The trial of Scooter Libby is still 10 months away but already we are learning that his defense could expose serious problems within the White House, in particular, their claims for the war in Iraq.
Lawyers for Vice President Dick Cheney's former top aide are suggesting they may delve deeply at his criminal trial into infighting among the White House, the CIA and the State Department over pre-Iraq war intelligence failures.
New legal documents raise the potential that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's trial could turn into a political embarrassment for the Bush administration by focusing on whether the White House manipulated intelligence to justify the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
In a court filing late Friday night, Libby's legal team said that in June and July 2003, the status of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame was at most a peripheral issue to "the finger-pointing that went on within the executive branch about who was to blame" for the failure to find weapons of mass destruction.
So does this mean one of the administration’s top allies in selling the war to the public could now become a greater asset to revealing the truth that lead is into this mess called Iraq? When it comes down to a threat of jail time that is exactly what could happen.
Since the invasion started three years ago there have been countless documents, reports and documentaries on the subject of “cooked intelligence”. One of the most damaging items has been reports from employees at Langley talking about the vice-President and his excessive “hands on” attitude when it came to the Iraq war. Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern even brought this up during the Downing Street Memo hearings last summer. He spoke of times where Cheney would come in and want “briefings” from the analysts and Tenet would be there with him. This was a highly uncommon practice with previous administrations and in fact put extra pressure on the analysts to say what Cheney wanted to hear.
Now that Scooter Libby is getting ready to go to court, stories like this have a greater chance of gaining more attention. It not only helps build the defense of him being under enormous pressure and the pressure building inside the beltway, but also the lengths this administration was going to in order to protect their lie.
Something else that will help back Scooter's defense is a July 30, 2003 Rose Garden press conference. This was the day President Bush accepted responsibility for the flawed intelligence of the Niger claim. This will help show that those times were in fact tense. At the same time it will be a damaging blow to the White House. Just a few weeks prior to that, the administration was in a full blown “attack Joe (Wilson)” campaign and one of those attacks was outing his wife which lead to all of this.
Perhaps Scooter will be able to convince a jury that he did “forget” about disclosing Plame’s identity. It is a long shot but even if he does, it will expose more truths about what was happening in Washington and to what lengths this administration would go to defend their illegal war. The only hurdle left for our side is hoping that this information is not kept from the public because it is classified. Even if it is we still have the ears of Patrick Fitzgerald listening in and he might just be willing to pursue other angles of this case.
Cross posted at Firedoglake.