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”.