Tuesday, November 01, 2005
The Washington Post would like you to believe that Libby's upcoming trial presents all kinds of potential problems for the Bush Administration, including having Cheney being "forced to testify about how they handled intelligence, dealt with the media and built the argument for the Iraq war".
Au contraire. This trial is going to hinge on whether Libby was aware of Wilson's wife's identity and role at the time he talked with Russert, Cooper and Miller and whether he testified to the contrary in front of the grand jury.
So at trial, Fitzgerald needs to introduce evidence that (1) Libby was aware of such information at the time of his conversations with reporters, (2) Libby had learned of such information from sources within the Administration and the CIA and not from any reporter, and (3) Miller, Russert and Cooper did not provide any such information to Libby.
Fitzgerald does not need to introduce evidence about how information was handled within the Administration. He does not have to introduce evidence about how the decision was made to go to war. He does not have to introduce evidence about how the Administration dealt with critics of its policies. In fact, Fitzgerald should NOT try to do so, as it will only detract from his rather simple and straightforward allegation that Libby lied to investigators and the grand jury (as the prosecutors in the Dennis Kozlowski case learned when they confused their first jury with juicy but ultimately irrelevant stories about shower curtains, parties and the like).
As a good prosecutor ought to do, Fitzgerald will try to introduce the evidence he needs to make his case in the most simple and straightforward way possible... and leave out everything else. He doesn't need Cheney on the stand. He doesn't need Bush, Rice or Colin Powell. He doesn't need Joe Wilson or Valerie Plame or George Tenet. He doesn't need witness after witness; in fact, he might not need any witnesses, as he has Libby's own notes that reference Libby being aware of information he supposedly later claimed to not know. And I don't know if criminal trials, like civil trials, have a mechanism for the prosecutor and defense to stipulate to certain facts, but if there is, this might be something they agree to stipulate to, since Libby is not going to deny that he learned of Wilson's wife from sources in the Administration well before he talked with Miller, Cooper and Russert).
So, as much as the Post wants to keep the heat on the White House, it ain't going to happen... at least not in the way the Post hopes it happens.