October 29, 2005

The Libby Indictment: Why Did He Lie?

At risk of repeating what others are saying, as well as contributing more words to what is already an avalanche, I feel compelled to make some observations about the Libby indictment.

I wasn't able to watch the entire Fitzgerald press conference yesterday and I have not been able to slice and dice the indictment and accompanying documents like others have, but I think it is fair to say that Fitzgerald's investigation has essentially exposed a White House that was hell-bent on revenge against Ambassador Joe Wilson for having brought them what they did not want to hear about his investigation into the Iraqis and uranium in Niger.

Here was a career diplomat, along with a wife who was a covert operative for America's leading intelligence organization, both ostensibly good Americans serving their countries, no less than any soldier on the battlefield. Ironically, Wilson had actually contributed $1000 to the Bush campaign for the presidency in 2000.

Fitzgerald has been able to demonstrate that various White House officials, including Libby, disclosed the fact that Joe Wilson's wife worked for the CIA. What he apparently hasn't been able to prove is that anyone did so knowingly and with the intent of outing a covert agent. Prosecuting under the statute is almost impossible.

What he claims he has proven is that Lewis Libby, in the process of this investigation, lied to federal agents and to the grand jury, and that is why he indicted him.

But the question remains: if Libby did nothing wrong, why did he lie? What was his motivation?

I heard one Fox News analyst state, matter of factly, in answer to the question of why did Libby lie: "Because he knew he could," as if that silly notion explains anything.

Libby had to have lied because he needed to cover for someone else. He did not lie because he could, or because he had contempt for the investigation, or because he was stupid.

He probably lied because he was a witness to the knowing and direct exposure of a CIA agent to a member of the press. At a private lunch, perhaps, he and Cheney and Novak were all flexing their muscles about Iraq, and expressing their irritation that this guy Wilson was not part of the Bush/Cheney team, and oh, by the way, the bastard's wife is a CIA covert agent and wouldn't that just serve him right if that came out! I doubt Bush was directly involved, but it certainly would be something he might have condoned, perhaps he even knew it was going to happen.

I like to fantasize these White House meetings and conversations because, if they actually occured, they would be so human, so possible, so predictable, and so unsurprising. It is exactly the way I imagine these three men do business.

So when Libby was asked about all this stuff, he had to shuffle the deck in a way that deflected any suspicion from his boss. He knew he might have to fall on his sword, but I think they all are convinced that the price Libby will ultimately have to pay in terms of a criminal sentence, after he plea-bargains (this will NOT come to trial), will amount to something along the lines of house detention.

In good loyal fashion, Libby probably even volunteered to do it.

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