Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Fallout from Libby verdict?

The Scooter Libby story is far from over. Libby is appealing, of course; the question is, what evidence will he give on appeal that could make him look like a lesser player in the story?

Libby was convicted of obstruction and perjury in the investigation of the Plame leak, not with the leak itself. If his appeal strategy is to claim he was "just following orders", he puts Cheney in the hot seat. Libby was Dick Cheney's chief of staff; as such, it was impossible that he acted alone in revealing Plame's identity. He did so not only with the VP's protection (until things got heavy), but with his approval and almost certainly on his instruction. That doesn't change the fact that he leaked the information, or that he committed perjury and obstructed the investigation. But he did those things to protect Cheney. He didn't realize Cheney would throw him under the bus to protect Karl Rove, who likely bears the ultimate responsibility for the leak.

More attention needs to be paid to the reason the leak happened in the first place. It's telling that the white house was so paranoid about their claims that Iraq had WMDs that they'd respond to Wilson's challenge by basically destroying his wife's career and potentially putting her life in danger. It indicates that they knew a lot more about the lack of WMD than they were telling congress and the nation. They knew, and they knew early on, that it was unlikely Iraq had WMDs.

Through the lens of the intervening 4 years, it's obvious they lied about the WMDs to send the country to war with some kind of hazy imperial objective. The Libby trial makes it clear that it wasn't a matter of bad intelligence, it was a matter of the white house purposely using what they knew was bad intelligence, and lying about it. They knew it wouldn't stand up to scrutiny, and they didn't want shit-disturbers like Wilson calling it into question. They had to send a message: don't fuck with us. Their method, the politics of personal destruction, is straight out of the shitstained pages of the Karl Rove playbook; Rove openly told a journalist that "Wilson's wife is fair game". If that isn't an admission of at least complicity in the leak, I don't know what is. Libby wasn't the only one, or even the first, to leak Plame's identity. Nor was he the first to lie about it.

What it boils down to is that there are a lot of unindicted co-conspirators still floating around this case, in particular Cheney and Rove. I wonder if on appeal Libby might reveal anything that would put these two slugs under the microscope, and if it might result in congressional hearings into the intelligence that led to the war in Iraq. I hope so, because as much as Libby deserves to go to prison, he shouldn't be going alone.