Approaching the Heart of the Matter

From Holden:

I can’t help but think that Irving Lewis “Scooter Libby and others will eventually be charged with the original crime of exposing the identity of a covert CIA agent.

The classified status of the identity of former CIA officer Valerie Plame will be a key element in any trial of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Cheney’s former chief of staff, according to special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald has said that at trial he plans to show that Libby knew Plame’s employment at the CIA was classified and that he lied to the grand jury when he said he had learned from NBC News’s Tim Russert that Plame, the wife of former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, worked for the agency.


At last week’s court argument on pretrial motions, Fitzgerald said Libby had a “motive to lie” to the grand jury. By “attributing to a reporter” his information about Plame’s CIA status and emphasizing that he was “passing on” scuttlebutt but “didn’t know if it were true,” the prosecutor said, Libby in his testimony was deliberately casting his actions as “a non-crime” in a way that “looks much more innocent than passing on what you know to be classified.”

To support his case, Fitzgerald disclosed that at some time after Robert D. Novak’s July 14, 2003, column identified Plame as a CIA “operative,” Libby was part of a conversation with a CIA official and one other Cheney employee who is not identified in court papers. The CIA official discussed “the dangers posed by disclosure of the CIA affiliation of one of its employees,” according to a May 12 court filing by the government.

At the oral argument that same day, Fitzgerald, referring to the conversation, described the CIA official as a witness who described to Libby “and another person the damage that can be caused specifically by the outing of Ms. Wilson.”

That conversation, Fitzgerald added, “goes directly to his [Libby’s] state of mind as to . . . there [being] a motive to lie.”

In his May 12 filing, Fitzgerald said that same conversation provides “evidence [that] directly contradicts the defense position that the defendant had no motive to lie because at the time of his [FBI] interview and [grand jury] testimony the defendant [Libby] thought that neither he nor anyone else had done anything wrong.”