Water Man Spouts

Monday, May 15, 2006

Of Reason & Knowledge

Kahlil Gibran wrote that, "Reason is a prudent minister, a loyal guide, and a wise counsellor. Reason is light in darkness, as anger is darkness amidst light. Be wise -- let Reason, not Impulse, be your guide." I found Gibran's recommendation to be of value as I read a number of the discussions on two of my favorite political forums this weekend. On both the Democratic Underground and Daily Kos, there were fascinating debates about two Plame scandal issues: the case of Karl Rove, and the release of VP Dick Cheney's copy of Joseph Wilson's New York Times op-ed.
While much of the discussion overlapped on both forums, for the sake of this essay, I will look at the DU threads concerning a possible Rove indictment, and a particularly well thought out diary on Daily Kos by "emptywheel" regarding "Fitzgerald Collecting Cheney's Smoking Guns." Let's start with the Rove controversy.
At the end of last week, there was great anticipation that the grand jury might indict Karl Rove. This included advertisements on MSNBC, promising Friday night coverage on two of their top news shows. I had certainly looked forward to seeing David Shuster's take on the status of Mr. Rove, as well as his thoughts on the most recent filings in the Libby pre-trial hearings. But there was no mention of the Plame scandal to speak of.
The void was filled, however, with a few threads speculating on what may have happened, and then links to a Truthout report by Jason Leopold, that stated Rove had told White House officials that he anticipated being indicted. This was followed by a series of threads which expressed, often heatedly, both support of Leopold, and distain for him. And then a couple of threads linked a report that Rove had indeed been indicted, and some debates about the accuracy of Leopold's claim.
There were two threads that included statements by Larry Johnson, which supported the stance taken by Truthout. By late Sunday, however, there were other threads in which the discussion had degenerated from a sober debate to drunken nonsense. A few people e-mailed me to ask my opinion on some of the issues, or to request that I add my two cents to the quarrels. I'll say that an important point was made last October 26 on Hardball, when Chris Matthews was speaking with Time's reporter Mike Allen:
MA: Well, Chris, there's a lot of dead horses being beaten here. But there is a lot of activity happening that we're not seeing. What a likely scenario for what happened today is Patrick Fitzgerald got some indictments from this grand jury. He is now able to go ....
CM: Oh, you think they're sealed right now?
MA: It's very possible. What I'm told is typically in a case like this, he could get the indictments and now he can go to the targets and say, you can plead to these or I'll go back Friday and get more. You have 12-to-24 hours to think about it.
CM: I think you get a little Whitman's sampler of suggestions like you can plead to the process charge of obstruction or perjury. Or --
MA: Or I can add a bunch of counts. You can take a couple of counts, we can do a bunch more.
I am not saying this exchange from almost six months ago is an exact fit for the past week. But it is worthy of our consideration. It also, by no small coincidence, introduces us again to the idea that the on-going investigation focuses on two areas of interest. The first is "procedural" and includes issues such as a person attempting to interfere with an investigation, lying to FBI investigators, or lying to a grand jury. These are the things types of things that I. Lewis Libby has been charged with, and which it appears that Mr. Rove will likely be charged with this week.
The second area is "substantive" issues that can include outing a CIA agent, or disseminating classified information. What is interesting in the Libby case is that there are a number of instances where Scooter's attorneys seem focused upon defending against the substantive issues, even though he has not been charged with them. This has resulted in curious happenings in the pre-trial hearings, and the documents being filed by both the prosecutor and Team Libby.
In "Fitzgerald Collecting Cheney's Smoking Guns," emptywheel notes how the hearings and documents are producing a public awareness of the hands-on role that VP Dick Cheney played in the Plame scandal. Mr. Fitzgerald included, most interestingly, a copy of Wilson's July, '03 New York Times op-ed, with a series of questions Cheney wrote in the margins, along with several sections the vice president underlined.
At least one person stated that Cheney's notes were not necessarily of great significance, because there was no evidence if Cheney had spoken to others before he made them. Actually, in his 5-12 Response to the Court's questions on this, Fitzgerald noted, "The annotated version of the article reflects the contemporaneous reaction of the Vice President to Mr. Wilson's Op Ed article..." The diary made it clear that "emptywheel" was fully aware of Mr. Fitzgerald's discription of the significance of the Cheney notes, even if others are not.
After reading this, I went back to review two quotes from the October 28, 2005 Libby indictment that I think are important to keep in mind when looking at VP Cheney's notes on the Wilson op-ed:
"5. On or about June 9, 2003, a number of classified documents from the CIA were faxed to the Office of the Vice President to the personal attention of LIBBY and another person in the Office of the Vice President. The faxed documents, which were marked as classified, discussed, among other things, Wilson and his trip to Niger, but did not mention Wilson by name. After receiving these documents, LIBBY and one or more other persons in the Office of the Vice President handwrote the names 'Wilson' and 'Joe Wilson' on the documents." (page 4) ....
"9. On or about June 12, 2003, LIBBY was advised by the Vice President of the United States that Wilson's wife worked at the Central Intelligence Agency in the Counterproliferation Division. LIBBY understood that the Vice President had learned this information from the CIA." (page 5)
Now that brings us back to the October 26, 2005 Hardball. Republican attorney Brad Blakeman was telling Chris Matthews that the White House was simply upset by Joseph Wilson's attack on the president, and the role his wife played in sending him on the Niger trip.
BB: ....I think you have to look at the timeline and look at people's intent, because a crime requires the act of the crime. And also your mental state. You know, the Wilson op-ed comes out in 2003. July 6. And then a week later, the Novak article comes out. Sothere's hardly time for a cabal within the White House. ...
CM: Unless they knew about it before.
Clearly, the information that has come out in the Libby indictment and in the pre-trial hearings and documents shows that Mr. Fitzgerald has documented "they knew about it before." More, that the vice president played a significant role in the planning of the attacks on Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame.
And Reason would tell us that is substantive, indeed.


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