Tuesday, January 30, 2007

"Potentially Devastating"

So says the NY Times about old Times reporter Judy Miller's testimony in the Libby case:

WASHINGTON, Jan. 30 – A former New York Times reporter testified today that I. Lewis Libby Jr. disclosed the identity of a C.I.A. agent to her more than two weeks before Mr. Libby has said he learned of the agent’s identity.

The reporter, Judith Miller, said that Mr. Libby, who was then the chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, made the disclosure to her in a June 23, 2003, meeting in the Old Executive Office Building, near the White House.


The C.I.A. was waging “a perverted war of leaks,” Ms. Miller said Mr. Libby told her. Ms. Miller’s account is potentially devastating to Mr. Libby, who is on trial for obstruction and perjury and has sworn that he first learned the C.I.A. agent’s identity on July 10, 2003.

While Libby's defense team took a whack at Miller's memory later on, Miller's testimony, coupled with former WH press secretary Ari Fleischer's testimony yesterday, seems really damaging to Libby's case. Here's Spikey Mikey Isikoff from Newsweek on Fleischer:

Jan. 29, 2007 - Ari Fleischer may turn out to be a stronger—and more credible—witness than he was a White House press secretary.

During several hours on the witness stand in the I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby Jr. perjury and obstruction trial Monday, President Bush’s former chief spokesman was cool, unruffled, chatty and at times combative—especially when he underwent hostile cross-examination from one of Libby’s lawyers. But he stuck to his story and, in the process, delivered what may have been the most damaging testimony yet against Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff.

Fleischer described with damning new details a lunch he had with Libby in the White House mess on July 7, 2003, just as the controversy over the president’s State of the Union claim that Iraq had sought to buy uranium in Africa was spreading into a major Washington firestorm.

During that lunch, Fleischer said, Libby was anxious to rebut criticism by former ambassador Joseph Wilson. In a New York Times op-ed piece, Wilson had written that he had been dispatched on a CIA mission to Niger to check out the uranium claim in 2002 at the instigation of Cheney’s office and reported back there was nothing to the story.

As Fleischer related the story to the jury, Libby told him: “The vice president did not send Mr. Wilson. Ambassador Wilson was sent by his wife. She works for the CIA.” Libby then told him which part of the CIA employed her. “He said his wife works at the Counter-Proliferation Division. I think he told me her name,” Fleischer testified. Libby added: “This is hush-hush, this is on the Q.T. Not very many people know about this.”


The Fleischer testimony, if believed by the jury, significantly bolsters prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s case. Libby is charged with lying in a federal grand jury probe triggered by the disclosure in the media the following week that Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA—information that some White House officials, including Fleischer, had used to try to discredit Wilson. Libby, according to the indictment against him, falsely told the FBI and a federal grand jury not only that he had nothing to do with disclosing Valerie Plame Wilson’s identity to the press. He also testified that NBC “Meet the Press” host Tim Russert told him about Wilson’s wife working at the CIA in a conversation three days after his lunch with Fleischer and that he was surprised and “taken aback” to learn the information.

Add to the Miller and Fleischer testimony what Cathie Martin testified to earlier in the trial:

In the most dramatic testimony yet in the Libby trial, MSNBC’s David Shuster reports that Cathie Martin -- Vice President Cheney’s former press aide -- yesterday told Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald she informed Cheney and Libby that Valerie Plame Wilson worked for the CIA. This revelation about Plame Wilson’s identity apparently came before Libby said he learned it from reporters.

Three other witnesses - two from the CIA and one from the State Department - have also testified that Libby knew Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame Wilson, was a CIA employee before the July 10, 2003 conversation Libby had with NBC's Tim Russert (Libby claimed Russert gave him Plame's name during that conversation.)

Notice the pattern that's starting to emerge?

Libby's full of shit when he says he learned Plame's name and identity from a reporter on July 10, 2003 and the White House and the VP's office are full of shit when they say they weren't obsessed with discrediting critic Joe Wilson and his allegations that the Niger/uranium claim made by the admin was bullshit.

I dunno if the jury's going to buy Fitz's case or if the defense can create reasonable doubt when they get their turn, but so far, things look really bad for Libby. And the White House and the VP's office (along w/ the VP himself) aren't looking so great either.


UPDATE: David Shuster just reported on Hardball that Fitz introduced a note into evidence today in court while former Cheney aide and current Cheney chief of staff David Addington was testifying. The note, dated June 12, 2003 while Libby met with the VP and written in Libby's own handwriting, has the phrase "CP - Wife Works For It" on it. "CP" stands for counter-proliferation and the wife Libby is writing about is Joe Wilson's - Valerie Plame.

Shuster says the note seems to show that Libby learned about Joe Wilson's wife and her work at the CIA from the VP himself long before Libby claims to have heard it from Tim Russert on July 10.

Potentially devastating indeed.

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