Friday, July 22, 2005

It's looking like perjury for Rove, Libby, and who else?

Think Progress reprints the Bloomberg story here.

Meanwhile, with Judith Miller in the hoosegow, the New York Times reports on the connection between the outing of Valerie Plame and the bogus "smoking cloud" claims from the Bush regime, bringing the motive for the apparent crime into sharp relief.

People who have been briefed on the case said the White House officials, Karl Rove and I. Lewis Libby, were helping prepare what became the administration's primary response to criticism that a flawed phrase about the nuclear materials in Africa had been in Mr. Bush's State of the Union address six months earlier.

They had exchanged e-mail correspondence and drafts of a proposed statement by George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, to explain how the disputed wording had gotten into the address. Mr. Rove, the president's political strategist, and Mr. Libby, the chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, coordinated their efforts with Stephen J. Hadley, then the deputy national security adviser, who was in turn consulting with Mr. Tenet.

At the same time, they were grappling with the fallout from an Op-Ed article on July 6, 2003, in The New York Times by Mr. Wilson, a former diplomat, in which he criticized the way the administration had used intelligence to support the claim in Mr. Bush's speech.

The work done by Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby on the Tenet statement during this intense period has not been previously disclosed. People who have been briefed on the case discussed this critical time period and the events surrounding it to demonstrate that Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby were not involved in an orchestrated scheme to discredit Mr. Wilson or disclose the undercover status of his wife, Valerie Wilson, but were intent on clarifying the use of intelligence in the president's address. Those people who have been briefed requested anonymity because prosecutors have asked them not to discuss matters under investigation.

The special counsel in the case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, has been examining this period of time to determine whether the officials' work on the Tenet statement led in some way to the disclosure of Ms. Wilson's identity to Robert D. Novak, the syndicated columnist, according to the people who have been briefed.

It is not clear what information Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby might have collected about Ms. Wilson as they worked on the Tenet statement. Mr. Rove has said he learned her name from Mr. Novak. Mr. Libby has declined to discuss the matter.

The effort was striking because to an unusual degree, the circle of officials involved included those from the White House's political and national security operations, which are often separately run. Both arms were drawn into the effort to defend the administration during the period.

In another indication of how wide a net investigators have cast in the case, Karen Hughes, a former top communications aide to Mr. Bush, and Robert Joseph, who was then the National Security Council's expert on weapons proliferation, have both told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that they were interviewed by the special prosecutor.

Now I suspect these anonymous sources are none other than people who are on the Rove-Libby side of this.

And their excuse is pretty weak - what is really being demonstrated in those e-mails is opportunity.

I suspect Fitzgerald wants slam-dunk convictions on Rove, Libby, and possibly others, but to me, enough pieces are there to send these guys to prison, straight away, on perjury and obstruction of justice.

Or, maybe Fizgerald still has bigger fish to fry. Or maybe he just wants to capture all the guilty parties.


Lawrence O'Donnell says - and given he's been right so far I've no reason to doubt him - that it is indeed Rove's mouthpiece Luskin who's the "anonymous source" here.

...Today's Times piece says that Luskin's latest description about how Rove and Lewis Libby worked together (the prosecutor might say conspired) to respond to Joe Wilson's Op-Ed piece was leaked to the the Times "to demonstrate that Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby were not involved in an orchestrated scheme to discredit Mr. Wilson or disclose the undercover status of his wife, Valerie Wilson, but were intent on clarifying the use of intelligence in the president's [State of the Union] address."

That will be Rove and Libby's defense against a possible conspiracy count in the prosecutor's eventual indictment.

It is important for Luskin to get his defense started now because he knows that what one appeals court judge in the case called "the plot against Wilson" is going to become public when the prosecutor reveals everything he has already revealed only to the judges.

Rove is obviously in charge of the day-to-day strategy of what Luskin leaks to the press. Rove is stealing a page from the Clinton scandal management playbook. He is trying to set the stage for the day the prosecutor turns over his cards. Rove-Luskin will then call it all "old news."

Everything Rove-Luskin has leaked has been printed in a form most favorable to the Rove defense without a word of leaked input from the prosecutor. When the prosecutor tells his story, don't expect him to accept Rove's currently uncontested claim that he does not recall who told him that Wilson's wife was a CIA agent and don't expect the "old news" spin to work. When the prosecutor has his day, he is going to make new news.

I'd add that this excuse by Rove isn't going to wash- there'd be no reason to out a CIA operative if that were the only reason.

We're looking at major indictments here.

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