No Easy Answers

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Libby Trial - Whereto from Here?

Fitzgerald's return will be fun to watch by John Kass - a must read.

Transcript : Statement by Libby's Attorney - New York Times

Transcript: Fitzgerald Answers Questions - New York Times

Transcript: Libby Juror Answers Questions - New York Times


    I stand by my long-held prediction, that regardless of the outcome of the trial, the opposing political sides will remain entrenched in their respective positions.

    And a new one, that the opposing sides will revert to dissecting this case as a question of "who leaked Plame?" or its corrolary, "No leak? Then no crime!"

    This trial didn't have a happy outcome, but I believe it is the correct outcome. Correct to be charged, and a correct conclusion by the jury. Just my opinion, rejected by most who follow the same rightward-leaning political path that I do.

    Says Ted Wells (my sloppy paraphrase, but it gets the sense of the direction the defense has planned ...

We are very disappointed in the verdict of the jury. This jury deliberated for 10 days. We believe in the American justice system and we believe in the jury system. We intend to file a motion for a new trial, and if that is denied, we will appeal the conviction, and we have every confidence that ultimately, Mr. Libby will be vindicated. Mr. Libby is totally innocent, and did not do anything wrong.

    The motion for retrial will be a good precursor for the appellate brief - and Libby is entitled to an appeal as a matter of law.

    Fitzgerald makes a brief appearance and takes Q&A.

Gratified by verdict. Jury worked long and hard and deliberated at some length. The jury was able to conclude guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. We wish that a high official hadn't lied under oath, but it happened. We're thankful for the service of the jury.

We knew in December that Libby had told lies to the FBI. It's inconceivable that a prosecutor would walk away from the extent of lying that we saw. He was not comfortable walking away from the lying and saying nothing wrong was done.

Any lie under oath is serious. A prosecutor has a duty to enforce that principle.

No comment about Cheney - Cheney is not the subject of our investigation, and our mention of him in closing was to show Libby's state of mind.

What of "cloud over the VP and cloud over the WH?" What was said in closing was rebuttal to the defense that said the prosecution cast the cloud over the VP. The cloud was caused by Libby's lies - he could have removed that cloud, but he didn't.

He expects to file no further charges. The investigation was inactive before the trial. If we get new information, we will act as that information indicates.

He thinks the verdict should stand, but he won't predict how an appellate court would respond to arguments not yet made.

Won't predict what sentence Judge Walton might hand down.

Of course he was worried about the verdict during the extended deliberations.

"Her relationship with the CIA was classified." [whatever that means]

    And a few items from Q&A with the jury ...

Jurors say their decision was driven by Libby's version of the Russert conversation. 34 sheets (easel sheets) of pieces of information that Libby was told (he may have forgotten), and while we believed that Libby had a bad memory, Hannah's testimony was self-conflicting in that even if he (Libby) forgot who told him, he remembered the fact he was told.

Too many things just didn't add up to knowing on Tuesday, forgetting on Thursday (Russert).

Took a long time because they considered all counts, all elements, and played testimony through "motive?" "credibility?" and other filters.

The jury dismissed on Count 3 because the evidence of Libby's words came from Cooper, and somewhat from Martin (except she walked away). The jury saw the charge as Cooper's word vs. Libby's word. If Cooper really had confirmation from Libby, his notes would have said so, and his actions would have indicated two sources for the story - that is, the story would have run. In the end, reasonable doubt, even though Cooper was reasonably credible.

No negotiations over trading one count for another.


I know you are satisfied with the verdict..and as much as I know deep down that Libby was probably guilty of something...

I am of the belief that the only reason the original investigation was started, which produced this case, was for political payback by the Dems.

Chuck Schumer pushed for this well after the orginial article by Novak...and why?? Because he could.

Therefore, IMO, regardless of the rightness of a verdict...the wrongness of the route this took is my beef.

I see this as something to payback for Iraq...which in turn is payback for 2000.

I know where you come from..on a lot of different things..not just this. I also agree with you...I am just not as detached.

I see all of this as one big lib/dem payback for Clinton's impeachment...and the MSM is a participant...NOT the conduit.

I appreciate your notes...and your help through this...

Come visit sometime...sleuth
The investigation, even at the FBI level, was a concession that spun out of control. I just wish Libby hadn't tried to hide his awareness.
I get no joy from this verdict. I get vindication for seeing the case for what it was, from the start - a case about lying to investigators. The parallel with the Clinton deposition isn't far off, and I think Clinton deserved the punishment he got too, even though Jones had no civil claim and the Monica evidence was perhaps inadmissible, to boot. Still, Clinton lied when he swore he was going to tell the truth.
It was illuminating to watch the partisan hacks and chatty observers of the right behave as mirror images of their counterparts on the left - interesting and admittedly, at times, entertaining. But a sad part is the thought that I may be seeing the slow death of decent principle. A number of "right-minded" people ridicule my "defense of principle" position - so it's not my imagination.
At any rate, the left is wrong for spinning Libby's lapse into an argument against the Iraq war. There is plenty of room for debate on that issue, on the merits. Using the Libby case as a proxy for the Iraq war debate (or even as a pseudo-argument on the merits) is just cheap partisan sniping.
Agreed: The jury was thoughtful and advocates on the right were both intellectually biased (Tom, Clarice) and (often, Boris, PUK, and the rest of the brew crew) very flawed in logic and consistency. And very interesting to watch Clarice or such let the brew crew get by with silly remarks that she knew were incorrect. Pretty obvious there that "siding with her team" took priority over principle, over revealing truth.
Minor comment: Fitz's justification for the closing remarks still does not track. It is not his job to rebut aspersions on prosecuturs. And he is not justified in going after third parties (not involved in the case) to rebut a second party.
-- advocates on the right were both intellectually biased and (often) very flawed in logic and consistency. --
Trustworthy commentators and observers are very hard to come by, and even the most trustworthy people err from time to time.
Partisan actors won't adjust direction or temper their opinion of the Libby case based on the outcome of the trial, but are digging in even harder. Those on the right have new targets of derision, the jury and the judge. If the case is appealed, they'll add the appellate judges to their "idiots" list.
Most people who participate in political forums do so for reinforcement purposes, not to get to the bottom. Most forums are partisan, and my nature tends toward apolitical personal independence, with an urge to understand. That is an inherently personal endeavor with the non-sharable result of "understanding," as we each come to our own.
No one is perfect, and it is hard to overcome biases. That said, I don't think it is too much to ask people to try to be objective. And in many cases, there was no effort going on at all. We are supposed to be teaching critical thinking and all that hooha, and what we have is very surface level thought going on. It is reasonable to expect better. I'm not asking for 100%.
One can have all sorts of expectations, but that doesn't mean the expectations are reasonable or realistic. That you expect honest effort from an advocate is your baggage. I just pigeon-hole advocates (for my own selfish purposes) and treat their compositions accordingly.


I perceive credibility, or not, depending on how a writer compares against independent fact-checking, their reading comprehension (do they accurately represent others from context, or do they cherry pick for score?), their ability to compose and present logical and responsive arguments, and basic honesty.


That other people fall for illogic, false assertions of fact, charlatans and liars isn't my problem - and if it was my problem, I couldn't fix it. People tend to believe what they are predisposed to believe. That's just the way it is.
Yeah, well over time, my expecations of Just One Minute and Climate Audit have been revised down, based on the tests that you refer to. I guess, I just thought they were better than that...before.

And I do think one can both favor a side and be intellectually curious and honest. It bothers me that this should be thought of as unusual. I'm not talking about subtle biases clouding evaluation. I'm talking about motes in frigging eyes.
I also see the blogosphere comment and message boards as salons. I enjoy the thrust and parry, but also the learning. Enjoy contrasting views hashed out and further inferences made as a result of it (the John Kennedy style of wanting to have debate within his advisors). Don't enjoy it when it turns to sophistry.
What's your response to my minor point (wrt Fitz, comment 4)?
I'd have to read more of the trial transcript to reach a firm conclusion on Fitz's stated justification for "cloud over VP" line of argument, but on it's face, his justification (stated in his post-trial presser) isn't wacky.
If the defense blamed the investigator for the cloud, I think they are projecting and it wasn't out of line to say so to the jury. The cloud was there before the investigator came on the scene.
I don't think I understand your "third party" point - but the prosecution necessarily involves third parties for evidence of conduct, opportunity and motive.
Fitz ran an aggressive trial, but 1) that's part and parcel of the adversarial system and 2) the degree of aggression was not out of proportion to the degree of aggression (for want of a better word) on the part of the defense. Both sides ran a hard game. Each and every point was hard fought.
Party A (defense) says that Party B (Fitz) is going after Party C (Repub admin). Party B responds: Party C is evil.

My take: this is unsat. Party B's views of Party C are not germane to the trial, regardless of Party A bringing them up. And even so, it is not justification for a rebuttal which takes C (not a party to the trial and not even the one who made the statement) to task.
Your hypo resembles the "Cloud over OVP" comment. If that's what you're alluding to, my answer is above. I don't take a reply "the cloud was there before I came on the scene" as improper. Libby conceded that Cheney had some involvement. According to Libby, it was Cheney who first told Libby that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA.
Again, I'd have to see whether or not, and if so how the defense cast this back to the prosecution - but from the pleadings, the prosecution was quite focused on Libby. For example, the first uttering of "OVP conspiracy" came from the DEFENSE team! The DEFENSE contended "The prosecution is going to accuse us of a conspiracy." Yet the prosecution never did accuse conspiracy, but it did was respond to the charge that it was planning to base the prosecution in part on presence of a conspiracy (at least in the pleadings - again, I'd have to read the trial transcript to see if the same order of accusation/defense played out there).
If the defense had said that white people are bad, would the prosecution be justified in going after black people? It's not germane, despite the defense bringing it up. Any response should be to define the issue as non-germane. Not to use defense bringing things up as an excuse to let the prosecution go after people who are not on trial.

Did you at all have the impression that Wells was mailing it in a bit, was not mounting the best defense possible to get his (lying, guilty) client off?
I don't think the defense let up in the least, at any point. They certainly had ebbs and flows of energy and insight, but they did (and will continue to do) an outstanding job, which represents a quality of work to the best of their ability.
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