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.

Aha! That bit about the judge insisting on the redactions wasn't mentioned on the CBS radio news yesterday afternoon.

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.
This ruling is exactly the same as the earlier ruling that Libby could have descriptions of the President's Daily Briefings, but not the PDBs themselves. In that case, too, it seemed to me that the judge was telling Libby he could use the "busy man" defense if he was that desperate, but he couldn't use classified documents to sabotage the trial.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

More blogs about politics.
Technorati Blog Finder