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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

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"... particularly after the previous President nearly lost his job over perjury or near perjury on a relatively minor matter."

Remind me again, how much time did Bill Clinton serve in prison?


Let's be clear, the prosecution of "Scooter" Libby was a pathetic miscarriage of justice. The investigation into the Plame "leak" quickly devolved into little more than a partisan witch hunt, complete with a public burning. Fitzgerald knew early on who was responsible for informing Robert Novak that Joseph Wilson's wife worked as an analyst at the CIA. His charge fulfilled, he continued to probe beyond his proscribed mandate hoping to score a politically motivated prosecutorial victory.

Richard Painter states that all Libby had to do was "use an old strategy called telling the truth". Interesting advice coming from a lawyer of any political stripe. Libby, of course, maintains to this day that he did "tell the truth" and judging by the revealed integrity of his accusers, I'd have to say that he is completely believable in that claim.

Let's not forget that the jury that convicted him consisted of people from one of the most liberal parts of the country. Some admitted openly, after the trial, that they disliked and distrusted the administration and anyone associated with it. They seemed quite pleased to have had the opportunity to vent their frustrations on Libby.

Let's review, shall we. Robert Novak learned of Valerie Plame from Richard Armitage, a Bush administration critic and critic of the war, not from Dick Cheney or "Scooter" Libby. Mr. Armitage could have come forward at any time and ended the speculation and later investigation, but apparently he lacked the guts. This item, from the Washington Post, sums it up nicely:

It follows that one of the most sensational charges leveled against the Bush White House -- that it orchestrated the leak of Ms. Plame's identity to ruin her career and thus punish Mr. Wilson -- is untrue. The partisan clamor that followed the raising of that allegation by Mr. Wilson in the summer of 2003 led to the appointment of a special prosecutor, a costly and prolonged investigation, and the indictment of Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, on charges of perjury. All of that might have been avoided had Mr. Armitage's identity been known three years ago.

Nevertheless, it now appears that the person most responsible for the end of Ms. Plame's CIA career is Mr. Wilson. Mr. Wilson chose to go public with an explosive charge, claiming -- falsely, as it turned out -- that he had debunked reports of Iraqi uranium-shopping in Niger and that his report had circulated to senior administration officials. He ought to have expected that both those officials and journalists such as Mr. Novak would ask why a retired ambassador would have been sent on such a mission and that the answer would point to his wife. He diverted responsibility from himself and his false charges by claiming that President Bush's closest aides had engaged in an illegal conspiracy. It's unfortunate that so many people took him seriously.

So, Wilson was a liar and Armitage was a louse and a coward. Let's not lose sight of what Wilson and his wife were trying to do here. They publically lied about his findings in Africa in an attempt to curry favor with the left and the media. They deliberately tried to destroy public trust in the President at a time of war. The Washington Post:

Mr. Wilson was embraced by many because he was early in publicly charging that the Bush administration had "twisted," if not invented, facts in making the case for war against Iraq. In conversations with journalists or in a July 6, 2003, op-ed, he claimed to have debunked evidence that Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger; suggested that he had been dispatched by Mr. Cheney to look into the matter; and alleged that his report had circulated at the highest levels of the administration.

A bipartisan investigation by the Senate intelligence committee subsequently established that all of these claims were false -- and that Mr. Wilson was recommended for the Niger trip by Ms. Plame, his wife. When this fact, along with Ms. Plame's name, was disclosed in a column by Robert D. Novak, Mr. Wilson advanced yet another sensational charge: that his wife was a covert CIA operative and that senior White House officials had orchestrated the leak of her name to destroy her career and thus punish Mr. Wilson.

That last bit, about Plame recommending Wilson for the trip to Niger, is important because if perjury in testimony surrounding this affair is a crime that only prison time will rectify, then Valerie Plame should find a lawyer:

Plame said she did not select her husband for a CIA fact-finding trip to Niger. Wilson said in a newspaper column that his trip debunked the administration's prewar intelligence that Iraq was seeking to buy uranium from Africa.

"I did not recommend him. I did not suggest him. There was no nepotism involved. I did not have the authority," she said.

That conflicts with senior officials at the CIA and State Department, who testified during Libby's trial that Plame recommended Wilson for the trip.

Plame also repeatedly described herself as a covert operative, a term that has multiple meanings. Plame said she worked undercover and traveled abroad on secret missions for the CIA.

But the word "covert" also has a legal definition requiring recent foreign service and active efforts to keep someone's identity secret. Critics of Fitzgerald's investigation said Plame did not meet that definition for several reasons and said that's why nobody was charged with the leak.

Link

Someone is lying. Either Valerie Plame has committed perjury under oath before Congress, or senior officials at the CIA and State Department committed perjury under oath at the Libby trial. Either way, a prosecutor should be assigned to follow this up, right?

Leaking sensitive information can have serious and sometimes devastating consequences. That's exactly why the charge should not be leveled lightly, in pursuit of some political advantage. Here is an excerpt from a speech by Katherine Graham, the late publisher of the Washington Post:

Tragically, however, we in the media have made mistakes. You may recall that in April 1983, some 60 people were killed in a bomb attack on the U.S. embassy in Beirut. At the time, there was coded radio traffic between Syria, where the operation was being run, and Iran, which was supporting it. Alas, one television network and a newspaper columnist reported that the U.S. government had intercepted the traffic. Shortly thereafter the traffic ceased. This undermined efforts to capture the terrorist leaders and eliminated a source of information about future attacks. Five months later, apparently the same terrorists struck again at the Marine barracks in Beirut; 241 servicemen were killed.

This kind of result, albeit unintentional, points up the necessity for full cooperation wherever possible between the media and the authorities. When the media obtains especially sensitive information, we are willing to tell the authorities what we have learned and what we plan to report. And while reserving the right to make the final decision ourselves, we are anxious to listen to arguments about why information should not be aired.

Link

It's interesting how the left always applies a double standard with their outrage. When liberal "journalists" leak sensitive information resulting in the deaths of hundreds of Marines, no problem. Prosecute, what for? But "Scooter" Libby, even if he is innocent, must be raked over the coals. Pathetic.

Remind me again, how much time did Bill Clinton serve in prison?

Remind me again, when was Clinton convicted of perjury?

I wrote this kind of quickly and didn't proof read.

"... beyond his proscribed mandate"

Should be PREscribed mandate.

"... judging by the revealed integrity"

Should be revealed LACK OF integrity.

Sorry.

Art,

Don't sweat it. We're not picky about typos and everyday neuroglitches around here. The meaning was understood.

he continued to probe beyond his proscribed mandate hoping to score a politically motivated prosecutorial victory.

1. How about a legitimate citation for Fitzgerald's mandate? A real source that spells out his mandate and an explanation for how he violated it, please. Keep in mind that when a witness obstructs an investigation by deceiving a grand jury, they become a legitimate target. Do you even know what really happened in this case?

2. What evidence do you have that Fitzgerald was politically motivated? What did he gain or stand to gain? Fitzgerald is a career prosecutor who has prosecuted as many, if not more, Dems as Republicans. He is disliked by both parties. He is also the prosecutor who took down Democrat Rod Blagojevich, numerous Blagojevich aides and numerous Richie Daley cronies.

His patron, the very decent and honorable former Illinois Republican Senator Peter Fitzgerald (no relation), was disliked by both parties and is washed up in politics.

Patrick Fitzgerald has been a prosecutor for a long time without a hint of political bias or political motivation. The guy is as clean as a whistle. Again, what evidence can you cite to support your claim that he was politically motivated?

Remind me again, when was Clinton convicted of perjury?

Here's a VIDEO of Bill Clinton testifying, under oath, regarding his affair with Monica Lewinsky.

As Timothy Noah, writing for Slate, put it, "it's Clinton's word against Lewinsky's--but nobody particularly believes Clinton. DNA tests have put the odds that the semen found on Lewinsky's dress came from Clinton at 7.87 trillion to one, which is probably what prompted Clinton's elaborately hedged confession."

Clinton was disbarred by the state of Arkansas and paid a 25,000 dollar fine. He was disbarred by the Supreme Court. The idea that because he was not prosecuted for his crime he is somehow innocent is just gibberish.

The point I'm making is that the evidence for Clinton's guilt was compelling, yet he was not prosecuted. Why the zealous prosecution of Libby when the evidence was far less compelling and Libby was not responsible for the supposed outing of Plame?

evidence for Clinton's guilt was compelling, yet he was not prosecuted. Why the zealous prosecution of Libby when the evidence was far less compelling and Libby was not responsible for the supposed outing of Plame?


Because Clinton lied during a deposition in a state civil matter, not a federal criminal investigation. Prosecutions for perjury during state civil depositions are relatively rare, even though litigants frequently lie in civil depositions. There was nothing exceptional about Clinton’s treatment by the local prosecutor, nor did he get off scot-free. He agreed to a fine for contempt and temporary disbarment to avoid criminal prosecution. In any case, the decision in Clinton's case was made by an Arkansas prosecutor, not a federal prosecutor.

Libby, on the other hand, was accused (and convicted) of lying to obstruct a federal criminal investigation, not a local civil suit. Federal prosecutors indict at the drop of a hat for obstructing a criminal investigation. People go to jail for this all the time. Barry Bonds was indicted for exactly the same reason. He lied to federal prosecutors investigating BALCO’s role in the manufacture and distribution of anabolic steroids. Bonds is not under indictment for using steroids. He’s under indictment for lying to a federal grand jury investigating steroid manufacture and distribution. If Bonds had lied during a divorce deposition instead of a federal criminal investigation, the chances that he would have been prosecuted are approximately zero.

I don’t hear an outcry from the right about the unfairness of Bonds’ prosecution, but he is being prosecuted for the same reason Libby was prosecuted. If you get caught lying to a federal grand jury investigating a criminal matter, chances are excellent that you will face prosecution.

How about a legitimate citation for Fitzgerald's mandate?

When appointed in 2003 by the Bush Justice Department, Fitzgerald's mandate was to find out if the leaking to reporters of the identity of a CIA employee, Valerie Plame, was a violation of a 1982 statute known as the Philip Agee law, and if so, who violated it.

Link

Here's the letter of appointment.

Do you even know what really happened in this case?

Please, give me a break. Read the Washington Post editorials I've link to above. Wilson and his wife are liars. The media disseminated their lies widely in an effort to undermine the administration. The White House had every right, indeed a responsibility, to respond to their falsehoods.

What evidence do you have that Fitzgerald was politically motivated?

Fitzgerald knew early on in his investigation that Armitage was responsible for the leak. He also knew that Plame was not a covert agent and that no crime had been committed by revealing her position at the CIA. Yet, he continued to pursue people he knew were not involved in leaking her name to the press.

It's important to remember that after the Starr investigations the Democrats had lost their taste for politics by special prosecutor. They had cried long and hard about Starr exceeding his mandate. They were ready to scream "uncle".

All special prosecutor appointments are political. The Democrats expected Fitzgerald to bring them a head and he did not disappoint.

He is also the prosecutor who took down Democrat Rod Blagojevich ...

Amazing. Fitzgerald managed to keep this case, and all it's dirty details, off the front pages until after the election and that's evidence of his integrity? The Washington Post reported that, "Federal prosecutors said without equivocation that there is no evidence of Obama's involvement in the matter."

But later we learn:

The FBI affidavit said Blagojevich had been told by an adviser "the president-elect can get Rod Blagojevich's wife on paid corporate boards in exchange for naming the president-elect's pick to the Senate."

Told by two other advisers he has to "suck it up" for two years, the FBI says it heard Blagojevich complain he has to give this "motherf***er [the president-elect] his senator. F*** him. For nothing? F*** him."

The governor is heard saying he will pick another candidate "before I just give f***ing [Senate Candidate l] a f***ing Senate seat and I don't get anything."

Link

That raises 2 questions:

First, just how does the president-elect propose to "... get Rod Blagojevich's wife on paid corporate boards"? Does he carry these appointments around in his pocket to pass out like party favors? Or, would he have to do something for these corporations in order to secure these positions?

Second, just how does Governor Blagojevich know that Obama will not "play ball" unless he has had a conversation with Obama or one of his staff and made the proposal, only to be turned down? It seems to me at that point, Obama, or his representative, has both a moral and legal obligation to report Blagojevich and his felony offer to the FBI or other federal authorities. Failure to do so would constitute a misprision of a felony. That is the same charge that they impeached Richard Nixon on.

Legal Dictionary describes misprision of a felony as follows:

The first Congress passed a misprision of felony statute in 1789. The statute holds, "Whoever, having knowledge of the actual commission of a felony … conceals and does not as soon as possible make known the same to some judge or other person in civil or military authority under the United States" is guilty of misprision of felony and can be punished with up to three years in prison.

Link

Do you even know what really happened in this case?


Because Clinton lied during a deposition in a state civil matter, not a federal criminal investigation.

Nice try, but Clinton was question by Starr about his involvement with Lewinsky. Starr as you'll remember was a FEDERAL prosecutor and Clinton testified in front of a FEDERAL Grand Jury.

Aug. 17: Clinton testifies in the grand jury. He acknowledged "inappropriate intimate contact" with Lewinsky, but insisted his January deposition in the Jones suit had been accurate. He refused to answer questions about the nature of his physical contact with Lewinsky.

Washington Post

I partially was wrong about Nixon. He was also accused of obstruction of justice.

"Nice try, but Clinton was question by Starr about his involvement with Lewinsky. Starr as you'll remember was a FEDERAL prosecutor and Clinton testified in front of a FEDERAL Grand Jury."

And Starr did what his mandate required in the investigation of the president. He brought his findings to congress. Clinton was charged with perjury and acquitted by the senate. Had Libby been the president, the same would have applied. MW is right, however, about the state side of the charges.

The acquittal by the senate was purely political. The votes fell strictly along party lines. Personally, I felt Clinton should have been convicted, but he was not.

Clinton was charged with perjury and acquitted by the senate.

Clinton's acquittal in the Senate did not free him from criminal charges. He could have been prosecuted for his crimes.

CNN

So was Starr derelict in his duties as a federal prosecutor? If Clinton was guilty of perjury and obstruction and Starr thought he could make a successful case, why didn't he seek a grand jury indictment of Clinton?

Starr resigned and was replaced by Robert Ray who decided not to prosecute after Clinton admitted to "misleading" testimony and agreed to a suspension of his law license for 5 years and paid a 25,000 fine.

A similar deal could have been worked out with Libby, but he didn't have the press arguing against his persecution.

Libby was not a key player in this whole affair. He did not impede or obstruct the investigation because Fitzgerald knew who was responsible and that Plame was not a covert agent before talking to him. This was political, pure and simple.

Libby was convicted of obstruction because he prevented the special prosecutor from determining why Plame’s identity was disclosed. Fitzgerald: “What we have when someone charges obstruction of justice, the umpire gets sand thrown in his eyes. He’s trying to figure what happened and somebody blocked their view.”

Bush appointee Judge Reggie Walton echoed Fitzgerald during the sentencing: “Your lies blocked an extremely serious investigation, and as result you will indeed go to prison."

The prosecutor and judge were Republican appointees. A grand jury indicted Libby and a jury unanimously convicted him. All of those people were politically tainted, but you're sure your judgment is pure and untainted by political biases?


Libby was convicted of obstruction because he prevented the special prosecutor from determining why Plame’s identity was disclosed.

“Your lies blocked an extremely serious investigation ...


These are both demonstrably false statements. The fact is, that Fitzgerald knew that Armitage was responsible before questioning Libby. He knew that Libby was not the first person to talk to a reporter, as he claimed when announcing the indictment. He also knew that Plame was not a covert agent and that no law had been broken by revealing her identity and position.

From an MSNBC report:

Early in the inquiry, Armitage told authorities he was Novak’s source. Armitage said Fitzgerald asked him to not to say that publicly. Fitzgerald then pressed on with the investigation, questioning White House aides.

When Libby was indicted ... , Fitzgerald said Libby was the first official to discuss Plame in a conversation with New York Times reporter Judith Miller.

That’s where this week’s admission by Armitage muddles the case.

After Fitzgerald’s comment about Libby at a news conference, Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward reminded Armitage that he had made a passing comment to him days before Libby’s conversation with Miller. That meant that Armitage, not Libby, had been the first to mention it to a reporter, and he quickly informed the prosecutor of that recollection.

Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said Friday she believes Fitzgerald knew that no crime had been committed with the leak of Plame’s identity, yet he forced reporters to disclose their confidential sources and even sent Miller to jail.

“After a while, he didn’t care who the source was,” Dalglish said. “They just wanted to get somebody on obstruction.”

From an IBD editorial:

Isikoff notes that "Armitage himself was aggressively investigated" by Fitzgerald. So Armitage fessed up at the outset. Fitzgerald long ago knew whom Armitage talked to and when. And he knew it was Armitage, not Libby, who was responsible for outing Plame.

Fitzgerald's contention in October that Libby was "the first official known to have told a reporter . . . about Valerie Wilson" may therefore have been a lie.

Fitzgerald knew in the early days of his politicized witch hunt that no crime was committed. No one intentionally revealed the identity of a truly covert agent. Yet he made a reporter, Miller, spend nearly 90 days in jail for refusing to reveal her source.

Meanwhile, Fitzgerald refused to reveal to the public the true source. From top to bottom, this has been one of the most disgraceful abuses of prosecutorial power in this country's history. That it's taking place at a time of war only magnifies its sordidness.

But this take down of Fitzgeralds behavior by Victoria Toensing, writing in the WSJ, best lays out his political hackery:

During the investigation Mr. Fitzgerald learned that a former New York Times reporter, Cliff May, twice told the FBI that, prior to Mr. Novak's column, he had heard in an offhand way from a nongovernment employee that Mr. Wilson's wife worked for the CIA, a clear indication that her employment was known on the street. Ditto columnist Hugh Sidey, who wrote that Ms. Plame's name was "knocking around in the sub rosa world . . . for a long time."

Mr. Armitage, who came forward after Mr. Libby was indicted, was told in February 2006, after two grand jury appearances, he would not be indicted. Mr. Rove, however, after five grand jury appearances, was not informed until July 2006 he would not be charged. Mr. Fitzgerald made the Rove decision appear strained, a close call. Yet of the two men's conduct, Mr. Armitage's deserved more scrutiny. And Mr. Fitzgerald knew it. Each had testified before the grand jury about a conversation with Mr. Novak. Each had forgotten about a conversation with an additional reporter: Mr. Armitage with Mr. Woodward, Mr. Rove with Time's Matt Cooper. However, Mr. Rove came forward pre-indictment, immediately, when reminded of the second conversation. When Mr. Woodward attempted to ask Mr. Armitage about the matter, on two separate occasions pre-indictment, Mr. Armitage refused to discuss it and abruptly cut him off. To be charitable, assume he did not independently recall his conversation with Mr. Woodward. Would not two phone calls requesting to talk about the matter refresh his recollection? Now we also know Messrs. Armitage and Novak have vastly different recollections of their conversation. Isn't that what Mr. Libby was indicted for?

What Mr. Fitzgerald knew, and chose to ignore, is troublesome. Despite what some CIA good ol' boys might have told Mr. Fitzgerald, he knew from the day he took office that the facts did not support a violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act; therefore, there was no crime to investigate.

Every reasonable person who has looked at this case and facts surrounding it comes to the same conclusion - Fitzgerald abused his authority.

Let's not forget that Libby's indictment was based on the fact that he, as Toensing puts it, had a "different recollection[s]" of a conversation than a reporter did. A conversation that took place long before the investigation. This was the case with many of those questioned during the investigation. Why single out Libby? Why did Fitzgerald even question White House aides after Armitages admission and after establishing that no crime had been committed?

When someone is entrusted with the power to ruin peoples lives, they had better be damn careful about how they wield that power.


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