Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Libby Trial, Day Two

From my "Capital Games" column at

The second day of the trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was again devoted to selecting a jury. The task at hand remains finding eighteen Washington residents (twelve jurors and six alternates) who hold no harsh opinions about the credibility of the Bush administration--particularly that of Vice President Dick Cheney, who has been named by the defense as a possible witness for his former chief of staff. The quickest way off this jury has been to admit one possesses strong doubts about Bush crowd's honesty in selling the case for war in Iraq. Juror No. 1298 said that she liked "to think" she could be "mature enough" to allow her respect for the presumption of innocence to trump her concerns about the Bush administration. But when federal district court Judge Reggie Walton asked if a witness from the Bush administration would have a "strike against them," she replied, "Probably." He responded, "We appreciate you being here." In other words, you can go now. Juror No. 1980 bluntly said, "I cannot believe any statement from the Bush administration." She was told her services would no longer be needed.

Of the first 24 potential jurors questioned by the judge, the prosecutors and the defense attorneys, eight were dismissed. (Some had reasons for being let go besides being administration critics.) A few who mildly expressed questions about the Bush administration--but who claimed they could still fairly evaluate the testimony of Cheney or any other Bush administration witness--were allowed to proceed to the second round. Yet Libby's attorneys will later be able to remove them from the juror with preemptory challenges.

It could well be that the jury ends up with no members who suspect that the Bush White House deliberately misrepresented the case for war. Can someone who holds such a view not fairly assess the testimony and evidence in the case of a senior Bush administration official charged with lying to the FBI and a grand jury? What if a potential juror enters the courtroom with the firm belief that Cheney and other Bush aides are believable? Would that not be a bias that would create a disadvantage for the prosecution?
One potential juror who handles information technology business development at Lockheed Martin noted that she respects the commander in chief and Bush's "reasons for going to Iraq." She explained that citizens outside the government are not privy to enough information to second-guess such presidential decision-making. Is that not a prejudice (perhaps an unhealthy one) in favor of Bush administration officials? She also said that she is currently chasing a billion dollars in federal contracts for Lockheed Martin. Might she have an interest in pleasing administration officials? She was not kicked out of the potential juror pool; special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald ought to take a closer look at her in the next round.

Lawyers and philosophers can debate what comprises bias and how to vet assumptions held by potential jurors. But it's certainly a gain for Libby that Washingtonians who believe the Bush administration misled the nation into war are not permitted to judge his actions.

And then there's Juror No. 0677. She is a television producer. She claimed she had paid attention to the case in a "circumfery" manner, and she has booked some of the journalists involved in the case. She was questioned about her ties to these reporters and whether she could evaluate their testimony without favor. She said yes. As for Cheney, she said, "I don't have any objective feelings about whether he would be more or less credible in this case."

She also mentioned that she was once an intern at the National Journalism Center and then an intern at The Washington Times, the conservative newspaper owned by Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church. There were no queries from the judge and lawyers about these connections. Yet might she be a conservative harboring pro-administration inclinations? Though the National Journalism Center has a bland name, it is a rightwing outfit that trains young conservative journalists and finds them jobs. Not all of its graduates are ideologically minded. But the group was launched in part by the American Conservative Union. It has received funding from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and the John M. Olin Foundation, leading conservative foundations. (The John M. Olin Foundation funded itself out of business in 2005.) Several years ago, the National Journalism Center was taken over by another conservative group, the Young America's Foundation.

Jurors ought not be blackballed for their political views. But if a National Journalism Center graduate makes it on to the jury, the Libby legal team would have reason to be pleased. Fitzgerald might want to ask her a few more questions.

Posted by David Corn at January 17, 2007 06:42 PM


David B. Benson said...

First comment?

David Corn, thanks, but somehow I can't get very excited about this particular jury selection. Maybe its 'cause I'm a long way outside the beltway. Maybe because it is cold and foggy today?

Gerald said...

I cannot find myself being excited about the Libby trial. Now, if scumbag Bush was on trial, that would perk up my interest. Rove and Cheney would also gain some excitement. Libby will walk!

Hajji said...


If Cheney testifies, under oath, I'm thinkin' maybe having somebody like Saladin joining the prosecution team might be a great idea.

Of course, Cheney taking an oath to tell the truth would be akin to a Pig promising to sprout wings and circumnavigate Rove's ego. ...Never done it, never WILL do it and any attempts to change the fact of the matter will only end in a greasy mess...

I miss you all.


capt said...


We all miss you too!


Anonymous said...

David Corn sez: Of the first 24 potential witnesses questioned by the judge, the prosecutors and the defense attorneys, eight were dismissed.

Witnesses? Hello!

Someone who has regular contact with DC should tell him to correct this.

Saladin said...

I can't feel much enthusiasm for this trial either, but Hajji, how I wish! Thanks for the thought, it made me laugh. What I AM concerned about is the non-news regarding the grass roots burial. Why is the media staying mum on this? There is something REALLY rotten going on here but it is way below the radar. I don't like it, not one bit.

Saladin said...

Bush Seizes Control Over State Militias

A little-noticed change in federal law packs an important change in who is in charge the next time a state is devastated by a disaster such as Hurricane Katrina.
To the dismay of the nation’s governors, the White House now will be empowered to go over a governor’s head and call up National Guard troops to aid a state in time of natural disasters or other public emergencies. Up to now, governors were the sole commanders in chief of citizen soldiers in local Guard units during emergencies within the state.

Over objections from all 50 governors, Congress in October changed the 200-year-old Insurrection Act to empower the hand of the president in future stateside emergencies. In a letter to Congress, the governors called the change "a dramatic expansion of federal authority during natural disasters that could cause confusion in the command-and-control of the National Guard and interfere with states' ability to respond to natural disasters within their borders."
federal govt. to America, "fuck off and die!"

Saladin said...

A wonderful letter to WRH

READER: Hi Mike,
I just read your Letters page, and saw the email from the reader in Iran, who stated:

"...but it is clear as day that America intends to attack Iran and destroy this beautiful country and people. But judging by the stupidly of the American people as shown in the goggle video yesterday on your website, no one will object I am sure."

It is horrifying to know what the Iranian people -- and many others in the world -- think of the American people because of what this administration has done, what it continues to do now... and yes, unfortunately, what it will continue to do in the future.

Many of us here in America DO object. Many of us actually know the difference between a nuclear power station and a nuclear bomb, even though the media here doesn't seem to.

What many in the rest of the world do not seem to realize is that the American people are ALREADY being attacked. We are living with the constant threat of another 9/11 -- and we know exactly where that threat comes from. We are being used as pieces of meat to feed into a war machine. American lives do not matter to this administration any more than Iraqi lives, or Iranian lives. Our economy is going down the toilet, along with all of our so-called freedoms. If we go out to protest, we are arrested or beaten or faced with nifty new "non-lethal" weapons -- and Iranians will never see these protests. Heck, most Americans don't get to see the protests, because the MSM doesn't show them.

The Federal government of this country has already issued war on the American people. Many of us DO object to what they are doing -- not only to the rest of the world, but to our own country, as well.

The "war on terror" has been a war waged by the administration against the American people. The MSM is there to make sure that anyone who objects will feel very much alone. The media talks about a "nuclear Iran" as though they have no clue about nuclear power... I honestly don't know any more if they are purely administration shills, or just completely stupid. Probably a little of both.

In order to attack your country, they will more than likely have to attack our country first. The American people face the same threat that you do, and share a common enemy.

And we do, indeed, object!!!

Keep up the great work, Mike... thanks for EVERYTHING that you do. (Btw, I am proud to say that my godson is one of those soldiers in Iraq who signed the Petition!!)

All my best,

capt said...

Folding Under Pressure, Bush Administration Concedes Judicial Role Over NSA Spying Program

ACLU Demands More Information on "Innovative" Orders Issued by Secret Court

WASHINGTON - Just two weeks before the Justice Department is set to defend the program before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and one day before the Attorney General is to testify before Congress, the Bush administration conceded that the judicial branch has a role in overseeing surveillance by the NSA. However, the American Civil Liberties Union expressed skepticism that the changes announced by the administration comply with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the Constitution. "The Justice Department announcement today is a quintessential flip-flop," said Anthony D. Romero, ACLU Executive Director. "The NSA was operating illegally and this eleventh-hour ploy is clearly an effort to avoid judicial and Congressional scrutiny. Despite this adroit back flip, the constitutional problems with the president's actions remain unaddressed.

"On Jan. 31, the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is scheduled to hear the government’s appeal from a ruling declaring the NSA warrantless wiretapping program unconstitutional. The ACLU said that the court should still rule on the case, adding that the Justice Department stated that the president still retains the inherent authority to engage in wiretapping without the oversight of the FISA court. The ACLU also said that, without more information about what the secret FISA court has authorized, there is no way to determine whether the NSA’s current activities are lawful.

The Justice Department refused to confirm whether the orders generally authorize the program as opposed to authorizing surveillance of individual persons based on probable cause. The ACLU said that generalized program warrants are unconstitutional and violate FISA. "The legality of this unprecedented surveillance program should not be decided by a secret court in one-sided proceedings," said Ann Beeson, lead counsel in ACLU v. NSA and Associate Legal Director of the ACLU. "And without a court order that prohibits warrantless wiretapping, Americans can’t be sure that their private calls and e-mails are safe from unchecked government intrusion."

The ACLU said it will send a letter to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court calling on it to release more information on the new orders.

The ACLU is also calling on the Senate Judiciary Committee to demand answers from Attorney General Alberto Gonzales during a hearing scheduled tomorrow."

The Senate Judiciary Committee must demand Attorney General Gonzales answer the many questions that remain," said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "This move is pure smoke and mirrors to avoid the scrutiny of the courts and Congress, and lawmakers should not be fooled. If the White House now recognizes that the FISA court is the right entity to approve wiretapping, why did the president continue to violate the law for years?"

The Justice Department’s letter to Congress on the NSA warrantless wiretapping program is up at:

To read more about the ACLU’s concerns with the NSA warrantless wiretapping program, go to


*****end of clip*****

Seems like a tacit admission the wiretapping was and will always be illegal. I still think the FISA courts operate without constitutional authority. To make a FISA court legal there should be an amendment to the constitution or the fourth amendment stands with the "probable cause" standard.


kathleen said...

DAvid thanks for the thorough update, you bring up great points. Although the way you describe the process it sounds as if it is a done deal for the Libby team! As my grandfather used to say "oy vey"!

How in the hell could the majority of Americans not admit that the Bush administration has "a strike against" them. That is unless the only news you listen or watch is Limbaugh and Fox. They must be trying to select from the 30% of Americans who are still with the Bush administration.

The question should be can you allow new facts into your equation? I would be afraid that new facts would actually form a "shadow of doubt" in my mind about Libby's guilt. Although it reads from so many, many sources that Fitzgerald has a solid case.

What ever happenned to the investigation that was to measure the harm done to U.S. National Secruity by Plame's cover being blown?

The Libby Defense Fund has raised 3 million bucks...(could they qualify as a terroist organization?) You know donating to an organization that supports an individual or individuals who have committed serious harm to U.S. National Security!

capt said...

New Thread!