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Monday, October 31, 2005

Libby and Justice for All 

We cannot hope to follow the intricacies of the speculation that has followed upon Scooter Libby's indictment by the grand jury on Friday, but we know what we like, and we don't like this: the judge who presides over Mr. Libby's arraignment will be Reggie Walton, the same fellow who earlier affirmed the "state secrets privilege" in upholding the government's gag order against 9/11 whistleblower Sibel Edmonds.

Meanwhile, Zemblan patriot J.D. (who reads the Drudge Report as a mercy, sparing Yr. Mst. Grtfl. Mnrch. that odious task) tells us that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald intends to put Dick Cheney on the stand, a "high stakes move" that will surely result in an "executive privilege showdown," to borrow Mr. Drudge's colorful Western-influenced terminology. Will anyone be allowed to say anything at Mr. Libby's trial?

And for that matter: are there more indictments to come, or does Mr. Fitzgerald plan to fold up his tent? Billmon was (we believe) the first to cry "whitewash" after the dismissal of the grand jury on Friday, followed shortly thereafter by ex-prosecutor Sheldon Drobny ("Those of us locally in the know here do not agree that Mr. Fitzgerald is as independent as the press has made him out to be"). If Michael Isikoff's Newsweek article is true, and Fitzgerald visited President Bush's personal attorney on Friday "to tell him the president's closest aide would not be charged," then, as Digby puts it, Fitz is in the tank.

But Jane Hamsher points out that Isikoff's "scoop" almost certainly originated with Rove's attorneys, and she'll believe it when she can gaze at the clouds and see a flock of pigs winging their way back from Capistrano. (Swopa points out that Mr. Isikoff has published numerous accounts of airborne porkers before.) And at the Booman Tribune, former SEC enforcement official Marty Aussenberg argues that Fitz is just warming up:
[T]he real reason to lay out as much factual detail as he did [in the indictment] was for Fitz to show the world (and in particular, the world within the White House) that he has the goods, and that he won't hesitate to drop the dime on some additional malefactors, particularly, Cheney.
Aussenberg's argument is so powerful that it pretty much sways Billmon, which is, we think, more or less where we came in.

See also Joe Wilson's letter to the Senate intelligence committee (courtesy of Larry Johnson); Murray Waas and Paul Singer on Libby's replacement, who appears to be more of the same and then some; and the Shystee/Qubit Theory of Emergent Conspiracies.

N.B.: Kindly assume that all colleagues mentioned above are esteemed, revered, and/or venerated to the best of our ability.

UPDATE: Now here's a new angle. Based on a close reading of the indictment, our BARBARic colleague Swopa concludes that the much-discussed State Department memo that was circulated aboard Air Force One is largely irrelevant to the case, since each of the known leakers had learned about Valerie Plame from other sources. Which raises an interesting question:
The last thing anyone considering whether to leak classified information would want is a paper trail -- especially one that specifically identifies the information as classified, which the State Dept. memo reportedly did for the paragraph that mentioned Valerie Wilson . . . .

So, who did put it in writing? It's a particularly interesting question given the passive phrasing of Grossman's attitude in the indictment. Rather than endorsing the notion that Wilson's wife helped arrange his trip, he passed it along to Libby as something "that State Department personnel were saying."

Odd that Grossman would distance himself from the contents of a memo that was supposedly put together for his benefit, isn't it? Why, you'd almost think that someone who didn't believe the gossip about Valerie Wilson heard it going around, and thought it might be worth recording for posterity -- along with the notation that her CIA employment was classified ... just in case something untoward happened. Hmmmm....

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