Friday, October 28, 2005

Walking The Plank

After listening to Patrick Fitzgerald's press conference, it seems clear to me that he believes the underlying crime of knowingly leaking a covert agent was committed but since Scooter Libby lied to the grand jury, it was not possible to fully determine his intent, therefore it was not possible to charge on that point. The fact that he is continuing his investigation implies that there are still avenues open to him that could provide sufficient evidence to prove the necessary intent on the underlying statute. Not just on Libby, but on others involved in a possible conspiracy to commit that underlying crime.

I think this is the worst possible outcome for the White House because not only does it reflect badly on the President and Vice President, it also ratchets up the interest in the case by the press as well as the American public. Now that Libby is facing 30 years in prison, it may also inspire other’s who are potential targets or witnesses to the leak, to begin cooperating with the prosecution. I’m sure other White House officials or ex-officials are not chomping at the bit to join Libby on the plank, especially considering that Libby’s loyalty to the Vice President appears so far to be a one-way street.

Fitzgerald did make it clear that his mandate does not extend beyond the national security breach committed through the outing of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame. He cautioned those who may be looking to his investigation to provide evidence in the fraudulent case for war that he did not consider that to fall within his prosecutorial powers. But even the MSM seem to be making the connection, so maybe they will begin to do their job in earnest and investigate the larger issues surrounding why it was so important to Scooter Libby, Karl Rove, Dick Cheney and others in the White House that Joe Wilson be discredited. Congress must also do their part in investigating the manipulation and possible manufacturing of intelligence that led us to war in Iraq, and hopefully the indictment of Scooter Libby will provide the political cover they think they need to move forward.

The five-count indictment handed up by the grand jury today feels almost anticlimactic, but really it is not. What we know now is that the Vice President’s Chief of Staff, leaked confidential information about a CIA agent to the press in an attempt to discredit a critic of their rationale for war. That is a big deal. A much bigger deal than Clinton getting a blow job in the oval office and lying about it. This is the most senior member of the Vice President’s staff and his closest advisor, risking national security for political payback. Presidencies have been brought down by less and maybe, just maybe, we are witnessing the beginning of the unraveling of this case and of this administration.

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