The Libby Perjury Trap

My recent post criticizing Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald seems to have angered some, including one purported Yale Law School alumnus (whose comments have been deleted because they were left using what appears to have been a bogus email address). So I want to re-direct this Libby discussion. Its not about Bush, and its not about the war. Its about a perjury trap. Read more below the fold.

Here’s the problem. Fitzgerald was appointed to find out who leaked Plame’s name. Turns out it was Armitage, who told the FBI as much before Fitzgerald was appointed. But Fitzgerald hauled Libby, and others, before the grand jury supposedly investigating who leaked Plame’s name. Which he knew. The only possible reason for that was to see if they’d lie. Which apparently Libby did. But IT’S A PERJURY TRAP AND IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL. Fact is, prosecutors aren’t truth police. Substitute Clinton for Bush, Ickes for Libby and how did Clinton’s semen get on Monica’s dress for who leaked Plame’s name, and my guess is that our friend “Maddie” might see things a bit differently.  Here’s the deal, “Maddie,” whether the prosecutor has to respect your rights doesn’t depend on your party affiliation.

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10 Responses to The Libby Perjury Trap
  1. May 28, 2007 | 9:08 pm

    The biggest disgrace is watching fellow “conservatives” – or so they call themselves – continue to make excuses for people in this administration who consider themselves to be above the rule of law. That includes Mr. Libby. The jury rendered its verdict based on the facts presented. It was not plausible that somebody could forget so many conversations.

    I also find it extremely offensive that you would consider outing a career intelligence officer on the same par with Clinton’s little trysts.

    Here’s the deal, Mark, expecting a prosecutor to overlook obvious perjury based on party affiliation is low and out of line. It brings disgrace and distrust in the system and in the party. Respect for the rule of law and our system has to be observed EVEN by members of this administration.

  2. May 28, 2007 | 9:23 pm

    Justice for All, your alias is a joke. You obviously believe in justice for those you choose. Here’s the deal. Take notes, you might learn something. Repeatedly calling someone before the grand jury to ask questions about something that YOU ALREADY KNOW THE ANSWER TO just to see if the witness will lie is called a perjury trap. That is what happened here. I don’t really care too much about what you think is offensive. What I find offensive is that you seem to think that only some defendants have rights. Shame on you. And by the way – Libby didn’t out anyone. Armitage did. But then you don’t care about that, because the truth doesn’t matter to you. Just like your boy Clinton. Thanks for playing. Try again.

  3. May 29, 2007 | 2:38 am

    Mark,
    Mr. Fitzgerald did not have the answers to everything when he was assigned to the Libby case. Remember there was the question as to whether this was a coordinated group effort by members of this administration to out Valerie Plame. Even if he knew Armitage leaked the info first, he still had to determine if the others were involved — hence, interviewing Libby, Rove, et. al. to determine who, if anybody, talked to reporters, what was said and why.

    Furthermore, Mr. Libby perjured himself to FBI agents BEFORE Fitzgerald was even brought in to take on the case. In two separate interviews in October and November 2003 Libby lied to FBI agents. See indictment, page 9 – http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/iln/osc/documents/libby_indictment_28102005.pdf
    Mr. Fitzgerald was not appointed until DECEMBER 2003, after Libby committed perjury in his interviews with FBI agents.

    Fitzgerald, therefore, did not NEED to set a perjury trap for somebody who had already committed perjury.

    Mark, I think all defendants should have rights. Mr. Libby had his day in court. He had excellent counsel. Unfortunately, he had hours of tapes, witnesses and a paper trail that clearly pointed out that he was not truthful. Let’s not forget Mr. Libby himself is a lawyer, a Columbia Law School grad; the only trap he walked into was the one he set for himself in his decision to not be honest with law enforcement officers and the grand jury system.

  4. May 30, 2007 | 7:43 pm

    Dear Mark,
    It must hurt to know that I blew your theory out of the water, so much so that you refused to post my follow-up. Fitzgerald didn’t need to set a perjury trap, because Libby had already committed perjury, lying to the FBI agents on two separate occasions before Fitzgerald was even appointed to this investigation.

    Again, Mr. Libby had his day in court. He was convicted by a jury of his peers.

  5. May 30, 2007 | 7:51 pm

    Don’t flatter yourself, Justice for a Few. Some of us actually have law practices that we need to tend to, much as we would like to spend all of our time jousting with partisan hacks. With respect to the scope of Fitzgerald’s appointment, you’re flat out wrong. He was appointed to determine who leaked Plame’s name, and whether it was a crime. He knew the answer to the first question on day one, and obviously determined that the answer to the second was “no.” The only reason to haul Libby before the grand jury was to set a perjury trap. Second, lying to an FBI agent is not perjury in ANY jurisdiction (assuming, in fact, that Libby lied). It MIGHT be obstruction, but it is NOT, your repeated insistence to the contrary, perjury. You obviously have no answer to the question of why FitzHimmler hauled Libby before the grand jury when he knew the answer to the questions he was supposed to be asking, so I’ll tell you why – PERJURY TRAP, that’s why, Justice for a Few.

  6. May 31, 2007 | 9:19 pm

    Mark,

    You are correct it was not perjury, but lying to the FBI was a crime. It was Count 2 in the indictment, for which he was convicted.

    “Libby was convicted of one count of obstruction, two counts of perjury and one count of lying to the FBI about how he learned Plame’s identity and whom he told.” –
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17479718/

    Fitzgerald didn’t need to set a perjury trap, because Libby already nailed himself when he lied to the FBI before Fitzgerald was appointed to the case.

    Was Fitzgerald the hungry lion and Libby the slowest gazelle in the pack? Maybe so, but Libby CHOSE to play. He CHOSE to flout Ms. Wilson’s name to the press. He CHOSE to lie to the FBI. He CHOSE to not tell the truth during the grand jury proceedings. He is a man with an excellent legal education who was provided with a more than adequate defense. I feel sorry for him, but he should have thought of the consequences before deciding to do his part so eagerly in wrecking Ms. Wilson’s career.

  7. May 31, 2007 | 9:33 pm

    OK, now we’re getting somewhere. Fitzgerald might not have had to set a perjury trap, but that’s what he did, and that’s why the two perjury counts, which were for supposedly lying to the grand jury, are suspect. Now, the question is, if he knew on day 1 that Armitage was the leaker, why pursue the whole damned thing, and why prosecute the less serious lying to investigator charge?

    As for “wrecking Ms. Plame’s career.” Utter nonsense. Everyone knew who she was – Armitage said as much to Woodward. Her neighbors knew she worked for CIA.I don’t really see a wrecked career here. The Wilson’s, too, chose to play this game. They, too, have lied (she under oath to the Senate, it appears). Let’s call enough is enough on criminalizing this stuff. It’s silly, and a waste of time and money.

  8. June 5, 2007 | 2:07 am

    Why are the perjury counts suspect? You have already agreed that Fitzgerald didn’t need them because Libby had already lied to investigators. Furthermoe, the jury believed and convicted Libby for perjury.

    I could know on Day 1 that scientist A had sold nuclear secrets to China two weeks before scientist B did the same thing. Are we supposed to feel sorry for B if he is arrested, because “A” had already put the information out there?” It’s like two people speeding, but the police officer only pulls over one. The fact that the other guy got away with it, doesn’t mean that the one who did get a ticket is innocent.

    Why prosecute the lesser charge?! Why did they nail Al Capone only for taxes?

    Before Novak’s column Ms. Plame’s career was fine, and it is not true that it was well known. What is known is that administration officials were busy telling reporters about Ms. Plame.

    You are also wrong about the neighbors. From the Washington Post:

    Friends and neighbors knew Valerie Wilson as a consultant who traveled frequently overseas. They describe her as charming, bright and discreet. “She did not talk politics,” said Victoria Tillotson, 58, who has often socialized with the Wilsons.

    “I thought she was a risk assessment person for some international investment company,” said Ralph Wittenberg, a psychiatrist who chairs the nonprofit Family Mental Health Foundation, where Valerie Wilson is a board member. In recent years, he said, Valerie Wilson has been an “unstinting” volunteer, running peer support groups for women who suffered from postpartum depression, as she had.

    “I would never have guessed in a million years” that she was a spy, Wittenberg said.

    Another acquaintance active in raising awareness of postpartum depression, Jane Honikman, briefly contemplated the image of Valerie Wilson slinging an AK-47 assault rifle. “I can’t imagine her holding anything other than a spoon, or a baby,” she said.”
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A58650-2003Oct7?language=printer

    This “stuff” should be criminalized along with a lot of other nefarious activities basically getting a free pass.

  9. July 6, 2007 | 5:53 pm

    Armitage may have been the first, but he wasn’t the only. Rove leaked to Matt Cooper of Time, and was the confirming source for Novak. Libby leaked to Judy Miller.

    Both Libby and Rove committed their leaks before Novak’s public outing of Plame, so for all intents and purposes, she was still undercover when they leaked.

    (Armitage also did it accidentally, and admitted to the disclosure, whereas Rove and Libby lied about it)

    Finally, Fitzpatrick sought and received permission from Deputy AG James Comey before extending the investigation into perjury and obstruction of justice.

  10. July 8, 2007 | 12:43 pm

    “Finally, Fitzpatrick sought and received permission from Deputy AG James Comey before extending the investigation into perjury and obstruction of justice.”

    Mike, I am not sure that this is at all relevant. Comey approved the expansion of the investigation. So what? Did he approve the tactics employed? Approval of the expansion does not imply approval of whatever else follows. Janet Reno approved EVERY expansion of the Starr investigation. In your mind does that per se legitimize everything Starr did subsequently? Does it justify the impeachment referral?