Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Will Cheney Be Sitting Behind Bush Tonight?

At least the opening of the Libby trial hasn't been boring (see Kevin Drum). Both the defense and prosecution make Cheney a central figure in the Leakgate affair that came out of Bush Administration deceptions about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq (specifically the Niger/Iraq uranium yellowcake story that Joe Wilson debunked). If nothing else, Patrick Fitzgerald may put a number of things on the record, after all.

There are a number of blogs covering the Libby trial so I wasn't planning on doing much but this is a huge story after all and I've been following it since the day I picked up the paper in early September 2002 and read about the famous aluminum tubes just as the campaign to justify the war began; I remember it as a red flag moment—the timing was just too cute (I grumbled for weeks but as I have noted elsewhere, I didn't come out fully against the coming war until February of 2003).

In the excerpt below, I'm quoting from the reliable Steven Clemons of The Washington Note though MSNBC has already updated parts of the story (I dislike this practice, by the way, and prefer major updates to be noted, or simply a new story to be written):
Wow. This just from MSNBC news alert:
WASHINGTON -- Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald used his opening statement in the CIA leak trial Tuesday to allege that Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff lied about Cheney's early involvement in the disclosure of a spy's identity.

Fitzgerald said Cheney told his chief of staff, "Scooter" Libby, in 2003 that the wife of Iraq critic and former ambassador Joseph Wilson worked for the CIA, and that Libby spread that information to reporters. When that information got out, it triggered a federal investigation.

Think Progress has more specific details about what the prosecution said:
Libby is now on trial for perjury. His defense is that he simply forgot who told him that Plame worked for the CIA. But in court today, prosecutors outlined a powerful case establishing that Libby had reason to remember who told him and motive to cover it up. MSNBC’s David Schuster said today’s revelations from prosecutors are “new and will astound a number of people, even those who have been following this case.” Among the new claims:
– “Vice President Cheney himself directed Scooter Libby to essentially go around protocol and deal with the press and handle press himself…to try to beat back the criticism of administration critic Joe Wilson.”

– Cheney personally “wrote out for Scooter Libby what Libby should say in a conversation with Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper.”

– “Scooter Libby destroyed a note from Vice President Cheney about their conversations and about how Vice President Cheney wanted the Wilson matter handled.”

And here's the story from the defense side from The Guardian:
Attorneys for former White House aide ``Scooter'' Libby said Tuesday that Bush administration officials tried to blame him for the leak of a CIA operative's name to cover up for Bush political adviser Karl Rove's own disclosures.

Attorney Theodore Wells, in the opening statements of I. Lewis Libby's perjury trial, said Libby went to Vice President Dick Cheney in 2003 and complained that the White House was subtly blaming him for leaking Valerie Plame's identity to columnist Robert Novak.

``They're trying to set me up. They want me to be the sacrificial lamb,'' Wells said, recalling the conversation between Libby and Cheney. ``I will not be sacrificed so Karl Rove can be protected.''

Karl Rove and Scooter Libby. Now that's quite a pair. In Dante's Inferno, in one of the rings of hell, two ambitious thugs whose conspiracy unravelled spend their hours blaming each other for their downfall and they are doomed to gnaw at each over and over until the end of time. I don't wish such a fate on Rove and Libby, but they seem to be wishing it on each other.

Of course Libby blaming the White House for making him the fall guy to protect Karl Rove is a bit of a crock. When Bush, Cheney, Rove and Libby are involved, bad things just seem to happen? I seriously doubt that Bush or Cheney will be impeached because of the politics involved and the failure of the media and the continuing failure of a now Republican minority in Congress to come to grips with a reckless and law-breaking administration, but no one should doubt that the president and vice president are impeachable for any number of things they have done, including committing fraud in making the case for war in Iraq. If not for the protection of a rubber stamp Republican Congress, a number of Bush Administration figures would also have faced prosecution by now.

Perhaps Bush will make a lame crack or two tonight in reference to Cheney or Libby. If Cheney is sitting behind him, it will be one more embarrassment for Bush. And the nation.

Note: I'm still inclined to let other bloggers follow the trial closely but I'll be popping my head in now and then.

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