Patterico's Pontifications

7/4/2007

Scooter Libby Couldn’t Serve Even One Day?

Filed under: Crime,General,Politics — Patterico @ 1:25 am

Should somebody who commits perjury and obstruction of justice serve absolutely no prison time at all — not even one day?

The Bush Administration often has a different view, reports the L.A. Times:

[R]ecords show that the Justice Department under the Bush administration frequently has sought sentences that are as long, or longer, in cases similar to Libby’s. Three-fourths of the 198 defendants sentenced in federal court last year for obstruction of justice — one of four crimes Libby was found guilty of in March — got some prison time. According to federal data, the average sentence defendants received for that charge alone was 70 months.

It’s misleading to compare Libby’s sentence to that of all other defendants who committed the same crime. In the criminal justice system, several factors are used to determine the appropriate sentence, and among the most critical factors is the defendant’s criminal record (or lack thereof). By all accounts, Scooter Libby’s criminal record before this trial was spotless. So the relevant question is not what the average sentence is, but what the average sentence is for someone with no criminal record.

But it appears that, in at least one case found by The Times, the Bush Administration did not consider a spotless criminal record to be a “get out of prison free” card [UPDATE: Actually, The Times gets the facts wrong. See UPDATE below, and thanks to Stu707]:

Just last week, the Supreme Court upheld a 33-month prison sentence for a decorated Army veteran who was convicted of lying to a federal agent about buying a machine gun. The veteran had a record of public service — fighting in Vietnam and the Gulf War — and no criminal record. But Justice Department lawyers argued his prison term should stand because it fit within the federal sentencing guidelines.

[UPDATE: Actually, this defendant did indeed have a criminal record. It just didn’t count for purposes of the Sentencing Guidelines. See this post for further details.]

Libby’s sentence fit within the guidelines as well. And, ironically, the Bush Administration has been pushing legislation that, according to a speech given by AG Gonzales, would “restore the binding nature of the sentencing guidelines so that the bottom of the recommended sentencing range would be a minimum for judges, not merely a suggestion.”

Yet Bush commuted Libby’s sentence before he had served even a single day. Like so many other aspects of this commutation, this was unusual, as Presidents typically commute sentences after the prisoner has served most of it:

Sentencing experts said Bush’s action appeared to be without recent precedent. They could not recall another case in which someone sentenced to prison had received a presidential commutation without having served any part of that sentence. Presidents have customarily commuted sentences only when someone has served substantial time.

“We can’t find any cases, certainly in the last half century, where the president commuted a sentence before it had even started to be served,” said Margaret Colgate Love, a former pardon attorney at the Justice Department. “This is really, really unusual.”

By commuting Libby’s sentence before he started serving it, Bush has trivialized the crimes of perjury and obstruction of justice. If Bush thought Libby’s sentence was too harsh, he could have allowed Libby to serve what he believed to be an appropriate amount of time — and commuted the sentence then. But apparently, even one day in custody was too much for Bush’s pal.

Keep in mind that Scooter Libby would undoubtedly have served his time at a minimum security facility. I have visited the federal minimum security prison at Lompoc, California, and while it’s not a “country club,” it’s not what most people think of when they think of “prison,” either. Most of the prison is outside. There are no walls or fences; you could simply walk out of prison if you wished. (Prisoners don’t, typically, because the consequences of getting caught include a transfer to the maximum security facility.) Inmates play softball, milk cows, and sleep in dormitory-style accomodations. I’m not saying it looks like a fun life, because it doesn’t. But it’s not 23 hours a day locked in a jail cell with someone named Bubba.

In California, misdemeanor defendants face mandatory jail time for repeat offenses of driving on a suspended license — one of the lowest-level crimes on the books. And they go to L.A. County Jail — a far less pleasant place than minimum security federal prison.

Paris Hilton went to jail. Scooter Libby couldn’t serve even one day?

112 Responses to “Scooter Libby Couldn’t Serve Even One Day?”

  1. Why didn’t they let libbey stay out of jail until his appeals were exausted.

    Davod (3392f5)

  2. why shuld he even spent one day in jail he is a good man. also, prsident Bush is a good man.

    joe kowalski (d22e91)

  3. Sorry, Bill Clinton is the person who trivialized perjury and obstruction of justice. Making Libby go to jail for the same crime Clinton committed would be completely unjustified.

    sharon (dfeb10)

  4. Libby was convicted in a political show trial, the gun runner was convicted in a crinminal trial.

    gahrie (de5a83)

  5. Was Libby not at one point booked? Any detention no matter how short counts as a day in custody. If you are arrested 1 minute before midnight and released 1 minute after midnight, that is the equivalent of two days in custody. This is how it is for other defendants, so why do people always expect famous people to be treated differently? If Hilton had been anyone else, she would have been cut loose almost immediately.

    sam (76bc96)

  6. Just last week, the Supreme Court upheld a 33-month prison sentence for a decorated Army veteran who was convicted of lying to a federal agent about buying a machine gun.

    Nice smear job, comparing lying/bad memory to a non-crime to buying a machine gun.

    The whole thing was a political witch hunt. Fitz-fong had to show something for his waste of tax-payers money, any scalp would do.

    Gerald A (df9da4)

  7. At least GWB allowed the public to hear the evidence, the guilty verdict and sentencing.

    Was his father wiser to pardon Weinberger and Crew
    BEFORE IT WENT TO TRIAL?

    http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/06/29/reviews/iran-pardon.html

    Semanticleo (10a7bd)

  8. Yeah, why couldn’t Libby at least spend a day in jail just like the Justice Department made that guy who tried to protect HIS boss by lying and stealing classified documents and destroying all copies of secret documents –what’s his name? Oh yeah, Sandy Bergler!

    Oh wait….never mind.

    The problem with Bush is not that he commuted Libby’s sentence and fired a handful of Justice Department prosecutors. His problem is that he didn’t fire the whole lot of them, along with most of the rest of the Justice Department. Hard to tell who is the worst at undermining American’s fight against Islamicists — the CIA or the J.D.

    Eric (2829d9)

  9. I love how Patterico takes the time to present a well reasoned argument, and then the mouth breathers come forward with gems like (which in their own mind are apparent self-evident truths):

    1. Libby is a “good man” so he shouldn’t have to serve any time for his crime.

    2. Clinton perjured himself, so we get to do it too!

    3. Berger did bad stuff, so we get to do bad stuff too!

    4. It was a “show trial,” not a criminal trial (despite being prosecuted by a Bush appointee, judged by a Bush appointee, and tried before a jury).

    Pssshaw (ece2f7)

  10. Compare Libby to Paris Hilton when Libby violates his probation. Otherwise, next.

    jpm100 (44e950)

  11. Yeah, these same poster here would be exploding with righteous indignation if a Democratic president were doing the exact same thing Bush is doing. Therefore, they are hypocrites whose opinions about the Libby commutation can be easily disregarded. Libby lied to investigators, obstructed an investigation unto the underlying crime of who ordered Plame’s outing, and does not do a day in jail. You may convince yourselves that Libby’s conviction or even trial was unwarranted, but seventy percent of the populations disagrees with you. You would be wise to pay heed to Patterico on this matter. This move was a credibility killer not just for Bush, but for the whole “Law and Order” meme republicans have manipulated for the past twenty five years.

    english teacher (b84357)

  12. So the bottom line is this.

    Bush supporters dont think its right that someone go to jail for obstructing an investigation into who leaked the identify of a woman who spent over 20 years working undercover to find those seeking to gain WMDs!!!… ya! that is what it comes down to.. Ask Sharon he will tell you.. this is actually no different from about sex with an intern. He could have added ,in fact it’s worse since in that case they demanded Clinton’s impeachment.

    And yes the real problem, according to Eric is the CIA who demanded an investigation into who leaked the name of one of their agents and the DOJ who followed up!!! Should have let the entire matter slide.. In fact the Republican prosecutor was just conducting a show trial which for any scalp would do, according to Gerald Yup a show trial at CIA request and Bush should have fired them all and, I assume, appoint prosecutors who didnt care if secret agents have their lives endangered or their valuable work destroyed.

    But Joe says it best. In spite of leading us into a war for no good reasons, in spite of lying to us about wiretapping with court orders, in spite of neglecting to follow up on the PDB entitled OBL Determined to Strike in US, in spite of failing to protect our southern borders and in spite of appointing cronyies to high positions and now inspite of commuting the sentence of a man convicted of blocking an investigation into a matter of this importance, Bush is really a good man! These are fascists at heart who put the very survival of the US second to the protection of the Leader because they hate freedom so much..

    Trying to reason with people who take these
    position is like trying to talk to a men ass deep in cockroaches and crap and trying to get them to understand that, yes, garbage stinks! DONT DARE TELL EM IF ANY DEMOCRAT HAD DONE THE EXACT THING YOU WOULD BE SPINNING LIKE THIS. Tony Soprano would have been proud of you boys!

    Charlie (04c679)

  13. The whole Libbey crucifixion was a judicial sham of the worst sort…

    IF” anyone should be doing jail time it should have been that ass-clown Fitzgerald…

    Let’s NOT forget what the original reason was for the special parasite, I mean prosecutor for…

    juandos (9c8c3b)

  14. Excessive Irony…

    No story here. Move along. Apparently some think there is excessive interest in in the excessive treatment of Scooter Libby. If you work for George Bush and George Bush says he respects the jury system, you still need not adhere to the verdict or …

    The Heretik (694660)

  15. Pat, Never rely on the LA Times to present complete facts when it comes to the Bush Administration. As I pointed out in another thread you can find the opinion in Rita vs US here.

    The case involves importing kits to convert legal weapons into machine guns. Clearly this offense involves far greater danger to society than lying about a conversation with Tim Russert. Also the defendant did have a prior conviction for a firearms law violation. However, it was more than 10 years before the current conviction and thus he was considered to have no prior conviction for purposes of the guidelines.

    If you read the case you will see that he did other things to try to deceive investigating agents.

    His military service consisted of both active and reserve status.

    Stu707 (5b299c)

  16. Patterico,

    Let me ask you a hypothetical:

    The scenario: A senior white house aide is charged with perjury and obstruction of justice. He is found guilty in a trial marked by much political fireworks and with evidence and procedures which have given rise to an appeal. Furthermore, the specific crimes that are alleged (proven pending appeal if you prefer) were not crimes with readily observed consequences, as perhaps would have been the original crime being investigated. (The original “crime” being the “outing” Valerie Plame, if it was a crime, which apparently it was not, as the person who committed the act, Armitage, has not been charged with anything). Also, the person in question has a long history of public service without blemish prior to this.

    The question: Is it reasonable to allow such person to remain out of jail while pending appeal?

    If you tell me, “No, it’s such a serious crime the person needs to be in jail no matter what the actual consequences of the crime were, no matter the circumstances of the trial and the possibility of overturnming the verdict on appeal, no matter if the person is a first offender, no matter if the person is not a flight risk”, then I’ll give you your opinion without disagreement.

    If, however, you think that beginning his sentence could be delayed pending the appeal process I have to agree with Lord Nazh, Dubious D, Mike K, and any others who made the following point (quoted). “The judge had no reason other than rancor to force Libby to prison while his appeal was pending.”

    Although I would add political maneuvering (on some level/motivation) to the simple reason of “rancor”.

    Whether purposeful or not, the courts put President Bush in a difficult position. His (some say few) remaining supporters generally wanted Libby pardoned, not because they think perjury and obstruction of justice are no big deal, but because they believe the whole effort was largely politically motivated and is still used, even by Fitzgerald, to support the claim that the White House was behind a conspiracy to discredit Wilson and “sought revenge” by “outing” his wife. (Discrediting Wilson did not need the assistance of the Administration, as you have pointed out yourself; and the person who “outed” Plame was not charged with anything).

    President Bush obviously didn’t pardon Libby, aggravating many in his base. He didn’t pardon Libby (I assume) because he wants to let the appeal process continue, thinking there is a significant possibility that Libby will be cleared. This would not only allow Libby to regain his status and some of his reputation, but also allow the President to avoid the politically difficult situation he is now in.

    The courts rulings had the effect, planned or not, to force the President’s hand, to a degree. Had Libby been allowed to remain free pending appeal, none of this would have happened (at least not now). By forcing the sentence to begin, President Bush had reason to immediately face not only the political difficulty, but the moral one of whether he thought Libby had done a crime that would be upheld on appeal, and needed to fulfill his sentence.

    The outcome is what we have, commuting his sentence so that he is spared jail time. Which pleases few people, probably fewer than either of the other options. My understanding is that if his appeal goes through, but he is again convicted, he would be at risk of sentencing again to jail time.

    I will be lazy for the moment and let a more knowledgable person answer this- what judges ruled on the need to start the sentence? Is this an appeals court that has it’s full complement of judges? What do we know about the justices involved? Do they have a reputation for fairness and integrity that rises above even their strongest political leanings?

    A totally different issue is the one brought up on the previous thread that not only were Fitzgerald and Libby on different sides of the Rich case, but the DOJ official who appointed Fitzgerald was working with him against Libby on the Rich case. This is the first time I heard this, and I assume it is true as I did not see anyone contest it (though I could have missed it). I know there was discussion as to whether Ashcroft needed to recuse himself from the process or not, but he took the position of avoiding even the appearance of prejudicial thinking. What about this fact? Personal grudges probably trump political views most of the time on an individual level. Lawyers, being human like the rest of us, are not above action out of personal animosity.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  17. “Why didn’t they let libbey stay out of jail until his appeals were exausted.”

    Because he didn’t meet the legal standard required for that.

    whitd (734351)

  18. Prosecutors everywhere should be disgusted with the Bush administration. From his playing politics with U.S. Attorneys to his pardon for his friend Scooter, Bush has shown contempt for the justice system.

    Bush has denied 4,000 requests for commutation of sentence and has issued 4, including Scooter, since he has been president, fewer than any president in over 100 years. Of the thousands of requests, only his friend and subordinate, Scooter, deserved a commutation without even asking for one?

    Pug (f39a67)

  19. Was Libby denied bail because he is a flight risk or at risk to reoffend? No. He was denied bail because the judge said his decision isn’t likely to be overturned. Of course, I haven’t heard a judge yet who said their decision would or should ever be overturned.

    Vatar (085be7)

  20. whitd-

    For some of us who do not have your legal background, but come here for instruction, could you explain what the specifics are that show he “didn’t meet the legal standard required for that” (staying out of jail while his initial appeal was under review)?

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  21. Interesting. In Rita, the government never proved that the PPSH 41 kit could in fact produce a machine gun. Just as in the Libby case, where Fitzgerald did not prove there was an underlying IIPA or Espionage Act violation.

    Prosecutors BELIEVED that buyers of the kit could assemble a machine gun from the kit, and thatthose kits consequently amounted to machineguns …

    Also of interest, Rita’s perjury interfered with the government’s potential “obstruction of justice”calim against the seller of the kit (Not thatthe kit was in fact capable of making a machine gun).

    At any rate, President Bush has exercised his constitutional power to adjust a court-imposed sentence, wehre that court-imposed sentence was not outside the norm. Special treatment? Of course it is. Some people are more equal than others.

    cboldt (3d73dd)

  22. The statutory standard for staying free on bail is that the defendant must raise a legal issue that is a “close call” during his appeal.

    The trial court reviewed Libby’s proposed appellate arguments, and concluded none of them were close questions. The Appellate Court reviewed Libby’s arguments independently, and reached the same conclusion. I say the review was independent, because the Circuit Court didn’t indicate any deference to the trial court, the Circuit Court referred to the statute as applied in a Circuit Court decision.

    cboldt (3d73dd)

  23. “For some of us who do not have your legal background, but come here for instruction, could you explain what the specifics are that show he “didn’t meet the legal standard required for that” (staying out of jail while his initial appeal was under review)?”

    He needed to show that his case raised a substantial question. That it was “close” or “could be decided the other way.” The 3 judges of the appellate court said no. Because he is quite unlikely to win his appeal.

    whitd (6623fa)

  24. cboldt and whitd-
    Thank you for your responses. If I have opportunity, I’ll need to look up their opinion, as well as stay out of their district lest I get arrested and would want a fair trial. The quotes from the jury revealed anything but impartiality without prejudice. The quotes also revealed at least some of the jury members did not know or understand the facts of the surrounding investigation and the nature of the charges they found Libby guilty of.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  25. Gee, prosecutors must REALLY hate the constitution!
    And again, if he wasn’t “Bush’s pal” he never would have been prosecuted in the first place.

    Peter Wilson (d63e2b)

  26. I’m not familiar with federal court. Is it unusual for a defendant to be denied bail while his case is on appeal?

    I work in a state court. Every day, there are defendants who “walk in the front door and out the back” — no bail while appeal is pending and no reporting date, either. If you’re sentenced to jail, your sentence starts today.

    lc (1401be)

  27. #21 cboldt

    I did not see anything in the Rita case where the prosecutors proved that the kits could be used to convert weapons into machine guns. Neither did I see any assertion by the defense that they were not capable. Had they been incapable I would think the defense would make that argument to lessen the severity of the underlying offense that is the basis for calculating the severity of offense under the guidelines.

    In Rita the sentencing judge used the Probation Officer’s calculation of the severity of the offense. Justice Bryer’s opinion also says that the Probation Officer found no basis for a downward revision from the offense severity calculation.

    In Libby’s case the Probation Officer calculated the offense as calling for a sentence of 15-21 months and identified grounds for downward revision that would allow a sentence of probation and/or home confinement. (Disclosure–I am a retired Probation Officer and may place more importance on my former colleagues’ sentencing calculations than others.)

    Since the President, any President, personally reviews only a small number of requests for executive clemency, any grant of such clemency is exceptional.

    Stu707 (5b299c)

  28. So…on a related subject…what is the legal situation for Al Gore, Junior? Shouldn’t he get jail time, this time? Just askin’.

    Nameless (a40e24)

  29. #27 Stu – Thanks for the insight from the inside.
    One of the points to my observations is that the “no proof of underlying crime” quality was present in Rita’s case too – and like Rita, Libby didn’t argue that at the trial.
    I agree the grant was exceptional. It’s clearly a personal favor. “Rank has its privileges.”

    cboldt (3d73dd)

  30. I guess Libby should have said to any and all that asked, “yes, I told everyone I know that a woman by the name of Valerie Plame works for the CIA. She has a desk job at Langly and everyone who knows her knows what she does. She used to be covert, but hasn’t been now for 5 or 6 years.” Then there would have been no reason for a trial.

    Jackie Warner (41f17a)

  31. Pattterico, and those who “know” that he comitted perjury and not, for instance Time Russert who filed a false pleading to the court. And of course it was a “Republican” judge who would not allow a memory expert to testify because he said there was no recognized science and would not allow Andrea Mitchell’s testimony before hearingit away formr the jury. I, on the other hand, watched the entire O.J. Simpson trial and lost my virginity regarding the infallability of juries.

    Kent schmidt (d382e5)

  32. cboldt–You’re welcome. I do not have any personal knowledge of this case. What I post here is based upon my reading of prosecution and defense sentencing memoranda that are available to anyone.

    I believe, but am not certain, that Libby tried to argue the underlying offense at his trial, but was prevented when Judge Walton upheld the Prosecution’s objection.

    One of the complaints that Libby’s supporters have is that Fitz did everything he could to avoid the IIPA definition of “covert” during the trial, then brought it in at sentencing.

    I still think that lying about a machine gun conversion kit is more serious than lying about a conversation with Tim Russert.

    Stu707 (5b299c)

  33. These are fascists at heart who put the very survival of the US second to the protection of the Leader because they hate freedom so much..

    Charlie,

    Those who throw around the term “fascist” with such ease are usually the ones engaging in fascist tendencies. This is the second post of yours I’m directly responding to, by the way. You had not the motivation to read responses to your insane post in the first Libby thread.

    You have a major problem, one that exists between your chair and your keyboard. You seem to think that agreeing with the President — nay, believing him to be a moral if not flawed man — is the same as being a cheerleader. That is just an absurd position to take. GWB did the right thing in commuting Libby’s sentence. You may disagree all you like, but I suggest you cease insulting those who do agree.

    Your posts are not arguments but rather screeds of vitriolic remarks. And for that you should be ashamed. Deeply, deeply ashamed.

    Grow up, Charlie.

    H2U (338ff2)

  34. I agree with you about Libby, H2U, BUT… Charlie should be “deeply, deeply ashamed” for insulting you?

    C’mon. It’s a blog. Lighten up.

    Christoph (8741c8)

  35. #32 Stu – Libby tried to use the absence of proof of underlying offense at all phases of the prosecution. Some Libby supporters argue that absent an underlying offense, the entire action, from investigation through trial, was a partisan witch-hunt; and further, that absent proof of an underlying offense (or because Armitage was a Novak source, or for various other reasons), Libby’s statements to investigators could not be material. That’s a notion that I hold to ridicule.
    I agree with the notion that the “possibility of IIPA violation” should not have entered into the sentencing decision and argument – just as a matter of good taste and discretion.
    I think lying to investigators is serious, regardless of the gravity of the underlying offense – and I disagree that Libby’s offense amounts to “lying about a conversation with Tim Russert.”
    Investigators wondered if Libby was capable of sourcing “Wilson’s wife works at the CIA” to reporters, and Libby’s tale, if believed, results in the conclusion that Libby could not have sourced that fact to reporters.

    cboldt (3d73dd)

  36. The Libby case was, from the start, a political conflict between the Administration, and those on the Left (NYT, WP, etc) which wish to do it harm.

    The power of Presidential Pardon &/or Commutation, is ABSOLUTE!

    The President has no obligation to explain why he grants a pardon, nor any to explain his denial of same. It is a Constitutional Power. If you don’t like it, have the Committee on the Judiciary begin Impeachment proceedings, or a Constitutional Ammendment.

    If those choices upset you, too ….ing bad!

    Another Drew (a28ef4)

  37. Christoph 34 –
    No, Charlie should be ashamed for his juvenile behavior, and ad-hominum attacks for which he knows he cannot be disciplined.

    Another Drew (a28ef4)

  38. Stu707,

    Thank you for the information about Rita v. U.S. I will update the post and will likely do a separate post about it.

    Patterico (2a65a5)

  39. Patterico

    I agree with the President on this based on two specific points…

    The Probation report recommended probation and the judge allowed Fitz to grandstand on allegations that never were put before the jury.

    That’s just plain dirty pool. I’d decry any prosecutor doing it, it makes a mockery of the jury system, as flawed as it is.

    Darleen (187edc)

  40. “Thank you for your responses. If I have opportunity, I’ll need to look up their opinion, as well as stay out of their district lest I get arrested and would want a fair trial.”

    Yeah. Stay away from republican judges and prosecutors.

    whitd (41fec7)

  41. Patterico,

    Nobody is going to change anybody’s mind here, I suspect, so it’s an exercise in futility to even try. But for the record, this is, I think, how most of Libby’s supporters, myself included, view the case:

    There was no basis for an investigation in the first place, and not because the identity of Ms. Plame’s supposed leaker was known to Fitzgerald from the get-go. Rather, Joe Wilson lied, in the pages of the New York Times and elsewhere, and rather than rebut his lies, as Scooter tried to do, the Administration acquiesced to Democratic political pressure to undertake a criminal investigation. Because, you know, the war in Iraq is based on false pretenses, Bush is Hitler, Cheney is the Devil, the 2000 election was stolen, Halliburton, oil, Halliburton, Hilter, Devil, etc, etc.

    In other words, this was a show trial, born of a desire to criminalize differences in public policy and midwifed by the Bush Administration’s cowardice in confronting its partisan adversaries.

    Under those circumstances, it is not just — even if the trial, and subsequent sentence, were procedurally correct, with every i dotted and every t crossed; and even if a conflict between your recollections and Tim Russert’s constitutes a crime under our law — that Scooter should spend even one day in jail.

    You’re an official in our Nation’s criminal justice system, Patrick, and so it’s understandable that you would sympathize with the system’s work product. But for those of us on the outside looking it, the implications of this case are alarming. If our political differences can be made into crimes, then any one of us could suffer Scooter’s fate. And that is what Scooter’s backers are resisting.

    To the degree that Scooter’s conviction and sentence reveal larger inequities in our system of justice, then you have an argument for reform. But the implications of this case are profound, and the result unjust. Accordingly, to borrow from your parlance, the result must be vacated.

    Paul (501161)

  42. I still think that lying about a machine gun conversion kit …
    Alleged machine gun conversion kit.
    … was more serious than lying about a conversation with Tim Russert.
    But was it more serious than lying in an investigation aimed to find out who disclosed the identity of an alleged covert agent?

    cboldt (3d73dd)

  43. “There was no basis for an investigation in the first place, and not because the identity of Ms. Plame’s supposed leaker was known to Fitzgerald from the get-go.”

    Didn’t some of libby’s crimes occur before Fitz came on board? So from teh get go, there was a basis to investigate.

    “But for those of us on the outside looking it, the implications of this case are alarming. If our political differences can be made into crimes, then any one of us could suffer Scooter’s fate.”

    I’d recommend you not commit any crimes while you express your political opinion before a grand jury.

    whitd (41fec7)

  44. whitd,

    I was legitimately thanking you. I was also seriously critical about aspects of the trial, whether the judge and prosecutor were Repubs, Dems, Socialists, or Communists.
    Heck, when the Dems have someone who disagrees with them they try to get rid of him (see Liebermann). When the Repubs have the same situation, the party tries to present how non-monolithic the Repubs are as a good thing, the press uses the situation to say, “See!! Even his own party disagrees!!” So who knows what a “Repub” justice or DA thinks. Besides, in a courtroom with an individual on trial it shouldn’t matter.

    I was referring to the fact that journalists were on the jury and jury members wondered why “other people in the administration who were part of the conspiracy and coverup in leaking Plames name weren’t brought to trial”. Do physicians get picked to be on the jury in malpractice claims? Did any juror ask, “Why didn’t Armitage, who seems to be the first to disclose Plames identity not get charged?”?

    Ever since I learned (I believe on this site) that the charges against Libby had their origin in testimony given prior to Fitzgerald being appointed, I have understood and not disagreed with the rationale to continue the investigation. That said, I think there are many issues that seemed at least as important, if not moreso, for the public to understand, and we don’t.

    My desire was to get information such as what Stu707 and Darlene had to say about what the Probation board recommended and was it typical or not for such a case. You and others have pointed out that the circuit court gave the opinion that the defense appeal arguments are weak and that is why they refused to allow him out on bail.

    I am waiting to hear Patterico give his opinion on this detail of the case.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  45. A commutation is, by definition, making an exception for someone. You can argue about whether it was too hot, or too cold, or just right, or not exactly like other folk’s porridge, but as with angels dancing on pins, it’s just not an argument that can be won or lost. Love the title though, because I can just imagine the column you’d have written if Bush had opted for the perp walk and just one day in jail.

    The idea that Presidential clemancy ought to conform to official policy, seems almost absurd on its face. It’s an extraordinary executive power, not a bureaucratic function. The idea that this case should be treated like any other putatively similar case, especially at this late date, requires a certain suspension of disbelief. It’s been sui generis from the start. If you want to talk about deviation from policy, let’s go back to the repudiation of explicit DoJ regulations that Fitzgerald’s appointment represents.

    If you see the end result here as the trivialization of perjury and obstruction, you’re looking through a very narrow lens indeed. I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it, nonetheless, as I doubt perjurers & obstructors nationwide are rejoicing today in expectation of Presidential interventions.

    JM Hanes (98d201)

  46. Armitage had come forward voluntarily to admit he had leaked Plame’s status before Fitz was named Special Prosecutor. He also told the DOJ when and how he learned of Plame’s status. So far as I know everyone Fitz questioned, eventually, told Fitz from whom they learned of Plame’s status. Libby told Fitz that Cheney was his source on Plame’s status.

    Libby’s lie was that had Russert had informed him (Libby) of Plame’s status.

    Fitz has not charged Libby or anyone else with violating the IIPA, the Espionage Act, or any other crime excepting Libby’s perjury, obstruction, and lying to Federal agents.

    Rita’s lie obstructed the prosecution of the manufacturer and distributor of the alleged conversion kits.

    Stu707 (5b299c)

  47. “Heck, when the Dems have someone who disagrees with them they try to get rid of him (see Liebermann). ”

    He lost a primary. Thats how it works.

    “When the Repubs have the same situation, the party tries to present how non-monolithic the Repubs are as a good thing, the press uses the situation to say, “See!! Even his own party disagrees!!” So who knows what a “Repub” justice or DA thinks. Besides, in a courtroom with an individual on trial it shouldn’t matter.”

    You’re not getting that this wasn’t a party thing.

    whitd (41fec7)

  48. whitd-

    I think we’re trading salvos now that I don’t are necessary.

    I thought you were the one who shifted our discussion when you said: “Yeah. Stay away from republican judges and prosecutors.”

    Re Lieberman- I stand by my argument. The National Democratic Party gave no support to Lieberman in spite of his tenure and rank, as well as being VP candidate 6 yrs prior. In an analagous situation the National repubs gave Arlen Specter plenty of support, including Sen. santorum, in the primary and he still won by a relatively narrow margin.

    I’ll need to refrain from further discussion today, i’ve used up my monthly time allotment.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  49. Libby told Fitz that Cheney was his source on Plame’s status.

    Libby told investigators that he completely forgot about the Cheney conversation, therefore he (Libby) could not have sourced to reporters.

    Libby’s lie was that had Russert had informed him (Libby) of Plame’s status.

    Yes, he was specifically charged with imputing his awareness to Russert. And his defense was “maybe I heard it from a different reporter” or “I was unaware of any source besides the Cheney conversation that I forgot” — or whatever detail one wants to put to the bottom line assertion of Libby that he didn’t know Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA, therefore he couldn’t have sourced that to reporters.

    Rita’s lie obstructed the prosecution of the manufacturer and distributor of the alleged conversion kits.

    Using Libby logic, “No it didn’t.” The prosecutors found out Rita was lying, and even then, prosecutors still haven’t established there was an underlying crime, that of distributing an illegal kit.

    cboldt (3d73dd)

  50. I’d recommend you not commit any crimes while you express your political opinion before a grand jury.

    You miss the point. Expressing a political opinion is ultimately what got Scooter put before a grand jury.

    Paul (501161)

  51. Libby told investigators that he completely forgot about the Cheney conversation, therefore he (Libby) could not have sourced to reporters.

    OK, he told them he forgot about the Cheney conversation. How did they learn about the Cheney-Libby conversation if not from him? IOW is there any doubt that Cheney was his source of information on Plame’s status?

    Using Libby logic, “No it didn’t.” The prosecutors found out Rita was lying, and even then, prosecutors still haven’t established there was an underlying crime, that of distributing an illegal kit.

    I don’t follow you here. They did not charge Rita with distributing the kit. My understanding is that he is the consumer. They know who the maufacturers, importers, and distributors are and, per the link, they have been indicted. (I don’t know the outcome of that case). They also know that the kits are capable of making it possible to fire weapons automatically. And they know that Rita sent the kit he purchased back to InterOrdiance and obtained another one that was legal to show the agents.

    Are you saying that the prosecutors don’t know the identity of Rita’s source and his lie prevented them from identifying and prosecuting the person who sold Rita the kit?

    Fitz has known the source of every published report of Plame’s status that he chose to investigate. Fitz knows that Libby told Russert about Plame and alleged that he told the Time correspondent whose name I forget (the count the jury acquitted on). Fitz also knew that Libby’s source was Cheney.

    The logic of Libby’s lie that I see is that Libby lied about a non-crime.

    Whereas Rita lied about a kit that the government has alleged is capable of converting a lawful firearm into a machine gun. The government apparently could not get its hands on the particular kit that Rita had because he had returned it to InterOrdinance, itself a criminal defendant which possibly could plead the 5th amendment if the government subpoenaed the kit Rita returned or could say it was not able to identify it.

    To be clear, I believe that perjury, obstruction, and lying to Federal agents are serious offenses. The jury rightly convicted Libby. I know that Libby has alleged errors of law. Until an appellate court rules, I assume there were no significant errors. The sentencing judge is free to impose any sentence within the law. He need not follow the guidelines. He is free to compute the guidelines himself if he chooses and need not use the computations of the prosecution, defense or the Probation Office.

    I believe the sentence he imposed was excessive base on the Probation Officer’s calculations of the guidelines and that the President made the appropriate decision to commute Libby’s sentence of imprisonment. Executive clemency is by its nature exceptional and confers a favor upon its recipient. The Constitution grants the President unlimited power to exercise executive clemency.

    Stu707 (5b299c)

  52. #49 cboldt I don’t know what happened to my reply. I’ll try again later. It’s time for me to clebrate the 4th with my family. I hope you and all who participate here will enjoy this day as well.

    Stu707 (5b299c)

  53. “expressing a political opinion is what got scooter put before a grand jury”? that is fucking comical. being involved in revealing the identity of a covert operative got him in front of a grand jury, numb nuts.

    english teacher (b84357)

  54. Libby was simply entrapped by the Special Prosecutor. Do you support prosecutors in whatever their game is? I don’t recall you defending Nifong in his attempt to entrap the Duke lacrosse team members, and these guys absent money to defend themselves would have been railroaded. Perhaps you have some personal issues with Libby?

    bob roof (8c0efd)

  55. You obviously have no idea what the legal definition of entrapment is.

    As you note, I don’t support prosecutors no matter what, and did not defend Nifong.

    Perhaps I have some personal issues with Libby? Right, because it couldn’t possibly be that I think people who commit perjury and obstruct justice should be incarcerated. Similarly, I thought Bill Clinton should have been tried and incarcerated for the same offenses — not because he committed them, but for personal reasons. Namely, he once stole a lollipop from me.

    How did you guess?

    Patterico (2a65a5)

  56. Comments on Rita –
    I must admit up front that my only knowledge of the details of this case are those that have appeared on this site; however, as a fairly long-term FFL (gun dealer for those unfamiliar with the accronym) I can say this:

    The PPSH is a Soviet built sub-machine gun first seen in WW-2 (our guys in Korea nick-named it the Burp-gun). To the best of my knowledge it is not selective fire (does not have the ability to only fire one shot with one pull of the trigger), and it uses the same cartridge as the Soviet Tokarev pistol. Our government’s position (as long-enunciated by the ATF) is that “once a machine-gun, always a machine-gun”.
    Of course, most “parts kits” do not contain a receiver (the essential frame that houses the mechanism), but they do sometimes come with all of the internal pieces neccessary for full-automatic operation. Also, some parts-kits will contain the de-milled remnants of the receiver – which a skilled machinist might be able to duplicate from a raw billet of steel, install the full-auto parts, and have himself a machine-gun.
    It is not an easy process, but it can be done and is a serious violation of the National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934, which contrary to popular belief, did not outlaw the civilian possession of machine-guns, but instituted a tax regime to control that possession (this is why ATF for many years was part of Treasury, and not Justice – and is now bifurcated into both Departments).
    Assembling parts-kits into legal, semi-auto firearms is an involved process due to various restrictions that the Gov’t. has instituted following the use of “assault weapons” in high-profile crimes in the 80’s and 90’s, involving import restrictions of foreign parts (including the return to the USA of American made components), and the requirement that a legal weapon contain no more than 10 foreign-made parts out of a list of 20 specified components.

    Of course, if the Gov’t would reverse the ban on registration under NFA-34 (brought to us courtesy of GHWB in ’89) of new-made full-auto weapons, a lot of this under-ground activity would probably cease.

    Interestingly, only one case of a legally owned and registered fully-auto weapon has been known to be used in a crime since NFA-34 became law – and there are 1000’s upon 1000’s of weapons registered with ATF.

    Full-auto firearms violations are a VERY high-profile part of Justice operations, and they will jam you on what many would consider very minor, technical violations.

    Another Drew (758608)

  57. I believe the sentence he imposed was excessive base on the Probation Officer’s calculations of the guidelines and that the President made the appropriate decision to commute Libby’s sentence of imprisonment.

    Doesn’t it make just as much sense to say that the Probation Officer’s recommendation was too lenient because the judge imposed a higher sentence?

    I mean, they disagreed. Why would the opinion of the Probation Officer be presumptively more reasonable than that of the judge?

    Patterico (2a65a5)

  58. PAUL get your facts straight! This statement of yours is total bull.
    “There was no basis for an investigation in the first place, and not because the identity of Ms. Plame’s SUPPOSED LEAKER was known to Fitzgerald from the get-go…” STOP YOUR LYING RIGHT THERE..

    “No basis for the investigation”!!!?? “Supposed leaker”? What you are really saying is that there was no crime because there was no criminal leak, and there was no criminal leak because no outing of a secret agent occurred because V Plame wasnt really a secret agent. That is what you and others here really want to say, isnt it, Paul?

    …Lets start with the facts Valorie Plame was a secret agent..something you and others CONTINUALLY AND FALSELY deny in one fashion or another in an attempt to lead us to believe this was all a partisan witch hunt over a non crime… conducted, strangely enough, by a Republican prosecutor.

    Check of the declassified brief submitted by the CIA in this very trial and released May 25 2007 and filed with Nancy Mayer Whitington of the US district court Exhibit A which says..'( not that facts mean a damn thing to you)

    On 1 January 2002 Valeria Wilson was working for the Central Intelligence agency as an operations officer in the Directorate of Operations. She was assigned to the Counterproliferation Division at CIA headquarters…

    While assigned to CPD Mrs Wilson engaged in temporary duty travel overseas on official business. While traveling overseas Mrs Wilson always traveled under a cover identity…sometimes in true name and sometimes in alias..but always using cover . AT THE TIME OF THE INITIAL UNAUTHORIZED DISCLOSURE IN THE MEDIA OF MRS WILSON’S EMPLOYMENT RELATIONSHIP WITH THE CIA ON 14 JULY 2003 MRS WILSON WAS A CONVERT CIA EMPLOYEE FOR WHOM THE CIA WAS TAKING AFFIRMATIVE MEASURES TO CONCEAL HER INTELLIGENCE RELATIONSHIP TO THE UNITED STATES.

    Dont believe me? Look it up yourself..

    V Plame was covert and working on the most important mission one could have…. keeping WMDs out of the hands of those that would use them against us…the very reason for the Iraq war. The crime was that her secret identity was destroyed when it made known to the public. The evidence points to someone in a high place and Libby was convicted of obstructing the effort to find out exactly who.
    That is why he was convicted not, as you would have us believe, because Expressing a political opinion is ultimately what got Scooter put before a grand jury. by a Republican Prosecutor no less!!!

    Now the President has commuted his sentence, delivered by a judge and jury, and most likely will pardon him!!! This is disgusting and a total affront to the rule of law not to mention the damage this outing has certainly done to our national security and the fact that person will likely never be found since Libby has no reason to tell what he knows or explain why he was obstructing.

    But that is of small consequence to you and others of your ilk now isnt it? What do you care about such things as long as you protect Bush?

    Do me a favor. Stop trying to portray yourself and others as having great concern for civil liberties and as noble defenders against a ruthless band of democrats intent of criminalizing political differences with lines like…

    If our political differences can be made into crimes, then any one of us could suffer Scooter’s fate. And that is what Scooter’s backers are resisting.

    That is hardly the case, Paul.

    You and others like you are no more preventing political differences from being made criminal matters than Barry Scheck and others were defending the justice system and OJ Simpson against racist cops!

    This case demonstrates about how far millions of people are willing to go in making excuses and, lets be honest… protect President Bush and Dick Cheney….from a criminal investigation.

    You are trying to aid those that subvert the rule of law whether you admit that to anyone… including yourself. Contrary to defending the rule of law and upholding the Constitution, you and the rest of you neo fascists are attempting to subvert it in the interest of you own political party.

    Party above country. Rule of man verses rule of law..No crime to great in the interest of the party…painting yourself as defenders of the Constitution while helping subvert it. What do you call this? Patriotism? Concern for the rule of law? Support for Bush? Call it what you may but a rose by any other name is….

    As some one once said when asked if America will ever become a fascist state ” Yes but they will just call it something else!” What do you call it Paul? I already told you what i call it..

    Charlie (04c679)

  59. The logic of Libby’s lie that I see is that Libby lied about a non-crime.

    Or in legal parlance, an unproved crime.

    As for Rita, I never intimated that he was the seller, I said that it was never proved that what he was buying amounted to a machine gun kit. The underlying crime that you use to make his offense “serious” wasn’t proved. You said “lying about a machine gun conversion kit” and I inserted “alleged.”

    You distinguish Libby on your conclusion that that Libby lied about a non-crime, yet the official record doesn’t confirm or deny an underlying crime. (I happen to think there is no underlying crime)

    Likewise in Rita, the record doesn’t confirm or deny the underlying crime. You comments are focused on details that Rita lied, not on the meeting the elements of the underlying offense.

    Which is interesting because, as you say, Justice is high profile on automatic weapons violations, yet didn’t make an automatic weapons violation charge against Rita or the company that sold to Rita.

    Rita was nailed for lying, without proof of the underlying crime.

    cboldt (3d73dd)

  60. Well that settles it, CIA said she was covert.

    BULL.

    The people that brought us WTCI, WTCII, USS Cole, and several other bombings, had a blow torch turned their way. Entrenched buracrates with their own personal agenda screwing up, and saw an opportunity to deflect well deserved critisism, and to hell with who it destroys, just as long as it’s not them.

    Gerald A (df9da4)

  61. The latest memo from the CIA to the Star Chamber meeting of Congress did not mention Plame’s status according to the IIPA statute. As usual the CIA gave the moonbats something to spout forth at their meeting, but it meant nothing in terms of the law.

    If only the CIA spent as much time protecting the country as it does committing intrigues within the USA.

    Davod (3392f5)

  62. Charles,

    Are you referring to this Exhibit A? If so, you’ll note that the document itself is unattributed. We don’t know who wrote it. Accordingly, there is no basis for asserting, as you do here, that Exhibit A is a “declassified brief submitted by the CIA.” The context — Exhibit A was attached to the Government’s sentencing memorandum — suggests the document was written by either Mr. Fitzgerald or by someone on his staff. If so, the statements of a lawyer are not evidence; moreover, Scooter’s counsel was never given an opportunity to test in court the validity of any claim found in Exhibit A.

    Mr. Fitzgerald never indicted Scooter, or anyone else, for unlawfully revealing the identity of a covert CIA agent. Some have argued that Mr. Fitzgerald couldn’t level that charge, having been hampered in his quest for the truth by Scooter’s lies and obstruction. But if so, presumably we learned the truth when Tim Russert took the stand. What prevents the charge now?

    Paul (501161)

  63. A Pro gets a Judge to agree that “UNDER COVER” super secret agent WILL NOT be brought up in the trial. Pro knows the first leak. Pro does not go after first leak or decide to drop case.

    Pro brings up “UNDER COVER” in sum to jury.

    NIKE IN NY (df03d7)

  64. all bullshit, it was a political trial in wash dc, the crime was not remembering who told what political gossip to who and when they told it.

    james conrad (7cd809)

  65. BTW patterico, i predict the court of appeals will throw out this conviction

    james conrad (7cd809)

  66. I mean, they disagreed. Why would the opinion of the Probation Officer be presumptively more reasonable than that of the judge?

    I indicated above why I might be biased in favor the PO.

    The judge imposed the sentence that coincided with the low end of the range calculated by the prosecution. The Probation Office rejected the use of certain aggravating factors employed by the prosecutor in calculating the severity of the offense because they were not proved in court nor admitted by the defendant as required by a fairly recent Supreme Court decision (Booker?). This rather than leniency accounts for the difference between the 15-21 month range calculated by the PO and the 30-36 month range calculated by the Prosecutor.

    My personal opinion is that the sentence of imprisonment was excessive. The Probation Officer followed the law in not relying on aggravating factors not proved in court or admitted by the defendant. But the only opinion that counts is the judge’s.

    Stu707 (5b299c)

  67. The Probation Office rejected the use of certain aggravating factors employed by the prosecutor in calculating the severity of the offense because they were not proved in court nor admitted by the defendant as required by a fairly recent Supreme Court decision (Booker?).

    I haven’t read the sentencing transcripts but I wonder about this, too. There has been a whole series of USSC cases that state that a sentence cannot be increased based on aggravating factors that were not found true beyond a reasonable doubt by a jury. The only exception is prior convictions. I’m not sure what the argument of the court was to get around this.

    sam (781d46)

  68. I think that Alan Dershowitz makes valid points concerning Bush’s commutation of Libby’s sentence:

    The outcry against President Bush’s decision to commute Scooter Libby’s sentence is misplaced. President Bush acted hours after the US Court of Appeals denied Libby bail pending appeal. That judicial decision was entirely political. The appellate judges had to see that Libby’s arguments on appeal were sound and strong — that under existing law he was entitled to bail pending appeal. (That is why I joined several other law professors in filing an amicus brief on this limited issue.) After all, if he were to be sent to jail for a year and then if his conviction were to be reversed on appeal, he could not get the year back. But if he remained out on bail and then lost the appeal, the government would get its year. In non-political cases, bail should have and probably would have been granted on issues of the kind raised by Libby.

    physics geek (6669a4)

  69. Dershowitz is full of himself. A respite would have delayed the sentence while the appeal on the merits played out. He would remain free “on respite,” and then if he lost the appeal, President Bush could have commuted at that time.
    But seeing as how President Bush has concluded that prison time is excessive punishment, the end result is the same either way – whether he commutes now, or if he’d have granted a respite and commuted later.
    If Libby presses ahead with his appeal, we’ll see how sound and strong the Circuit Court finds Libby’s “defective appointment” argument.

    cboldt (3d73dd)

  70. Physics Geek, are you of the opinion that all criminal defendants should have their jail terms stayed pending appeal?

    Andrew J. Lazarus (f1ef7b)

  71. […] includes non-voters. Among voters, it’s … 69%. I think Patterico speaks for a lot of […]

    Hot Air » Blog Archive » Poll: 64% of all adults disapprove of commutation of Libby’s sentence (d4224a)

  72. I could not agree more with this post. Scooter Libby was indicted, and convicted in a legitimate trial by a jury of his peers. I see no reason that he does not spend a day in jail.

    Bad deeds by members of previous administrations do not change the context of this case. Any judgment on the conviction and sentencing should be based on the facts of the case alone.

    NMS (60f1bb)

  73. Where is the indictment against Joe Wilson(D) for lying that Cheney sent him? Lying about Saddam’s efforts in service of Joe Wilson(D)’s French mining interest paymasters? Lying about the French efforts to discredit the Bush administration he cooperated with?

    Where is the indictment against Valerie Plame(D) for abusing her authority and using CIA resources to attack the administration?

    Fitzgerald ignored treason and the jury ignored the evidence. Are you telling me that Tim Russert’s contractory memories versus Libby’s memory is ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’?

    The judge then allowed Fitzgerald to introduce claims in his closing arguments that Libby was barred from disputing.

    Where is the indictment against Nifong Fitzgerald for investigating until he could create a “crime”?

    DANEgerus (2d78bd)

  74. Oh… and the poll is BS. 69% of voters don’t even know who Libby is.

    DANEgerus (2d78bd)

  75. […] conservatives, Patterico noteworthy among them, think that since Mr Libby broke the law, he should go to jail, period. I suggested that the […]

    Common Sense Political Thought » Archives » The real reason the left is upset at the commutation of Scooter Libby’s sentence: Jeromy Brown tells the truth. (819604)

  76. Yawn.

    Where is the indictment against Joe Wilson(D) for lying that Cheney sent him?

    Internet experts will notice there’s no citation given for the quote. That’s because it isn’t true; Wilson never made any such claim. Bushbots created this straw man, the easier to knock it down.

    Don’t believe me? Find me the exact quotation in question (not an equally dishonest paraphrase from some other member of the Bush 26 percenters).

    Andrew J. Lazarus (7d46f9)

  77. So you still see absolutely NOTHING, NOTHING at all, but the guilty verdict. That’s the alpha and omega of this story. It’s THE story. There is no other story, no subtext, no extenuating circumstances. I. Lewis Libby. Guilty. Period.

    No denial of the opportunity to present evidence. No patently absurd investigation into a question the answer to which was known from the beginning. No political motivation at all. No perjury trap. No unusual prosecution of a process perjury crime.

    No unconstitutional appointment of a prosecutor?

    A man, a guilty verdict, a jail sentence.

    Take off the blinders, Patterico. Maybe your commentary on this subject will be a little more nuanced, and a little less boring.

    Why don’t you focus on, say, Sandy Burglar? See any disparity between his treatment and Libby’s treatment? Where’s the greater injustice, in your opinion?

    Yeah, I know you’re a prosecutor, and that prosecutors are incapable of doing wrong (see Nifong, closely related to Fitzfong), but come on man.

    You’re becoming a parody of an omniscient, omnipotent prosecutor.

    Why keep writing about it? Eveyone knows your position.

    Scooter guilty. Fitzfong perfect.

    We got it. Loud and clear. Move on dot org.

    But you undermine your credibility when you compare Clinton’s perjury to Libby’s, and the comparison is favorable to Clinton.

    He served not one effing day either. Where’s your outrage?

    jb (062a1a)

  78. P.S.

    You’re the one trivializing perjury and obstruction of justice by lending this politically motivated witchhunt any credibility at all.

    Besides, everybody does it, we learned that with Willie.

    Wipe that spittle off your chin.

    jb (062a1a)

  79. That’s because it isn’t true; Wilson never made any such claim. Bushbots created this straw man, the easier to knock it down.

    From Joe Wilson’s article:

    In February 2002, I was informed by officials at the Central Intelligence Agency that Vice President Dick Cheney’s office had questions about a particular intelligence report. While I never saw the report, I was told that it referred to a memorandum of agreement that documented the sale of uranium yellowcake — a form of lightly processed ore — by Niger to Iraq in the late 1990’s. The agency officials asked if I would travel to Niger to check out the story so they could provide a response to the vice president’s office.

    The link is to a site that re-printed Wilson’s column in the NY Times of July 6, 2003. You can get it from the NY Times if you are willing to pay for it.

    Stu707 (5b299c)

  80. Stu, are you seriously trying to say that Wilson’s article is correctly summarized as “Wilson lying that Cheney sent him”?

    Wilson does not say that Cheney sent anybody. He does say that as a result of questions in Cheney’s office, he was sent. He says that the CIA sent him, which I believe is true. He does not say that Cheney sent him.

    Are the following statements true?

    1. CIA officials told Wilson that Cheney’s office had questions about the Niger report. [Note that this is not quite the same as whether Cheney’s office actually had some questions]

    2. The result of a process begun by the CIA because of Cheney and this report, Wilson was sent to Niger.

    If these statements are true, where exactly is Wilson’s lie? (Hint: whatever lies Wilson may have told, they are not here.)

    Andrew J. Lazarus (7d46f9)

  81. Someone needs to explain the difference between the conduct of Nifong and Fitz to me. The dhimmiecrats really are good at witch hunts. Can someone please explain the crime Libby commited that is worth three years in prison and 250K fine and then explain Sandy Berger’s crimes being worthy of a slap on a wrist?

    Thomas Jackson (bf83e0)

  82. Wilson may or may not have lied based on this quote, but it does reveal that he either didn’t know what he was investigating or he was investigating a claim that President Bush never made, as far as I remember. Wasn’t the “phrase that shook the world” that Saddam had sought to buy yellow cake in Niger?

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  83. Thomas-

    Nifong withheld evidence, Fitz merely convinced a judge to not allow evidence to be introduced- until the sentencing phase.

    Sandy who? What did she do??

    😉

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  84. Patterico I would like to answer JB and others for you.ok?

    You want the truth JB and the rest? The truth is YOU CANT HANDLE THE TRUTH!!..

    The real truth is that deep inside you don’t care if a secret agent was outed because even though her mission to stop WMDs from getting into the hands of terrorists was destroyed, even though her career of over 20 dangerous years was ended, even though the lives of thousands of our allies working secretly on this mission are now in danger, even though an unimaginable holocaust may occur if WMDs fall into the wrong hands because of this, and even though our legal system has been dealt a harsh blow, you and your kind are willing to see all this happen so your political man and party and George Bush will be able to deny and hide their crimes against this country.

    The facts are obvious for those that care to see but for you and others like you, lying, spinning, distorting, perjury and obstruction of justice are perfectly acceptable means to that end. All your talk about concerns for justice and such are just self serving lies and self deceiving spin.

    The damage you are willing to inflict on your own country for the sake of Bush Co. tells me that you have not an ounce of patriotic concern or feeling and that Bush’s political survival means more to you than the very survival of the nation.

    That, my friend, is the truth you cant handle.

    Charlie (04c679)

  85. Charlie – If you want to claim she was secret and then outed, that’s fine. Who did it?

    daleyrocks (906622)

  86. So the scenario is a choice of….

    The CIA falsely claimed V Plame was a secret agent. (Fortunately others know better and inform us through their sources she was not. Add the CIA to the list of those out to get Bush!)

    Bush, strangely enough, goes along with this false investigation, even promises to cooperate. Stranger still, his Republican attorney general appoints another Republican to investigate this non-crime and this Republican prosecutor then goes on a witch hunt. He ignores the well know fact that V Plame was not a secret agent at the time and incredibly ignores the real culprits and focuses on Scooter Libby, falsely and maliciously charging him with a crime.

    Libby, is then unjustly convicted on perjury and obstruction of justice charges and sentenced to prison by a Conservative Republican judge. But G Bush comes to the rescue at the last minute and commutes his sentence. ( I can help wonder why he didnt pardon him if no crime were committed…??
    I wonder why one Republican would turn on another like this?

    Or we can believe..

    The CIA really did have a grievance and had real concerns about a real agent being outed and had better info than Bill O, Sean, Rush and crew about the status of its agents and the CIA was not lying when they said she was covert. And we can believe there is real truth to the convictions on obstruction of justice and lying to block the investigation and that Libby was trying to protect someone.

    I wonderwhy the CIA referred a false case to the Justice department for prosecution, why a Republican prosecutor went along with the supposedly false charges and why Bush has just not come out and said Plame was not a secret agent and so there was no case?

    Daleyrocks asks who did the leak.. well daleyrocks we can guess and I guess Cheney and Bush which I know is hard to believe in light of their impeccable reputations for truth and honesty. But of course we will never know for sure since the investigation was thwarted ..and that is the whole purpose behind Libbys lies and Bush commutation, now isnt it?

    Charlie (04c679)

  87. Stu, are you seriously trying to say that Wilson’s article is correctly summarized as “Wilson lying that Cheney sent him”?

    I simply posted the quote. I made no charge about Wilson or anyone else lying.

    1. CIA officials told Wilson that Cheney’s office had questions about the Niger report. [Note that this is not quite the same as whether Cheney’s office actually had some questions]

    Neither you nor I can be certain what CIA officials told Wilson. At P39 the Senate Intelligence Committe said that CPD officials told Committe staff that in response to questions from the VP and DOD about the alleged Niger-Iraq uranium deal they decided to seek more information. The report does not indicate what CIA told Wilson. Note that P.39 of the report is p51 of the .pdf file. Your point about whether or not the VP actually had some questions is well taken.

    2. The result of a process begun by the CIA because of Cheney and this report, Wilson was sent to Niger.

    The process was begun by the CIA. I don’t know if it was because of Cheney, only that CIA officials told the Committee that it was their response to Cheney’s and DOD’s questions.

    I haven’t said Wilson lied about being sent to Niger at the request of the CIA.

    His dishonesty consists of trying, in his column that I linked above, to conflate British Intelligence and Bush’s state of the union remarks on Iraq’s having sought uranaium in Africa with Iraq actually having acquired it. His report to the CIA as reflected in the Senate Committee report confirms that in the opinion of the Niger officials he spoke with Iraq was seeking to buy uranium from Niger.

    I also believe that his representations that his wife had nothing to do with his assignment are false. See P39 Senate Committee Report (P51 .pdf file) for details.

    Stu707 (5b299c)

  88. MD and Stu: Once upon a time, when the Administration was getting us into war, there was in fact a document that purported to show an actual approved purchase of yellowcake from Niger to Iraq. In other words, there really was a document that there was such a purchase, although I don’t believe there was any attestation of delivery.

    [Useful timeline]

    As you know, these documents are all forgeries. Who forged them and how the British and US intelligence agencies acquired them is still an unsettled question.

    I don’t believe that Wilson would have been able to talk specifically about these documents at the time he wrote his Op-Ed piece, but I these forgeries were welcome in the VP office until they were absolutely shown to be fakes. After all, Cheney was instrumental in creating the Office of Special Plans, whose very purpose was to “stovepipe” all manner of unverified rumor and bad tips from corrupt informants up to the decision-making levels. (Atta in Prague, anyone?) These forgeries would have provided a (temporary) basis for OVP to, in fact, make inquiries about yellowcake actually acquired, and not merely sought.

    The reason that Bush referred to the British having found out about Iraq seeking yellowcake is that our own intelligence agencies had already debunked the forgeries. I believe that the British were working from the same forged memos, but they deny it. They continue to this day to claim to have independent unforged evidence, but they have revealed none of it. As for the one throwaway remark to the former Niger Prime Minister, I’m afraid that ambiguous and for that matter unverified sentence does not really rise to an attempt to acquire yellowcake in my book. Once again, Wilson is telling the truth. He was sent because of documents stating Saddam had acquired yellowcake (as his Op-Ed states), and he returned stating that he had not even made any serious effort to do so and that it would be impossible. The fact that the Administration was dismayed by this is revealing.

    Wilson’s trip found that it would be impossible for Saddam actually to acquire yellowcake without Western officials finding out. The Iraq War shows that even if Saddam had received tons of yellowcake from Santa Claus, he had no program remaining capable of doing anything with it.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (cb23b6)

  89. Add the CIA to the list of those out to get Bush!

    Charlie, some of us did this long ago, when they allowed an active CIA staff to write an anonymous book criticising the president. (If he had serious reason to be critical of the President he should have taken his butt to the Senate oversight committee and tell them directly so action could be taken. He then could have gone into detail including classified information to really prove his case and the Dems could have already impeached President Bush 3-4 yrs ago.)

    Stu707- I think I’ll thank you for the link, in spite of my blood pressure and disgust level going up.
    Things noted in reading a few pages:
    – the CIA did not ask Wilson to keep his mission or findings confidential
    – Wilson’s investigation consisted of talking to previous top officials who said, “We would never do anything like sell uranium to Saddam, so when he sent people to negotiate we wouldn’t even talk with them about it.” (my paraphrase) — This, of course, is consistent with what the President stated in his State of the Union Address.
    – Wilson was told not to discuss the issue with current Niger officials, because the current Ambassador to Niger was doing that.
    – Current officials also told the current US Ambassador that they wouldn’t think of such a thing. However, they only “spoke in general terms” and the US Ambassador NEVER DIRECTLY ASKED if Iraq had ever sought to buy uranium. (I wonder if Niger bought any Iraqi oil??)
    – There was a 1,000 ton discrepancy in accounting for Niger’s production vs. selling of uranium that was essentially written off as a “mistake”.
    – Wilson was the source for a WaPo article that said the “alleged documents” for a sale were forgeries “because they had the wrong dates and signatures”. Only problem is Wilson NEVER SAW or knew details of ANY documents on a claimed agreement to sell uranium to Niger. (Since he did not make this claim to a grand jury he can say, “Oops! My bad!” without consequence).
    – The French apparently control the running of the uranium mines in Niger. Of course the French would never cooperate with Saddam in trying to bypass sanctions 😉
    – Besides, the CIA said there was no need to make the claim that saddam had purchased, or even sought, uranium from Niger, since Iraq had a known stockpile of 550 tons anyway.

    So, we have a huge fuss because:

    1. The President stated that intelligence sources said Saddam had sought to buy uranium from Niger. (Why he didn’t say that CIA claimed he already had 550 tons I don’t know).

    2. Wilson makes a big fuss, including false claims of “forged documents”, when he actually was told an Iraqi delegation came to Niger to “talk business”, which the officials from Niger assumed meant yellow cake uranium, since that is about all they have to sell.

    3. The rest of US intelligence is based on pleasant direct discussions asking the top officials of Niger, “Did you sell any uranium ore to Iraq”?

    Somehow all this ends up making:
    Joe Wilson a hero for “exposing the President’s lies” (which he didn’t).
    President Bush in need of “discrediting” or getting revenge on someone who couldn’t get their facts straight and really did not contradict the President anyway.
    A major Administration conspiracy to undermine a distorted story that doesn’t need to be undermined.

    This is ridiculous.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  90. I don’t believe that Wilson would have been able to talk specifically about these documents at the time he wrote his Op-Ed piece, … Once again, Wilson is telling the truth.

    He tells WaPo something that never happened (“I saw forged documents and this is how I know they were forged…), but he is telling the truth.

    If you’re arguing that Saddam wasn’t such a bad guy or was not capable of doing anything significant I don’t buy it. If you’re arguing that Joe Wilson somehow gave a critical death blow to President Bush’s credibility I don’t buy that either. And I am not buying the claim that Wilson told the truth. Besides, if his investigation was to be the definitive proof that “nothing was ever sold”, it seems a little wanting from the description given in the Senate report.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  91. Charlie – We have an admitted leaker in Armitage. We have no certainty about everyone he talked with. Based on his taped conversaion with Woodward played during the trial, it sounded like Joe Wilson was leaking all over Washington, D.C. Did you read the transcript of that phone call Charlie? Did Fitzgerald follow up on that lead?

    daleyrocks (5a4736)

  92. Charlie, and others,

    I have a bad habit of circling around the point.

    The point is, Armitage outed Plame. To the extent she could be outed, and shouldn’t we know that extent before investigating who outed her? If she couldn’t be outed (and I tend to believe she couldn’t), then there was no crime to investigate. Even if she could be outed, no sane person disagrees that Armitage outed her.

    The crime was created by inconsistent statements that can plausibly (read: reasonable doubt) be explained by faulty memories. And those idiot jurors, more than one, came out immediately after the trial and said Libby was taking a fall, Libby should be pardoned, etc. Doesn’t impart too much faith in the verdict; especially by what was undoubtedly a 90% fuzzy-headed liberal jury with an agenda (Wa, DC, voting statistics).

    You want to punish him? Fine. But let’s treat likes the same, as the law is fond of trying to do. How about Sandy Burglar, who destroyed documents with unique information on them, information dealing directly with our national security.

    Just trying to figure out why Patterico completely ignores the obvious politics, and focuses soley on the verdict.

    Prosecutorial blindness, I’ve read the guy’s blog long enough to think I that I know he acts/writes in good faith.

    It’s just frustrating.

    jb (062a1a)

  93. As someone said .. this is getting no where. I agree. Its like trying to argue with the Simpson jurors that Simpson did the crime. They will make one excuse after another and after a while you realize that..But just to summarize..

    What we know is that the President selectively used false information to sell us a war.

    A CIA agent whose husband said as much was outed, according to the CIA anyway, and an investigation into who did it was blocked.

    Scooter Libby, Dick Cheneys right hand man was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in the investigation into who did the leaking and now Bush has commuted his sentence.

    Bush has never to my knowledge denied a crime was committed and there has been a massive attack on J Wilson, V Plame and the Republican appointed prosecutor by Bush supporter.

    You dont have to be Sherlock Holmes to smell the crime and the cover up. If you still think otherwise then there is nothing more I can say.

    Charlie (04c679)

  94. As someone said .. this is getting no where. I agree.

    Charlie, we agree on something.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  95. Andrew,

    The forgeries were detected and were not relied upon by Bush, Cheney, or anyone in the Administration. The forgeries, Cheney’s alleged stovepiping, etc. have nothing to do with whether or not Wilson has been honest in his published remarks beginning with his NY Times op-ed column and the role of his wife in his being chosen for the mission to Niger.

    The British report that Iraq sought yellowcake in Africa is true. A British parliamentary commission investigated it and found it to be true. Wilson’s interview with the former Foreign Minister and former Prime Minister of Niger is further confirmation. Wilson reported to the CIA the substance of his conversations in Niger and that those to whom he spoke believed Iraq was trying to buy yellowcake from Niger.

    Stu707 (5b299c)

  96. “The point is, Armitage outed Plame. To the extent she could be outed, and shouldn’t we know that extent before investigating who outed her? If she couldn’t be outed (and I tend to believe she couldn’t), then there was no crime to investigate. Even if she could be outed, no sane person disagrees that Armitage outed her.” JB

    You folks are masters at evading reality. Maybe you should lay down the crack pipes and try getting high on the truth. It’s invigorating!

    Fact is that Libby had already LIED to the FBI before Fitzgerald ever got involved in this case. I bet that Rush didn’t tell you that part.

    Why did Libby lie? To provide cover for Cheney, and probably Bush as well.

    Libby’s lies short-circuited the investigation – preventing the full truth from ever coming out.

    So don’t for a minute pretend that you know what’s going on. Nobody does! That’s the whole point of obstructing justice.

    In other words (and in terms you’ll certainly understand), MIISSION ACCOMPLISHED. Justice denied. And then it gets topped off with a commuted sentence which will evolve into a full pardon once Bush leaves office.

    Welcome to Impeachment Summer. Bush may make it through. But The Dickster is going down.

    Brent Mack (ca66f3)

  97. Why did Libby lie? To provide cover for Cheney, and probably Bush as well.

    He told the prosecutors he found out about Plame from Cheney. Please explain how he provided cover for Cheney.

    Stu707 (5b299c)

  98. Libby’s lies short-circuited the investigation – preventing the full truth from ever coming out.

    Richard Armitage was the person responsible for the Plame Affair, Brent Mack. How did Libby prevent that fact from coming out?

    H2U (338ff2)

  99. “Why did Libby lie? To provide cover for Cheney, and probably Bush as well.”

    Comment by Stu707 — 7/7/2007 @ 3:26 pm

    “Richard Armitage was the person responsible for the Plame Affair, Brent Mack. How did Libby prevent that fact from coming out?”

    Comment by H2U — 7/7/2007 @ 3:50 pm

    A convenient game you play, gentlemen. Again, can you say OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE?

    And is was a successful obstruction too. So you’ll never know what was prevented from coming to light.

    A Republican prosecutor believed that Libby was guilty of LYING and OBSTRUCTING JUSTICE. And a Republican-appointed Judge seemingly believed that it was a just verdict.

    That leaves just you guys – the naive – along with the neocons who have any problem with a Republican -produced judicial result.

    I think you might be WAY OUT THERE on the fringe of the fringe.

    So let me repeat it just once more for you. Before the commutation, Scotter was judged GUILTY – of preventing you from knowing all there is to know about this case.

    Will you folks never stop?

    Brent Mack (ca66f3)

  100. I have read elsewhere, and did not see any rebuttal, that Liddy and Fitzgerald had been on opposite sides of the Mark Rich investigation, Fitz for prosecution, Liddy for defense. (This ended when Pres. Clinton gave him a pardon, though he was a fugitive and never came to trial. Rich happened to give a huge sum of money to the Clintons, as well). Not only that, but Comfy (or whatever his name is in the DOJ who gave the job to Fitz) was working with Fitz in the Rich case.

    More than one Repub senator has let the President down on a number of things recently.

    Not that all of that proves anything, but you seem to assume that a “Republican” prosecutor and judge would automatically defend a Republican (i.e., you don’t respect their integrity), so if they work against the Repub it shows that the Repubs charged must have been “really, really, guilty”. I would hope prosecutors and judges would be fair and honest whoever is before them, but even if they are prejudiced, things may be involved that are more imporatnt than party affiliation.

    So, when Libby “lied” about telling Russert or not that obscured everything else?

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  101. So, when Libby “lied” about telling Russert or not that obscured everything else?

    No, when Libby lied about learning Plame’s identity from Russert, he obscured everything else. Like the fact that he had actually learned about her from Cheney and had already disclosed her identity to Miller (twice) and Fleischer by the point he claimed to have learned about her from Russert (a topic that Russert said was never discussed). He of course went on to disclose Plame’s identity to Matt Cooper and Miller – once again for good measure – after that point (I think I’ve got the time frame correct here).

    I believe it is still obscure whether he was directed to leak the info by Cheney as another Cheney aide testified.

    Bob Loblaw (23d1c4)

  102. So let me repeat it just once more for you. Before the commutation, Scotter was judged GUILTY – of preventing you from knowing all there is to know about this case.

    Yes, Scooter was found guilty by a jury of specific acts of perjury, lying to Federal law enforcement agents, and obstruction of Justice. He was acquitted by the jury of the count involving his conversations with Time’s Matt Cooper. If you are interested, the indictment is available and you can read it yourself.

    I believe he was in fact guilty of the counts upon which he was convicted. Those counts describe specific violations of particular statutes, not “preventing you from knowing all there is to know about this case.”

    He told the prosecutors that the source of his information about Plame was Cheney. So I will ask you again how did Libby cover for Cheney as you previously asserted?

    Stu707 (5b299c)

  103. I believe it is still obscure whether he was directed to leak the info by Cheney as another Cheney aide testified.

    Who was the other Cheney aide?

    Stu707 (5b299c)

  104. So, do you think Libby blackmailed Cheney into getting Bush to commute his sentence?

    Could it be that Libby told Cheney that if he didn’t walk free, he would make a deal with the prosecutor to get his sentence reduced by fingering Cheney? I recall right up to the trial his lawyer claimed they’d mount a vigorous defense defense and call Cheney as a witness, but then suddenly during the trial – they didn’t call Cheney, they didn’t even try very hard to defend Libby.

    And then right before Libby was about to go to jail, before he said “Wait, Mr. prosecutor, I will co-operate now if you help me and tell you about Cheney” – here comes the get-out-of-jail free card.

    Is that what he needed to get a pardon from Bush? The ability to tell a prosecutor something that will get Cheney put in jail?

    Random Hero (7e1b73)

  105. This might cause a stir:

    …Sen. Schumer said he talked to Pat Leahy about calling Patrick Fitzgerald in for questioning about Bush and Cheney because they didn’t talk to him in the grand jury setting about the Plame/CIA leak.

    Psyberian (9a155b)

  106. No Scooter Libby didnt lie to protect anyone.

    And there really were WMDs in Iraq and they were all moved to Syria. And the people of Iraq are soooo thankful we “liberated” them. And Bush really did give inspectors full opportunity to do their jobs before attacking.

    And the war wasn’t sold on misleading statements like Colin Powell said. And anyone can stroll around in Baghdad in perfect security just like any city in the US, in fact its safer than most.

    This war really is a blow to international terrorism. Were makin’ great progress and its just a few dead enders that is a fightin’ us.

    And we dont torture. And when we do something that looks and seems like torture its really not only seems that way. And the world respects us as Bush respects international laws and upholds the laws at home. Bush is a unifier and this war is just like our own revolution and WW2.

    Criticism of our blindingly intelligent and “90 books a year” literary lion President is just a vast conspiracy by those nasty liberals and others to destroy America. How could I have been so blind not to see the wonderful things this administration has done??!

    I see it now thanks to those kind nurses in those white coats..

    BUSH LOVER AND SUPPORTER
    USA MENTAL HOSPITAL
    SERIOUSLY AND HOPELESSLY DELUSIONAL WARD
    BUSHVILLE, USA

    Charlie (04c679)

  107. Who was the other Cheney aide?
    Comment by Stu707

    Cathie Martin

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/25/AR2007012500171.html

    Bob Loblaw (23d1c4)

  108. Those who insist that Libby was the center of a conspiracy, where does Armitage and his discussions with Woodward and Novack and whoever else fit in, both in chronology and in the overall scheme of the plot.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  109. #107 Bob Loblaw

    Thanks for the link.

    From the article linked above:

    Attorneys for Libby repeatedly pressed Martin to acknowledge that, though she saw Cheney and Libby working overtime to rebut Wilson’s criticisms, she had no evidence that either of them tried to leak Plame’s name to reporters.

    “At no time did Vice President Cheney indicate to you that he considered Valerie Wilson part of the story he wanted to get out,” attorney Theodore V. Wells Jr. said to Martin.

    “I did not have a conversation with the vice president about that,” Martin responded.

    Stu707 (5b299c)

  110. There seems to be a contradiction in the allegation that Libby’s commutation was given to him to “shut him up”. Let me explain: As of now, Libby (even with his commutation) still enjoys 5th Amendment protection because his testimony may be pernicious to his pending appeal; however, after his appeal is concluded (however it turns out), he will no longer have 5th Amendment protection and could thus be subpoenaed to testify should a further investigation occur. Were he to refuse, he would almost certainly be incarcerated for contempt, a nonpardonable offense. Thus, if Libby’s goal was to keep himself out of prison and he supposedly, in effect, extorted a commutation, he will have, in effect, acted like a dog chasing its tail because he will be vulnerable to the eliciting of testimony upon the conclusion of appeal and subject to incarceration anyway should he refuse. I’m sure that if I can figure this out, Libby’s legal team can as well, so the “he was bought off with this commutation” theory makes no sense to me.

    Patrick (ce0d87)

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