Friday, March 10, 2006
A Pyrrhic Victory for Libby
Judge Reggie Walton has ruled on Lewis Libby's request for months and months of CIA briefings, which Libby claimed he needs to defend himself against perjury charges:
Walton ruled that the CIA must provide copies of briefings during "the month and a half before Plame's identity was exposed by columnist Robert Novak in July 2003, as well as during periods when Libby spoke to the FBI and the grand jury." But the classified information must be removed.
Reuters is calling this a "surprise victory". But by stipulating that the classified material be redacted, Judge Walton is depriving Libby of graymail material. He can't weasel out of being prosecuted by basing his defense on information that can't be presented in open court.
Those CIA documents aren't likely to do him much good, anyway, since he's not indicted for claiming to have forgotten what he did and said, but for asserting he did and said things that the evidence proves are not true.
In other words, Libby is screwed. The judge saw through his graymail attempt and thwarted it.
Of course, it's highly unlikely that any of the CIA records Libby requested has any bearing at all on the case. As MEC mentioned, this was all about "graymail" -- Libby's effort to try to force the CIA into dropping their efforts to nab him and Cheney. But by insisting on the redaction of the classified parts, the judge has taken the graymail weapon out of Libby's hands.
Short version: Libby's screwed now. Which means that he'd better cut a deal with Fitzgerald soon, or Libby will be screwed literally as well as figuratively, in a real prison and not a country club for rich criminals.
More blogs about politics.