Libby's Indictment and the Follow-Up Questions

Friday, October 28, 2005 at 03:26 PM

So Libby's indicted, Rove isn't, and the indictments do not charge any violations of law related to leaking classified info, disclosing names of covert agents, etc.

Almost immediately after Fitzgerald said in his press conference that he had made no finding one way or the other on whether Plame was a "covert" agent, and that no one should view his charges as supporting one view or the other, Senator Orrin Hatch appeared on Wolf Blitzer's CNN show and claimed that Fitzgerald had concluded that Plame's status was not covert. Hatch also felt compelled to get in some shots about Joe Wilson's character--pushing the theory that doing something bad to a bad person is okay?

Let the new questions, and the desperate Republican spin, begin.  Lets begin with a brief timeline.

Time Line from Indictment and News Stories:

At all relevant times from January 1, 2002 through July 2003, Valerie Wilson was employed by the CIA, and her employment status was classified. Prior to July 14, 2003, Valerie Wilson's affiliation with the CIA was not common knowledge outside the intelligence community.

June 11 or 12, 2003, the Under Secretary of State orally advised LIBBY in the White House that, in sum and substance, Wilson's wife worked at the CIA and that State Department personnel were saying that Wilson's wife was involved in the planning of his trip.

June 11, 2003, LIBBY spoke with a senior officer of the CIA to ask about the origin and circumstances of Wilson's trip, and was advised by the CIA officer that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA and was believed to be responsible for sending Wilson on the trip.

June 12, 2003, LIBBY was advised by the Vice President of the United States that Wilson's wife worked at the Central Intelligence Agency in the Counterproliferation Division. LIBBY understood that the Vice President had learned this information from the CIA.

Shortly after June 19 publication of article in The New Republic describing Wilson's trip, LIBBY spoke by telephone with his then Principal Deputy and discussed the article. That official asked LIBBY whether information about Wilson's trip could be shared with the press to rebut the allegations that the Vice President had sent Wilson. LIBBY responded that there would be complications at the CIA in disclosing that information publicly, and that he could not discuss the matter on a non-secure telephone line.

June 23, 2003, LIBBY met with New York Times reporter Judith Miller. During this meeting LIBBY was critical of the CIA, and disparaged what he termed "selective leaking" by the CIA concerning intelligence matters. In discussing the CIA's handling of Wilson's trip to Niger, LIBBY informed her that Wilson's wife might work at a bureau of the CIA.

July 6, 2003: Wilson's op-ed piece in the Times.

July 7, 2003, LIBBY had lunch with the then White House Press Secretary and advised the Press Secretary that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA and noted that such information was not widely known.

July 7-12, The "Africa Trip" during which Powell had the "INR" memo supposedly noting that Plame's identity was "Secret."  Presumably, people on Air Force 1 would have seen the memo during that time.  And it is very close to that time that Fitzgerald alleges Libby wastelling reporters about Plame working for the CIA.

July 8, LIBBY tells Judy Miller and the Vice President's Counsel

July 10 or 11, LIBBY talks to "Official A" who tells Libby that he has discussed Plame with Novak and Novak will be doing a column on Plame working with CIA.

July, 14, 2003, Novak column calls Plame CIA agent.

Oct 14 and Nov. 26 of 2003, LIBBY tells FBI agents he had not known of Plame's connection to CIA until a conversation with Russert on July 10 or 11.  Repeats the same falsehoods to grand jury in early 2004.

a. Why would Libby lie this blatantly knowing that other people were aware of the truth, and that these people would be interrogated by Fitzgerald?

b. Why did Fitzgerald not charge a violation of any underlying confidentiality law, given: (1) Fitzgerald states as fact in the indictment that Plame's status with the CIA is "classified"; (2)  there are several indicators that Libby and others were aware that the Wilson trip and Plame's role were confidential; (3) the reported fact that the memo on board Air Force 1 on the Bush trip to Africa in July, 2003 provided knowledge that information on Plame was "S" for secret?

c. What penalty is there, if any, for Libby violating the confidentiality agreement he signed in order to obtain his security clearance, which he almost certainly did if the facts in the indictment are proved?

d. Assuming that "Official A" is Rove, as seems likely from the fact that it was he who spoke to Novak and frequently leaks to Novak, why was Rove not charged with anything, given that Official A seems to have released the info on Plame to Novak?

e. Did Rove tell the truth about his dealings with Novak when interviewed, precluding perjury?

f. If so, is Fitzgerald of the opinion that it is almost impossible to convict someone of the law prohibiting divulging of covert status?

g. Is the fact that our laws on confidentiality and public officials are full of holes the main reason that there is no indictment for leaking the name?