Friday, October 28, 2005

Libby Indicted

After a 2-year investigation by a special investigator of the public revelation that Joseph Wilson's wife was a CIA agent, the grand jury has indicted Scooter Libby, an aide to VP Cheney, for false statements and obstruction of justice. The grand jury did not issue any indictments for the underlying events being investigated, most likely because the special prosecutor could not prove, among other required elements of the offense, that Wilson's wife was a covert CIA agent and that anyone revealed her identity with an intent to harm the U.S.

Nonetheless, an investigation that leads to indictments resulting from the investigation itself and not from any underlying crime is troubling. Still, we can not condone intentional deceit and obstruction in a criminal investigation. It is not good policy to encourage witnesses to lie and to obstruct an investigation. To avoid creating crimes when none exist in the first place, it would be better if the prosecutor would first determine whether the events in question constitute a crime.

Despite the apparent absence of an underlying crime, Libby may have made false statements to investigators and the grand jury about facts central to a determination of whether there was an underlying crime. According to the special prosecutor, Libby repeatedly stated to investigators and the grand jury that he learned of Wilson's wife's CIA status from journalists, but the facts showed that he learned this from VP Cheney. If the special prosecutor's allegations are true, Libby has committed serious offenses and should be held accountable.

Despite much rumormongering, Pres. Bush's advisor, Karl Rove, was not indicted. Rove testified before the grand jury 4 times. Based on rumor and speculation, it is possible that Rove's lawyers may have advised him to ask to return to the grand jury so that he could clarify or correct earlier testimony. This scenario may have occurred after Rove first testified when he produced emails that may have jogged his memory. If this or a similar scenario did occur, Rove's lawyers did well by their client because there is no perjury if a witness goes back to the same grand jury to correct prior testimony.

One final note: Contrast the responses of the Bush and Clinton administrations to investigations. Clinton and his team obstructed the investigation, threw up road blocks, and attacked the prosecutor and his motives. Bush ordered his people to cooperate fully in the probe, and no member of the Bush administration ever attacked the prosecutor. Remember that in 2008, remember how Democrats supported Clinton's obstruction tactics, and consider those facts when voting, especially if Hillary Clinton gets the Democratic nomination.

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