether Libby before a grand jury-- and preclude lawyers from focusing upon the larger issues in play-- and I believe him. This trial is going to be a tease because each time a witness is asked to testify about Iraq, or the Administration's knives-out in-fighting, the judge is likely to block the answer.

So politicos who see this trial as an opportunity to put the White House on trial for its Iraq policy are likely to be disappointed. Maybe things would have been different had special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald been able to indict someone for actually leaking Valerie Plame's name rather than indicting someone for not answering candidly when asked about the leak. Maybe things would have been different had Karl Rove or the Vice President himself been indicted. But as things stand now, the legal momentum, not to mention the legal precedent, argues against the Libby trial being an epoch event that furthers busts open the political can of worms currently crawling through Washington.

I wish I could jump on the bandwagon. But I just can't. And even the heralded appearances of Bob Woodward and Tim Russert don't gin up for me the quesy-stomach anticipation of a Perry Mason moment in court. Did Libby lie or not? Could he truly have forgotten the truth because he was so busy helping run the country? Those questions, and not the more flowery ones, will drive this case

By Andrew Cohen |  January 16, 2007; 10:30 AM ET
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I suspect we'll see a lot of tight lips, the 5th amendment and a pardon of Libby upon Bush's exit in 2009.

Posted by: pv | January 16, 2007 12:05 PM

Casper Weinberger though not convicted of any crime received a Presidential pardon from President George H. W. Bush on December 24, 1992 during Iran-Contra to save his own neck. Junior will follow fathers footstep in this. It is a family tradition. Wonder if missing billions in Iraq going to some other illegal covert actions? hmm...

Posted by: MaybeLastViewer | January 16, 2007 12:53 PM

It destroys the soul of America if equal justice is derailed.

Posted by: Vera McHale | January 16, 2007 01:13 PM

Let's be fair. You have to remember the long list of people Billy Clinton pardoned when he left office. Such as all his Whitewater buddies, not to mention keeping Sandy Berger off the hook for stuffing his pants.

Did you ever think that maybe both parties are less than the political fanatics claim they are?

Posted by: Inkblob | January 16, 2007 01:17 PM

You said this. "....Walton has said over and over again that he is going to limit this trial to the question of whether *Libby before a grand jury*-- and preclude lawyers from focusing upon the larger issues in play-- and I believe him.

Libby ...what?? The missing term I believe is LIED before a Grand Jury. Soon enough "Libby" will be declared synonymous with lying, deceit, and connivance.

Posted by: Cape May | January 16, 2007 01:17 PM

Let's be fair. You have to remember the long list of people Billy Clinton pardoned when he left office. Such as all his Whitewater buddies, not to mention keeping Sandy Berger off the hook for stuffing his pants.

Did you ever think that maybe both parties are less than the political fanatics claim they are?

Posted by: Inkblob | January 16, 2007 01:18 PM

In response to MAYBEL,
look at prior presidential Pardon of BIll Clinton,
Let the Pot not call the Kettle Black

Posted by: MA_NYC | January 16, 2007 01:19 PM

It destroys the soul of the Democratic Party if a linching does not occur. Fitzgerld knew who leaked the Plame story before he asked the question of Libby.

Posted by: Philip | January 16, 2007 01:21 PM

This is Martha Stewart all over again and it is frightening. Federal investigators ask you a series of questions about some one else. You are not under investigation! Some one else is. So, you misstep, without benefit of any legal protection (say, your lawyer) and then these same investigators come after you when they can't get the person they are trying to get. So, the short answer is, when asked anyhing, shut up until you get a lawyer. This is not good for America. The investigators are the ones to beware of. They wil fry anyone so they don't look stupid, even the innocent.

Posted by: Richard | January 16, 2007 01:25 PM

All too many in their desperation to vilify this administration have unfortunately been blinded by disinformation their ideology has laid out before them. This trial will be more of a mockery of what a special prosecutor could have found then what he did find and for that we have all paid a price in treasure and intellect.

Remember the Clinton's trial(s) and how little useful knowledge was passed on to the public through the press? Well, welcome to the wonderful world of dejaView where the facts of what Wilson tried to do will never be reveled through this all to willing media machine, pressed into believing him through their ideology...

Posted by: JAFO | January 16, 2007 01:37 PM

To prove perjury, they will have to produce evidence that Libby actually remembered talking about Plame but said otherwise to the FBI. Just like in the Clinton perjury case, they needed to prove that Clinton believed oral sex was actually sex.

You can't prove what someone REALLY believes, or what someone REALLY remembers. If you can't come up with EVIDENCE to contradict him, you just have to accept what he says.

There was no evidence against Clinton, and there is no evidence against Libby. No evidence, no conviction, no pardon, nothing. Just a lot of taxpayer money to finance a big book deal for Mr. F.

Posted by: JK | January 16, 2007 01:40 PM

Why didn't Fitzgerald indict the man that did leak her name? It wasn't Libby, but that is who he his prosecuting.

And another note, Bill Clinton lied to a grand jury and the American people. Of course, it's no crime to lie to us, but I guess it just depends on what the definition of a "lie" is.

Posted by: MC | January 16, 2007 01:40 PM

"Those who reveal the identities of CIA employees are the most insidious of traitors".

How quickly the rightwing forgets those words spoken by George Herbert Walker Bush.

Political retaliation is the cornerstone of this administration.

By the way, just because Clinton or some Democrats violated the law, which they did, that is no excuse or cover for those who came after them.

Berger should be in jail but has nothing to do with this case.

Posted by: artmann11 | January 16, 2007 01:41 PM

Re: "So, you misstep, without benefit of any legal protection (say, your lawyer) and then these same investigators come after you when they can't get the person they are trying to get. So, the short answer is, when asked anyhing, shut up until you get a lawyer. This is not good for America. The investigators are the ones to beware of. They wil fry anyone so they don't look stupid, even the innocent."

Another alternative that would have worked well in this instance would simply be to have told the truth. Generally when under oath, that's the smart thing to do.

And I'd be most surprised if Libby, when testifying before the grand jury, didn't have a lawyer.

Posted by: Donald | January 16, 2007 01:43 PM

"All too many in their desperation to vilify this administration have unfortunately been blinded by disinformation their ideology has laid out before them. This trial will be more of a mockery of what a special prosecutor could have found then what he did find and for that we have all paid a price in treasure and intellect.

Remember the Clinton's trial(s) and how little useful knowledge was passed on to the public through the press? Well, welcome to the wonderful world of dejaView where the facts of what Wilson tried to do will never be reveled through this all to willing media machine, pressed into believing him through their ideology..."

Hey JAFO, could you please use a spell checker prior to posting your opinion...although your stereotypical squibble will drip eternally - unfounded of course, and with little supporting evidence - at least make it legible.

Posted by: Tool4All | January 16, 2007 01:47 PM

hey:

bill clinton had death squads, and mistresses, and what about china ... that should cancel out anything george bush does or anything anyone in his administraton does.

that's the way it should be ... in the land of 'black and white' and 'all that's bad is due to liberals'.

respectfully,

an idiot!

Posted by: Bob | January 16, 2007 01:50 PM

Let us see here. Clinton pardoned people that got no one killed, White Water was about $100,000 dollars for the Clintons... and Clinton's crime was lying about oral sex. Mr. Libby is responsible for helping get thousands of American's and tens of thousands of Iraqi women and children killed, tens of billions of missing War dollars on his bosses watch, no BID contracts for Halibutron and a failed policy which puts the USA $6-7 trillion in debt. $2 trillion for this War in Iraq alone..By the way Libby was Marc Riches lawyer for 15 years trying to get him pardoned..You are wrong about his trial..it will be a window of ugliness from the V.P.'s Office..to demonstrate Israel's Likud influence on this collection of liars and yet another nail in this failed, dishonest, lying group of neocons coffin..I am looking forward to his conviction..During this time let us take a long hard criminal look at the War Profiteers..The Bushes and Cheneys have become wildly wealthy on this war..I smell some rodents here! Have the Judge get out the really Big Rat Traps!

Posted by: Gary Geddes | January 16, 2007 01:55 PM

"Remember the Clinton's trial(s) and how little useful knowledge was passed on to the public through the press? Well, welcome to the wonderful world of dejaView where the facts of what Wilson tried to do will never be reveled through this all to willing media machine, pressed into believing him through their ideology..."

Hey JAFO, could you please use a spell checker prior to posting your opinion...although your stereotypical squibble will drip eternally - unfounded of course, and with little supporting evidence - at least make it legible."


The media of today has been cowed and chickenhearted.


Hey Tool4All, the word is "revealed". If you're going to criticize someone for spelling at least use correct spelling to do it.

Posted by: | January 16, 2007 02:02 PM

Bob, That didn't make since, but maybe it was over my public school education level.

Posted by: mc | January 16, 2007 02:02 PM

I have begun to read the "news" after a six year hiatus. (to get my daily dose of anxiety) I live among intellectuals. (you know, those funny eggheads that nobody likes, the nerds, geeks, mathematicians and scientists that make your life better. No-one I know is a conservative, that simply equals self-interest and we all know this ignorance and weakness in its ugliest form) Most of the people I know aren't from the US either, they're PhDs from all over the world, because thinking is universal, where as beating to death everything in your path is uniquely North American.

Too bad journalists of the faster-moving mediums won't keep the main issue on-track long enough to make a difference in the world. Even this article (although well-written) has a sports commentary flavor to it. What is the main issue I speak of? It is the vast amount of money that is made by destabilizing "under-developed" regions. It is like magic. The formula is so simple. Supplying arms, (that's what your billed for) lies stacked upon lies, (so it looks more complicated than it is) and total human indifference (and I mean total) is all it takes. That and the position from which to bill the ignorant taxpayers for the game. And guess what, the US is now an under-developed region! But that is another and deeper story.

An example: I had a copy of the CIA manual for Iran-Contra operations. Lots of people did. It got out somehow. The last chapter was on assassinating your own people to garner support for your cause. (9/11?) I kept it for years thinking people would want to read it. They didn't. Nobody really gives a damn in this country. It's profoundly embarrassing. I finally through it away. (after all it's old news, or its it?)

Nothing will happen to Libby or Cheney or Bush. I have learned (mostly through lots of reading of political discourse by brave souls) that our country is failing to uphold nearly all of the dreams of our insightful founders. That my neighbors are lazy, ill-informed, selfish people who believe in a country that doesn't actually exist. Oh well.

I hope in my lifetime to see the magic money game end because enough journalists have the courage to tell the world the truth. We are now able to know the world around us without the lies. Dig deeper, think, tell the truth.

Posted by: kw | January 16, 2007 02:05 PM

Gary,
Are you stating facts or supposition?

What someone else did or does before you can not justify what you have done. But I do find it interesting and a bit hypocritical now.

And look how blood hungry you sound.

Thanks,
Misguided

Posted by: AL | January 16, 2007 02:07 PM

Wow!

Posted by: al | January 16, 2007 02:14 PM

[Bob, That didn't make since, but maybe it was over my public school education level.]

mc:

I'd say from your short post that your education level is enough to get the point ... ya know ... the 'doesnt make any sense' part.

I'm having a little fun ... a bit of sarcasm to exemplify the idiocy of those fixated on clinton ... w/ their strawman arguments and justfications ... the ends justfies the means ... our guy can do no wrong ... the attitude and perspective of ... well ...

an idiot !

Bob

Posted by: Bob | January 16, 2007 02:18 PM

It leaves me breathless that this trial date has been so speedy since the offence happened just yesterday or thereabouts.

Posted by: vicsoir | January 16, 2007 02:35 PM

I have been ruminating about Scooter Libby, and his deceptive answers. If he really was as confused as he claims, then why did Dick Cheney keep him as his chief of staff? Also, Libby told Judith Miller about Valerie Plame, she just had the good sense not to publish what she rightly perceived to be something that should be kept secret. There is also the question of the VP's scribbled comments about Ms. Plame on the NYT editorial. The leak seemed to serve the neocon agenda, although it back-fired when the truth came out. Maybe this is SOP in DC,
but I for one am always glad when this type of spinning is outed, and the perps get their due! If we throw the bums out, then maybe, just maybe, we can have a government as decent and honest as the American people!

Posted by: Nick | January 16, 2007 02:38 PM

Yes, we all remember the witch hunt of Bill Clinton, don't we? Eight years and 40 million taxpayer dollars later, they had ONE single charge stick to the wall, which was lying to the grand jury about a sex case.

Posted by: Cheryl | January 16, 2007 02:45 PM

Inkblob:

Sandy Berger did not 'stuff his pants' until October 2003...almost 3 years after Clinton left office.

Only one Whitewater-related pardon was issued on his last day: Susan McDougall who had already served her sentence of 18 months.

The Marc Rich pardon (quite controversial but he wasn't involved in Whitewater): among the people who lobbied for it was Scooter Libby! Why? Who the hell knows?

Other than that, there were a lot of the usual drug-related commutations and pardons for people who'd already served the minimum for their offenses.

As far as I know, Clinton never pardoned someone for an offense involving a risk to national security (which is what happened in the outing of Plane: she was still running ops and she was covert in a division dealing with preventing WMDs from getting into the hands of bad guys).

Posted by: windrider | January 16, 2007 02:55 PM

Re this:
"Eight years and 40 million taxpayer dollars later, they had ONE single charge stick to the wall, which was lying to the grand jury about a sex case."

just fyi, NO charges stuck.

Bill Clinton was never indicted for anything, nevermind convicted.

When the Grand Jury didn't indict Clinton, Ken Starr made his case for impeachment. Impeachment charges come strictly from Congress, not from our judicial system.

Entirely accurate: "Eight years and 40 million..."
They also spent MORE than eight years and MORE than 40 million to try to get indictments on other Clinton cabinet members.
Uh, which also ALL failed.

Posted by: Jan | January 16, 2007 03:59 PM

Can you change the "it's" in the first sentence of the second paragraph to the correct "its"? It's really bothering me.

Posted by: John Yoo | January 16, 2007 04:20 PM

Libby was the wrong person indicted for the leak. so it should be case dismissed.
As for perjury; Clinton committed perjury also, and was allowed to plead guilty with no punishment on his last day in office. Clinton also pardoned many crooks his last day in office.
Therefore libby should be pardoned by Bush; because Clinton got off light for perjury.

Posted by: specialjuror | January 16, 2007 04:28 PM

I agree with Richard that this is Martha Stewart all over again. As much as I despise Libby, Rove, and Chaney and their hatchet jobs on anyone who catches them in a lie, as much as I don't beleive that Libby forgot he was part of an effort run by his boss to smear Wilson, especially since he talked to three different people and since who leaked was an issue almost as soon as he leaked, I object to the Government inventing a crime when there is no crime. Martha was not an insider, so there was no reason to investigate her (plus, I beleive she was wrongly convicted on poor, distorted, biased, and fabricated evidence). If leaking Plame's name is not a crime (I beleive it was, but Fritzgerald does not, which is what counts) what was Fritzgerald investigating? I think that Fritzgerald is indicting Libby for his phony bad memory and not Rove for his equally phony bad memory because Fritzgerald beleives the reason he cannot indict anyone for the actual crime is that he thinks Libby lied to protect Chaney who actually was responsible for the crime. We need to remember that Miller did hard time for months as a result of this investigation. Likewise, the crook in Balco got 3 months, but the reporters who covered the trial may get months or years for contempt of court. How can not revealing the source about a crime be punished worse than the crime itself?

Posted by: where'sthecrime? | January 16, 2007 05:21 PM

specialjuror:
"Libby was the wrong person indicted for the leak. so it should be case dismissed."

He wasn't indicted for the leak, it was for the cover-up.... Just like Martha!

Posted by: | January 16, 2007 05:47 PM

Martha deserved what she got.

Posted by: pv | January 16, 2007 05:48 PM

No, no no... Don't think that this case will be over that cleanly, just for a lack of evidence. There are still so much paperwprk that can be filed in the knick of time for this case to go on for a few more months. Then, we will have a conclusion.

What if Scooter Libby does indeed asadmit that he did infact lie, or gets caught in a lie?!? Then we can still go forward with all of those bosses that overlooked the truth. Just the fact that the White House could not have brushed this issue off and that we are hearing about this in the year two-thousand and seven speaks volumes! Volumes!

I hope that we get to the bottom of this case without so much of a whimper from somebody that just does not want to hear about it in the White House. I want the truth, andmaking this trial go any longer is truly a strain for the prosecution and for Valery Plame who is getting complaints from her superiors in which she can not write a book about her hardships?!? Where are her rights again ?!?!?

-Oh to have a Blog
(Person of the Year 2006)

Posted by: Oh to have a Blog | January 16, 2007 06:51 PM

If what passes for journalism is what comes out of this idiot Cohen's head, not to even mention that he is allegedly a lawyer, then the Washington Post can truly be said to be in a state of decline.

I can't figure out why he is even allowed a byline, he must have some connections with Donald Graham. He sure couldn't get a job at any paper that valued real content journalism, rather than meaningless drivel, or ad hominem attacks (which is Cohen's speciality) -but of course, that type of journalism is in direct proportion to the intelligence of the person who is allowed to have a byline (note I don't use the word journalist-it doesn't fit, where Cohen is concerned).

And the shoe surely does fit, in this case.

Posted by: Anna Maria Scialfo | January 16, 2007 07:30 PM

"It leaves me breathless that this trial date has been so speedy since the offence happened just yesterday or thereabouts."

The indictment was 14 months ago.
Time flies when you're having fun!

Posted by: pv | January 16, 2007 07:49 PM

In a shout out to Gary's message from earlier... I'd like to know what first hand info he has about the bushes and cheneys getting rich off the war?

Really, please people hang up the stupid conspiracy theories.

And seriously... what hardships is Valerie going through? She can't write a book.. boo-hoo. But she gets to pose in her PJ's at home and with movie star sunglasses while sitting in a convertible in DC. The only hardship I see is her spending the cash her hubby makes by pontificating all around the country in speeches and looney discussion groups.

Posted by: altuna, PA | January 16, 2007 08:03 PM

You*re wrong of course about the possibility of a *more flowery moment* in Scooter Libby*s trial. Newspaper reports, recent and otherwise, have speculated about the presence of *at least one* secretly indicted co-conspirator. Fitzgerald may get Cheney, Rove, and even Bush after all.

Posted by: New Boston, NH | January 16, 2007 08:14 PM

Altuna Pa: I thought that we were in Iraq fighting for the liberties and the freedoms that the terrorists are trying to deny us all in this nation? How about Valery Plame's right to speak the truth about her status which is not supposed to be covert? You do not want to deny somebody her first amendment rights, now do you --- American ?!? Alec Baldwin speaks his mind in public with the exact rights granted for over 200 years now and somebody calls him an "Enemy of the State"?!?!? Please people... let us not forget what this war stands for: protecting ourselves from those people who would rather replace perfectly good charters with ancient scriptures of another land... or is that what is being had now, as we replace free thought (from those like Valery Plame and Alec Baldwin) and replace them with whatever the terrorists dictate.

As long as we are on the topic of presidential legay... why is George Walker Bush moving to Paraguay, over in South America?!? Doesn't he want to see his legac succeed over in the land that he helped free from the specter of Islamo-Facism ??????

Good luck with the presidential run, Barrack Obama

-Oh to have a Blog
(Person of the Year 2006)

Posted by: | January 16, 2007 08:29 PM

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