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10/29/2005

Perjury by Scooter Libby?: Fitzgerald has at least some charges that don't make any sense

I haven't gone through the entire Libby Indictment carefully, but I do have a quick reaction. There are a few real gems in this indictment. The most amazing "crime" that Libby is accused of involves the false statements to the FBI and the grand jury about his conversations with Tim Russert of NBC News (pp. 9, 10, 12, and 16). Bottom line:

1) Libby says that he spoke to Russert about whether Wilson's wife worked at the CIA. Libby claims that Russert asked him if he knew that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA and Libby said that he was surprised to learn that fact.

2) Russert says that he did not talk to Libby at all about Wilson's wife.

3) The prosecutor claims that Libby should have known about this fact earlier.

Here is the obvious question: What could be the possible reason for Libby to lie about having this conversation with Russert? What could Libby gain from saying this? I can't think of any. Why be so specific when you know that the prosecutor will call in Russert and ask him what was discussed?

As to Judith Miller, Libby said that he did not discuss Wilson's wife with Miller. While it is not clear from the indictment, my general understanding is that Miller herself told the grandjury that she is not sure where she got the information, but that the prosecutor is basing this charge on a written note that Miller made.

OK, so Libby says that he talked to one reporter that the prosecutor says that he didn't talk to about Wilson's wife and Libby says that he did not talk to a reporter whom the prosecutor says that he did. If Libby had merely changed who he said he had and hadn't talked to, he wouldn't be charged with perjury and as far as I can tell nothing substantive would have been changed. He is not denying that he never talked to reporters about this only who.

What is the point of all this? Of course, with all the reporters that Libby must talk to over a couple of years and all the people that the VP's chief of staff must deal with, it is not surprising that he could get these things mixed up.

Besides which reporters he talked to, there is the question of whether the reporters told him this fact or he told them. I assume that for this to be believable the prosector must have some story for why Libby would want to lie about this if only to make it believable that he lied (as opposed to making a mistake). He has notes that were turned over to the prosector that says he talked to Cheney about this. I don't see what he could thing that he could gain from lying.

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