Some tiny creature, mad with wrath,

Is coming nearer on the path.

--Edward Gorey

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. Outlying Islands

Writer, lawyer, cyclist, rock climber, wanderer of dark residential streets, friend.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Thoughts on Libby and Rove, and the Coverage of the Indictments

To be clear, I'm not interested in blogging directly with regard to the indictments handed down this afternoon by Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald charging Scooter Libby with five counts based on his alleged knowingly false testimony to the grand jury in the Plame affair.

Most everything there is to know, for now, is contained in the news release explaining the indictment.

What interests me, presently, are too ancillary matters.

First, what does this mean for Rove? According to the New York Times, Fitzgerald may extend the term of the grand jury. For the time being, I'll assume this to be legally accurate. Needless to say, there's a huge practical difference between extending the term of the current grand jury, which has heard all of the foundational evidence and has showed that it's prepared to hand down indictments against administration officials. The question is this: would Fitzgerald wait to indict Rove for charges similar to those leveled against Libby? I think not.

Largely, whether someone lied before a grand jury is determined by the narrative the prosecutor develops based on the evidence concerning what really happened. Once that has been determined, it's a simple matter of matching up that narrative with the testimony in question for consistency. The release linked above is very clear on the ways in which Libby's testimony didn't match up with Fitzgerald's narrative.

Similarly, there's no evidence that Fitzgeral is as overbearing or single-minded as Independent Counsel Starr was in pursuing charges against Clinton. He seems neither to possess that politically-informed sense of determination, nor to arrogate to himself as much authority or importance as Starr did. I can only assume, therefore, that Fitzgeral is close to something on Rove.

Now it's possible that there are gaps in Fitzgerald's working narrative that preclude looming perjury charges for Rove. But here's my surmise: Fitzgerald thinks he's got Rove on something bigger. Specifically, I think Fitzgerald has Rove in his crosshairs for the substantive offense at issue: the borderline treasonous outing of Valerie Plame, a covert operative, for political gain. Going after such a big fish with deficient evidence is political suicide, because once such an indictment is handed down you better be right. I think what we're seeing is Fitzgerald's calculating circumspection, and assuming he gets to continue to work with the same grand jury as the Times appears to indicate, I don't think it's that far off. I suspect Fitzgerald only would take such extraordinary measures if he were truly close to nailing the big fish with the biggest charge of all.

And that's worth waiting for.

And on that note, my second point. The Times article contains the following curious statement: "If the charges announced today lead to a conviction or guilty plea, the episode will stand in Washington history as another example of a cover-up becoming more serious than the original wrongdoing."

I'm sorry, but excuse me? I'm pretty sure that whatever happens pertaining to the charges against Libby, they pale by comparison to the underlying allegation, the matter ostensibly covered up: The life- and national security-threatening revelation of highly classified information as retribution for a whistle-blower who critically undermined the case the President was trying to jury-rig to lead America's sons and daughters into war. This is one of the most offensive and risible statements I've seen in a Times news story I've seen in a while, possibly since Judith Miller was sucking off the Administration and its stoolies on the WMD story.


Anonymous binky said...

Official A talk centers on Rove.

11:28 AM  

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