Thursday, November 17

Libby Spin-Cycle

As discussed on Dailykos today:

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Downie Stonewalls
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(from Crooks &
Washington Post Editor Len Downee appears on Wolf Blitzer and does a little lets-try-not-to-step-into-the-grand-jury dance over the recent revelations that Bob Woodward had been told by someone in the White House that "Valerie Plame worked for the CIA" before "Scooter" Libby had spoken with Matt Cooper.

Meanwhile this recent soundbite has been running around the Mediasphere that Woodwards revelation "totally exeronates" Libby - and the Patrick Fitzgerald was wrong when he said Libby was the "First official to tell" Plame's indentity. From the Moonie Times.

Bob Woodward's just-released statement, suggesting that on June 27, 2003, he may have been the reporter who told Scooter Libby about Joseph Wilson's wife, blew a gigantic hole in Patrick Fitzgerald's recently unveiled indictment of the vice president's former chief of staff.

. . . [T]he heart of his perjury theory was predicated upon the proposition that Mr. Libby learned of Valerie Plame's identity from other government officials and not from NBC's Tim Russert, as claimed by Mr. Libby. Indeed, Mr. Fitzgerald seemed to have a reasonable case because Mr. Russert, a respected and admired journalist, with no vested interest of his own, denied that he discussed the Mr. Wilson's matter with Mr. Libby.

However, given Mr. Woodward's account, which came to light after the Libby indictment was announced, that he met with Mr. Libby in his office -- armed with the list of questions, which explicitly referenced "yellowcake" and "Joe Wilson's wife" and may have shared this information during the interview -- it is entirely possible that Mr. Libby may have indeed heard about Mrs. Plame's employment from a reporter.

. . . Accordingly, Mr. Fitzgerald should do the right thing and promptly dismiss the indictment of Scooter Libby.

But as it turns out, it's not that simple. Beside the fact that the Libby Indictment clearly shows that Libby had already been told of Plame's status by the Undersecretary of State, the CIA and Dick Cheney on or before June 12th, Keith Olberman on MSNBC has shot the rest of that canard down with an elephant gun.

Keith Olberman:

[Scooter Libby's attorney Ted] Wells released a beautiful hunk of "chaff" -- the stuff submarine captains expel to try to throw off enemy torpedoes -- in his claim about Woodward's announcement that someone at the White House told him about Valerie Plame in June, 2003. Wells made it seem as if Woodward had just proved that Libby was not the first to leak Plame's name and/or job to a reporter, and that in so doing, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's case had just tumbled to the ground.

But he did it only by altering the truth. Wells issued a statement at midday, the key passage of which concludes that Woodward's "disclosure shows that Mr. Fitzgerald's statement at his press conference of October 28, 2005 that Mr. Libby was the first government official to tell a reporter about Mr. Wilson's wife was totally inaccurate."

But Fitzgerald never said that. The transcript of Fitzgerald's news conference is not disputed -- nobody from his office has called up trying to get it altered after the fact. On October 28, Fitzgerald actually said: "Mr. Libby was the first government official known to have told a reporter" about Ambassador Joe Wilson's wife.

"The first government official known to have told..." is a huge difference from "The first government official to tell..." . . . This is no one-word parsing nonsense. Not only does that meaning of "known" change entirely the meaning of Fitzgerald's statement, but its related root words (know, knowing, knowingly etc) have been the keys to whether or not anybody was indicted for revealing Plame's covert status at the CIA.

The problem, of course, is that such subtlety can shoot right past those who either want to miss it, or are in too much of a hurry to check the transcript. I read Wells' quote and thought `that doesn't sound right.' The producers of ABC's World News Tonight read Wells' quote and evidently didn't hear any such alarm bells. The transcript is not yet out, but at 6:30 ET tonight, Elizabeth Vargas stated -- and I am paraphrasing -- that the Woodward revelations were important because they contradicted Patrick Fitzgerald's statement that Libby was the first to leak.


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