Monday, October 31, 2005

ETHICS: Time To Get Out The Broom
ETHICS: Time To Get Out The Broom

On Friday, Scooter Libby, chief of staff to Vice President Cheney and
assistant to President Bush, was indicted for one count of obstruction
of justice, two counts of perjury, and two counts of making false
statements. Conservative David Brooks argued this was proof that "there is no
cancer on this presidency" and that people who suggested that the
problems ran deeper were "compulsively overheated." The White House and its
conservative allies need to take the law seriously. American Progress
CEO John Podesta said, "We now know that Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald
believes that crimes were committed in an effort to cover up the White
House's involvement in the outing of an undercover CIA officer. ... It's
time to get out the broom at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and clean house."

Reid noted this weekend, "The president said anyone involved would be
gone." Now, "we now know that Official A is Karl Rove. He's still around.
He should be let go." But if Bush sticks to his word, Rove is just the
beginning. Podesta added, "we know that senior Presidential aides
National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley and White House Press Secretary
Scott McClellan were either complicit in the leak and the cover up, or
grossly negligent in their duties." Also, "Chief of Staff, Andrew Card has
presided over a White House staff that is guilty of a disservice to the
President and the country," and should also resign.

to diminish the importance of Libby's indictment by emphasizing that he
was not charged with the underlying crime of outing a CIA agent. On Fox
News Sunday, Brit Hume said Libby was "accused of telling lies that he
apparently didn't need to tell about a crime he didn't commit." Here's
what they don't tell you: Libby's obstruction of the investigation
prevented prosecutors from charging anyone with the outing Valerie Plame.
Statutes like the Intelligence Identities Protection Act require the
prosecutor to prove intent. In his press conference Fitzgerald noted, "As
you sit here now, if you're asking me what his motives were, I can't
tell you; we haven't charged it. ... The harm in an obstruction
investigation is it prevents us from making the fine judgments we want to make."


A central character in the Libby indictment is Vice President Cheney. According to the indictment, Libby was "advised by" Cheney that "Wilson's wife worked at the Central Intelligence Agency in the Counterproliferation Divison." (Josh Marshall
explains, "The Counterproliferation Division (CPD) is part of the CIA's
Directorate of Operations, i.e., not the Directorate of Intelligence, the
branch of the CIA where 'analysts' come from, but the DO, where the
spies, the 'operatives', come from," so Cheney and Libby knew that Plame
was covert.) On a July 12, 2003, flight from Norfolk, VA, Libby discussed
with Cheney and other officials "what Libby should say in response to
certain pending media inquiries, including questions from Time reporter
Matthew Cooper." Libby later covered for Cheney, telling investigators
that the source for his information was "a reporter rather than the
Vice-President." Columinst Nick Kristof says, "If Mr. Cheney can't address
the questions about his conduct, if he can't be forthcoming about the
activities in his office that gave rise to the investigation, then he
should resign. And if he won't resign, Mr. Bush should demand his

provided details of an extensive smear campaign against Joe Wilson.
Libby discussed how to discredit Wilson with Vice President Cheney, Karl
Rove, Under Secretary of State Marc Grossman, Ari Fleisher, and multiple
officials aboard the Vice President's plane. He also discussed Valerie
Wilson with multiple reporters including Matt Cooper and Judy Miller.
On Fox News, Kristol sarcastically argued that there wasn't a smear
campaign because "that's really an effective smear, not to bring it up with
Tim Russert." Of course, the content Libby's conversation with Russert
was invented by Libby to obstruct the investigation. It wasn't part of
the smear campaign, it was the red herring.

ROVE NOT OFF THE HOOK YET: Rove remains under investigation. But you
wouldn't know it from watching Fox News. Bill Kristol said, "Patrick
Fitzgerald investigated a crime, and there was one crime he discovered. ...
No conspiracy. No multiple indictments." Kristol and others are jumping
the gun. The Washington Post reports, "Two legal sources intimately
familiar with Fitzgerald's tactics in this inquiry said they believe Rove
remains in significant danger. They described Fitzgerald as being
relentlessly thorough but also conservative throughout this prosecution --
and his willingness to consider Rove's eleventh-hour pleading of a
memory lapse is merely a sign of Fitzgerald's caution."