of SOMETHING. The Democrats are just sure of it. To that end Senator Henry Waxman will be calling for hearings into the matter by bringing Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald to testify before congress about his investigation that resulted in the conviction of VP Cheney’s Chief of Staff, I. Scooter Libby, on two counts of Making False Statements and two counts of Perjury.
So now Waxman is getting the hearings he demanded in 2005 but was unable to get with a Republican controlled congress. In a letter sent to Fitzgerald, Waxman cites new evidence that calls for the hearings now but what exactly is this evidence and what is Cheney guilty of exactly?
“I recognize that as a federal prosecutor, you are constrained by the rules of grand jury secrecy,” Waxman’s letter states. “But you undoubtedly recognize that Congress has a responsibility to examine the policy and accountability questions that your investigation has raised. As a result of your investigation, you have a singular understanding of the facts and their implications that bear directly on the issues before Congress…. Your investigation had a narrow legal focus: Were any federal criminal statutes violated by White House officials?”
This was Fitzgerald’s single focus of the investigation and according to Fitzgerald, Libby’s obstruction of justice prevented him from fully investigating those items. But let’s examine this a bit more clearly from what we’ve found out and know to this point.
During the Libby trial, Fitzgerald made the point that Libby’s obstruction of justice comes about because by lying to the prosecutor the prosecutor was unable to determine to the legal satisfaction that Cheney did not direct Libby to disclose Plame’s identity to the press. There is no question that Cheney directed Libby to talk to members of the press and discuss items contained in the NIE report that countered Joe Wilson’s accusations that one piece of the information used in the State of the Union address was completely debunked when the speech was made. In the views of the administration this information showed that that accusation was false and pressed President Bush to de-classify it so that the people could see more information than they had been privy to before.
It was during these conversations with the press that Libby brought up the position of WIlson’s wife at the CIA. The charges of obstruction of justice relating to this were brought up in the trail. According to Fitzgerald, because of Libby’s lies he was unable to question Cheney further about whether or not he ordered Libby to disclose that information or if Libby had taken it upon himself to do so and was lying to protect his knowingly breaking the law.
In order to make his case that Libby had committed obstruction of justice, Fitzgerald had to make the charge that it was possible that Cheney could have made such an order. During the proceedings Cathie Martin was brought to testify. Cathie Martin is Cheney’s former communications director. Martin testified that she was present when Cheney dictated talking points to be used when talking with the press about the NIE report and Joe Wilson’s op-ed piece. She stated that there was never any discussion during this time about mentioning Joe Wilson’s wife or her position at the CIA.
However, to make the charge stick, Fitzgerald had to suggest that it was still a possibility. According to Libby’s lawyer, he did this by putting a thought of conspiracy in the minds of the jurors without any evidence to back it up.
“Now, I think the government, through its questions, really tried to put a cloud over Vice President Cheney,” Libby’s attorney Theodore Wells told jurors Tuesday, according to a transcript of the closing arguments (reportedly) obtained by Truthout. “The prosecutors questioned Ms. Martin: ‘Well, you weren’t with Mr. Libby and the vice president all the time. Some things could have happened when you weren’t there.’ And the clear suggestions by the questions were, well, maybe there was some kind of skulduggery, some kind of scheme between Libby and the vice president going on in private, but that’s unfair.”
It is true that Cheney was confused by the accusation that Wilson was sent to Niger on his orders. So he went to the CIA and tried to find out who sent Wilson and why. It was during this time that he discovered it was Wilson’s wife who held a position at the CIA. However, that only explains how Libby discovered the information. It does not create a link that Cheney therefore directed Libby to release that information to the press.
So, so far we have a conspiracy theory that is not backed up by any facts. Fitzgerald never states that he thinks Cheney did order the leak, only that by lying Libby prevented him from ascertaining if it occurred or not. This doesn’t go into what evidence that Fitzgerald could have garnered if he had gotten the truth out of Libby, I doubt Cheney would have admitted to doing it even if he had and if there was evidence to suggest he had it would have been discovered, IMO, through normal investigative means, the same ones that showed the Libby had committed perjury. But to this date no evidence exists to suggest that Libby was directed to discuss Plame’s position at the CIA, no eye witnesses that attest to this being true, nothing to counter Cathie Martin’s testimony that this information was never discussed between the two individuals, nothing to suggest that Libby or Cheney have wavered from their statements that there was never an authorization from the VP to release that information to the press, etc. All we have, so far, are the makings of a good Hollywood political thriller.
But, what information does Waxman cite to suggest that there may be more to the story? According to the letter he sent to Fitzgerald
“After the verdict was announced yesterday, one juror expressed the view that former chief of staff to the vice president Libby was only a ‘fall guy,'” Waxman said in his letter to Fitzgerald. “This juror’s views encapsulated questions that many in Congress and the public have about whether the ultimate responsibility for the outing of Ms. Wilson rests with more senior officials in the White House.”
One juror. That juror, Denis Collins, a former Washington Post reporter, stated immediately after the trial that the jurors were led to believe that Libby was a ‘fall guy’. Is this proof? Does this constitute anything other than the opinion or feelings of a single person or group of people after hearing good Hollywood conspiracy theories played out in courtroom? I suppose we’ll find out on March 16th when the next installment of this real life docudrama begins. Meanwhile, those of us who are waiting patiently for evidence to be presented instead of innuendo and conspiracy theories continue to be disappointed and left to wait.
As a disclaimer, let me make a few statements that I am sure will be brought up by those who will claim what I am writing is as a ‘partisan shill for the republicans’. I didn’t vote for Bush, I am not a republican, I disapprove of MUCH that this administration has done while in office and while I supported the military action to remove Saddam from power I was and still am completely against the occupation of Iraq in order to prevent a civil war from occurring without UN support. I also was initially skeptical about anyone in the administration’s involvement in the leak of Plame’s name to the press but once evidence was provided by the investigation that Libby was guilty of doing so I was glad that he was indicted, put on trial and found guilty. I agree with Fitzgerald that in the event that any new evidence arises that puts into question Cheney’s (or anyone else’s involvement) they should also be tried. However, until such a time as that occurs I will not make assumptions of guilt or complicity based on hearsay, innuendo and conspiracy theories.