Friday, October 28, 2005

A lot is going to depend on what the meaning of 'is' is... or should I say the meaning of learned 'her identity'?

With Libby being charged with perjury, for testifying that he learned of Plame's identity from reporters instead of actually from Cheney, much is going to depend on the specifics of what Cheney said to Libby and what Libby said to the grand jury. If Libby can avail himself of the Russert dodge, by showing that while Cheney told him Wilson's wife worked at the CIA he only learned of her name and specific job at the CIA from reporters, who knows how the trial will go? Just as Clinton based his defense on the "depends of what "is" means", maybe Libby's defense will hinge on how 'identity' is defined. Of course, I wouldn't want to be Libby and have to depend on the MSM testifying honestly about what they told him and when they did so... especially since it's Russert himself who Libby claims told him of Plame's identity.

And from what I remember of the Clinton days, if there's "no harm", there's "no foul"; in other words, if the person making the false statement doesn't accomplish anything with their lies, they're pretty much off the hook for being charged with perjury. Well, as ABP points out, Libby had given the grand jury documents showing that he had learned of Plame from Cheney. So how were Fitzgerald and the grand jury harmed by Libby's supposed statements if they had Libby's files?

And to sustain a perjury charge, he false statement must be 'material' to the proceedings. If, as it turns out, there was no violation of the law related to the disclosure of Plame's name or role at the CIA, then, at worst, Libby could be accused of hindering Fitzgerald's figuring out that no crime had taken place... in other words, but for Libby not coming clean, Fitzgerald would have closed up shop months ago. Maybe that would rise to the level needed to convict Libby of perjury, maybe not. But look at the irony! It's Martha all over again... getting int trouble for lying about something that he couldn't have gotten in trouble for in the first place.