The I. Lewis Libby Indictment: The Beginning Of The End For Karl Rove… And Maybe Cheney? Will The Low Hanging Fruit Testify?
I. Lewis Libby was indicted in a five-count indictment that runs twelve pages. (click here).
II. Count One is for Obstruction of Justice. (18 U.S.C. 1503).
III. Counts Two and Three are for False Statements (to the FBI) (18 U.S.C. 1001 (a)(2),
IV. And Counts Four and Five are for Perjury (before the Grand Jury.) (18 U.S.C. 1623).
The interesting part of this indictment is that it doesn’t contain a count for the disclosure of the identity of covert intelligence personal (Valerie Plame) 18 U.S.C. 421 or a count of improper disclosure of National Defense information 18 U.S.C. 793.
Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald explained at a press conference that the investigation was continuing and that new people could be indicted along with Libby and new counts could be added to Libby’s indictment. This included a Senior White House Official designated “Official A” in the indictment.
Fitzgerald explained that to convict a person of a “knowing disclosure” under 18 USC 421 and 793 you had to prove intent, that this was very difficult to do and that he didn’t have sufficient proof of intent to indict Rove or Libby at this time on those grounds. Apparently Rove has not made any provable false statements at this point or he would have been indicted on those grounds along with Libby.
THE LOW HANGING FRUIT.
What Fitzgerald did have proof of was Libby’s deceptions to the FBI and the Grand Jury about his conversations with Tim Russert Of NBC and Matthew Cooper of Time Magazine. During the week of July 10, 2003.
“Official A” (Karl Rove) who disclosed to Libby that he had spoken with Robert Novak, a columnist, earlier during the week of July 10, 2003 about Plame and her Husband Joe Wilson and that Novak was going to write an article about them and the origins of Wilson’s trip to Niger to verify statements that Iraq was acquiring yellow cake (A material used in the development of a nuclear weapon) from Niger. (click here). This whole series of events suggests that there was a concerted effort to discredit Joe Wilson and his trip to Niger on the grounds it was not authorized by Cheney or the Administration or even a neutral CIA official but his wife. The CIA says higher ups made the decision not Valerie Plame based on Wilson’s credentials as an authority in the area and the subject.
The indictment says Libby lied to the FBI and the Grand Jury when he said he first learned of Valerie Plame’s job with the CIA and that she was married to former Ambassador Wilson. Wilson wrote an op-ed piece in the N.Y Times on July 7, 2003 condemning the Bush administrations assertion that Iraq was obtaining nuclear materials from Niger as part of its justification for the Iraq War when it knew it was false. The indictment alleges Libby learned of Plame’s identity from Vice President Cheney in early June and then had many internal discussions about Wilson and Plame before he spoke to Russert and Cooper on or about July 10, 2003. He had informed Judith Miller that Wilson’s wife might work for the CIA on June 23, 2003.
Rove was not indicted although he disclosed Plame’s identity to Robert Novak because Fitzgerald says he doesn’t have enough evidence as to Rove’s intent as to whether he deliberately intended to reveal her identity knowing she was a national security agent.
Libby faces a possible prison sentence of thirty years and over a million dollars in fines.
Will he seek a plea bargain for a lesser sentence in return for information he knows about Rove and Cheney’s involvement in this matter or will he tough it out and go to trial on all counts and face a longer prison sentence?
That is the question. Whether Libby will cooperate with the Federal Prosecutors and give up Rove or possibly Cheney and who knows who else in this matter. This happened in the Martha Stewart case and in numerous other federal prosecutions where the low hanging fruit have been indicted on charges that could carry long prison terms and then were allowed to testify against their more insulated bosses in return for lesser sentences. It is a standard prosecutorial technique and it will be used here. Whether Libby will cooperate for a lesser sentence by telling what he knows is another matter. It worked in Watergate so maybe we will find out the whole story and whose idea it was to link Valerie Plame to Joe Wilson in an attempt to discredit his assertion the President was wrong in his State of the Union Speech. Wilson said the administration “knew it was a flat out lie”.
David Strathairn As Edward R. Murrow
Good Night And Good Luck: A Film By George Clooney. Rated A.
This movie is a snap shot of the Edward R. Murrow- Joseph McCarthy confrontation in 1953. Remember 1953 was the year the Soviets detonated their first H Bomb. The McCarthy hearings, which were televised, were destroying prominent and average people by innuendo and out right lies. There was a national panic fueled by Joseph McCarthy and his Counsel Roy Cohen that Communists or their sympathizers had infiltrated all aspects of American life including the Army, The State Department and The Media.
Edward R. Murrow (David Strathairn) and Fred Friendly (George Clooney) of CBS were the first to challenge McCarthy and point out he was as a demagog with his false assertions and abuse of power.
This led President Eisenhower to speak out against McCarthy which resulted in his censorship by Congress and eventual down fall. The film is in black and white to convey the idea that this is history and a serious statement concerning the importance of television news in 1953 and how far it has fallen since. The cinematography by Robert Elswit is excellent.
Cooney who is the director as well as a co-writer with Grant Heslov uses film clips of McCarthy at the time instead of an actor to portray the Congressman to masterful effect. McCarthy reveals himself with his own visage and words. David Strathairn portrays Morrow almost as well as Murrow would himself. His saying of Murrow’s famous lines, “fear is in the room” or “we will not walk in fear of one another”or “Cassius was right, the fault, dear Brutus is not in our stars, but ourselves” brings us back to those heady days when CBS would take on an arch villain with enormous media power head to head.
Murrow warns his fellow journalists at a subsequent awards ceremony that television can be used for good or bad and he foresees that the commercialization of news will lead to the info-entertainment we see today. Thus the evening news is about fires and hurricanes but not about the true issues that concern us as a society. This film was beautifully done with a valid statement to make. Unfortunately the film is a cry in the wilderness. All the major television networks are owned by four giant entertainment conglomerates whose concept of news is to show or “report” that which has a synergistic effect on the profits of its other products like films or music.
She Changed Her Religion Once And Supported Democrats In The Eighties So What She Will Do In The Future On Specific Social Issues Is Any Ones Guess.
After a long and careful search Bush has come up with another nominee for the Supreme Court; his former personal lawyer and present White House Counsel, Harriet Miers. She was the White House lawyer who vetted and recommended John Roberts. Does this sound like cronyism? Seems so but there has been a lot of crony appoinments to the Supreme Court in the past. While Miss Miers may be an adequate lawyer for Bush’s White House needs she has no constitutional law experience as a judge or a lawyer. Her experience appears to be in the corporate transactional law area. Her principle qualifications are that she is a woman, an Evangelical Christian, a friend of Bush and has no public track record on the social issues which divide this country.
She is a former Catholic that now belongs to an Evangelical Christian church in Dallas where she is from. She has never been married and has no children. She has more skeptics on the Fundamentalist Christian side than on the moderate to left side. Should she be a Supreme Court Justice? Sandra Day O’Connor, who she will replace, has three sons and a husband besides being third in her class at Stanford. She also had experience as a politician and as a judge before she was appointed.
Who Else Was Not Nominated Because They Had An Opinion On Social And Economic Issues And Took Part In The Current Debate?
One has to wonder how many other highly qualified constitutional lawyers are out there who have been disqualified because they have a track record as being for or against abortion. That is probably her principle qualification for the nomination. She has no track record on the social issues that Bush’s supporter’s value more than their economic well-being. It is the reason they voted the way they did in the last election. (click here)
The number of abortions in this country is declining. However the Right has been able to make this a crucial issue at election time infusing it with more hype, emotion and importance than it deserves. Gay marriage is another peripheral issue. While it is important to the Gays it is really unimportant to non gays which comprise approximately 95”% of the population except in a symbolic sense. Gun control is another issue that is exploited by the Right. The Constitution gives us the right to bear arms but automatic weapons with armor piercing bullets? I don’t think so. So Harriet Miers has no track record on these issues important to many Bush supporters.
However there is one area you can be sure she is going to be very conservative on and that is economic issues. She will continue the legacy of Rehnquist and may even be on the same page as Thomas and Scalia. There are three types of Supreme Court Judges the literal, original document followers and the original document believers who think it should be interpreted according to present day conditions and facts as the Framers would if they were here to day. Then there are the many shades in between. Rehnquist was an original document thinker but who believed in gradual change back to conditions as they existed before the New Deal. Roberts is probably close to Rehnquist in his thinking paying attention to the precedents of the last seventy-five years but gradually changing the law back toward the Roosevelt era of either Theodore or Franklin. Franklin on social and economic issues and Theodore on economic, evironmental and business regulation issues.
These presidents enacted laws that were monumental economically and socially and brought the United States into the Twentieth Century. So Miers will be for less government except in the area of national defense, which was probably the most compelling reason for the establishment of the United States in the first place. Many Framers believed the only true business of the National Government was defense and guiding relations between the States. The States were meant to take care of everything else. However The Bill of Rights, ( the first ten amendments) most of which apply to the States as well as the Federal Government was later passed. Some people thought there was no need for a list of enumerated right since all rights came from the people enumerated or not and a list of rights interpreted narrowly could be used to deny persons unstated rights ( like privacy) . Thus it would serve to narrow the rights of the people. This the true animus between the leaders of the political parties today and not the peripheral issues named above.
Therefore Harriet Miers may not be thoroughly vetted on the social issues but you can be sure she has been on economic philosophy, on small federal government, states rights, property rights over individual rights and pre Roosevelt economic policies.
American Bar Association Rating
It will be interesting to see how the American Bar Association (ABA) rates her. “Well Qualified”, “Qualified” or “Not Qualified”. The ABA rates judicial nominees on three factors “integrity, professional competence and judicial temperament.” Bush distanced himself from the ABA in 2001 by not having that organization vet candidates before he nominated them believing that the ABA was too liberal. However the ABA doesn’t rate people on their political or religious beliefs or even take those factors into consideration.(click here).
John Roberts was rated “Well Qualified” as were all the other Justices except Thomas who received a “Qualified” rating. The problem here is that Bush’s supporters who want a nominee who has a track record on abortion and other social issues they favor would rather see him nominate a federal appellate judge with such a track record. This would of course cause a Constitutional standoff in the Senate as it almost did when he nominated a cadre of judges satisfactory to the Evangelical Right (click here).
So a “Well Qualified” evaluation by the ABA may secure the votes of some moderate or liberal Senators but it probably won’t influence the more conservative Senators and their constituents. However her nomination will probabaly be approved by the Senate since there are probably not enough votes on either side to prevent her appointment unless some devastaing new fact becomes known.
When all is said and done we will not know who Harriet Miers is until she is on the bench for many years and maybe not even then. She changed her religion once and supported the Democrats in the eighties so what she will do in the future on specific social issues is any ones guess.