... In the aftermath of Libby's recent five-count indictment, this curious sequence raises a question of motives that hangs over the investigation: Why would an experienced lawyer and government official such as Libby leave himself so exposed to prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald?Not only am I glad to see Harry Reid once again pressing the case aggressively -- and can I say one more time how wrong I was about Reid? -- but I also think he's right.
Libby, according to Fitzgerald's indictment, gave a false story to agents and, later, to a grand jury, even though he knew investigators had his notes, and presumably knew that several of his White House colleagues had already provided testimony and documentary evidence that would undercut his own story. And his interviews with the FBI in October and two appearances before the grand jury in March 2004 came at a time when there were increasingly clear signs that some of the reporters with whom Libby discussed Plame could soon be freed to testify -- and provide starkly different and damning accounts to the prosecutor.
To critics, the timing suggests an attempt to obscure Cheney's role, and possibly his legal culpability. The vice president is shown by the indictment to be aware of and interested in Plame and her CIA status long before her cover was blown. Even some White House aides privately wonder whether Libby was seeking to protect Cheney from political embarrassment. One of them noted with resignation, "Obviously, the indictment speaks for itself."
In addition, Cheney also advised Libby on a media strategy to counter Plame's husband, former ambassador Wilson, according to a person familiar with the case.
"This story doesn't end with Scooter Libby's indictment," said Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), giving voice to widespread Democratic hopes about the outcome of Fitzgerald's case. "A lot more questions need to be answered by the White House about the actions of [Cheney] and his staff."
Libby's too smart and too experienced to get caught so easily. I think he's falling on his Halliburton-crafted sword to protect his boss. Such a scenario makes the already unlikely prospect of Libby ratting out his overlords even more unlikely, but perhaps Fitzgerald doesn't need to flip Libby to make the case. We'll see.
In any case, revelations like these can't be good news for Big Time. According to this recent Newsweek poll, only 29% of Americans believe that Dick Cheney is "honest and ethical." Even the hardcore supporters are fading away, with 26% of registered Republicans saying that even they don't trust Cheney. Ouch.