With everyone paying attention to Bush and his now known involvement in the CIA leak case, one thing has been overlooked – what impact this revelation has on Libby’s defense. Today the Washington Post looks at that angle:
Fitzgerald argued, in essence, that the White House effort to rebut Wilson’s criticism was so intense, and so preoccupying, that Libby could not have forgotten what he said about Plame. Fitzgerald also noted that Plame’s employment was specifically raised as a relevant matter by Cheney, who had directed Libby to disclose information from the NIE.
Lawyers who have been closely following the case offered contrasting views of the impact Fitzgerald’s allegations would have on Libby’s defense.
Republican lawyer and former federal prosecutor Joseph E. diGenova said “it is not material in any way to what he charged, which is perjury.” But Richard A. Sauber, a lawyer who represents Time magazine’s Matthew Cooper, one of the reporters who wrote about Plame after talking to Libby, said “the whole thing undercuts Libby’s defense that he was too busy on other things” to recall the Plame matter.
“You cannot say that it is unimportant and something you forgot” when the president and vice president were directly involved in a related issue, Sauber said.
This is an interesting observation I am inclined to agree with the assessment given by Sauber. Libby is a smart man and had to know that there was a high probability of a major fallout from this disclosure. When you have the President and vice-President involved in such a decision, you are not going to forget it.
Something else interesting this article shows is that the timeline of events for the declassification of the NIE (National Intelligence Estimate):
According to Fitzgerald, Libby testified before a grand jury that President Bush and Cheney authorized the release of that information shortly before Libby’s meeting with New York Times reporter Judith Miller on July 8, 2003. The information was drawn from the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate prepared by the CIA about Iraq’s interest in weapons of mass destruction.
But 10 days later, McClellan told reporters at the White House that the estimate had been “officially declassified today” — July 18, 2003 — making no mention of the earlier declassification that Libby described in his sworn testimony. If that statement was correct, reporters pointed out, then the material was still classified at the time Libby disclosed it.
McClellan yesterday declined to give a detailed explanation for the contradiction, explaining that the White House never comments on pending investigations. But he also tried to clarify his 2003 remarks to reporters, stating that what he meant on July 18 of that year when he said the material had been declassified that day was that it was “officially released” that day.
To me this is showing more that the White House had a feeling they would be able to brush this issue under the carpet, most likely with the help of Ashcroft. I say that because their timelines don’t work together. Actually if Bush would have declassified the information on say July 1, 2003 then we would not be where we are at today. Someone screwed up in this plan and now someone is going to pay the price.
As confusing as this is all getting, one thing has become crystal clear – Congress should now hold hearings on this. The excuse of “an on going investigation” no longer flys. We have the President of the United States involved and that means Congress must be involved per the constitution. Perhaps if someone can catch them between breaks?