Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Libby Trial: Scooter Speaks, Part II

From my "Capital Games" column at www.thenation.com....

As jurors in the trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby spent Tuesday listening to audiotapes of Libby's two appearances in 2004 before the grand jury investigating the CIA leak, a possible killer moment occurred. It came when Libby, describing a conversation he had with reporter Matt Cooper, then of Time, on July 12, 2003 (two days before Valerie Wilson was outed as a CIA officer in a Robert Novak column), told the grand jury:

And I said [to Cooper], reporters are telling us that [former Ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife works at the CIA], I don't know if it's true. I was careful about that because among other things, I wanted to be clear I didn't know Mr. Wilson. I don't know ‚ I think I said, I don't know if he has a wife, but this is what we're hearing.

I don't know if he has a wife--that's what the man said under oath.

By the time the jurors heard this part of the tape, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald had presented as witnesses five past or present Bush administration officials and one journalist who each testified that he or she discussed Wilson's wife with Libby prior to Libby's phone call with Cooper. An additional witness--Vice President Dick Cheney's current chief of staff, David Addington--testified that Libby had asked him about the paperwork the CIA would keep if an officer had sent a spouse on a trip. And a Libby note from early June 2003, introduced as evidence by both the prosecution and the defense, indicates that Cheney told Libby, his chief of staff at the time, that Wilson's wife was employed at the CIA's Counterproliferation Division, a unit in the agency's clandestine operations directorate.

Yet now jurors could hear Libby claiming to the grand jury that at the time of the Libby-Cooper phone call--six days after Joseph Wilson had published an op-ed saying he had inside information showing the White House and Cheney's office had twisted the prewar intelligence--he (Libby) had no idea that Wilson was married, let alone that he knew the missus was a CIA employee.

Could Libby really have been telling the truth?

By playing the audiotapes, Fitzgerald placed the jurors in the position he was in when he grilled Libby before the grand jury. At that point, he already had testimony from witnesses who maintained they had told Libby or heard from him about Wilson's wife prior to the leak. Yet when Libby appeared before the grand jury, he told a convoluted tale. In essence, he claimed that he had been struck by amnesia--a rather selective case of amnesia.

Before the grand jury, Libby conceded that sometime before June 12, 2003, Cheney told him that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA. (This happened during a period when Libby and Cheney were concerned about a Washington Post reporter who was looking into a story about an unnamed former envoy who had gone to Niger for the CIA and returned with information that the ex-envoy believed disproved part of the administration's case for war.) But Libby claimed that he had totally--and he meant totally--forgotten all about the wife when on July 10 or 11, 2003, Meet the Press host Tim Russert told him that "all the reporters" knew that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA. Before the grand jury, Libby repeatedly said he was "surprised" by the information he received from Russert. He said he felt he was learning it "anew" and was "taken aback." He was not unsure on this point: "I have a specific recollection I was surprised."

Libby was saying not that the Russert conversation had reminded him of what he had known only weeks earlier, but that he had so entirely forgotten what his boss had told him about Valerie Wilson that this was a complete news flash to him. Libby then insisted that he only passed the gossip he had received from Russert to other reporters (such as Cooper), telling them that he (Libby) knew nothing certain about Wilson's wife. Not that Wilson even had a wife.

It was some tale. This is how Libby described his phone call with Russert to the grand jurors:

And then [Russert] said, you know, did you know that this--excuse me, did you know that Ambassador Wilson's wife works at the CIA? And I was a little taken aback by that. I remember being taken aback by it. And I said--he may have said a little more but that was--he said that. And I said, no, I don't know that. And I said, no, I don't know that intentionally because I didn't want him to take anything I was saying as in any way confirming what he said, because at that point in time I did not recall that I had ever known, and I thought this is something that he was telling me that I was first learning. And so I said, no, I don't know that because I want to be very careful not to confirm it for him, so that he didn't take my statement as confirmation for him.

Russert has denied telling Libby any such thing and has said that he knew nothing about Wilson's wife at the time of his conversation with Libby. And during Libby's grand jury appearances, Fitzgerald repeatedly asked Libby if Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman, senior CIA official Robert Grenier, and Cheney aide Cathie Martin had told him, prior to this conversation with Russert, that Wilson's wife was employed at the CIA. Libby said he did not recall any of these discussions. Fitzgerald asked him if he had discussed Wilson's wife and her CIA tie with White House press secretary Ari Fleischer days before the Russert call. Again, Libby said he could not remember doing so. The trial jurors listened to all this, knowing that each of these people had testified at the trial that they did talk to Libby about Wilson's wife before he supposedly learned it "anew." (During his second grand jury appearance, Libby asked to clarify his previous testimony and said that he now recalled having spoken to Grossman about Wilson as "a joke" and that he had ribbed Grossman because an ex-ambassador was leaking information harmful to the administration. He still claimed he had no recollection of Grossman telling him anything about Wilson's wife. A cynical interpretation would be that Libby--or his lawyer--decided it was better to have a difference with Grossman about what was said than a contradiction over whether they had ever talked about the Wilson mission.)

In his grand jury testimony, there were other hard-to-swallow parts. Libby acknowledged that after Wilson's op-ed came out, he discussed the Wilson controversy with Cheney, who was "upset" by the article. But Libby claimed that he and Cheney (who had written a note about Wilson's wife on his copy of the op-ed) had not talked about Wilson's wife until weeks later. In other words, right after the op-ed was published, Cheney and Libby had talked about various aspects of the Wilson case except Wilson's wife.

Libby's grand jury testimony yielded some interesting tidbits. Fitzgerald asked him about phone records indicating that Novak had called him days before he published his column outing Valerie Wilson. Yet Libby said he had no memory of speaking to Novak at that time. What happened? The jury--and the public--may never find out. But the jury did learn who was one of Cheney's favorite reporters: Judith Miller, formerly of The New York Times. Explaining why he chose to pass information from the top-secret National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq's WMD to Miller, Libby told the grand jury that he considered Miller (whose prewar reporting on Iraq WMDs was exaggerated) "a serious reporter who cares about the substance of the issues." And Libby testified that before he leaked the NIE excerpts to Miller on July 8, 2003, he told Cheney that he had picked Miller to be the recipient of this leak. Presumably, Cheney considered her a suitable conduit, for he did not stop his aide. (Cheney had arranged for President Bush to declassify parts of the NIE so Libby could selectively leak it to a reporter as part of the administration's effort to beat back the mounting criticism that the White House had hyped the prewar case for war.)

Before the tapes were played, there was a legal tussle in the court concerning the defense team's desire to call New York Times reporter David Sanger as a witness. Libby met with Sanger on July 2, 2003, and apparently Libby said nothing to Sanger about Wilson's wife. The defense wants to point to this conversation to show that Libby was not actively spreading information about Wilson's wife. A Times lawyer argued that if Sanger were forced to testify, his ability to deal with confidential sources would be hampered. Judge Reggie Walton shot down Sanger's argument and said the reporter would have to appear as a witness for the defense. (Will Sanger, like Miller did, defy a court order and face prison time?) As the defense and the Times tangled, Fitzgerald noted that during his July 2 conversation with Sanger, Libby shared information about the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction that was still classified. The implication: Libby was leaking before Cheney gave him permission to do so.

On Wednesday, the jury is scheduled to hear the final two and a half hours of Libby's grand jury testimony. So far the tapes are not favorable for Libby. His story before the grand jury was neither clean nor clear. And on the audiotape, when he made a remark that would later be contradicted by trial witnesses he often paused or dropped the volume of his voice. Are the jurors picking up on that? There's no telling. But his grand jury testimony--which got Libby into his current jam--is not a strong advertisement for the former vice presidential chief of staff. Libby's defense team has filed a motion suggesting Libby may not testify in his own defense. But after hearing Libby present confusing (if not untenable) explanations of his actions to the grand jury, the trial jurors may well want (and expect) to hear Libby clear things up on the witness stand. That is, if he can.

Posted by David Corn at February 6, 2007 10:55 PM


capt said...

Molly Ivins: America's Jericho Voice

Up to the walls of Jericho

She marched with a spear in

her hand

Go blow them ram horns she cried

For the battle is in my hand

The walls have not come down,

but they have been given a

serious shaking.

That Jericho voice is stilled now.

Molly Ivins has been quieted.

The writer and journalist, dearly loved and admired by many, hated and feared by many, died of cancer in her Texas home on Jan. 31.

The walls of ignorance and prejudice and cruelty, which she railed against valiantly all her public life, have not fallen, but their truculence to do so does not speak against her determination to make them collapse.

Weeks before she died, she launched what she called ''an old-fashioned newspaper crusade'' against President Bush's announcement that he was going to send more troops to Iraq.

She wrote, 'We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. Every single day every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. We need people in the streets banging pots and pans and demanding, `Stop it now!' ''

Years ago there was a fundraising gala for People for the American Way in New York, and Molly Ivins was keynote speaker. I was a loyal collector and serious Ivins reader, but I had not met the author. Another famous journalist, who was to have introduced her, had his flight canceled in a Southern city. Norman Lear, founder of the organization, asked me to introduce her. I did not hesitate. I spoke glowingly about Ms. Ivins for a few minutes, then, suddenly, a six-foot-tall, red-haired woman sprang from the wings. She strode onto the stage and over to the microphone. She gave me an enveloping hug and said, in that languorous Texas accent, ``Maya Angelou and I are identical twins, we were separated at birth.''

I am also six feet tall, but I am not white. She was under 50 when she made the statement, and I was in my middle 60s, but our hearts did beat in the same rhythm. Whoever separated us at birth must know it did not work. We were in the struggle for equal rights for all people since we met on that Waldorf Astoria stage. We laughed together without apology, and we wept when weeping was necessary.

I shall be weeping a little more these days, but I shall never forget the charge. Joshua commanded the people to shout, and the walls came tumbling down.


I am shouting,

With two voices,

Walls come down!

Walls come down!

Walls come down!


Hajji said...


Two VERY powerful voices.


O'Reilly said...

This One’s for You, Joe

It’s not double jeopardy exactly, but still, I’d prefer not to kill the same man twice.

And I wanted to follow William Safire’s advice on writing about gaffes and graft: Only kick people when they’re up, not when they’re down.

So I decided to do something completely radical and not pile on.

Having played a role in derailing Joe Biden’s ’88 presidential bid with stories on his overreliance on the speeches of Neil Kinnock and Bobby Kennedy, I feel compelled, now that the guy has slipped on another presidential banana peel 20 years later, to lend him a hand.

I wanted to give him a chance to wipe the slate clean and articulate his positions — without dredging up any painful memories of the words “clean” and “articulate.”

The senator called me between New York fund-raisers last night. After his rough week, he sounded a bit chastened, not at all in the mood for a columnist’s probing questions. He needn’t have feared.

“So,” I asked him sweetly, “why has everyone been so mean to you?”

“Well,” he demurred, “they haven’t been mean. The truth is, a lot of people in the African-American community were hurt by what I said. I really feel lousy about it. I got involved in politics because of civil rights.” (He said a lot more, but hey, it’s a 750-word column.) I had another penetrating question ready: “Is Delaware big enough to launch a president?” “I think it is,” he replied.

I had a tough follow-up: “Will your first act as president be to get rid of those tollbooths on I-95?” He laughed. “I get asked that a lot by people. I can’t help ’em — they’re on their own.”

That’s the straight talk I like to see. No pandering, like Hillary’s telling Iowans she likes ethanol, and John McCain’s telling Christian conservatives he likes Christian conservatives.

“People don’t seem to appreciate your verbal generosity,” I said. “Are you studying Bogie and Steve McQueen movies to become less wordy, or do you just hope people will come to see it as part of your charm?” “We’re in a political culture where everything is reduced to bumper stickers and sound bites, and it’s a lot more complicated than that,” he said. “I’m fairly candid, and sometimes I’ll cause controversy and sometimes I won’t. It’s who I am. I’m not going to change who I am.”

That’s my man. He stares controversy in the eye and chats with it.

“In one sentence, with no more than two dependent clauses,” I instruct, “tell me why you would make a great president.”

“I really believe the American people get the fact that with the next president, there’s no margin for error. He’s going to inherit a world and a nation where this guy is going to leave him in a real deep hole. The next president has to get us out of Iraq without ruining the Middle East, so Americans should be looking for the person with the most experience.”

O.K., that’s three sentences, but who’s counting?

“You’ve been a truth-teller on Iraq for years, so tell the truth,” I said. “Are we cooked?” Citing the soft-partition plan he co-wrote, he noted: “Any country that comes into being as a consequence of the pen of a diplomat has never been able to be stable except by (a) an imperial power dominating it, (b) a dictator or strongman, or (c) a federal system.”

Aren’t Americans going to be angry at a Senate that’s bending itself into a procedural pretzel, rather than seriously tackling the future of Iraq?

“They are going to be angry,” he agreed. “Republicans are trying to avoid embarrassing the president. If you took a secret ballot, I’d be dumfounded if 20 senators thought sending 21,500 troops made any sense.” He said John McCain wouldn’t think it made sense either “because he has called for sending many more.”

Do you agree that Dick Cheney is barking mad?

“Cheney is a very smart guy who’s kicking the can down the road here,” he replied. “He’s concluded that this administration’s policy can’t succeed in Iraq and he’s handing it off to the next guy.”

Things were getting way too serious. “What’s your ideal day?”

“It would be corny,” he said. “Just taking off to the beach with Jill.”

Trying to boost his dented confidence, I said I was sure he looked better in the Delaware waves than Barack Obama in the Hawaiian surf. The 64-year-old laughed, saying, “Like the Paul McCartney song, ‘When I’m 64.’ I don’t look as good as I once did, but Jill does.”

“Who would make the best president?” I coaxed.

“Me,” he crowed.

I think his confidence is coming back. Excellent.

Saladin said...

So, after all this fitzy might be able to prove libby is a liar? I wonder how much money this is going to cost? In the mean time bushco and his congressional enablers are preparing to invade and "throw against a wall" yet another innocent country that has done nothing to us, destroying hundreds of thousands of lives, slaughtering more of our dwindling troops and spreading DU poison disguised as democracy to the evil Iran, but the people want to know if libby lied? We are in a hell bound handbasket. Gerald, you are so right, this country is doomed, and it deserves it.

kathleen said...

I have always thought Fitzgerald was going for their throats.

This is one of the opinions of a blogger at FIREDOGLAKE about the Libby trial.

A few days ago one of the attorneys blogging at the site had the same opinion. If this is so OH FUCKING HAPPY DAY.

Fitzgerald " truth is the engine of our Judicial system" I think Fitzgerald actually believes this, and I certainly want to.

Closing down our best source of covert intelligence on WMD in the Middle East by making its covert status public - during a time of war - is akin to revealing troop movements and positions to the enemy - during a time of war.

It’s TREASON on it’s face.

Doing so for POLITICAL reasons is IMPEACHABLE.

BUSH, CHENEY, ROVE & LIBBY all knew that Plame was a covert agent - and a key enemy if their lies were to succeed. Everyone in the WHIG knew. They all conspired to prevent the truth about WMD from being made public

When referring to Wilson, each of them at one time or another referred to him as “a Democrat.”



Saladin said...

Computer Tips and Privacy

Helpful hints from Lew Rockwell

Saladin said...

Brzezinski Suggests False Flag Event Could Kick-Start Iran War
Top globalist warns Congress of provocation or terrorist attack inside U.S.

Paul Joseph Watson
Prison Planet
Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Former National Security Advisor and founding member of the Trilateral Commission Zbigniew Brzezinski tacitly warned a Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week that an attack on Iran could be launched following a staged provocation in Iraq or a false flag terror attack within the U.S.

Brzezinski alluded to the potential for the Bush administration to manufacture a false flag Gulf of Tonkin type incident in describing a "plausible scenario for a military collision with Iran," which would revolve around "some provocation in Iraq or a terrorist act in the US blamed on Iran, culminating in a ‘defensive’ US military action against Iran that plunges a lonely America into a spreading and deepening quagmire eventually ranging across Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

Brzezinski was careful to highlight the word "defensive" as if to discount its credibility, suggesting that the Bush White House itself would be behind the attack or provocation and subsequently use it as a pretext for war.

"That a man such as Brzezinski, with decades of experience in the top echelons of the US foreign policy establishment, a man who has the closest links to the military and to intelligence agencies, should issue such a warning at an open hearing of the US Senate has immense and grave significance," argues WSWS.org.

After Senators asked Brzezinski for clarification of exactly what he meant, the Polish-American political scientist referenced the infamous White House memo in which Bush and Blair discussed staging a provocation for an invasion of Iraq following the absence of weapons of mass destruction. Brzezinski cited how Bush "described the several ways in which this could be done," but refused to elaborate, stating only, "the ways were quite sensational, at least one of them."

Brzezinski is of course referring to the plan to fly a U2 spy plane painted with UN colors over Iraq and goading Saddam to order the aircraft shot down, resulting in widespread international support for the war. Bush and Blair openly discussed the possibility of staging this provocation along with others during their January 31 2003 meeting.

"If one is of the view that one is dealing with an implacable enemy that has to be removed, that course of action may under certain circumstances be appealing. I’m afraid that if this situation in Iraq continues to deteriorate, and if Iran is perceived as in some fashion involved or responsible, or a potential beneficiary, that temptation could arise," said Brzezinski.
But 9/11 wasn't like that, we SWEAR!!

Saladin said...

Article continues:

After his testimony, journalist Barry Grey tried to pin down Brzezinski and get specifics on the warning, asking, "Are you suggesting there is a possibility it could originate within the US government itself?"

"I’m saying the whole situation can get out of hand and all sorts of calculations can produce a circumstance that would be very difficult to trace," responded Brzezinski.

Should an attack occur within the U.S. as Brzezinski forecasted could happen, Dick Cheney's USSTRATCOM contingency plan calls for attacking Iran in the immediate aftermath of a 'second 9/11' - no matter who is behind it - which of course is going to be the cabal Dick Cheney fronts for itself and the same pack of murderers that are actively seeking to initiate global ethic cleansing and genocide to bring about world war three.

During his testimony, Brzezinski lamented that the invasion of Iraq represented "a historic, strategic and moral calamity."

Brzezinski's words and his desire to see the exercse of a "moral" foreign policy ring hollow, especially when it is understood that it was the former National Security Advisor to Carter himself who was responsible for drawing up the plan to arm and train the Islamic fundamentalist mujahideen at the end of the 70's and groom Osama bin Laden as a client of the U.S.

In addition, in his 1997 book The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geo-strategic Imperatives, Brzezinski calls for the U.S. to install itself as the world's only superpower by taking over the Middle East and using it as a lever to control what he terms the Eurasian Balkans.

Similar to the PNAC yearning for a "new Pearl Harbor," Brzezinski concludes that the realization of such an agenda will only be accomplished with the aid of "a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat," which was helpfully provided by the events of 9/11.

So for Brzezinski to win plaudits for being critical of what's happening in Iraq is not only the height of hypocrisy, it's a myopic leap of logic that omits the past history of Brzezinski's rampant warmongering.

Whatever the reason for Brzezinski's apparent sudden change of heart, be it a pang or consciousness of simple political maneuvering, judging from his previous writings one feels it's more appropriate to take his reference to a false flag attack as a threat rather than a warning.
That anyone could still give that bullshit govt. 9/11 story any credibility today is just mind boggling, and testimony to the human capability for denial. No wonder we are on this sinking ship.

capt said...

New thread