Water Man Spouts

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Battlefield

"As late as December 5, 2003, ‘a senior White House official’ was quoted in the Financial Times gloating, ‘We have rolled the earthmovers in over this one’." – The Politics of Truth; Joseph Wilson; page 360.

"Truth crushed to earth will rise again." – The Battlefield; William Cullen Bryant

As we enter another week in the trial of I. Liar Libby, it seems fair to say that there are two very different points of view regarding the Plame scandal. The first is that of the rabid right wing which, like the "anonymous" White House senior official that we can safely code name "Karl," endorses the concept of a cover-up as being good for the country. The other side is invested in a search for the truth. And, like Martin Luther King, Jr., they have faith that Bryant was correct when he said that truth crushed to earth will rise again.

The "cover-up" side has generally buried its collective head in the sand. The attempt to spin the case by using talking points that are fully discredited. They claim Valerie Plame was not covert, despite the fact that "special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald found that Plame had indeed done ‘covert work overseas’ on counterproliferation matters in the past five years, and the CIA ‘was making specific efforts to conceal’ her identity, according to newly released portions of a judge’s opinion." (Newsweek; The CIA Leak: Plame Was Still Covert; Michael Isikoff; 2-13-06)

They also cling to the notion that the only leak that Mr. Fitzgerald was supposed to investigate involved Robert Novak. They ignore what Deputy Attorney General James Comey told the press on 12-30-03: "Patrick J. Fitzgerald will serve as special counsel in charge of this matter. I chose Mr. Fitzgerald, my friend and former colleague, based on his sterling reputation for integrity and impartiality. He is an absolutely apolitical career prosecutor. He is a man with extensive experience in national security and intelligence matters, extensive experience conducting sensitive investigations, and in particular, experience in conducting investigations of alleged government misconduct.

"I have today delegated to Mr. Fitzgerald all the approval authorities that will be necessary to ensure that he has the tools to conduct a completely independent investigation; that is, that he has the power and authority to make whatever prosecution judgements he believes are appropriate …."

Unable to accept that an honest prosecutor will not participate in the cover-up, Mona Charen writes, "The man on trial did not do the leaking. …. Accordingly, there was no crime. And yet, a prosecutor presents evidence, a jury lobs questions, and ‘Scooter’ Libby may go to jail for 30 years. This charade competes with the Duke ‘rape’ case for prosecutorial misconduct, brazen defiance of common sense, and unbelievable jeopardy to the innocent. …. Where, I wonder. Are all the folks who worry about attracting good people to government service? Libby gave up a lucrative private practice to serve his country and now may lose everything including his liberty for the trouble. This trial is a farce and an outrage." (National Review; A Farce and an Outrage; 2-2-07)

And it’s not just Mr. Fitzgerald who is the target for the rabid-rights diseased secretions. Last week, FBI Investigator Deborah Bond testified against Libby. Ms. Bond would seem the type of investigator that "law & order" types would admire and respect. Yet John Podhoretz writes, "It would be impossible in fewer than a thousand words to explain how Libby’s lawyers made FBI interviewer Deborah Bond look bad, but they did. …. Maybe that’s because the case against Scooter Libby is so astonishingly petty that arguing over it is like arguing over scraps." (New York Post; The Libby Farce; 2-2-07)

At least Podhoretz admits, "Now, Scooter Libby is an old friend of mine, and I think he is a great public servant and a patriot, and I would dearly love to see him acquitted. But I’m entirely agnostic on the specific charges brought by Fitzgerald – I don’t know whether Libby told the truth to the grand jury." Others, like Tucker Carlson, claim to know that Libby is guilty of nothing but politics, while refusing to disclose their personal connections to Libby.

Today’s Editor & Publisher contains quotes from perhaps the sickest of all Libbyites, Ann Coulter. "People who attack conservatives never have to worry about their own dirty laundry coming out. All they have to worry about is whether People magazine will use a good picture of them in its ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ issue. Find out about Patrick Fitzgerald what we’d know if he were Ken Starr. If you won’t defend your own champions, conservatives, then don’t sit back and wonder why so few people want to be your champions." (Ann Coulter: Mad at Conservatives For Not Fighting Back on Libby Case; 2-4-07)

Perhaps Ms. Coulter has not noticed that Mr. Libby is about to become a convicted felon precisely because he did attempt to smear someone who was exposing the lies of his "champion," Dick Cheney. But then again, under the circumstances, her appeal to irrational emotions may be all that she has left.

The Court will decide a couple of important issues this week. The first is whether to allow the media to have copies of the "Scooter grand jury tapes." Mr. Fitzgerald wants to make the tapes, like the other court exhibits, public. The defense attorneys are taking the position that making the tapes public would risk Libby’s getting a fair trial. This seems a curious stance, considering that the jury will hear the tapes. It may be that Judge Walton will keep the actual tapes under wraps, at least until after the jury convicts Libby.

A more significant issue in the context of the trial itself is the debate about Mr. Fitzgerald’s attempt to enter two newspaper articles into evidence. "The day of his interview with the FBI, I. Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby hand-marked copies of two Washington Post articles about the breadth of a criminal-leak investigation, and underlined were two key passages suggesting that any official who had told reporters about a CIA officer could be in legal jeopardy …. The October 2003 articles show Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff at the time, had a motive to lie about his secret conversations with reporters and knew he was in potential trouble." (The Washington Post; Carol Leonnig; Prosecutor: Libby kept articles on leak risks; 2-4-07)

Perhaps these two issues are what has the right-wing cheerleaders like Charen and Coulter so upset. If the trial moves in the direction that Mr. Fitzgerald advocates, the jury – and the American public – will be exposed to explosive evidence of the extent that the Office of the Vice President was willing to go to destroy Joseph and Valerie Wilson. The two underlined articles indicate that Libby was aware the investigation wasn’t focused on the Novak leak alone. And the Libby tapes may take their place along side another infamous set of White House scandal tapes that damaged another republican administration.

The Bush administration, and in particular the OVP, went to great lengths to cover-up their roles in the Plame scandal. They brought in earthmovers. But the FBI investigators and Mr. Fitzgerald’s office have begun to expose the truth, to an extent that threatens more than Scooter Libby. It is beginning to seem less likely that Libby, and especially Cheney, are going to want to be cross-examined by Patrick Fitzgerald on the battlefield.


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