Water Man Spouts

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A Pawn in the Game

"The government clearly included these conversations in the indictments to create an impression of a world in which, during the period leading up to his conversations with Matthew Cooper, Tim Russert, and Judith Miller, Mr. Libby was very focused on Mr. Wilson, his trip to Niger, and most of all, Mr. Wilson's wife. .... The indictment suggests that to Mr. Libby and other government officials, Ms. Wilson's role in sending her husband to Africa was important. But in reality, Ms. Wilson was not important."
--Third Motion of I. Lewis Libby to Compel Discovery Under Rule 16 and Brady; March 17, 2006
Team Libby's motion to the court to compel Patrick Fitzgerald to provide them with an extensive amount of information, apparently to help them prepare to cross examine numerous government witnesses prepared to testify in the January '07 trial, is a fascinating read. Libby's talented legal team is clearly prepared to call into question the roles that other White House and administration officials may have played, in the outing of Valerie Plame; their motives for cooperating with Fitzgerald; and the entire controversy over the administration's case for going to war in Iraq.
Team Libby's motion lists a number of people that they believe the government will call to testify, as well as those they may call to the stand. These include, among others: Dick Cheney, Dick Armitage, Ari Fleischer, Marc Grossman, Steve Hadley, Bill Harlow, Colin Powell, Karl Rove, George Tenet, Craig Schmall, Peter Clement, Matt Barrett, Robert Grenier, John McLaughlin, Joseph Wilson, and Valerie Plame Wilson.
Each of these individuals may be seen as players on the chess board that I described in my February 4, 2006 essay, "Your Move." See:
Team Libby is also planning to call numerous journalists from the corporate media. Today, I thought it would be interesting to take a closer look at one of the players that might best be described as an incidental pawn on the board, Catherine Martin. I refer to Ms. Martin as a pawn, not in the common incidental sense (ie, to paraphrase Bob Dylan, "just a pawn in their game"), but rather in the legal sense of being dependaent on or relating to another issue in the case.
On pages 8-9 of the Libby motion, his lawyers note, "The indictment goes on to describe numerous additional conversations: ....a conversation between Mr. Libby and the 'Assistant to the Vice President for Public Affairs,' who we believe is Cathie Martin, in which she told Mr. Libby that she had 'learned from another government official that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA,' whom we believe to be Bill Harlow. .... We believe that Mr.Addington, Ms. Martin, Mr. Rove and the Vice President will all testify at the trial."
While Team Libby continues to focus on Libby not being Bob Novak or Bob Woodward's source on Valerie Plame's employment at the Agency, Catherine Martin appears to be an important link that ties him to the WHIG campaign to discredit Joseph Wilson among journalists. In her 11-26-04 Washington Post article ("The When and How of Leak Being Probed"), Susan Schmidt noted, "It was in the ensueing days that television reporters Chris Matthews and Andrea Mitchell would tell Wilson that they heard from administration aides that the real story was not what Wilson found in Niger, but his wife's role in selecting him for the trip."
We know, from pages 7 and 8 of the Office of Special Counsel Fitzgerald's October 28, 2005 press release, that "no earlier than June 2003 but on or before July 8, 2003, (Martin) learned from another government official that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA and advised Libby of this information; .... (and) on or about July 12, 2003, Libby flew with the Vice President and others to and from Norfolk, Va., on Air Force Two. On his return trip, Libby discussed with other officials aboard the plane what Libby should say in response to certain pending media inquiries, including questions from Time's Cooper."
In his October 30, 2005 Washington Post article ("A Leak, Then a Deluge"), Barton Gellman notes that on the 7-12-03 AF2 plane ride, in which Libby was discussing his media strategy fo dealing with the Wilson issue with "other officials," the only press aide on board was Catherine Martin.
In his 7-25-05 article in Time ("What I Told the Grand Jury"), Matthew Cooper told of how he had viewed the administration's attack on Wilson. "The grand jurors wanted to know what was on my mind, and I told them .... I was interested in an ancillary question about why the government officials, publicly and privately, seemed to be disparaging Wilson. It struck me, as I told the grand jury, as odd and unnecessary, especially after their saying the President's address should not have included the 16-word claim about Saddam and African uranium." Cooper goes on to discuss his discussions about Wilson and Plame with both Karl Rove and Scooter Libby. And, of course, it was at this same time period that we know Scooter was discussing Valerie Plame with New York Times reporter Judith Miller.
Martin herself played a role in attempting to distance Libby and Cheney from the Plame scandal. In the October 20, 2003 edition of The New Yorker, she is quoted as saying, "The vice president doesn't know Joe Wilson and did not know about his trip until he read about it in the press." And in the October 8, 2003 Newsweek, when asked if Libby had any involvement in leaking Plame's identity to Bob Novak, she responded, "I don't know the answer."
It is known that Patrick Fitzgerald was interested in communications made "to and from Martin's cell phone in July of 2003." (New York Times; 2-10-03) The FBI had interviewed Martin early on about what she knew about the leaks to the media. (Newsday; 2-24-04) It was believed that she had testified to the grand jury. (Washington Post; 2-10-03)
Catherine Martin will be able to detail the conversation between Libby and others on the plans to deal with Wilson, which took place on AF2 on 7-12-03. More, she will be able to verify the details of communications between other prosecution witnesses, including Steve Hadley, which will expose the extent of Libby's preoccupation with damaging Joseph Wilson's reputation. And, as Jason Leopold reported in his February 24, 2006 article in TruthOut, the recently "discovered" 250 e-mails from VP Dick Cheneys office, "are said to be explosive." These e-mails will support Martin's testimony.


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