March 06, 2007
Shameless celebrity spooks on parade
Just in case you thought the Wilson-Plame bubble had finally burst . . .
On Saturday, March 17 at 7:00 p.m. at the Tishman Auditorium, 66 West 12th St. in New York City, Valerie Plame will make the first public appearance since the beginning of the Scooter Libby trial to discuss her life, her career, and the personal battle she and her husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson are fighting against the most powerful officials in the nation. It is a battle they are waging largely alone, a battle the Congress of the United States would not join, a battle that the news media shied away from, a battle few have the courage to fight.
Largely alone? The news media shied away from? Few have the courage to fight? Wilson and Plame have been the darlings of not only the news media but the entire liberal-left world for the past two years. How do they say this stuff with a straight face?
It's appropriate that her first public interview will be conducted by Keith Olbermann, a journalist who himself has demonstrated great courage and a profound sense of public duty. The MSNBC Countdown host challenged the abuses of power as few others did when a single party controlled the White House and Congress. In his "Special Comments," Olbermann has had the courage to speak truth to power.
It should be a remarkable evening as these two defenders of the First Amendment sit down together in the Tishman Auditorium on March 17 at 7:00 p.m.
Defenders of the First Amendment? What on earth does the Wilson-Plame controversy have to do with the First Amendment? Some of us are convinced he lied and others of us are convinced he didn't, but even if you are an ardent supporter of the celebrated CIA couple, how do you make this be about the First Amendment?
UPDATE: So now the celebrity spooks will really be strutting. Even though Libby's conviction has nothing to do with whether Joe lied or Valerie sent him to Niger. More below the fold.
UPDATE: Wilson is still hawking the "Bush Admin outed my wife" story. Unfuckingbelievable.
This is the entirety of Count 3 (and Count 5, as well): Libby testified that he told Cooper that reporters were telling him, Libby, that Valerie Plame Wilson worked for the CIA, but that he, Libby, did not know if it was true. Cooper testified that Libby did not say that. There are no notes, no recordings, no records, no nothing to support either man's story. Just Libby's testimony versus Cooper's testimony. And prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has asked the jury to convict Libby of a felony, one that carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, on that astonishingly flimsy allegation. No wonder the jury is confused.
This case doesn't stand for the truth when jurors are confused about instructions and basic concepts like "reasonable doubt" days and hours before handing down their verdict, after 9-10 days of deliberation. I'm sure I'll have more to say later. Fitzgerald stomped all over traditional Justice Department practices respecting the treatment and use of reporters. And for what? This case? Others of us have served as and with prosecutors. I have known many, many great ones over the years, including when I was chief of staff at the Justice Department. I must say I am extremely distressed by what has occurred here.
Under federal law, a person may be convicted on the uncorroborated word of a single witness — even if the witness is an accomplice. This happens more frequently than you would think. That's because, at least in multi-count indictments, many individual counts (or criminal transactions) are joined together under an overarching count in which the individual counts are subsets. In the Libby case, the overarching count was obstruction of justice, and it was like a generalized scheme or framework that incorporated the four remaining charges about lying to the FBI agents and to the grand jury on various occasions.
The reason this often happens is not hard to see. Let's take a drug case. If the whole case is about a single transaction — say, one cocaine deal that happens in a fleeting instant on a street corner. If that's all there is, and the government has only witness who said he saw it or participated in it, but it has no other proof (e.g., the drugs, photos, bank records, etc.), that is a flimsy count indeed — although the jury is free to convict if they believe the witness beyond a reasonable doubt. But if there are five counts, one saying the defendant was involved in a drug conspiracy of some duration and four other ones charging individual drug sales within the conspiracy, then it's not so flimsy anymore. As the saying goes, pieces of evidence are not looked at in isolation; the case is considered as a whole. If you believe there was a drug conspiracy, it becomes a lot more likely that the guy did the individual drug deals, even if the evidence supporting any single one of them is not overwhelming.
Finally, false statements to an agent are harder to prove than grand jury perjury, for reasons Byron has alluded to. The FBI's procedure is to take notes of interviews, not record them. In the grand jury, there is always at least a stenographer, and sometimes a videotape. Juries will often give the benefit of the doubt to a defendant on false statements, especially if the agents notes or independent recollection are not thorough. It looks like that's what happened here on the acquitted count. By contrast, in the grand jury, there is not uncertainty about what words were said (although there may be lots of uncertainty about meaning and intent).
Senator Harry Reid's response is what this trial was really about:
I welcome the jury's verdict. It's about time someone in the Bush Administration has been held accountable for the campaign to manipulate intelligence and discredit war critics. Lewis Libby has been convicted of perjury, but his trial revealed deeper truths about Vice President Cheney's role in this sordid affair. Now President Bush must pledge not to pardon Libby for his criminal conduct.It's a witch hunt.
Judith | 03/06/07 at 07:22 AM | Categories: - Useful idiots
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It's a "first amendment" issue the same way Israel is an "apartheid" issue. Some words and concepts have an impact that by-passes the cerebellum and hit you in the guts. If you want a level-headed, fair and reasonable lefty to switch off the brain, and switch control over to the spleen, then hit him (or her, no s*xim here) in the guts.
It's a made worse because the whole issue of Wilson/Plame is a classic scam - a house built of cards and everyone knows it. They're terrified that plucking one leaf out of the structure will bring the whole thing down on their heads.
Alevai it should happen.
Rampisad | March 6, 2007 11:36 AM