Saturday, October 29, 2005

Why Did Libby Lie So Badly?

Lots of people are asking why Vice Preznit Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby lied to prosecutors and federal investigators so badly in the CIA leak case. Libby told both the FBI and the grand jury investigating the case that he first heard about Plame from journalists, specifically Tim Russert of NBC. But there were lots of other people who were testifying that they did not tell Libby about Valerie Plame Wilson. And Russert was adamant in saying that he did not know about Valerie Plame or tell Libby about her.

So why did Libby tell this story? Did he just figure that journalists wouldn't give him up when federal investigators came calling because of their commitment to confidentiality?

Or did Libby figure Attorney General John Ashcroft would make it all go away quietly?

Remember, Ashcroft was running the investigation into the CIA leak case for the first few months until he had to recuse himself and Deputy Attorney General James Comey tapped U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to run the investigation. Undoubtedly, Libby, Rove, Cheney and the rest of the White House Iraq Group figured Ashcroft wouldn't push too hard in the investigation so all they had to do was come up with plausible stories for how they learned the name and/or identity of Ms. Plame. But once Fitzgerald showed up on the scene and showed everybody he meant business, they were screwed because now they were stuck with their stories that seemed plausible as long as you didn't look to hard at them.

And of course Fitzgerald took long, hard looks at all of the evidence. He wasn't a political hack or a patronage crony willing to look the other way. He wasn't interested in being Ambassador to Trinidad or becoming Attorney General himself.

He only wanted to find out the truth and see if a crime had been committed.

Now we'll just have to see if Fitzgerald is going to lean on Libby and get him to turn evidence against higher ups like Rove or Cheney. Remember that Fitzgerald has indicted mid-level people in other cases to squeeze them for evidence and testimony against higher ups. In both the Hollinger case, where he squeezed a mid-level executive to get at media mogul Conrad Black, and in the corruption case he is pursuing against Illinois Governor George Ryan, where he squeezed patronage cronies to get at the top guy, Fitzgerald has used initial indictments to gather more evidence and nail bigger game.

In other words, despite the assurances of Karl Rove that he is going to have a "great weekend" and the insistence from the White House that it is time to move forward from this case and "focus on the people's business", the CIA leak investigation is far from over.

Unless Libby is content to do 10-30 years in prison, that is.

I'm betting Libby isn't so willing to do that kind of time. Which means we'll be getting more revelations in this case and very possibly more indictments.

So have a nice weekend, Karl. I wouldn't be too sure you're home free just yet.

Karl's gonna have a great weekend?

Who'd have thunk he'd need to lie about even that?
My speculation -- and it seems pretty obvious to me -- is this: In exchange for (at bare minimum) an outgoing presidential pardon, Libby lied so badly (and dumbly) because he intentionally wanted to get caught to become the epicenter of the whole story. If Libby keeps up the smokescreen, and all the other "unindicted co-conspirators" keep their stories consistent, Fitz will learn nothing new. He will also have zero leverage to make Scooter squeal, because the pardon means he'll serve very little if any prison time. And despite what Libby's lawyer said, there's never going to be any trial.

This all seems like a classic Rove scheme to me, and the inexplicable part is that after all the this time, people who should know better are still misunderestimating Karl Rove.
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