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October 31, 2005

The Perjury of I. Lewis Libby

Well, that was an interesting Friday afternoon...

The extent of I. Lewis Libby's perjury is truly bats--- mindblowing. Here are the people who say that his story is simply not true:

  1. An Under Secretary of State
  2. A senior officer of the Central Intelligence Agency
  3. The Vice President of the United States
  4. Libby's own notes of his meeting with the Vice President.
  5. A briefer from the Central Intelligence Agency.
  6. Libby's then-principal deputy.
  7. Judith Miller.
  8. Tim Russert.
  9. The White House Press Secretary.
  10. The Counsel to the Vice President.
  11. The Assistant to the Vice President for Public Affairs.
  12. "White House Officlal A".
  13. Matthew Cooper.

Recollections differ. Memories are fallible. People forget. But I cannot see how any conceivable jury could fail to find Libby guilty on all counts, if the witnesses testify as the indictment suggests they will.

So what did Libby think he was doing? There are two possible answers. Answer 1: Libby is certifiable. Answer 2: Libby is erecting a perjury firebreak to keep Patrick Fitzgerald from knowing that he, Cheney, Rove, and possibly others knew very well that Valerie Plame Wilson was a covert operative and thought that blowing her cover would be a nice way to warn the CIA not to leak information that contradicted what Cheney and company had said.

In a normal case, right now Fitzgerald would be offering Libby the choice between spending decades in prison or giving up Rove or Cheney or somebody even more interesting. If Libby doesn't want to sing, he spends decades in prison. If Libby cannot sing--if Libby is in fact the prime mover--than Libby has tough luck and spends decades in prison. If Libby tries to give up Rove or Cheney but just has one-on-one conversations to relate, than once again Libby has tough luck and spends decades in prison: no prosecutor would think that he can convict on the word of a confessed perjurer without corroborating evidence. Only if Libby wants to sing and can point Fitzgerald to corroborating evidence that gives Fitzgerald a conviction of somebody more interesting would he be able to avoid spending a long time in prison.

In the present circumstances, things are complicated by the existence of the presidential pardon power.

So I want to ask a real lawyer: What kinds of discussions among whom about the exercise of the presidential pardon power rise to the level of conspiracy to obstruct justice?

Posted by DeLong at October 31, 2005 09:34 AM