Scooter Libby Guilty
Scooter Libby, former assistant to Vice President Dick Cheney was found guilty of four of five charges today. Though I've had problems with this investigation of a non-existent crime from the beginning, I haven't posted much if anything about Libby's trial for a reason. That reason is our justice system is dependent on honest answers particularly sworn testimony. The problem with perjury is normally it is a very difficult case to prove. In fact, I'd argue that more cases of perjury could be brought to trial than any other charge. However, most cases are not referred because the lie or perjury would be something not germane to the law which was broken. People lie for many reasons. Some to avoid embarrassment. Some to mitigate culpability. Some lies are just memory failures. We have all seen situations where sevreal people remember an event they were all present at quite differently. Libby's defense was that his memory was faulty. However, his lawyer's opening statement undermined the memory defense by claiming his client believed he was being made a fall guy. If you think back to when this mess was initially boiling and understand that Libby had no way of knowing that Richard Armitage was the actual leaker to Robert Novak it is reasonable to assume or fear that he might be being set up to take the fall for Karl Rove who everyone speculated was the leaker. My guess, and it is only a guess, is Libby knowingly gave less than honest answer to the initial investigators because he knew he never spoke to Robert Novak about Joe Wilson. Then when he was brought before the grand jury he decided to stick to his first story not comprehending that the original leak was never in question.
People will attempt to use this case to make false claims about recent history. Already, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have made statements claiming this is verdict proves something about pre-war intelligence. Here is Reid's statement:
"I welcome the jury's verdict. It's about time someone in the Bush Administration has been held accountable for the campaign to manipulate intelligence and discredit war critics. Lewis Libby has been convicted of perjury, but his trial revealed deeper truths about Vice President Cheney's role in this sordid affair. Now President Bush must pledge not to pardon Libby for his criminal conduct."If the jury had found Libby not guilty would Reid accept that as proof of the opposite? Of course not. This case proves nothing except that this jury found the prosecution's case more compelling than the defense's.
Speaking of the jury, the post trial comments of their spokesman were very telling and lead me to believe any trial with political implications should have an automatic change of venue from the the District of Columbia. The jury spokesman (who is already on Larry King tonight and preparing to write a book) actually made this statement:
As you all know, Collins said that jurors had no animosity toward Libby. "There was a tremendous amount of sympathy for Mr. Libby," Collins said. The same was not true, Collins suggested, of other members of the Bush administration. "It was said a number of times, 'What are we doing with this guy here?'" Collins told reporters. "'Where's Rove? Where are these other guys?' It seemed like Libby was…the fall guy."If they were actually concerned about the case at hand they would not be grousing about not having the defendant they personally preferred. Besides the very high Democrat to Republican breakdown of the local population, you have the problem of the over-saturation of political news in that area.
Continuing about the jury, Libby's attorney Wells should be cited for legal malpractice during the voir dire process. How could he allow a Washington Post reporter to be on the jury without using a peremptory challenge. The WAPO may have some employees who are not rabid Democrat partisans, but I wouldn't risk my freedom on accidentally finding that needle in a haystack.
Bottom line: What effect will this trial have long term? None. People claim this sort of case will discourage people from serving in future administrations. Nope. People are speculating that this coupled with Dick Cheney's latest medical problems will lead to the VP resigning. Nope. Barring his being permanently medically incapacitated Cheney will finish his term of office. The one area this case may affect in the future is whether people will speak to investigators and grand juries or if they will just plead their Fifth Amendment protections.