Monday, February 5, 2007

Libby Trial: Scooter Speaks

From my "Capital Games" column at

After two weeks of listening to a series of prosecution witnesses in the trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the jurors finally got to hear the defendant. He didn't take the stand. That may happen later. On Monday, special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald began playing eight hours of audio tapes of Libby's two appearances before the grand jury that investigated the CIA leak case.

The tapes did not contain much information not previously disclosed. Fitzgerald had picked Libby's grand jury testimony clean for his indictment and pretrial submissions. But the airing of the tapes was a visceral moment in a trial that has sometimes bogged down in legal minutia. Jurors could hear Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff utter the words that Fitzgerald has branded lies. They could listen to the pauses, to the moments when Libby's voice became quiet, to the hesitation that occurred during some of his answers--were any of these a tell?--and seek tangible and intangible indications of whether Libby indeed made false statements to prevent himself (and perhaps the vice president) from becoming entangled in a criminal prosecution.

In one of the first questions at the March 5, 2004 grand jury session, Fitzgerald asked Libby to explain how he had received his nickname "Scooter." Libby replied with a small joke: "Are we classified in here? It's--my family is from the South and it's less uncommon than it is up here." That was all he said--he didn't answer the question. Then Fitzgerald bore down on Libby, grilling him on what he had known about the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson and when he had known it.

There were several key exchanges in the first 100 minutes played before the court recessed for the day. (The tapes and the transcripts will be released to the media and the public--over the objection of Libby's defense team--after all the tapes are played in court.) In front of the grand jury, Fitzgerald repeatedly asked Libby if in June 2003 he had discussed Wilson's wife and her CIA employment with either Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman or CIA senior official Robert Grenier. (At that point, Wilson's now infamous trip to Niger--during which he concluded the allegation that Iraq had been seeking uranium in Niger was bunk--had been cited in the media without Wilson being named.) Libby repeatedly told Fitzgerald that he had not spoken with either man about Wilson's wife. Yet both Grossman and Grenier have testified in this trial that Libby demanded information from them about the Wilson mission and that they informed him the ambassador's wife was a CIA employee.

Over and over, Libby told the grand jury he could not remember any such conversations with Grossman or Grenier. "Is that something you would remember?" Fitzgerald asked. "I just don't recall the conversation," Libby replied, in a voice that dropped in volume.

This has been a critical point for Libby. His story is that at the time of the leak that outed Valerie Wilson as a CIA officer on July 14, 2003, he possessed no official or classified information about her. He has claimed that he had forgotten--totally--the one conversation he had with Cheney about her in early June 2003, and he has said that in July 2003 he had heard from reporters--mainly Tim Russert of Meet the Press--that there were rumors that Wilson's wife was CIA. He has claimed it was as if he was learning about Valerie Wilson for the first time. Libby, according to his own account, then merely shared these rumors with other reporters.

Before the grand jury, Libby acknowledged that he had discussed Wilson's wife with his boss sometime before June 12, as Libby was preparing to speak with Walter Pincus, a Washington Post reporter looking to do a piece on the trip of a then-unnamed former ambassador (which had been reported in a column by Nicholas Kristof of The New York Timesa month earlier). The vice president told Libby that he had obtained information on this ex-diplomat and mentioned that the former ambassador's wife worked at the CIA's Counterproliferation Division, a unit within the agency's clandestine directorate. (Cheney and Libby were much concerned about the Wilson trip, for they believed the initial story about it suggested they had directly sent Wilson to Africa--which they had not--and that they had subsequently deliberately ignored information indicating that part of the administration's case for war was false.)

Questioning Libby about this conversation with Cheney, Fitzgerald asked if anything had been different in Cheney's tone of voice when he referred to the wife's CIA connection. The remark, Libby said, was a "little bit of a curiosity sort of thing." Was there any negative connotation? Fitzgerald inquired. "I wouldn't say negative," Libby replied. "It was a fact--not everybody's wife works there."

In Libby's telling, the vice president was briefing him about what the vice president had learned about Wilson's trip--a month before the Wilson imbroglio would become a public scandal--and the CIA link was no more than an oddity, even though everything else Cheney had learned about the trip was deemed important by him and Libby. "What did you think of that fact?" Fitzgerald asked, referring to the wife's CIA employment. Libby replied that he saw it as nothing but a "curiosity" that "might mean nothing, might mean something, I don't know."

That's Libby's story: the wife was a trivial matter; thus, he had no reason to lie about what he knew to the grand jury. Other elements of the Wilson trip--such as the fact that the vice president received no direct briefing on its results--were significant, but not this "curiosity." Libby has maintained that he discussed it with no one at State or the CIA. And then he forgot what Cheney had told him about the wife.

It's a hard story to believe--or follow--especially after several past and present Bush administration officials have testified at the trial that Libby was in the know about Valerie Wilson. On Tuesday, the jury will hear another six hours of Libby's grand jury testimony. It will be confusing and convoluted at times. And the jurors will be listening to what they can hear between the lines.

Posted by David Corn at February 5, 2007 09:29 PM


O'Reilly said...


Libby Trial Monday Recap - YouTube Video

Saladin said...

This is from Pat.

If you know anyone who has had a mastectomy, you may know
that there is a lot of discomfort and pain afterwards.
Insurance companies are trying to make mastectomies an
outpatient procedure. Let's give women the chance to recover
properly in the hospital for 2 days after surgery.

Mastectomy Bill in Congress

It takes 2 seconds to do this and is very
important...please take the time and do it really quick!

Breast Cancer Hospitalization Bill - Important
legislation for all women.

Please send this to everyone in your address book. If
there was ever a t ime when our voices and choices should be heard,
this is one of those times. If you're receiving this,
it's because I think you will take the 30 seconds to go to vote on this
issue and send it on to others you know who will do the same.

There's a bill called the Breast Cancer Patient
Protection Act which will require insurance companies to cover a minimum

48-hour hospital stay for patients undergoing a
mastectomy. It's about eliminating the "drive-through mastectomy" where
women are forced to go home just a few hours after
surgery, against the wishes of their doctor, still groggy from
anesthesia and sometimes with drainage tubes still

Lifetime Television has put this bill on their web page
with a petition drive to show you r support. Last year over half the
House signed on.

PLEASE!! Sign the petition by clicking on the web site
below. You need not give mor e than your name and zip code number.


capt said...


Done and done.

Thank You

Thank you for making your voice heard by signing Lifetime's online petition in support of the Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act — legislation to ensure that breast cancer patients get the care they deserve.



Saladin said...

Tuesday, February 06, 2007 -

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will have access to an Air Force jet larger than the one used by her predecessor so she can fly nonstop between Washington and her San Francisco district. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the speaker – who is second in line for the presidency after the vice president – has been able to use a military aircraft for security reasons.

But the jet used by the previous speaker, Rep. Dennis Hastert of Illinois, was too small to fly to California without refueling.

As of Monday, the Air Force had not informed Pelosi’s camp as to who can travel with her, the Contra Costa Times in California reported.

Pelosi’s aircraft requests have touched off grumbling about the speaker requesting more than her GOP predecessor.
Global warming? That's for you peasants to worry about! 9/11 comes in handy, doesn't it?

Saladin said...

Raw Story also picked up the pelosi story, now they're saying it isn't true. Why can't she just fly commercial, like everyone else? Whoops, I forgot, OBL might get her!

Saladin said...

US immigration cavity search ends in agony
Official pulled 'very hard'
By Chris Williams → More by this authorPublished Monday 5th February 2007 15:21 GMTStay one step ahead, receive articles like this on your desktop as they happen. US immigration officials insisted the sufferer of an anal infection remove a small piece of medical thread which was being used by doctors to treat the condition. The man required treatment under general anaesthetic as a result.

The man had an anal fistula, which is a painful channel that can develop deep into the anus, caused by infection or digestive conditions such as Crohn's disease. More details, if absolutely necessary, from NHS Direct here.

Arriving on holiday in New York in August last year, the unnamed 48-year-old was interrogated and searched by immigration officers, according to a letter appearing in medical journal The Lancet. The rectal examination discovered a device called a seton, which doctors in the UK had inserted into the fistula to help control long-term infection.

The seton was made of a blue braided medical suture material knotted and passed into the hole where the fistula surfaced. After one baffled immigration officer pulled "very hard" on the seton, the patient was given the choice by the baffled immigration officers of either getting on the next plane home, or submitting himself to a procedure to have it removed.

Happily, as The Lancet's correspondent notes, the curious immigration officer yanking the seton did not damage "the anal sphincter muscles encircled by it".

The seton was duly removed by an airport doctor, who claimed to have no idea what it was. The man now requires treatment under general anaesthetic to have a replacement inserted.

The letter writer concludes by advising seton patients to carry a letter from their doctor when travelling "to the USA or any other country where they are likely to be searched in this manner".
I wonder if we'll have to submit to a cavity search to LEAVE the country? No wonder tourism is in the toilet!

Gerald said...

Praying Each Day

capt said...

FACT CHECK: Washington Times Publishes False Report On Pelosi’s Use Of Military Aircraft

On February 1, the Washington Times published a story titled "Speaker pursues military flights," which claimed that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) had been "pressing the Bush administration for routine access to military aircraft for domestic flights, such as trips back to her San Francisco district." Former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) also used military aircraft to travel to his district. However, the Times reported, Pelosi is "demanding permanent access to a large military jet for herself, her staff, other Members and supporters."

The story was disseminated widely through right-wing talk radio and blogs, spurring posts like, "First Class Pelosi," "Air Force Becomes Pelosi Air," "Nancy Pelosi is Drunk With Power," "The Imperial Speakership," "Pelosi: Fly Me Awayyyyy," "Pelosi wants military airlift," and "Nancy Pelosi’s Private Military Plane."

In fact, the central claims of the Washington Times piece are both false.

1) The House Sergeant at Arms, not Pelosi, initiated inquiries into the use of military aircraft. House Sergeant at Arms Wilson Livingood, who has served in his position since 1995, released a statement today clarifying the facts. He writes, "In December 2006, I advised Speaker Pelosi that the US Air Force had made an airplane available to Speaker Hastert for security and communications purposes following September 11, 2001." Additionally, Livingood writes, "I offered to call the U.S. Air Force and Department of Defense to seek clarification of the guidelines [which governed Speaker Hastert’s use of a plane]."

2) A larger plane was requested because Hastert’s plane required refueling to travel cross-country. The Washington Times says a larger plane was requested to accomodate Pelosi, "her staff, other Members and supporters." That’s not true. In fact, the plane used by Speaker Hastert was too small for Pelosi since it "needs to refuel every 2,000 miles and could not make the nonstop haul to California. ‘The Air Force determined that [Pelosi’s] safety would be best ensured by using a plane that has the fuel capacity to go coast-to-coast,’" a Pelosi spokesperson said.


capt said...

‘Anti-Escalation’ Senators Vote For Escalation

Last night, Senate conservatives successfully blocked debate on a bipartisan anti-escalation resolution.

At least eight senators who claim to oppose sending more U.S. troops to Iraq voted the wrong way, supporting the conservative filibuster. They include Sen. John Warner (R-VA) — who actually introduced the anti-escalation resolution in question — and Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) — who has aggressively demanded that every U.S. senator take a position on Iraq.

Here’s a full list of the senators who voted to protect President Bush and block debate on Iraq, along with their public disapprovals of Bush’s escalation plan:

– Sen. John Warner (R-VA): "Sen. John Warner (R-VA) will introduce a resolution today ‘making clear that he does not support the President on increasing the troop levels in Iraq’ and calling escalation ‘a mistake,’."

– Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE): "It’s Alice in Wonderland. … I’m absolutely opposed to sending any more troops to Iraq. It is folly." (Cosponsored Warner resolution.)

– Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR): "This is the president’s Hail Mary pass. … We are extending an ineffective tactic to further the status quo." (Cosponsored Warner resolution.)

– Sen. John Sununu (R-NH): "Sen. John Sununu told CNN Tuesday he will not support President Bush’s plan to send an additional 21,000 U.S. troops to Iraq, although he hasn’t yet decided whether to back a Democratic resolution opposing the move."

– Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME): "We should not place more American servicemen and women in harm’s way to instill a peace that the Iraqis are not willing to seek for themselves." (Cosponsored Warner resolution.)

– Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS): "I do not believe that sending more troops to Iraq is the answer. … Iraq requires a political rather than a military solution."

– Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA): "We’re all looking for a plan that will work. … The current plan is not working, and 21,500 additional troops — it’s a snowball in July. It’s not going to work."

Notably, Sens. Norm Coleman (R-MN) and Susan Collins (R-ME), who say they oppose escalation, resisted partisan pressure and voted against the conservative filibuster.

As for Sen. Hagel, who said recently, "We need to put the Congress on record here" — he is now "on record," in support of Bush’s escalation.

UPDATE: Commenters have noticed that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is listed as having opposed debate on Iraq. In fact, Reid changed his vote to "no" at the end of the vote simply as a procedural move so he could later move to reconsider the motion (i.e., revote) — a right reserved only for those voting with the majority.


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

Especially note the Hagel vote. Chuck might as well be say the opposite, eh? The actions remain the same.


capt said...

Mysterious Congressman Announces Dark Horse Candidacy

WASHINGTON, DC—The Mysterious Congressman, whose flamboyant oratory and swashbuckling condemnations of greed and cynicism in modern politics have electrified Washington, announced Monday that he was considering a White House run in 2008.

"Noble citizens, hear me now!" said the enigmatic, masked Congressman (D–WI) from the dome of the nation's Capitol Monday, his long cape cutting a dramatic silhouette against the rising moon as he addressed a crowd of mostly lawmakers and congressional staff. "Too long has a craven dullard and his moneyed masters made a mockery of our beloved and sacred Union. No more! For today I have of two dozen advisers good and true an advisory committee formed, which, along with my budget-restructuring plan and my program for funding education separately from property taxes, shall aid my bid to capture the very presidency!"

The Mysterious Congressman then made a seemingly death-defying leap from the dome and disappeared into the darkness to the fading sound of hoofbeats. Capitol police at the scene said he left only his trademark rose of red, white, and blue petals and a stack of "Mysterious Congressman For President" campaign flyers.

"His cry for freedom, glory, and responsible government was ringing in our very hearts," congressional aide Melanie Kissler said. "For a moment, at least, I felt like so much more than a simple, oppressed Capitol intern living in desperate times. For a moment, I felt hope."

The Mysterious Congressman has earned a distinctive reputation during his two terms in office, both for his promotion of responsible fiscal policy and civil rights issues, and for such unorthodox tactics as entering the Senate chambers by swinging on the chandeliers, and engaging in flashy, extended fencing matches with sinister congressmen found guilty of financial or professional misconduct. He is currently the only senator who casts votes via flaming arrow.


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

For a minute I thought there was really a SUPER-DEM!

Gotta love The Onion! So many layers of funny.


Saladin said...

Capt, I know there must simply be HORDES of freedom hating terrorists swarming to blow up Ms. pelosi! I didn't give that article any credence until I saw it at Raw Story and then FMNN, both of which are generally reliable sources. In any case, it seems like overkill for any politician to be blowing thru jet fuel because of paranoia. We are subjected to the TSA goon squad, thanks in large part to these very same politicians, it seems only fair that they make the same sacrifices, they voted for this bullshit after all!

Saladin said...

Iran's Guards to hold wargames in Gulf
Sign On San Diego

Iran's Revolutionary Guards will hold two days of wargames in the Gulf and Sea of Oman this week, focusing on launching missiles, Iranian news agencies reported on Tuesday.
Military experts say Iranian forces are no technological match for the U.S. military but could still cause havoc in the Gulf and the narrow Strait of Hormuz, a choke point through which two fifths of the world's traded oil passes.
This just keeps getting better and better.

David B. Benson said...

The year 2012 ends a Mayan calendar major cycle...

Gerald said...

What all women, mothers, and grandmothers should ask before the next war?

Gerald said...

Avoiding the next military folly in the Middle East requires that the agenda for analysis and debate not be so severely and tendentiously truncated as before Iraq. Not only must proponents of military action not be allowed to manipulate the answers, they also should not be allowed to define the questions.

Gerald said...

Anther Bush Success Story

Gerald said...

I love America!!! How can anyone not love this crazy, Nazi country???

Gerald said...

Our Real Purpose

Gerald said...

The neocon madness of the past few years is an aberration. It has not turned out to serve the purposes of the true movers and shakers (represented roughly by Baker and Co.), and so ultimately it will have to give way. The dimwitted president currently serving, who has run off the reservation by virtue of his personal ineptitude and immaturity, may extend the present madness until he leaves office, but eventually the actual powers that be in this country will reassert their control. They may have to do so with a Democratic administration, but they will still do so. Best wishes, Bob Higgs

Gerald said...

How tue are these words?

The dimwitted president currently serving, who has run off the reservation by virtue of his personal ineptitude and immaturity, may extend the present madness until he leaves office, but eventually the actual powers that be in this country will reassert their control.

capt said...

Stealthy Iris Scanner in the Works

A public iris scanning device has been proposed in a patent from Samoff Labs in New Jersey. The device is able to scan the iris of the eye without the knowledge or consent of the person being scanned. The device uses multiple cameras, and then combines images to create a single scan (see diagram).

Iris recognition is a biometric identification system that requires a high-resolution picture of the irides of the subject's eye. Pattern recognition software is then used to match that picture against future iris scans.

Iris scans are considered highly accurate; current iris recognition algorithms have an incredibly low false match rate. Good quality scans result in a "false match" less than one time per one hundred billion (this system has been used with excellent results in the United Arab Emirates).

The significant advantage of the newly proposed system is that it allows iris scans to be taken without the knowledge or participation of the subject. Read the relevant quote from the patent application:

"...a system for obtaining iris biometric information includes an array of cameras defining an image capture volume for capturing an image of an iris; and an image processor, coupled to the array of cameras, for determining at least one suitable iris image for processing from the images generated for the image capture volume ... A subject within the capture volume is repeatedly imaged to produce a plurality of images of the subject. The plurality of images are processed to extract at least one clear image of the subject's iris."


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

Just what we need - more governmental control over our actions and locations.


capt said...

Libby Explains Faulty Recollections

Libby said he did not remember discussing Plame with White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, Cheney spokeswoman Cathie Martin, CIA official Robert Grenier or State Department Undersecretary Marc Grossman.

"I tend to get between 100 and 200 pages of material a day that I'm supposed to read in a day," Libby said at the end of his first grand jury appearance. "So a lot of information comes through to me and I can't possibly recall all the stuff I think is important, let alone other stuff that I don't think is as important."


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

100 to 200 pages of material a day is hard work? Too much to remember Plame/Wilson and the yellow cake lies. NOT BLOODY LIKELY!


David B. Benson said...

Even Luttwak came out for immediate withdrawal in a piece on today's TNYT opion page!

capt said...

"For in every city these two opposite parties [people vs aristocracy] are to be found, arising from the desire of the populace to avoid oppression of the great, and the desire of the great to command and oppress the people....For when the nobility see that they are unable to resist the people, they unite in exalting one of their number and creating him prince, so as to be able to carry out their own designs under the shadow of his authority." (Machiavelli, The Prince, ch. IX)

"Protest that moved by a hope far more modest than that of public success: namely, the hope of preserving qualities in one's own heart and spirit that would be destroyed by acquiescence." Wendell Berry

For the saddest words of tongue or pen these are : " It might have been". John Greenleaf Whittier

"War is like a big machine that no one really knows how to run and when it gets out of control it ends up destroying the things you thought you were fighting for, and a lot of other things you kinda forgot you had." : Anonymous



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David B. Benson said...

Err, from Iraq that is...

Gerald said...

Scanning the iris of our eyes? Is that something like Hitler Bush looking into the eyes of Putin and he sees the soul of a good man. Leaving these scanning devices to screwballs like Hitler Bush is very frightening.

capt said...

The Surge Is On In Iraq

In response to President George W. Bush's surge of additional U.S. troops to help secure the Iraqi capital, insurgents have responded with a surge of unprecedented violence. Over this past weekend close to 200 people were killed in sectarian-driven violence, most of it centered around the capital, Baghdad. The deadliest attack occurred Saturday, when at least 130 people were killed by a suicide bomber in central Baghdad who blew up his explosive-packed truck in a crowded market in a Shiite neighborhood.

And Monday, as U.S. and Iraqi forces readied to launch a massive crackdown in Baghdad, at least another 30 people died in sectarian violence.


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

Sure seems like Bunnypants is dancing to their music.


capt said...

new thread