Friday, October 28, 2005

The Games People Play

So I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby is indicted, which means that the prosecutor must believe that he did something wrong.

Yet as you analyze the charges against him, it doesn't seem at all clear if he actually did anything more than try to evade responsibility for talking to a reporter on a matter which most objective analysts believe isn't a crime.
The 22-page indictment charges Libby with two felony counts for making false statements to mislead the grand jury. He is also charged with obstruction of justice and perjury. In total, five counts were included in the indictment.
The charges are based on the assertion that Libby was not forthcoming with the grand jury or the FBI when questioned about when he first learned the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame.

Part of the indictment focuses on Libby's alleged deception about conversations he had with Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper, New York Times reporter Judith Miller and TV's "Meet the Press" host Tim Russert. According to the indictment, in those conversations Libby allegedly confirmed without equivocation Plame's identity to the reporters, rather than learning her name from them.

But if Valerie Plame-Wilson was no longer a covert operative at the time, and if her job description did not fit the criteria for leak protection, then Libby was free to disclose her name. Which is likely why he is not being indicted for revealing the name!

Reporters and bureaucrats in Washington play the "I'll tell you a little something off the record" game all the time. The press would be furious if politicians and their aides quit talking.

So what we have is Libby under indictment, not for committing a crime but for evasion about how he played a common political game in Washington.

It makes you wonder: If Libby had told the grand jury right up front that he discussed Plame with the reporters, would there even be an indictment?


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