March 06, 2007

You See Libby Libby Libby on the Cable Cable Cable

Dick Cheney's former Chief of Staff, Scooter Libby, was found guilty today of four counts of perjury and obstruction of justice in covering up Cheney's role in the CIA leak scandal. Here's the brief background (an extensive background can be found here): in October 2001, a month after 9/11, intelligence reports surfaced in Italy that Iraq had sought to purchase uranium from Niger. Cheney asked that the CIA check out the reports. The CIA sent former ambassador Joe Wilson to Niger in February 2002. Wilson found no truth to the uranium story, and reported his findings to his superiors. These findings, and Wilson's identity as the envoy to Niger, were not made public. However, nearly a year later, in his 2003 State of the Union address, George W. Bush repeated the false claim about Iraq's attempt to purchase uranium from Niger. This was at a time when Bush, Cheney, Libby and other administration officials were trying to sell the idea of a war against Iraq to the American people and the world, with Iraq's possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction the centerpiece of the sales job. Less than two months later, the U.S. invaded Iraq. In July 2003, Wilson published an op-ed in the New York Times identifying himself as the envoy to Niger, repeating his findings that there was no evidence of an Iraqi attempt to purchase uranium from Niger, and concluding that Bush's false claim to the contrary means that "some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat." Eight days later, Robert Novak published a syndicated column stating that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame Wilson, was a CIA operative specializing in WMD. Valerie Plame Wilson's CIA employment was classified, meaning it was secret. With her cover blown, Valerie Wilson had to resign from the CIA.

During Libby's trial, we learned that Cheney directed Libby in an operation to discredit Joe Wilson, and what they could come up with was that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA and had suggested that Wilson be chosen for the Niger trip. Cheney instructed Libby to speak to various reporters, and told Libby specifically what to say in order to try to discredit Wilson. Apparently, Cheney felt that, if nepotism was behind Wilson's trip, Wilson's conclusions would be discredited. Or perhaps Cheney wanted to plant the suggestion that Valerie Wilson and her husband Joe were against the idea of invading Iraq from the start, and cooked up the idea of Wilson's going to Niger after already deciding to find no evidence of the Iraq-Niger uranium connection. No evidence was ever presented of such a bias on the part of the Wilsons.

The jury found that Libby committed perjury and obstructed justice when telling federal investigators that, rather than finding out about Valerie Wilson's identity from Dick Cheney, he found out the information from NBC Washington Bureau Chief Tim Russert.

Today's jury verdict against Libby comes at the same time that Congress is investigating the firing of eight U.S. Attorneys at the behest of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. One of the attorneys, David Iglesias, was fired after New Mexico Republican Senator Pete Domenici and Republican Congresswoman Heather Wilson repeatedly phoned Iglesias during Wilson's October 2006 election race to try to get Iglesias to speed up ongoing investigations, and, hopefully, indictments, of Democratic officials before the election. Domenici also phoned Gonzales and his senior deputy four times to complain about Iglesias. Wilson squeaked to victory by 1,000 votes. Some of the fired prosecutors were in the middle of investigating wrongdoing by Republican officials.

Meanwhile, the Senate Armed Services Committee is investigating the mistreatment and neglect of wounded U.S. soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The Walter Reed scandal appears to be a Katrina-style case of what happens when an administration follows an ideology that holds that the government should not be used to solve problems.

Finally, nine U.S. soldiers were killed by bombs in Iraq today, and several more were wounded. The wounded will be returning to the U.S. in need of assistance. These soldiers will be returning to a very sad state of affairs.


At 4:20 PM, Blogger Barbara said...

I'm glad they nailed him, but sorry he couldn't take those above him down who were even more responsible. He's just the scapegoat unfortunately.


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