Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Could Big Time Do Some Hard Time?

"WASHINGTON, Oct. 24 - I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, first learned about the C.I.A. officer at the heart of the leak investigation in a conversation with Mr. Cheney weeks before her identity became public in 2003, lawyers involved in the case said Monday.

Notes of the previously undisclosed conversation between Mr. Libby and Mr. Cheney on June 12, 2003, appear to differ from Mr. Libby's testimony to a federal grand jury that he initially learned about the C.I.A. officer, Valerie Wilson, from journalists, the lawyers said."
Alright, take a deep breath.

This is definitely bad news for Scooter, since his perjury is now so obvious that even the media is pointing it out. And, as we know, the media is always the last one to speak out in a way that might be construed as being critical of the Bush administration. (As I type this, Daryn Kagan, a.k.a the Woman Who Sees Rush Limbaugh Naked, is on CNN doing her best to defend Scooter and his boss.)

What this means for Cheney isn't clear. If true, it certainly contradicts the many public statements he's made about not knowing anything about Joe Wilson and his wife. If Cheney made the same claims before the grand jury, then that might seem to indicate that he too committed perjury, as suggested here. I think there's a possibility that Big Time could soon be doing hard time, but I'm trying not to get my hopes up.

But, oh, it's tough.


Mr Furious said...

Did Cheney testify before the grand jury? I can't find anything more than "Cheny was interviewed by investigators over a year ago."

I find it difficult to believe that Cheney would allow himself to be under oath on this at any time (to this point). He may be unable to avoid that now, but I think he might have gotten away with the same kind of bullshit "interview" he and Bush had for the 9/11 Commision. NOT under oath.

So perjury might be out. Obstruction of Justice, perhaps?

The most delicious irony of the whole case is that the Republicans set the precedent for Cheney or Bush having to go before a grand jury and face indictments because of the way they went after Clinton. Exxxcelent...

Otto Man said...

The link (to firedoglake) has all the Cheney speculation you could ever want.

Thrillhous said...

Thanks for that link, Otto. Very delicious speculation.

I think I've read that Bush also testified, but that he wasn't under oath.

I'm still fighting the urge to get excited. I just can't see the guys who control all levers of government power going down. I'm guessing they pin everything on Scooter and somehow everyone else wiggles out of it. The noise machine convinces the media that if you haven't been indicted then you're completely exonerated, and Russert & co. will run with it.

Smitty said...

I thought I read somewhere that by disclosing these identities, a law was actually broken. There has been a rash of "conservative" comments posted to blogs that are making a claim that no law was ever broken, and that Dems better be careful what they wish for, as Billy Clinton "perjured" himself too but was never busted for it. Of course, they're getting all their info from the No Spin Zone...

So my question is...I thought I saw once, maybe even on your blog, an actual legal citation concerning the federal law that was broken by this disclosure. That means that outside of perjury, which is bad enough, there actually WAS a law that was broken. Anyone have that handy?

Otto Man said...

Can't remember the exact cite now, but people had been speculating that a 1982 law protecting covert agents' identities might be operable. It seems Fitzgerald has shifted from that to perjury and obstruction charges.

Hey, they got Capone on failure to pay income tax.

Thrillhous said...

Yeah, I don't remember either, Smitty (you might try firedoglake, the blog Otto linked to in the post; they've been all over this stuff).

I think in addition to the Reagan era act, which is very specific and hard to bust people with (you have to prove, among other things, that the person who leaked the classified ID did so knowingly and with the purpose of outing the agent; pretty high standard), the Espionage Act is also in play. Apparently it's covers a broader range of nastiness.

Smitty said...

I'll look into those. Thanks, guys.

I wonder if, in the end, an indictment doesn't matter. I wonder if, with all of this, the damage has been done. This is like the end of Clinton's last term, with all the legal stuff getting chucked at him. I am not saying that a b.j. in the Oval Office (which, by the way, if I was President, I would schedule every single day from noon to 1) is nearly as heinous as what we face here, but the ciurcumstances around its effect I think are similar.

I am not holding my breath for an indictment. Instead, I think this is what changes the tide back away from conservative dominance into the realm of AT LEAST reasonable centrism. The damage has been done to Bush and his ilk, including his fellow conservatives in the legislature, regardless of indictments.

Otto Man said...

Actually, I think we're seeing a replay of the start of the Clinton years, when conservatives flooded the zone with "scandals" that never happened (the LAX haircut) or weren't scandals ("Travelgate," which was the routine firing of non-civil-service political appointees by a new administration), *and* stood their ground on big issues (health care, gays in the military, etc.) The end result was an image that the administration was incompetent/corrupt and we needed to vote in the other party to counterbalance it.

Same thing here, though the scandals seem much more serious (DeLay, Frist, Plame) and the big issue flops much more tragic (Iraq, Katrina, Social Security). I think we could see a huge Democratic sweep in 2006 that would make the GOP one of 1994 look like nothing.

Of course, first the Dems have to get a coherent message out. This article doesn't give much hope, but pieces on Rahm Emanuel and Chuck Schumer's work in the DCCC and DSCC respectively is giving me hope.

Plus, new poll on CNN today that shows dissatisfaction with the GOP is much higher than it was with the Dems back then. No reason to coast -- it's going to be full on for the next 12 months -- but there's real hope at the end.