Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Libby Defense Team Begins Its Case. Weakly.

The Nation's David Corn writes about Day One in the defense phase of the trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

The aim was to show that Libby was not willy-nilly spreading information to reporters about Valerie Wilson and her CIA employment in the weeks before she was outed as a CIA officer by Novak's July 14, 2003 column. Libby stands accused of having lied to a grand jury and the FBI when he told both that he had not passed official information regarding Valerie Wilson to reporter Judith Miller, then of The New York Times (during conversations on June 23, July 8 and July 12, 2003) and correspondent Matt Cooper, then of Time (during a phone call on July 12, 2003).

Libby is as good as convicted. Nevertheless, Bush will probably pardon him upon leaving office. This despite the fact Libby helped compromise national security by leaking classified information about the identity of a CIA operative to members of the press.

The prosecution closed its case last week on a very strong foundation: Libby lied to the FBI and a federal grand jury. Witnesses, including those from the Bush regime, contradicted everything his defense team has argued thus far--that Libby and all the other witnesses suffered from poor memory, or that he is somehow the victim of a vast conspiracy to protect Karl Rove. Yet every witness, and every piece of evidence presented by the prosecution, has shown Libby to be the liar he is.

The weakness of the defense's opening testimony hinges on facts that are completely irrelevant to the case at hand. Libby is charged with perjury, lying to authorities and a grand jury. It does not matter that he leaked the CIA identity of Joe Wilson's wife only to select members of the press. It matters only that he falsified testimony. Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald made his case. It is now the Libby defense team's task to knock holes in that case.

So far, it has failed. Miserably.

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