5 Myths About Scooter Libby
Carol Leonnig, who covers the federal courts for WaPo and with whom I had the pleasure of sitting during my brief stint covering the Libby trail, shoots down “5 Myths About Scooter and the Slammer.”
Her column will irritate both Libby’s strongest supporters and most vehement critics.
It’s now rather clear that Libby lied to the grand jury about how he found out about Valerie Plame Wilson’s employment with the CIA. At the same time, there is no evidence that he, Karl Rove, or anyone else committed a crime aside from lying to cover up their leaks to the press.
But that’s the wrong question: Spy agencies aren’t given the responsibility under our Constitution for determining whether someone has violated the law. And the laws in question here, in particular the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, wasn’t drafted in a way that makes the Agency’s own determination binding on the branch of government (i.e, the Judicial Branch) which does have that responsibility.
Langley saying Plame was covert, in other words, is no more conclusive than Langley referring the matter to DoJ for investigation and possible prosecution in the first place. If someone had been charged and convicted under the IIPA, then there might have been the requisite proof that she was “covert” as that term is used in the statute. But even Langley’s saying that the CIA thinks she was covert as that term is used in the statute ain’t conclusive on anyone, and Fitzgerald saying that Langley says that isn’t a substitute for a finding beyond a reasonable doubt that that’s factually the case.
A reporter from the WaPo ought to be able to grasp and articulate this very important distinction. One has to suspect that her failure to do so reflects an agenda (or an alliance with leakers inside the CIA).
Beldar interesting point, and one I have seen elsewhere, that actually makes sense.
So to clarify-if Fitzgerald had decided to charge somebody, what you are saying is Langley saying “she was covert” wouldn’t have been accepted on face value, but the prosecutor would have had to introduce evidence that she was, and the defense counsel would have been able to impeach that evidence, and the jury would have determined whether or not she was covert.