Lying for Libby
There is a virtual blizzard of Libby Lies in the media right now. It is essential that the neocons obtain a pardon for Libby. So much of what they do is dependent upon the willingness of their apparatchiks to break the law. It is esssential that their accomplices believe they are immune from legal consequences. A conviction of one of their own, particularly a "made man" like Libby, will likely have a very chilling effect on the willingness of as yet unconvicted neocons to discharge their extralegal duties.
I attach the clip of Kate O'Bierne above because Matthews actually gives the old neocon crone some substantial pushback, and even on occasion exhibits outright disdain for O'Bierne's shameless lies. If only Fred Hiatt and Victoria Toensing and Chuckie Krauthammer were similarly held to account for their many distortions of fact and frequent misstatements of the law.
Herewith a brief compendium of Libby Lies.
1. "Libby learned early on that Armitage was the leaker, so the investiation should have stopped there and Fitzgerald should not have pursued the matter further."
Quite simply, Armitage was not "the leaker." He was "a leaker." Armitage's improper disclosure of Plame's affiliation with the CIA in no way mitigates Libby's. Any knowing disclosure of classified information to a party lacking the requisite security clearance is illegal. When Libby informed Judy Miller of Plame's identity he was leaking. It didn't matter if Armitage had independently leaked it, or leaked in coordination with Libby and/or the White House. The neocon lie here presumes that Armitage's leak effectively declassified the information, or at least immunized all subsequent leakers from any culpability. It's ridiculous.
2. "There was no underlying crime."
How do they know this? Crimes are committed all the time for which charges are never brought for lack of evidence sufficient to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. It is never logical to infer that a crime was not indeed committed merely because charges have not been brought. To make such an inference in any case where a principal or principals has been charged with obstrucing justice is particularly cynical.
Fitzgerald stated consistently, beginning with his very first press conference following announcement of the Libby indictment, that he couldn't tell whether the leaking of Plame's identity was criminal because the investigation was impeded by Libby's perjury and obstruction of justice. Although pressed repeatedly on this question in the 17 months since the indictment, Fitzgerald has steadfastly refused to concede that a crime had not been committed. How could he conclude otherwise? He was prosecuting a case against a perjurer, he was alleging that Libby was covering-up something by obstructing justice, and he was arguing (most memorably in his "cloud over the vice-president" summation) that Libby's obstruction of justice was preventing us from knowing facts pertinent to a full understanding of what had occurred and whether it was criminal. How could Fitzgerald or anyone else conclude under such circumstances that a crime had not been committed?
3. "Plame was not covert."
Plame was covert. Fitzgerald stated so during the course of legal proceedings, a rather risky thing to do were it not true. The CIA effectively confirmed it when it referred the matter of Plame's outing to the Justice Department. Plame's covert status had been widely reported in the press for more than a year prior to the Libby verdict. Her CIA affiliation was classified, and the CIA had taken steps to protect her covert status (including establishing the Brewster Jennings CIA-front company).
This is one of these truly deranged neocon distortions. This entire lie is based on the insane contention that the definiton of "covert" in the context of the Plame case is limited to the definition of that term in an obscure statute that is virtually never the basis for prosecution - the Intelligence Identifies Protection Act. The IIPA defines the term "covert" very narrowly because it imposes particularly draconian consequences on anyone who would knowingly out a U.S. intelligence operative covered by the statute's definition of "covert."
As is frequently the case in statutes and in legal drafting generally, the term as defined in a statute is distinctly different than the general meaning of the term. For example, the IIPA defines "covert" to require that the intelligence operative have been posted overseas at some point during the five years preceding the outing. Should this definition in the IIPA be understood to be arguing that any intelligence operative who has not been posted overseas does not have "covert" status within the CIA? Of course not. Does it in fact reflect the CIA's own standard for covert status? Of course not. The term "covert" in the IIPA is merely a drafting tool for restricting the scope of the statute and does not purport to control the CIA's designation of covert status nor determine whethor or not an agent is covert. Nor does the definition of "covert" in the IIPA in any way restrict the application of laws prohibiting the disclosure of classified information.
Many (if not most) intelligence agents who are indeed covert, and are officially deemed so by their agency, are not covered by the definition of "covert" in the IIPA. If they are outed intentionally and knowingly then laws regarding disclosure of classified information have been violated even if the IIPA has not. They are covert because, among other things, their identity as an intelligence operative is classified and because their agency has taken pains to conceal their identity as agents.
4. "No crime was committed because disclosure of Plame's identity was not violative of the IIPA."
Utterly absurd. One might as well argue that Dennis Kozlowski (the Tyco swindler) was not guilty because his financial defalcations did not violate the murder statutes. The neocons would like you to believe you're not guilty unless you break all the laws relating to a given act, including the IIPA if the act involved leaking the identity of a CIA agent. However, as any non-neocon school age child would know, if you violate one law - say, the law prohibiting knowing and intentional disclosure of classified information - then you've committed a crime, no matter how many laws you didn't break.
5. "Russert could have misrecollected, and therefore Libby would not be guilty if indeed he'd heard of Plame from Russert."
This is a particularly stupid piece of neocon anti-logic, and the foundation of Charles Krauthammer's Libby Lie Fest in this morning's Washington Post. You know your opposition's case is weak when even the most charitable and expansive reading of their premises fails to establish their argument. For example, even if one were to concede that Libby was right and Russert did indeed tell Libby of Plame's identity, Libby was indicted not merely for claiming that Russert had informed him of Plame's identity but for claiming that he didn't know of Plame's identity until he learned it from Russert. Even if Russert did indeed tell Libby of Plame's identity, there are nine other conversations testified to by reporter and other administration officials - Cheney, Addington, Cathie Martin, Ari Fleischer and others - that took place prior to Libby's conversation with Russert and therefore contradict Libby's claim that he first learned from Russert. Russert's testimony was merely the coup de grace for Libby's guilt. That guilt had already been well established by the testimony of Libby's associates in the administration and his BFF Judy Miller.
6. "There was no conspiracy to out Valerie Plame."
Neocon lapdog Fred Hiatt made this argument - again - in the Washington Post editorial the other day. "The trial has provided convincing evidence that there was no conspiracy to punish Mr. Wilson by leaking Ms. Plame's identity," Fred insisted, stamping his little neocon feet.
This one is particularly outrageous. Numerous administration officials, including Cheney, have testified to more than a dozen conversations regarding Plame in the weeks preceding Plame's outing in Novak's column. They have admitted that it was their intent to rebut what they untruthfully claimed was Wilson's contention that he'd been sent to Niger by Cheney. They have argued, testified and pleaded that disclosure of Plame's identity was a justifiable means toward this end. Following this flurry of internal discussions among administration officials, numerous administration officials - including Libby, Fleischer, Bartlett, Armitage - proceeded to disclose Plame's identity to journalists and, in many instances, falsely claimed that Plame had sent Wilson to Niger. Libby himself plied Judy Miller with this information on multiple occasions, and Miller certainly would have published Libby's leaks had Bill Keller not decided that Miller stories related to WMD were not particularly reliable anymore.
But Fred Hiatt sees no "conspiracy." Well, it is by now a favorite tactic of neocons to imply that "conspiracies" exist only in the mind of the demented; that anyone who alleges conspiracy is a nut. Fortunately, one need not find a "conspiracy" in order to infer that Libby's motive in obstructing justice was to conceal nefarious activities in Cheney's office and in the White House. One need only conclude, as Fitzgerald has asserted, that there was "concerted action" by "multiple people in the White House" -- using classified information -- to "discredit, punish or seek revenge against" Joe Wilson.
7. "Libby shouldn't take the fall if Armitage didn't."
Armitage apparently didn't lie to investigators and a grand jury. And the fact that Armitage wasn't charged for improper disclosure of classified information could be attributable to either of two very good reasons: either Fitzgerald couldn't establish that Armitage was aware that Plame's identity was classified, or Fitzgerald judged, in the exercise of his prosecutorial discretion (suddenly a favorite phrase of the neocons), that Armitage's idle gossip was nothing more, had no malign intent, and therefore was not worth prosecuting even if it technically violated laws governing disclosure of classified material. For a guy the neocons are trying to paint as an out-of-control prosecutor, Fitzgerald in fact used his prosecutorial discretion to avoid various prosecutions that could have been justified against Armitage and others based on their involvement in leaking Plame's identity.
8. "You're entitled to a pardon as long as you continue to maintain your innocence."
Well, I'm being a little playful here. I've only heard this from one neocon windbag, O'Bierne, and I've interpreted her words freely. But there is no question that she told Matthews that Libby deserved a pardon because, unlike Clinton, he didn't plead guilty. As Matthews clearly realized, as evidenced by his reaction, O'Bierne is quite simply insane. Or, alternatively, the most shameless and maniacal apologist for neocon criminality this side of the execrable Mary Matalin.
Watch the clip of O'Bierne on Hardball, beginning about four minutes in. She unmistakably argues that Scooter is innocent because he says so, jury verdict be damned. This is the clearest statement to date by a neocon of something many of us have long suspected: they truly believe that they are above the law.
9. Wilson lied when he claimed Cheney sent him to Niger.
He never claimed it. Or if he did claim it (or imply it), his NYT op-ed corrected the record by clearly stating that he was sent by the CIA in response to inquiries from Cheney. Cheney and his people had to invent this lie in order to justify their outing of Plame, i.e., they contended Wilson had falsely claimed that Cheney had sent him and they (Cheney, Libby et al) were merely correcting the record and exposing his deceit when they outed his wife.
This is another example of the neocon Hall of Mirrors and the embedded lie technique. They use a lie (that Wilson had claimed to have been sent to Niger by Cheney) in order to justify a second lie (that Plame had sent Wilson to Niger).
10. "Plame sent Wilson to Niger."
She did not have authority to send Wilson to Niger. She informed those at the CIA who possessed such authority (and who in fact dispatched Wilson to Niger) that her husband was a career diplomat with extensive contacts in Niger. This is another example of a lie that would be insufficient to buttress the neocon case even if true. Cheney argues that he didn't receive a report on Wilson's trip because he didn't send Wilson to Niger. But is it credible that the CIA would not have forwarded Wilson's findings to Cheney's office if, as the CIA has confirmed, the CIA dispatched Wilson to Niger in an effort to answer certain inquiries posed by the Vice President?
Well, the truth is that is may indeed be credible that the CIA would not have forwarded Wilson's findings to Cheney, because by that time it may have been pluperfectly apparent to the CIA that Cheney wasn't interested in intelligence that was inconvenient for his warmongering agenda. But the point is that the provenance of Wilson's trip was not particularly probative of whether Cheney would have received a report or not, and therefore outing Plame didn't serve to buttress the credibility of Cheney's claim that he never received the findings of Wilson's trip. And if it did not serve as a rebuttal, then reprisal against the Wilson's is the default motive for Plame's outing.
There are many other lies. I may supplement this post. I welcome the submission by others of their favorite neocon Libby Lies, as well.